5 Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Crafting Your Data Science Resume

5 Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Crafting Your Data Science Resume

You're spending hours on your resume and still have no job interviews to show for it.
You've been having trouble landing Data Science job interviews and think your resume may be hurting you. You've gotten a lot of feedback that your resume doesn't "make sense", but you're not sure how best to describe your experiences or what specifically you should be conveying to Hiring Managers. You're spending hours refining the content and format, but you don't know if what you're writing is helping or not. You're not good at "tooting your own horn" but you know that some amount is needed to stand out…

You want to be sure you're doing the right thing.
You want your resume to rise to the top of the stack.

You're sure there must be some "common wisdom" out there as to how to craft the perfect resume. You want to minimize iterations of your resume and focus on leveling up your skill set or networking instead. You want to be confident that the hours you're putting in to endlessly tweaking your resume are actually helping…

5 Common Resume Pitfalls could be hurting you.
Avoiding common Data Science resume mistakes is a first step to cleaning up your application. If you spend time ensuring you're not falling into any of these traps, you'll already be well on the way to landing a much coveted interview...

1. Principles:
An overarching rule to keep in mind at all time is that your resume should be tailored to each position you're applying to. Just churning out the same generic resume to hundreds of positions is not going to deliver the results you want. Some people may tell you "its a numbers game", which to some extent is true, but consider the Hiring Manager's perspective - they have to read hundreds of resumes / cover letters - for them, success is quickly being able to assess a candidate's suitability versus spend a lot of time wading through the details. As such, the more you can tailor your content to what they are looking for and make "proof points" stand out, the more chance you have of winning their numbers game (which is frankly the one that matters!).

2. Experience:
Don't list everything you've ever done! Your resume is not a work history document, it is a chance to showcase relevant job and/or project experiences … so, the Starbucks gig you had in college or the sales role you had after graduation should not be on there - stick to what matters for the position you're applying to

3. Format:
There are several mistakes to avoid here, but at a minimum make sure you

  • Keep it to one page - if you can't be succinct / convey what you need to in one page you're sending a signal (and not a positive one!) about your communication style
  • Use past tense
  • Keep any descriptions succinct
  • Avoid color coding - it is very off-putting and often makes it harder to read
  • Send it as a pdf (the best way to ensure there are no scaling issues)

4. Structure:
There are some resume sections that are critical to include, and must be done well (which we'll go into in more depth in a follow-up post), but there are also some sections to avoid - or at least think carefully on whether to include. Specifically,

  • DON'T put an objective statement at the top - your resume is about selling what you can offer and convincing the reader of your potential. It is not for telling someone what you want. Similarly, any sort of "summary" or "branding" statement is best served in the cover letter where prose and commentary are expected - it is a distraction on the resume itself
  • DON'T include a photo … some people do, and it really doesn't help!
  • Only include a "Interests/Hobbies" section if
    (a) you make it specific such that it conveys something about yourself - for example, don't say "like to travel" which could just mean you like taking vacation (who doesnt?!) but "travelled to x countries, learnt y languages, organized group trip etc." all of which give much more of a sense of your curiosity, determination, leadership etc.
    (b) you have the sense from networking / interactions with the company you're applying to, that they value some of the softer skills. If they do then great, putting a couple of specific interests can be a great way to showcase more of your skill set and start a broader conversation. If your sense is the Hiring Manager is very technically focused or would view this section as "fluff" then dedicating valuable real estate (remember - you just have one page!) to this content is likely not a good investment

5. "Proof Points"
This was alluded to earlier, but as part of ensuring the relevancy of the resume - and making it very easy for a Hiring Manger to digest your value proposition - is critically important to include as many "proof points" as possible that back up what you're writing / implying in terms of your ability to do the job. Without these, it is very hard to assess the strength and credibility of your candidacy as well as your commitment level - both of which will harm your chances of landing an interview. There are many different forms / ways to do this, with the right answer very dependent on your background. However, some common "proof points" are

  • Relevant thesis
  • Relevant course(s) taken - and grades if available
  • Independent projects completed (e.g., Kaggle, self-driven work)
  • Github profile - especially with the code from the independent projects
  • Technical blog

How to take action now!
Pull up your latest resume iteration and take a deep breath! This is one iteration that **will** help! Review the 5 areas highlighted in this post and think about each in relation to your resume. Which apply to you? Where are you falling into a common trap? For each of the 5 areas discussed here, list out the things that could be improved in your resume. Literally write them down in a notepad (paper or digital). You now have your checklist of what to work on and can focus your valuable time accordingly!

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