To the typical reader, most technical resumes sound alike and share none of the unique personality behind the paper.
For example, you may know that Jane is meticulous about data quality and has an amazing knack for creatively turning business requests into statistical problems. George is easily the most “flexible” person on your team when it comes to getting up to speed on new packages. But when it comes time to write a resume, they both rattle off the same list of duties and technical keywords.
And since there’s no unique “signal” left in the resume, the recruiting process devolves into relying on other factors.
I’m going to share a couple of simple tips that can help your data analyst resume stand out.
Facts Tell, But Stories Sell
Consider, for a moment, that we are going to hire a sports star. Perhaps a football player.
Two candidates dossiers sit on your desk:
Candidate A’s dossier contains a long list of training programs, games played, and player statistics.
Candidate B’s dossier has a series of photographs and charts that show the best plays of their career.
Which one would you pick?
Most hiring managers would pick Candidate B, since they can visualize how they do on the job.
While I don’t suggest attaching a photograph of you coding, there are other ways to help a hiring manager see you in action. Think about a few of your best moments. What problem were you asked to solve? How did you approach it? What was the result, in terms of what you handed the customer and how it made their life better?
There’s a formula here:
- Identify the specific area you were investigating
- Describe what you delivered as an insight / solution
- Identify who you shared the results with
- Describe how it made their life better – with numbers, if possible
For example, consider the following statement:
“Led analysis of user engagement, using click tracking to understand visitor preferences and identify effective areas to promote content. Shared insights with publisher and adjusted website layout, reducing bounce rate 30% and increasing average time on site by 50%.”
If I’m hiring for a digital marketing data science role, this story about an accomplishment just captured my full attention and you are getting an interview. This is as good as a video clip of that football player intercepting a pass and running it in for a score.
Specialists Beat Generalists
Stated otherwise: are you selling parts or are you selling a car?
Analytics gives us a great collection of parts – every assignment gives us a ton of transferable skills and the typical analyst rotates around a couple of different business functions or industries in the first decade of their career. Advanced degrees give us – more parts!
The good news is these skills are rare, so starting salaries are high. The bad news – everyone else is collecting the same parts. After a decade in the workforce, we start to look alike to the business.
The cure? Stop talking about parts and show them the entire car.
Let’s step back for a moment and look at your job in a broader context. You handle part of a larger process, such as statistical modeling or data extraction. Above you is your boss, who is tasked with assembling the contributions of several different employees into a solution that is provided to the business. Ultimately, the solution should help the rest of the business, for which they fund your team’s existence.
Interesting things happens when you learn all of the pieces to deliver a particular solution. First, you can operate with limited supervision. You can also bring that process to a new company, since you know all of the parts. Also, you are more likely to find improvements. All of these things increase your value. Better yet, if you show that you have delivered similar solutions elsewhere, the risk of hiring you drops.
Executing this comes down to playing up the relevant parts of your experience and weaving them into a consistent theme across your last several roles. First, make your specialty the headline of your resume (Senior Pricing Expert!). Next, paint the picture in your introduction (Twelve years of pricing and related experience, building analytical models and pricing software). Focus on accomplishments related to your specialty. The longer (in terms of years or jobs) you can show involvement in the specialty, the better.
Don’t sell them the parts, sell them the car. For Full Price.
Less is More
Now that we’ve talked about how to focus your resume on a specialty, lets discuss what to do about the rest.
Get Rid Of It.
I’m completely serious. The content of a resume going to an actual human should do exactly three things:
- Explain the value you offer – particularly if you’re a specialist – with proof you can deliver
- Give dates to convince HR you’re not a wanted criminal and were employed / studying
- Present a very small number of potential “ice-breakers”
That’s it. Anything outside that reduces your chances of success.
- Massive list of every duty? Cut it, doesn’t help
- Every certification? Nope, doesn’t help
- Every technology ever used? Gone
- Eight page resume? Prioritize content.
Edit ruthlessly. What do you want the audience to focus on? Put that the top of the page. Add a couple of interesting personal details at the bottom of your resume, to give people a way to break the ice. Everything else is a risk. You have X minutes in an interview to build a rapport with your interviewer and persuade them you are a fit for the role. Providing details on unrelated topics is a great way to get dragged into an interesting conversation that chews up time without moving you forward. For example, I spent two years hunting credit card fraud. Interesting? Absolutely. Helps close pricing jobs? Not really….
The other benefit of this approach is it keeps you out of traps. Listing every certification or technical exposure you’ve ever been exposed to is a massive risk, especially if you haven’t recently used many of them. Listing experience unrelated to your goal risks derailing the interview. By staying tight and focused, you guide the conversation to the topics you want.
I’m a fan of the one page resume, even for senior people. Mine boils down twenty years of analytics, over half at the director level, into a single page that drives home my area of expertise (marketing and pricing analytics). It gets a decent call back rate, for competitive roles.
The Revised Resume
These changes add up to a tighter, more focused resume. They give you a chance to showcase your unique experience, helping you stand out from the rest of the crowd and potentially qualifying for higher paid roles. Finally, you avoid many common ways to derail an interview by allowing the conversation to focus on the wrong topics.
Most analytics resumes are poorly written. This is an easy way to stand out from the pack.
This article is a follow up to our earlier post on resumes and interview tips for r programmers.