Sarah, 26, graduated with an engineering degree in 2017, then pivoted to the world of data analytics. She worked for a consulting company for two years, but hasn’t been able to land a full-time role since then.
While she has improved her skills by taking data science courses online and has picked up volunteer and contract gigs, Sarah is eager to get back to a steady role. But she’s been applying for jobs since March without success. “It’s been difficult to secure a full-time opportunity because I feel like there are 300 other applicants out there that have better qualifications than me,” she writes.
Sarah would like to find a data role with a tech company and has a long-term goal of becoming a lead data scientist. Her preferred new job would provide opportunities for continuous learning and she’s eager to receive mentorship from her manager and team as well.
To help guide Sarah through her next steps, we reached out to career coach Jermaine L. Murray and Shingai Manjengwa, director of technical education at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and founder of the Fireside Analytics Academy.
WHAT THE CAREER COACH SAYS
Mr. Murray was impressed by Sarah’s résumé. “My first thought was ‘this is lean, mean and clean’,” he says. “She wastes no space and jumps right into building value from the first sentence and makes sure there’s little to no fluff throughout.” Mr. Murray commends Sarah’s use of numbers to show how she’s affected profitability margins of companies she’s worked at. He does suggest that Sarah remove her professional summary, then move her skills section to the top of the résumé. “This will make it easier to read and will still catch someone’s eye if they are skimming the résumé,” Mr. Murray says.
Given that Sarah’s résumé is already in a good position, Mr. Murray believes she should re-evaluate the positions she’s applying for, ensuring that her résumé's goals are aligned with the jobs she’s seeking. He also recommends that Sarah shift her efforts into networking and creating a “reputation and brand” for herself in the data science community. “She should be networking through virtual mixers or tapping into social media channels to find like-minded people,” Mr. Murray suggests. “Talk to people and comment on their posts.”
Regarding Sarah’s goal to reach a management position, Mr. Murray suggests seeking out projects that aren’t tied to a 9-to-5 as a data scientist. “If she invests in these types of activities now, no one will question her leadership or technical ability later on,” he says. Mr. Murray also thinks that Sarah shouldn’t shy away from picking up contract work to help build her experience between different projects, settings and teams. “After some time, when she’s ready for a lead position, she can transition to an actual full-time role and bring a substantial amount of value and knowledge to it.”
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS
Ms. Manjengwa also believes that Sarah’s résumé, is compelling and conveys her skills effectively. But she does have a few suggestions to help improve it. First, Sarah should highlight more of her project work in her résumé by creating a separate “Projects” section where she can showcase her range of skills. Ms. Manjengwa suggests entering data science competitions, such as Kaggle, and datathons, and seeking out projects associated with industries that she’d like to be hired in. By completing projects to learn a concept or solve a problem with data, Ms. Manjengwa believes that Sarah can demonstrate her leadership skills and a sense of initiative.
Ms. Manjengwa also suggests that Sarah take on projects demonstrating her communication and teamwork skills. “Creating YouTube tutorials is a great way to learn new skills, share them with others and demonstrate one’s knowledge on a topic,” she recommends. “The links can easily be shared in a LinkedIn profile or in a résumé, if the productions are of high quality and the content is well received.” Sarah can also collaborate on white papers or blogs to demonstrate the ability to communicate and work in a team.
As Sarah is applying for jobs, Ms. Manjengwa encourages her to look beyond the job title and learn what tasks are involved. “Data analysts may end up in roles as business analysts, junior data scientists or analysts,” she says. Ms. Manjengwa also recommends that Sarah look for data analyst jobs in “non-traditional places,” especially in industries that have been growing during the pandemic, such as delivery and parts of retail. “This is a departure from the tech industry that Sarah is interested in working at, however, these roles may be very rewarding as one typically has a greater impact in smaller teams,” explains Ms. Manjengwa.
Once Sarah has found a company of interest, she should build up her résumé to highlight projects applicable to that sector, then reach out to hiring managers on LinkedIn to introduce herself and express her interest. To further build her profile, Sarah could pick an area (for example, HR, real estate, entrepreneurship, geography) to specialize in, possibly incorporating personal interests and other passions, then apply her data science skills and techniques to that area through projects. Meanwhile, Ms. Manjengwa encourages Sarah to keep her “tool kit” up-to-date by paying attention to the latest software and tools, taking free online courses and applying new tools and techniques to her projects.
Finally, Ms. Manjengwa advises Sarah to inject some personality into her résumé by incorporating personal hobbies and passions outside of work. “The best recruiters I know want to hire interesting people.”
THE NEW RÉSUMÉ
Sarah’s résumé hasn’t changed much since the experts said her résumé was already in good shape. She has removed her summary and moved her skills section to top, as Mr. Murray suggested. Sarah has also added a projects section to her résumé to help showcase her skills, based on Ms. Manjengwa’s advice. Sarah will continue to seek out opportunities for collaborative work and will network on LinkedIn to build her profile as a data analyst.
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We’re especially interested in hearing from those who have had their employment affected by COVID-19. On the flip side, if you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us as well. You can find all our résumé reviews here.
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