Organizations across industries rely on data to inform strategy and streamline processes in their workplaces. For this reason, the need for trained data analysts has increased exponentially across industries.
“The job market for analysts is excellent right now,” says Thomas Goulding, a professor within Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Analytics program. “Data analysis is one of the most sought-after skill sets that exist today.”
Current hiring trends only confirm Goulding’s view; as of March 2020, LinkedIn alone listed over 30,000 open positions for skilled data analysts.
Despite this high-demand for individuals with a background in data analysis, the competition for these roles—especially at top tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.—can be quite fierce. For this reason, it’s important that you take the time during your job search to build a resumé that properly displays the unique combination of education, skills, and experiences that make you a desirable candidate for a data analyst job.
Read on to learn what the key components of an impactful data analyst resumé are and how you can strategically structure your experience in a way that helps you stand out during the hiring process.
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The Structure of a Data Analyst Resumé
A data analyst’s resumé needs to represent to the hiring team who you are, what you’ve done, and how you can be an asset to their team—but hitting all those marks isn’t always easy.
“Resumé writing is an art,” Goulding says. “Your resumé must capture the attention of the person who reads it, [and] the goal is to have them want to talk to you on the phone [or] in person in an interview.”
The best way to ensure your resumé accomplishes this is to structure it in a way that is both detailed and easy to digest. To do this, aim to limit your resumé to one page in length and use the space available to you strategically.
Pro Tip: Although highly experienced individuals with significant past professional experience can sometimes get away with a two-page resumé, in general, best practice is to keep it limited to one page.
You should also consider breaking your resumé up into three strategic sections to help guide hiring managers through the piece. Be sure to highlight each section break with bold headings, and keep the general format of each section the same. For example, if you were to use bulleted lists in one region, consider using them throughout instead of switching to longer sentences or paragraphs. The consistency in format will go a long way in keeping the reader engaged with your content.
According to Goulding, the four most important sections to highlight in your resumé are:
- Contact Information
- Key Project Highlights and/or Technical Skills
- Chronological Work Experience
Below, we offer a more in-depth look at why each of these sections is vital to include, and what information should fall within them.
1. Contact Information
The most prominent piece of information on your resumé, believe it or not, is your full name. After all, that’s what the hiring team is likely going to use to keep track of you as a candidate throughout their recruitment process. For that reason, you want to be sure that your name is the very first piece of information at the top of your resumé, and that it stands out—either by being bolded, in all capital letters, in slightly larger font size than the rest of the document, etc.
Directly below your name, you will want to include your contact information, including your email address and the URL of your LinkedIn profile.
Pro Tip: You can customize your LinkedIn URL so it appears cleaner on your resumé.
Though the email address and LinkedIn profile have all but replaced the need for a physical address on resumés today, Goulding emphasizes that international data analysts specifically should avoid listing their permanent address on their resumés if it is outside the U.S., as this often is an indicator of a need for sponsorship. Since sponsorship is often expensive and time-consuming, this factor may deter some organizations from calling you in for an interview.
“You want to get an interview and want [the hiring team] to want you so badly as a candidate that they’ll sponsor you for whatever’s needed, but that can only happen if they’ve met you,” he says. For this reason, he recommends not highlighting any kind of international status until further into the interview process.
Sample “Contact” Section
When it comes to listing education, be sure to highlight any degrees you’ve received, as well as the institution you received them from—especially if that institution is of note within the analytics field. Students graduating from Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Analytics program, for example, should ensure that “the detail that jumps out to [hiring teams] is that you’re graduating from a prestigious institution,” Goulding says. “The fact that you’re at Northeastern, a top 40 university, will be very important.”
Did You Know: Many analysts seeking jobs in the industry hold a graduate degree like an MPS in Analytics. Alongside a desire to stay up-to-date on the evolving technology, practices, and challenges of the field, these professionals often seek this advanced training to keep up with hiring trends. “A lot of employers have lost confidence in the significance of a [bachelor’s] degree,” Goulding says. “It used to be that if people had a bachelor’s in computer science, even from a credible institution, that they were qualified. But [organizations] are now discovering that’s not the case.” Instead, hiring teams often consider the inclusion of a master’s degree on a data analyst’s resumé the true indication of their abilities.
Keep the ordering of your degrees in mind when crafting this section, as well. Always place your highest-level degrees on top; for most, this will mean listing your master’s in analytics, followed by your bachelor’s degree, and finally any relevant certificates you hold beneath that. Popular certificates for those in this field might include the Cisco suite on analytics, cybersecurity, and networking, among others. Alongside each level of education, be sure to list out the institution you graduated from and when, as well as specifics on your area of study.
Sample “Education” Section
3. Key Project Highlights / Technical Skills
Whether you choose to look at this section as a gathering of highlights from projects you’ve worked on or as an actionable demonstration of your skills, what’s important is that you use this second section to display your core competencies as an analyst.
While each analyst’s path and experiences will be different, some key competencies analyst applicants might highlight on this section of their resumés include:
- Programming languages Python and R
- Linear Regression
- Analysis and Variance
- Machine Learning
- Supervised and Unsupervised Learning
Goulding emphasizes that, while these kinds of abilities are important to include, you must work to display this experience through examples and projects worked on, rather than by simply listing them out. In other words, it’s important to show not tell.
“Coming across as having technical competence and being a well-trained graduate is [one of the] most important things to communicate on your [resumé],” he says. To do this, he suggests framing your competencies within the projects you’ve worked on.
