What to Include in your Researcher Resume
As a researcher or research assistant, you may be working in an academic environment for a college or university. You may also be working for a private or publically funded research facility or think tank, or you may be working for a corporation or medical institution. All of these employers operate under very different conditions and their expectations vary widely as they review potential employees. At the same time, your resume details will also vary based on your own expectations, level of experience, and long-term career plans.
So of course, thereâ€™s no single right way to create a resume in the research arena. But with that in mind, there are a still a few resume sections that most employers will need to see before they decide to move to your application forward. These typically include the following:
Â· Resume Summary (Areas of Interest, Research Statement)
Â· Education Section
Â· Honors, Awards, Publications
Â· Work Experience
Â· Special Skills
As you can see while reviewing these researcher resume samples, most of these sections are formatted in a similar way from one example to the next. However, the work experience section departs from this pattern, and when you reach this section, youâ€™ll make some personal decisions about your style and layout.
You can choose the traditional chronological format, the modern functional format, or a combination of the two.
If you choose the chronological layout, which details your past jobs from most recent to least recent, youâ€™ll focus on your previous roles and your accomplishments in each position.
If you choose to create this section using the functional format instead, youâ€™ll break the entire section down into two subsections, and youâ€™ll dedicate the first to your core competencies or special areas of expertise. Thereâ€™s no need to link these to past jobs. Then, youâ€™ll drop down a line or two and provide a short list of your previous job titles. You wonâ€™t add supporting information to each of these job titles, like dates, responsibilities, or accomplishments. Youâ€™ll just let the titles speak for themselves.
The functional style may work better for candidates who have gaps, interruptions, or career shifts in their work histories. The chronological style, on the other hand, might be a better option for candidates with a smooth, uninterrupted progression from each job to the next, with steadily increasing levels of responsibility in each role.
How to Write the Researcher Resume Summary Statement
At the top of the page, just under your name and contact information, youâ€™ll introduce your document with a short summary of your most important credentials. If youâ€™re searching for an academic position, you can also use this section to provide a bulleted list of your areas of specific interest. Otherwise, youâ€™ll offer three or four lines of text that give your reader a general overview of your profile and a forecast of the content below.
For more guidance, look over the summaries spelled out in researcher resume samples and review the additional examples below:
Inspired researcher and successful team leader in protein analysis study design. Create scalable research models and on-schedule, on-budget deliverables for protein synthesis and commercial research facilities. Spearheaded the development of three patented techniques over the past five years.
Highly organized medical research assistant, familiar with multiple data input formats, data mining and search tools, and research and graphing functions in Excel. Two years of experience with survey analysis, including cross referencing data collected from sample populations in excess of 100,000. Friendly and diligent with meticulous attention to detail.
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How to Write the Researcher Education Section
At some point after your summary and/or your list of special interest areas, youâ€™ll create a resume section devoted to showing off your academic credentials. In this section, youâ€™ll list each of your degrees or major educational accomplishments in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.
For each entry, youâ€™ll list the title of your degree, your institution, your course of study, and a few optional details including your graduation dates and grade point average (if it was above 3.0). You can also list any special honors, awards, or distinctions here, though you may also decide to list these in a separate section of their own.
Donâ€™t fail to include any licenses or certifications youâ€™ve earned and any special training youâ€™ve received regarding specialized equipment or research techniques. Youâ€™ll also want to include courses in which youâ€™re currently enrolled, even if you havenâ€™t completed them yet (just note your date of anticipated completion).
How to Write your Honors, Awards and Publications Section
This section can be an extension of your education or work experience sections, but if you choose, you can create a separate subheading for this category. Under this subheading, youâ€™ll list the papers youâ€™ve published (even if you published them as part of a team) and any special honors youâ€™ve received, like speaking opportunities, special invitations, or leadership roles in seminars and symposiums. Youâ€™ll also include the awards youâ€™ve received from your academic institution, your employer, or your community.
