How to describe your Personal Projects on your Data Science resume

How to describe your Personal Projects on your Data Science resume

“I know project work is important to put on my resume, but I don’t know what (or how much) to write”

You’ve been told the Projects section is important to include on on your resume, but the advice stopped there. You have limited Data Science work experience, so are relying on your Projects to convey you can do the job. You’ve spent a lot of spare time grappling with personal Projects to give yourself a step-up and you want to make sure you get credit for all that effort (and head-scratching!).

Most of all, you want all your Project work to start to work for you, but you just don’t know how.

Good news! We’ve run into this question a lot from readers and have some solid tips to share to make sure your Project work shines through :)

At the highest level, you want to make sure that the Project both sounds cool/interesting to someone with zero context, and it is clear what you actually did (i.e., the different steps). Remember, the Hiring Manager has no idea what you’ve been working on, or why, so it has to grab their attention and be easy to comprehend.

Ok, with that in mind, here are some specific suggestions for how to describe each Project that you include on your Data Science resume:

  • Objective & Motivation: What you were trying to do, and why
  • Role: Make it clear if it is a personal Project or if you were part of a team. If personal give a sense of the effort (e.g. x hours / week outside of core curriculum) you put in; if part of a team clarify your responsibilities
  • Data: Detail the approximate dataset size and skew, how (e.g., software and techniques used) to store, extract and clean the data
  • Models: Specify models and statistical techniques used, as well as programming languages and libraries used to construct them (paying particular attention here to the requirements noted on the job posting - the more you can cover off keywords/asks for the role the better!)
  • Code: It is worth linking to your Github account to give the Hiring Manager the option to check out the code (plus it just makes it all the more credible that you’ve actually done the work!). A bonus option here is to also create a for the projects you’re featuring on your resume - this template is a good example
  • Results: Try whenever possible to demonstrate the outcome with numerical impact or significance (it pops off the resume more than a text-only sentence) and is an indicator of how impact-oriented (or not!) you are in your work

If you follow the above high-level and specific advice your Project work should start to work for you!

How to take action now!

The “Elevator Pitch”. Imagine you have 15 seconds in an elevator with the Hiring Manager to describe the Objective & Motivation for one of your projects - making it sound interesting and clear. Write down a version then say it out loud. Repeat until it is 15 seconds or under (likelihood is you’ll be way over first time around!) Use this to complete the Objective & Motivation field when you add the Project on to your resume :)

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