How to Create a STEM Resume: The Basics

Tyler Macaluso – February 6th, 2018

Resumes are often seen as daunting or difficult to create, especially for STEM majors that might be earlier on in their college careers, causing them to feel less qualified. However, this should not be the case because STEM majors actually have more freedom and variability when it comes to what they can include on their resumes compared to many other majors. As a STEM major, you can include almost anything relevant to the job/ position you are applying for, including technical skills, research positions and publications, shadowing, projects, certifications and much more!

 

Featured below are details and advice on some sections that are commonly seen on STEM resumes of all kinds. Additionally, ideas and tips on how to create and format the content in these sections can also be found below. Finally, the bottom of this blog post will discuss guidelines and goals when making the sections on your resume so that you are able to create the best STEM resume possible!


Contact Information

Purpose:

All resumes should include this section so that the employer/ organization that you are applying for can reach you in order to move forward in the hiring process

Tips and Tricks:

  • This information is found at the top of a resume, sometimes even in the header
  • Your name should be the most noticeable part of this section (this is the one instance where the font size can be above 12pt, however it generally shouldn't exceed 20pt)
  • Including one mailing address is adequate, however if you choose to include two (which is still completely fine) then they should be separated and distinct, with some indication of preference in case the employer/ organization wants to send you something through the postal system
  • You should include your email address and primary phone number for easier communication
  • Any links to professional networking or social media sites (i.e. LinkedIn or Facebook) can be included in this section but are not necessary

 

Examples:

Henry Hoover

1789 Stadium Road | 516-377-2821| hbh3zq@virginia.edu


Education Section

Purpose:

This is another common section that is very important, especially for STEM majors since we are often applying to more technical jobs. The purpose of this section is generally to convey what kind of relevant educational training or background a candidate has. This section should definitely include information on any and all colleges or graduate programs you have been through, as well as what kind of degree (both the major as well as if the degree is a B.A., B.S., PhD., etc.) you graduated (or will graduate) with. If you are pursing a minor, this is the section where it should be included. This section can also include a list of relevant coursework, however as this can also become its own section, which will be discussed next. 

Tips and Tricks:

  • A general rule for all resumes is if you are still a student, this should be conveyed within this section (this is often done by including "Expected May 20xx" before one's graduation date)
  • Including one's GPA in this section is common, however, if your cumulative GPA is below a 3.0 then you should include your major GPA if this is higher; if this is the case then you must specify that the GPA included is your major GPA, and not your cumulative GPA. If both of your GPA's are below a 3.0 (which is completely OKAY, any form of degree from the University of Virginia is highly-respected across all different STEM fields), then you may want to consider omitting this information unless specifically asked for
  • This is a great section to include any relevant coursework you have completed that is related for the position you are applying for. When coursework is included in this section (as opposed to its own section, which will be considered in the next section), it is often done so in a list-type format where the title of each relevant course (i.e. Program and Data Representation) are listed sequentially. However, this list should not exceed two lines of your resume because this can often cause spacing issues, as well as over-dilute your resume with information (if you are listing more than two lines of classes, odds are some of them are not relevant and should be omitted to more effectively highlight/ display the courses that actually related to the position).
  • It is totally acceptable to include any relevant Honors, Scholarships, Nominations, etc., as a subsection within this section, however you are also able to make this information its own section entirely

 

Examples:

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA                                                                                                                                             Expected May 20xx

B.S. Systems Engineering, GPA: 3.50

B.A. Economics, GPA: 3.33

Cumulative GPA: 3.44

Relevant Coursework: Intro to Econometrics, Intermediate Microeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Antitrust Policy, Morphology, Linguistic Field Methods

or

Relevant CourseworkIntro to Econometrics, Intermediate Microeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Antitrust Policy, Morphology, Linguistic Field Methods


Technical Skills and Certifications

Purpose:

This is another section that tends to be more important for STEM resumes compared to other kinds of resumes. This section is meant to explicitly list out any technical skills or certifications that might be relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Tips and Tricks:

