Top tips for your data science CV

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In order to get your CV to stand out amongst the stack, there are a lot of things to consider. Even simple choices like what font to use, should you use bold and italics to set off your subheads, job titles, and other features?

Small details make the difference in the eyes of hiring managers, so creating that well-designed standout CV could allow you to leapfrog your competitors and get you to the interview. Obviously creating a functional data science CV is a little more complicated than choosing a font...

The first thing to consider when submitting your CV is to know your audience. If you’re applying directly on a website for a position and the company is medium to large, it’s very likely that your CV will be subject to an Application Tracking System (ATS)

Tailoring your CV to get past ATS.

So, a few things to remember when dealing with ATS.

  1. Your CV will not be seen by a human being if it fails to get past ATS. So even if you are the most talented data scientist in the world, it won’t matter.
  2. Don’t get fancy. Use standard fonts (Arial or Calibri), excessive formatting or decorative elements might present an unreadable mess to the ATS.
  3. Make it keyword-rich, since ATS is looking for keywords specific to the job.
  4. Target the right keywords. If you’re applying for a management position, you’re going to be scored on keywords that are relevant to qualities that are expected of a manager. Review your job spec to find suitable keywords.
  5. Keep it simple, a boring CV that hits all those keywords is far more likely to get past ATS.

However, if you are emailing a recruiter or HR personnel directly than you will be able to get more creative with your CV. Here are our top tips for your data science CV

Smile! (but not too much)

If you decide to include a photo try to follow these basic guidelines:

  • Keep your hair neat and tidy
  • Keep a natural smile, don't force it, you're not fooling anyone. It just looks weird.
  • Make sure the background is neutral. Plain white works best.
  • Sit up straight! Posture is important not just for your health but also your job prospects.
  • And dress formally, of course!

This one is totally up to you, we have no strong feelings about it either way. Just make sure to keep it professional.

First impressions: Write a great summary

Be convincing here! You are selling yourself, so try not to be too factual and choose what language you use carefully. When writing your summary, imagine you are a marketing expert and you are advertising yourself. Here is a good example:

 

Use words like 'specialist' 'boost' and 'invest' these are powerful words and can hold sway over the reader. This section tends to be a more tricky part of the CV, so think it through thoroughly.

Relevant Experience

After touching on this in your summary, it's time to get into some real detail.

The experience section should be the focus of your CV, remember to keep it recent and relevant. You should definitely list all of your work experience but don't go into detail on any that are older than 5 years. It is most likely irrelevant to high-end data science projects in 2019.

Make sure to include your job title, the company and the period of time you held the position.

If one of your past roles has more relevancy to the position you are applying for than be sure to highlight that above all else. Remember to talk about how your work benefited the company rather than 'my tasks were x, y and z.'

We find it is best to use bullet points in this section. Try to include information like this:

Education

Obviously, if you are a recent graduate than education will be the highlight of your CV. Remember to list post-secondary degrees only! If you are a graduate you can definitely go into greater detail in this section.

Like with your experience be sure to list all of your degrees, however only go into detail with your most relevant accomplishments.

As for your GPA, this is an optional data point. However, if your GPA was 3.8 or above, it is perfectly fine to brag a little bit about yourself.

 

Skills

This section is pretty straight forward just remember the following points:

Highlight your strongest relevant skills and list only the languages you can truly speak. If you don't, it is sure to be obvious to the hiring manager. A data scientist with 2 years experience that lists 6+ programming languages on their CV raises red flags and you are likely to come across as dishonest.

Other sections

Certifications -  You can list any 'micro-degrees' in this section e.g. online courses, professional training etc. Again keep it relevant and recent.

Projects  - One important factor to remember here; Focus on how your project solved a business problem. Hiring managers don't care how difficult the problem was or how cool the solution is, keep that in mind when including projects on your CV.

Publications - Highlighting any articles you have written showcases your passion for data science. With data science roles, you will need you to interact with a variety of audiences, so it’s good to show you can explain ideas in a clear and efficient manner.

Hobbies and Interests - Only talk about your hobbies if they convey something about you. Don't say ' I like travel '. Say, I have travelled to x many countries and am fluent in x

A CV is never a one size fits all, so use these particular sections as you see fit.

Bonus: Crafting the perfect cover letter

My advice on this subject is simple. Less is more. I find that the majority of my candidates are much better at writing code than they are cover letters anyway. Another thing which you should try to avoid is following that 'typical cover letter format' that you see plastered all over the internet. It will give the reader the impression that you are unimaginative and tired.

Obvious copy and paste jobs will just annoy the reader and give the impression that you are lazy or don't know what you are talking about. You see, there are a lot of pitfalls to consider when writing your cover letter.

In our experience, most cover letters that we see are actually detrimental to an applicants success. But if you must then keep it simple with something like this

Dear Mr. Hiring Manager

I would like to apply to the position of Head of Data Science. My CV with detailed job experience is attached. The job description sounds really interesting to me as both fun and challenging. While, [Insert company name] seems like the perfect place for me to learn and further my career! Whenever you are free, I would love to sit down and have a chat about the projects I might be working on and the tools that are being used.

If you have any questions for me about my CV or otherwise you can reach me by email or directly by phone.

Thank you for your time,

Mark

These kind of cover letters are perfect when applying to a company in which you have no contacts, through Glassdoor or LinkedIn for example. But please, for your sake, do not use templates that you found on the first page of Google, you will end up sounding like a robot and companies don't hire robots (yet!).

Again this is not a one size fits all example. If you are an avid writer and that is who you are then writing away if your not then just don't!

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