Creating a resume for analytics

This post is focused on the creation of analytics resumes for people with under 7 years of experience. Programmers could use most of these tips as well.

This is the first of two posts to help you land the analytics job you want. Do check out the second about interview preparation here.

How will you stand out?

For any job-seeker, the resume is the most important document — it paints a picture of you, and is your shot at getting a foot in the door. The better your resume, the more likely you are to land interviews.

Through the last 3 years, I’ve had to make, edit and review several resumes. Today, I decided to put down my learnings for your benefit.

General tips

The below tips apply to any resume, regardless of profession. It’s always good to give your document a thorough review to ensure you do not fall foul of any of these.

  1. Only have things in your resume that you know intimately. It can be tempting to take complete credit for something you only had a small or no part in, or list a skill you are still learning/never used professionally. Please do not do this. Interviewers have no patience for this stuff. They can and will ask you to elaborate on what you have written, and can spot a liar. That ends any prospects you had of landing the job.
  2. Formatting consistency, spelling and grammar checks are a must. It’s a turn-off to see bad spelling and/or grammar, as well as inconsistent formatting (E.g. Paragraphs and bullets starting with random indents/margins, different fonts throughout the same section of the resume). All of this makes your resume painful to read, and you’re less likely to get an interview as a result.
  3. Save and send PDF formats. The formatting remains consistent across devices and platforms, while the same cannot be said of the native formats of document-editing software.
  4. As a rule of thumb, try not to have a resume longer than 1 page if your relevant experience is under 4 years, and 2 pages for experience is under 7 years. You should be able to showcase your best self without requiring more space than this, provided you read and take on board the rest of this post :)

Template

While professionals who work as Designers or Filmmakers go for complex, snazzy templates, it is preferable to go for a plain, formal template in this case. Mostly text, easy to read and edit is the way to go.

This is a pretty good example.

Sections

The basic sections you will need (In order, preferably) are listed below. Elaborate details on each of them follow in the next part of this post.

  1. Personal details: Contact details and professional profile links
  2. Professional summary: A brief statement or three summarizing who you are and what you bring to the table
  3. Professional experience: Details of your work through the years
  4. Skills: An organized list of relevant tools and techniques
  5. Awards and recognition: Brag about times employers have formally recognized your contribution
  6. Qualifications: Majors and universities (educational), and relevant certifications (professional)

One section that was common in several resumes that I’ve seen is “Career objective”. You don’t need this, and it is of no help at all. In fact, you risk alienating potential employers if you’ve written something they conceive as a mismatch to their goals or culture.

They have an opening, you believe you can fill it and your resume is about to tell them how. Let us all move ahead with this understanding.

Now let’s go through each of the sections in detail.

Personal details

The purpose of this is to provide a way for interested employers to get in touch, and to provide a window to your online (professional) persona

Include: Name, phone number, current city, email address, professional profile links — LinkedIn, GitHub, Tableau public etc. Ensure that any portfolio you create to showcase uses publicly available data, or data that you have permission to use for this purpose.

Exclude: Social media, Photograph, Full home address, Marital status, Gender, Blood group, Passport/any other ID number (Yes, I’ve seen the latter two). Needless at best, bias-inducing or otherwise harmful at worst.

Professional summary

This portion gives prospective employers a brief glimpse of who you are and what you bring to the table. You could go for a brief statement (“Business Analyst with 13 months of experience using classification techniques and time series forecasting to solve problems in Retail”), or in case of more varied experience, list up to 3 bullet points summarizing your technical expertise, industry exposure and value-add.

Please avoid clichéd buzzwords like “motivated”, “team player”, “go-getter”, “can-do attitude”, “10x programmer/analyst”. Each of them is a groaner. Please keep it sharp and professional.

Professional experience

Use this section to list down the positions you’ve held (preferably from latest to earliest), projects/problems you worked on and a brief of your approach along with the impact created by your solution.

That last bit is the most important, which is missing from nearly every resume. The difference between deploying a statistical technique for predicting Titanic survivors on Kaggle and doing it to identify and address customers at risk of churning is that the former gets you points on a virtual leaderboard, and the latter makes a real company some real cash. Show people that you bring the ability to create business value to the table. If you can demonstrate that, you’ll be well ahead of someone who can merely name-drop a skill.

Weak: “Implemented a random forest model to identify customers at risk of churning” (Who knows if it was a dismal model?)

Strong: “Reduced customer churn by 20% using a random forest model, leading to additional annual revenue of $100,000”

You need not get too verbose, describing variables, iterations and the like — Leave that for the interviewer to quiz you about, if they’re interested. Also, impact need not always been money saved — it could be reduced server time, man-hours saved, positive movement in business metrics, or improvement over the existing model. A strong candidate is one who not only possesses technical skill, but is also aware of the success metrics and how to use his skills to make a positive impact on said metrics.

The first mistake a lot of people make in this section is assuming they are supposed to list everything they’ve ever done. Please don’t do this. Your resume is a highlights reel, not a detailed history. Using precious real estate to list unimpressive or irrelevant things makes you look worse, not better.

The second mistake people make is creating lists of “roles and responsibilities” against every position they’ve held. It is fairly obvious to most employers that you would have pulled and cleaned data, written code and made presentations. You can use your skills section to highlight these in logical groups. Which brings us to…

Skills

This is a much better area than “Roles and responsibilities” to list down the tools and techniques you have used to do your job. You can split this into logical categories. Possible categories you could have in an analytics resume:

  1. Statistical techniques
  2. Programming languages
  3. Visualization/presentation platforms
  4. Data platforms

Keep this technical and relevant. Avoid subjective ‘skills’ (“teamwork” is not a skill, it’s what everyone who’s worked in any company ever has done and needs to do), or cliche adjectives (See the last paragraph of Professional Summary).

Awards and recognition

List down the awards you received, along with the reason for the award and when you got it (month and year should do). Only include awards and recognition that are for professional reasons, and relevant — Winning races in high school does not count, nor does winning Best Costume at the office Halloween party.

You may also list down (relevant) papers published with links to each, if possible.

Qualifications

As you gain more experience and professional certifications, it is better to list these first (with a link, if possible), followed by educational qualifications. Under educational qualifications, it is best to only list majors and universities. The more experienced you are, the less important education history is.

Hopefully, this post was useful in helping you perk up your resume. Please leave a comment with any questions/suggestions.

This is the first of two posts to help you land the analytics job you want. Do check out the second about interview preparation here.

Happy hunting!

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