  • This section tends to be located more towards the top of a STEM resume (generally right after the Education Section), or at the very bottom of the resume. This tends to be the case because of the importance and easy readability of this section, allowing employers to distinguish the candidates that possess the desired skills they are looking for, from those that don't, thus this section is highly relevant and characteristic of the rest of the resume. Therefore, it should be located easily within one's resume
  • Differentiation between different kinds of skills is not necessary for resumes with a smaller number of skills, however as you grow and develop your resume, it might be useful to distinguish between different realms of skills (i.e. Web Development Languages vs Programming Languages vs Database Languages, etc.)
  • This section might include some information that also appears in other sections of your resume, however this section is solely a listing of the skills, it generally does not include content bullets or background information on how you acquired these skills
  • You will need to convey your capacity/ ability with each skill in order to give the employer a better idea of you as a candidate, and to prevent you from appearing over-qualified and then being subsequently caught off-guard in an interview when asked a question your resume implied you should be able to solve, but actually cannot. Thus, conveying comfort/ capability levels with your skills in this section is very important. Some common ways this is often expressed is through using language like "Mastery in/ Expert In" to convey a high-level of mastery of a skill (although this is more rare for undergraduate students); "Proficient In/ Adept In" to convey a level of skill competency such that you are able to use and apply the skill for real-world applications, or you are familiar enough with the skill that you are able to figure out how to appropriately apply the skill for new problems (this tends to be the most common comfort level for college students); finally, "Experience with/ Exposure To" conveys a beginner-comfort level, but also communicates to the employer that this skill is not completely new to you, and that you are eager to develop it

Examples:

Proficient in: Minitab, LabVIEW, SolidWorks, @RISK Risk Analysis, Arena Simulation, Java, MySQL, Microsoft Office, Excel VBA

Experience with: PHP, HTML, Android, MathCad, R, STATA, AWS


Relevant Coursework

Purpose:

This can be one of the most important sections in a resume for STEM students because jobs and internships in STEM fields often require skills and qualifications (i.e. coding/ programming languages, research procedures and protocols, medical processes, etc.) that students have only been exposed to in the classroom, yet are still required to posses in order to even get hired for these internship/ entry-level jobs. Thus, this section can be essential to a good quality STEM resume because it helps to bridge the perceived knowledge/ skill gap of students to real-world positions by highlighting how the student has actually begun to develop the necessary skills for the position through their schooling, and that an employment opportunity actually gives the student the chance to use the skills they learned for real-world applications, benefiting the employer while simultaneously developing the student professionally.

Tips and Tricks:

  • This section should be treated as every other kind of resume section- clearly separate from other sections, highlighting previous relevant experiences with headers, and then subsequent content in bullet form, and finally consistent formatting and structuring throughout the entire section (in a manner that matches the rest of the document)
  • This section is almost the opposite of the list format for relevant coursework; instead, this section delves deep into a select few courses that offer the most relevant experience/ exposed you to the most applicable skills
  • You should include the name of the Course, the Course acronym and numeric, and the time-frame you took the course (although this part is optional)
  • The content bullets of each Course should highlight the technical skills from the course, any projects or labs that required specialized processes or procedures (i.e. design cycle, evaluation reviews, statical analysis, user analysis, etc.), and any use of products that are commonly used within the relevant fields (i.e. specific/ unique research instruments, Amazon Web Services, data visualization tools, etc.). Additionally, you can highlight any qualifications or knowledge that you developed in the course which you are able to apply to real-world problems and applications
  • The content bullets for this section can be created and formatted in the same way as any other content bullet - start with a strong and descriptive action verb, describe your task and how you accomplished it, and finally end with the results of your efforts (numbers are your best friend). 
  • This section also helps to convey a candidate's interest in a field or area of study by providing background dedication to learning the subject
  • Do not be afraid to explicitly state the technical or transferable skills gained from your coursework, THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS SECTION!

