Great Data Scientist? 5 Tips To Push Your Resume To The Next Level


When hiring for my team, I long to find a great person who will not only do the job well, but add value. I always start with a high level of excitement at the possibilities but am usually beaten down after looking at hundreds of resumes without finding many that stand out.

It’s true that good Data Scientists are hard to find, but some of them make it even harder by starting off on the wrong foot. This has motivated me to make the process better by giving some resume tips to potential recruits.

What Makes A Great Data Scientist

Let’s start with what makes a great Data Scientist. The most successful people on my team have the following qualities:

  1. They can grok a business problem, come up with a solution, pitch it and defend it against criticism.
  2. They have solid statistics and machine learning skills and the tenacity to create an algorithm, run experiments, report results and repeat with tweaks until success or failure is clear.
  3. They can code a prototype that works well enough to run those experiments.

We look for candidates who are great in at least two of these areas and passable in the third. Amazing candidates are great in all three.

For most applicants, I have to rely on their written application to decide which ones to pursue. And here’s where I fear many good candidates slip through the cracks due to avoidable mistakes. So, as a service to future candidates, and it must be said, myself, here are some tips to make all our lives easier.

Tips for A Stand-Out Resume

1. Write a Cover Letter.

When applying, please write a cover letter. If the recruiting tool does not allow this, include an ‘objective’ section in your resume with the gist of a cover letter.

A cover letter is your first chance to show how good you are at communicating. It doesn’t have to be very long. Simply highlight why you’re a great fit and why you want to join my team. Note, it should be about what you can bring to the company, not what the company can bring to you. Of course working as a part of my team is a great opportunity for you to learn, but that’s true for all candidates. What do you bring to us?

2. Resume That Complements

The resume should complement the cover letter. Again, it should highlight the value you would bring to my team, not how the team will help you. Show me your strengths and achievements. Quantify them if possible. Be assertive and concise. One page is plenty. You can always point to LinkedIn or another website to include more detail.

Please note that, not only is the content important, but the quality of the cover letter and resume matters. Please minimize spelling and grammatical mistakes. It doesn’t reflect well on your communication skills to have errors. Also, format matters. Send the resume in PDF, not a Word document.

3. Go Beyond The Resume

I love it when candidates include links to external websites. A LinkedIn page is an obvious choice – and, full disclosure, I will look for yours even if you don’t send me the link. You can also point to a page at your school or a personal website.

4. Put A Face To The Name

I especially love it when candidates put a photo on their site. This is because people on my team sometimes present to senior executives. If I see a neat, reasonable photo, that tells me that you have confidence in yourself and there’s a chance you can present successfully in a business setting.

5. Back Up Your Skills

Finally, consider adding links to code or demos e.g. on GitHub or websites. This gives me an early read on your coding/prototyping skills. In fact, simply knowing you can use GitHub is a point in your favor.

Give Yourself the Leg Up

We all know that finding good candidates from only written material is an imperfect science. Ultimately we can both only make a decision after getting to know each other better. But by following the advice above, you at least give yourself the best chance possible to be in the running.


Interested in learning more about working at DataXu? Check out our careers page here.