“Make certain projects be right at the top of your resumé,” Goulding explains. “Communicate what the project was…identify the company, the type of data set worked on, and some of the conclusions you drew from it.”
For Example: If you wanted to list abilities in Python on your resumé, “don’t just say ‘I studied Python.’ [Say], ‘I have four years of experience doing linear regressions and predictive analytics in machine learning using Python,’” Goulding explains. Similarly, “if you want to prove to somebody that you know Python and that you’re a problem solver, you [might] put on your resumé that you’ve solved 25 or 100 [of the Euler project],” he suggests, referencing a very complex set of mathematical and computer programming problems that only someone with advanced skills can solve.
No matter which skills you choose to highlight through the inclusion of project-specific work, including this context will go a long way in demonstrating your true abilities.
One issue Goulding often sees among recent graduates is that the only true project work they have is academic in nature. While these projects—and the subsequent skills obtained because of them—are absolutely worth including, many employers will look more highly upon professional experience. It is for that reason that Northeastern’s MPS in Analytics program has developed a curriculum that embraces experiential learning, and provides countless opportunities for students to work on real-world analytics problems at organizations across industries.
“One thing that gives our students an advantage is that we’re very much oriented to having our students do experiential learning projects as well as get work experience in the field while they’re still a student,” Goulding says. “Gaining this kind of experience can be very beneficial during [the job application] process. An interviewer isn’t so interested in talking to you about what you studied in your stats class, but he’d be interested in having you talk to him about a data set you’ve worked on, [for example.] It helps differentiate you from everybody else.”
Sample “Key Project Highlights” Section
4. Chronological Work Experience
Beneath your key projects section should be a list of your past professional work experiences in chronological order, with the most recent listed on top. Although this is likely less important to the hiring manager—who is more interested in the extent of your analytics abilities—HR professionals use this section almost exclusively to determine if you’re a good fit for an interview during early rounds of candidate screenings. This is because those in HR do not often have extensive knowledge of the niche role you’re applying for, and are thus looking to see if you’ve held similar roles at similar companies, how long you’ve been in the workforce, and how long you were at each company instead.
“Work experience matters,” Goulding says. “Employers generally will prefer somebody who has work experience over somebody who is green and has never worked in analytics before.”
Keep In Mind: This is another example in which those who pursue a master’s in analytics at a top university like Northeastern are at an advantage. Many professionals that are switching careers may struggle in a job application process because they do not have any relevant work experience to list. However, those that pursue a degree at Northeastern have the benefit of including the real-world experiences they gained as part of the program in this section.
To keep this section of your resumé organized, utilize the same format for each of your past roles. For each position listed, be sure to include the company name, a brief description of the company (if needed), your title, the dates you worked there, and a bulleted list of three to five responsibilities you held.
Sample “Professional Experience” Section
Getting Your Resumé Seen
Now that you’ve structured your resumé effectively, there are a few extra steps you should take to ensure that resumé will actually be seen when applying to jobs.
First, make sure that your resumé passes the “HR vs. Hiring Manager” test, meaning that it contains the base information needed to get you flagged as a potential candidate by HR, while simultaneously providing the details and context a hiring manager will want to see in order to call you in for an interview. In short, “you want to ask yourself, ‘How do I get beyond the person who can reject me so I can show the [person] who can actually hire me how great I am?’” Goulding says.
One of the key ways to make sure HR teams notice your resumé is by incorporating the buzzwords that align with the data analytics field. “HR managers don’t really know anything about the discipline they’re being asked to help hire for,” Goulding says. “They’re looking for buzzwords, and if they see the right buzzwords they’ll pass your resumé along.”
For example, common buzzwords in the analyst field might include:
- Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics
- Natural Language Processing
- Artificial Intelligence
- Mobile Analytics
- Cognitive Computing
- Data Mining
- Data-Driven Decision Making
Individuals who can incorporate these—as well as many other key data analyst terms—into their resumés will likely have a better chance of having their application seen.
Another step you can take to help get your resumé noticed is to tailor the information you include within each section to the specific job you’re applying to.
“It doesn’t hurt to have five or six different versions of your resumé so that you can send them to different people who have different agendas,” Goulding says. “Your resumé needs to [continuously align] with your goals, while also strategically reflecting what the hiring manager [at each particular company] is looking for.”
This might be as simple as highlighting a particular skill depending on the role or team you’re applying to, but this idea of tailoring your resumé to fit each job is especially relevant for those switching to a data analytics career from a different field. For instance, if you started your career as a research assistant at a hospital, you may not include that title on your resumé for most data analytics roles. However, if you’re applying to work as an analyst at a healthcare company, that organization may see the value in your research experience and it may actually be what positively sets you apart from other applicants. It’s all about deciding what aspects of your background and experiences will be most desirable to the hiring team and then crafting a resumé specific to that job description.
Setting Yourself Apart From the Competition
Data analysts today have the potential to land lucrative careers—if they take the time to position themselves correctly. For every job you apply to, be sure to take the time to strategically assess what the employer is looking for, and then craft your data analyst resumé to best suit that need. And for those looking to stand out from the competition even further, consider applying for a master’s degree in analytics from a top university like Northeastern. This tailored education will provide you with the skills and hands-on project experience you need to thrive in the industry, as well as the educational background employers today are looking for.
Learn more about Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Analytics on our program page, and uncover the many ways this advanced degree can set you on a path toward success in the exciting data industry.