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What to look for in a data science resume

The process of screening candidates for any role can be both daunting and time consuming, and even more so when the role in question is a highly technical position such as a Data Scientist. The ever growing list of tools and technologies that these professionals work with can read like a foreign language to recruiters who aren’t actively using these tools in their day to day work.

Obviously an essential step in the screening process is to note whether a candidate checks the boxes for the required skills and technologies that the employer is asking for. However, separating the great candidates from the mediocre requires going a step beyond a checklist. When looking to set apart a few candidates that stand out from the crowd and who merit a closer look, there are a few categories that I use as guiding principles:


I appreciate a quick, clear list or chart at the beginning of a resume that documents what tools, processes, and technological ecosystems a candidate has worked with. Obviously this is something I want to see backed up in the descriptions of work history… but if I have to read through paragraphs of text in order to discover whether or not a candidate has worked with Tensorflow, I’m likely to miss it.


Does the candidate tend to stay at least one year at each position? Or do they jump around every 6 months? Not to downplay the valuable service provided by short-term contractors, however a data scientist who has been at the same company for a year or more has had the chance to really get involved in their employer’s use of data science, take ownership of some projects, and see the bigger picture with how their work fits in with the company’s long-term goals. Longevity leads to greater breadth of vision, and valuable insight and experience that a candidate can bring to a new role.


No information dumping! No buzzword overloads!

A brief, clear explanation of work history shows that a candidate can truly wrap their head around the key points and overall mission of their experience. It shows that they have taken the time to sum up the core projects and processes of their work experience as opposed to just copying and pasting a laundry list from their current job description. The latter might be fine if an employer is looking for a short-term contractor to accomplish one or two very specific tasks. However, if the client is looking for someone to have the vision to help grow their program or  find creative solutions to their current problems, they will likely appreciate a candidate with a broader understanding of the scope of their work.

Being able to clearly and succinctly explain a concept or experience shows true mastery.

Attention to some of these “soft” or intuitive resume qualities is what an actual human recruiter brings to the table in contrast to a computer searching for a list of key terms… because in the end, a client is not looking to hire a checklist. They are looking to hire a team member.

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