The most common mistake I see when working with scientists and engineering professionals is information overload. Information overload shows up as confusing industry jargon, unfamiliar acronyms, or overly detailed job descriptions while neglecting the impact you delivered.
So how can you present your technical skills, knowledge, and achievements in a way that leaves a positive impression for your 3 types of readers: ATS, frontline recruiter or HR professional, and hiring decision-maker?
Highlight distinguishing features that set you apart
You only have a short window, an average of 6-10 seconds, and as little as 4 seconds to capture the reader’s attention. Don’t lead with a terrible objective about self-realization that you’re hoping the company will help you achieve. Instead, think about your career and look at the job posting requirements.
What were your proudest achievements?
Be selective about your technical skills
Most scientists and engineers possess deep technical skill sets due to these industries’ constant progression and evolution. Many job seekers are tempted to include every skill on their resume.
If your background is in science, you likely have the knowledge and hands-on experience designing experiments, running various laboratory tests, and using specialty instrumentation and other unique equipment.
I recently worked with a scientist with a diverse chemistry background specializing in polymer science, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. He wanted to target multiple positions in each of those disciplines. Together, we crafted 3 resumes for each career path that emphasized specific knowledge and technical skills related to each career target.
For example, a Polymer Chemist will use different lab techniques to synthesize and characterize new materials than an analytical chemist whose role is more instrumentation-based and aims to develop methods to identify and quantify other substances and compounds. In that case, we emphasized the technical skills most relevant for the polymer chemistry role and left out the more organic and biochemistry-focused ones.
You can also create a separate section on your resume. Call it “Technical Skills,” “Laboratory Skills,” or something that denotes the purpose of that section.
Minimize the technical jargon
But Kate, how the hell do you do that?! The nature of my job is technical.
True. I would never advise any of my clients to avoid technical terms completely. Doing that will work against you in keyword optimization and ATS readability.
Think of it this way. In your day-to-day, depending on your background and who you work with, you are likely used to talking shop with fellow researchers, scientists, and engineers. While working in the specialty chemicals industry, I had technical conversations with various people in different technical roles.
Now, imagine you have to explain these concepts to a layperson, in this case, a frontline recruiter or HR professional. You need to take a different communication approach and provide a frame of reference that focuses on how you used your technical skills and knowledge to help the company achieve its business goals.
First, start by thinking of the types of problems you solved.
Then, lead with the results.
Emphasize your most relevant projects and initiatives
Most experienced engineers and scientists have worked on various projects. If you have a long list of projects, you may be tempted to include each one on your resume. This approach will make your resume go on for multiple pages and overwhelm the reader.
While it’s important to be proud of your work, you need to consider its relevance. Projects from 10 years ago may not be as interesting to prospective employers as more recent ones. If this applies to you, I advise limiting the number of projects you display to the most recent ones, primarily those most relevant to the job target. You can also create a supplementary file that lists your projects and modify them as needed.
You can apply this same approach when listing other professional recognition, including publications, patents, speaking engagements, board membership, etc.
Don’t forget your transferable skills
Many scientists and engineers make this mistake. While technical skills are important for performing the job effectively, transferable skills govern human interaction.
Think of times when you:
Why do employers seek transferable skills?
In general, employees with strong transferable skills can go beyond the job description, meet various challenges, and demonstrate adaptability and versatility.
A 2019 survey of more than 2,000 people conducted online by the Harris Poll on behalf of Yoh suggested that 75% of Americans would be more likely to hire candidates who have soft skills versus having the right technical qualifications or experience.
This tactic makes sense because someone who is coachable and motivated to learn while having decent interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills will be easier to work with than someone who may be an accomplished expert in their field but lacks emotional intelligence, an even temperament, or coachability.
Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get some real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go, with greater results!