How to Write the Researcher Resume Work Experience Section
As mentioned above and demonstrated by this set of researcher resume samples, youâ€™ll have a few different formatting options when you reach the work experience section of your researcher resume. You can choose to present this information using the chronological style, the functional style, or any combination of the two.
If youâ€™d like to draw attention to your career history, youâ€™ll choose the chronological style, and youâ€™ll list each of your past positions separately, followed by the name of your employer, the name of your company, the dates of your tenure, and your core responsibilities within that role. Youâ€™ll also add a short list of your proudest accomplishments during that chapter of your career. These points should be in bullet point form, and if possible, they should be quantifiable.
If youâ€™d rather focus on your core skills and your potential contributions to your new employer, youâ€™ll choose the functional format instead. In this case, youâ€™ll begin the section by offering a list of your areas of expertise, your preferred responsibilities, the equipment you know how to handle, and the research models and data platforms with which youâ€™re the most proficient. You donâ€™t have to tie these inclusions to any one employer, and then you can go on to detail your work experience in a simpler, scaled down section that merely mentions your past roles and company (no need to mention accomplishments and dates).
Again, check the researcher resume samples presented here and use them to model your own formatting and editing decisions.
Action Verbs to Include in Your Researcher Work Experience Section
As you complete your work experience section in the chronological format, youâ€™ll be using action verbs to describe your capabilities and past accomplishments, and youâ€™ll want to choose verbs that are precise, dynamic, and memorable. Consider some of the options and suggestions below.
How to Write the Researcher Resume Skills Section
As you review researcher resume samples, youâ€™ll notice that some of them feature a section at or near the end of the document designed to highlight areas of special skill. Since the most job-specific skill sets will have been featured in earlier sections (such as equipment use, software proficiency, and familiarity with various research models), this section will feature skills that have not yet been covered and skills that are on the softer side.
These can include leadership and organizational skills, scheduling and budgeting skills, communication and presentation skills, and also writing, language, teamwork, artistic, or fundraising skills. In fact, any skill that may grab attention or help your profile stand out should be listed here. If in doubt, err on the side of inclusion and refer back to the job description. If it mentions a specific skill, and you hold that skill, you should absolutely include it.
Should I Include References in my Researcher Resume
If youâ€™re pursuing an academic position which may involve an element of teaching as well as research, youâ€™ll be creating a document that looks more like a CV than a corporate resume. In this case, you may want to include the names and contact information for your professional references directly within the text of your profile.
If youâ€™re searching for an industry or government position with a private, public, or non-academic employer, you wonâ€™t include your references in your resume unless youâ€™ve been specifically asked to do so by the employer or job post. In this case, youâ€™ll list your references in a separate document and submit that document only after youâ€™ve been contacted and instructed to do so by your reviewers.
Researcher Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
As you study these researcher resume samples and start drafting and editing your own document, youâ€™ll want to keep an eye out for these common mistakes.
Disorganization: As they skim through your resume, your readers should be able to quickly find the specific information theyâ€™re looking for, and every detail that they need to see should appear where they expect to see it. If an important honor, award, or certification is misclassified or left out of its respective section, this could harm your chances.
Length issues: Make sure your resume is not too long or too short. If your employers provide specific instructions on this point, follow those instructions. If not, try to keep your document limited to two pages or fewer.
Small errors: In the research field, attention to detail is critical. Make sure your resume reflects your meticulous, thorough approach to your work. Sloppiness and stray clerical errors can be very damaging.
Job Prospects in the Research Field
You may be looking for work as a marketing researcher, a medical researcher, or a lab assistant in a semi-conductor fabrication facility. You may also be searching for any one of hundreds of research roles across countless different industry sectors. Even if these positions involve similar responsibilities, the job prospects for each role will vary widely. Check the website for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and enter your target job title in the search field to get a sense of the opportunities available to you during the next 10 years.