 

Examples:

Systems Evaluation - SYS 3034

- Delivered weekly cases and presentations designed to replicate real-world case work

- Conducted statistical analysis of MLB baseball teams and players in order to develop drafting methods to improve team success, placed 1st out of 10 teams in simulated draft

- Created consultation for APT case. Analyzed the sensitivity of a proposed price increase across ~400 stores, using Microsoft Excel to calculate elasticity of demand and find optimal price, and Minitab to verify statistical significance of results

 

Data and Information Engineering SYS 2202

- Utilized Amazon Web Services and MySQL to program an online database to predict outcomes of NFL matchups based on results from the prior season 


Research Experience

Purpose:

For many STEM students, their first actual experience within a field of study is through conducting research- this section is meant to convey the skills and experiences you gained from this research. Research is a great way to gain practical experience and transferable skills, so this section should be formatted and structured in such a way to highlight the student's acquisition of relevant skills/ experience by detailing the actions taken during the research, as well as any results that came from this research.

Tips and Tricks:

  • The content bullets should include information on any partnership with faculty or professionals for the specific research, as well as information on the research experiments, poster presentations, grant writing support, and research methodologies
  • As was the case for relevant coursework, this section should be treated as every other kind of resume section- clearly separate from other sections, highlighting previous relevant experiences with headers, and then subsequent content in bullet form, and finally consistent formatting and structuring throughout the entire section (in a manner that matches the rest of the document)
  • Often students that work with faculty for research stand the chance of having their name on the final publication; this can be included in this section with the rest of the research content, however it can also be put in its own section altogether. You must indicate if this research has already been published though, or if it is in the process of doing so (if this is the case, say something along those lines of that the research is in the process of publication), however publications should not be the goal of research, since often the skills, experiences, and connections gained from conducting research are more than sufficient to develop a quality STEM resume

Examples:

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Research Assistant, Department of Biology                                                                                                                                                                           May 2016-August 2016

- Created single amino acid mutations in an enzyme involved in sulfur metabolism, sulfite reductase

- Cleaned and organized lab equipment

- Ordered and maintained office and lab supplies


Relevant (Technical/ Professional) Experience

Purpose:

The purpose of this section is fairly straightforward - it is meant to highlight experiences and skills in order to provide you with competitive advantage needed over other applicants. The creation and formatting of this section is pretty much the same for STEM majors as for other majors. All different kinds of jobs, experiences, skills, trainings, etc., can be put into this section as long as they are relevant to the position you are applying to. For STEM majors specifically, this can often include previous jobs/ internships, leadership positions for clubs and organizations, independent projects, companies you founded, and much more.

 

Tips and Tricks:

  • The content of your experiences within this section should be highly focused to the position you are applying for- even if you gained additional technical skills from a previous job that you think valuable but irrelevant should be omitted. However, you can include these other skills gained from an experience when applying for a job that relates to them, often allowing experiences within this section to be described differently when applying to different positions
  • Consult the Career Center's Hoo's Career Guide for more specific information on how to create and format relevant experiences on a resume

Other

Projects/ Hackathons/ Presentations:

Sometimes the best way to present your skills, or perhaps your only exposure to an experience, has been because of project (either academic or personal) or hackathon. These kind of experiences can either have their own section (which is created and formatted similar to content for research experience), or be placed within your "Relevant Experience" section. 

Clinical/ Shadowing Experience

Clinical/ Shadowing Experience can be treated in the same manner as described above for Projects/ Hackathons/ Presentation

 


****NOTE: Resumes for STEM majors still serve the same main function as all other kinds of resumes -  to be used as an tailored marketing tool for a candidate's skills and qualifications in relation to an application for a specific position. The general end goal of a resume is to successfully continue on in the hiring process, where the next step in the hiring process is generally an interview. This general purpose of a resume should always be kept in mind when creating one's resume because it will often dictate what information you choose to include, and how you choose to present it. Thus, it is completely acceptable to describe a previous experience in two different ways if applying for two relevant but different positions, but never falsify or overelaborate your qualifications because this can often do more harm then help. Furthermore, the sections described above are suggestions and recommendations, but you can ultimately create your resume however you think will give you the greatest chances of continuing in the hiring process.****

Thanks for reading, and I hope this How-To Guide on STEM Resumes was helpful! Feel free to visit the Career Center offices' for additional guidance, information, or to answer anymore questions you might have!