Resume Tips for Entry-Level STEM Careers

by Leslie Toth, MBA, CPRW, PHR, SHRM-CP

STEM
Resume tips for STEM graduates. Practical insights on how to improve your resume if you are graduating in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students have become very attractive to hiring managers in the last few years. As a new grad you are excited to use your new degree to land your first job, but writing a resume for a new college grad is difficult. The ideal resume, especially in a STEM field, does not only describe how you have filled your summers, it also lists the jobs and research positions you have held, as well as providing a description of your interests, bases of knowledge, and transferable skills. Keep reading to learn a few tips on what STEM resumes should include, and how to make your STEM resume stand out from the crowd.

Projects

STEM students should include a description of projects they participated in while in school. When writing the descriptions make sure to include specific laboratory equipments used, as well as processes and outcomes from these projects.

Make sure to also include any project work you were involved with where you worked in a team or with a professor.

Research

For many STEM students their first experience in a field is conducting research. This research is a great opportunity to gain practical experience and provides great content for a resume. STEM resumes should include information on any partnership with faculty on specific research. Content for the resume should include research experiments, on or off-campus, poster presentations, grant writing support, and /or research methodologies.

Coursework

STEM coursework contains a strong base of knowledge and a wide range of versatile, transferable skills. For many students early in their career this knowledge is demonstrated in coursework, and transferable skills are demonstrated with experience in summer jobs and internships. Many may feel that these types of jobs do not have any relevance to the position which the candidate is applying for, but the knowledge gained is very relevant. Coursework, volunteer work, or job shadowing and research with a professor can demonstrate interest in the position and the field of work.

Summer Fellowships

All STEM students considering furthering their education in graduate school should participate in academic fellowships during summer breaks. These fellowships provide hands-on work experience and also serve as great resume builders, separating themselves from other candidates. Many research fellowships are open to all college students including freshman. To remain competitive, college students must have strong STEM resumes with evidence of research, project, internships, co-ops, and academic fellowships.

Internships and Coops

STEM resumes must include internship and co-op experience. For STEM majors this experience could provide the competitive advantage needed over another student. Hiring managers want to see that STEM majors are not only interested in college coursework, but have also been involved in the practical applications of their studies.

Tone of Resume

Writing a STEM resume is different than a resume for other careers.

  • Length Matters: It is acceptable for a STEM resume to be 1 page. It is not necessary to write wordy paragraphs to describe every task performed on a job. Summarizing the work provides enough detail to the hiring manager. More detail can be provided during the interview.

  • Present Facts: Provide the facts in a bullet list. This allows the reader to quickly understand what was accomplished in each position. Providing more details with fewer words offers less distraction in the resume.

  • Verb Statements: Use strong verb statements that summarize the work performed.

Proofread

Your resume is the first opportunity to demonstrate your experience as well as ability to communicate effectively. Exemplary work experience, demonstrated work ethic, and consistency of interest can make an excellent resume stand out from the crowd. But even the most interesting and qualified candidate can sabotage his/her application with poor proofreading skills. Careful attention to detail will be essential in any STEM job, post-grad program, internship, or fellowship.

When crafting your next resume, get to the point quickly. Highlight what you have accomplished in active verb-based sentences and move onto the next position. These tips will get you to the interview where you can discuss what you have to offer in more detail.

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