This guest post was provided by Pathrise, an online mentorship program that works with students and professionals during each step of their job search. We have helped 700+ people land great jobs in tech through our workshops and 1-on-1 mentorships.
If you are coming up on graduation from your university or bootcamp, you are probably turning your attention to the job search. It’s exciting, but, looking for your first role in a new industry can also be overwhelming. Plus, we are seeing that more and more people are competing for the same early career positions, which means you might be applying against people with some experience.
Luckily for you, at Pathrise, we have helped hundreds of data scientists navigate the job search and we know how to do it right. We will highlight our data-backed tips to help you in your search for entry level data science jobs.
Step 1: Start strong with your resume and portfolio
The first way you can stand out against the competition is with a strong resume. This is the first impression you will make with the recruiter and you need to grab their attention. Make sure your statements highlight the impact of your work by describing why it was important. Then, quantify each one with your results or the scale of the project.
You also want to create a visually pleasing, but clean and professional document. Use a modern sans serif font and no more than one cool color (blue, purple, or green) to add some differentiation. Keep all of your spacing consistent as well and do not use more than two columns. We created an annotated, editable data science resume template that you can adapt for your own use.
Along with your resume, you will need a strong data science portfolio that recruiters and hiring managers can review at the same time. To remain competitive on the job market, both bootcamp and university grads should spend substantial time working on side projects. You can find this additional work through open source platforms like GitHub, data science communities like Kaggle, or amongst your friends. Showcase this work, and your class projects, in your portfolio. Be sure to include context and tell a full story, so recruiters and hiring managers can better understand your passions and skills.
Step 2: Follow up your applications with cold emails
Hitting submit on a job application is not the end of the process. If you want your resume to be seen, you need to send a compelling and concise cold email to the recruiter right after you apply. These cold emails are essential to personifying your application and getting your resume put on the top of the pile. Fellows in our program have found that sending cold emails with their applications triples their response rate.
The first step is to find a company recruiter who has something in common with you. We recommend using LinkedIn to do this. These connections “warm up” your email and make the recruiter want to help you more. Some examples of strong commonalities are: same hometown, university, bootcamp, or hobbies.
Once you have found this person, then you need to figure out their email address. You can find an email address using tools like Clearbit and Leadfinder. If you prefer to add someone as a connection on LinkedIn, always include a personal note that highlights your connection and expresses your interest in their current position or company.
Finally, you are ready to send them a cold email. Your subject line should highlight your connection and why you are reaching out. For example, “Fellow NU alum interested in Google product role.” Then, you need to craft the actual email. Cold emails should be concise, compelling, personalized, friendly, and accurate. If you’ve gotten the recipient to open the email in the first place, you should get right to point.
Start with a shortened elevator pitch where you explain who you are and what you are interested in. Then, personalize the message to the company. What research did you do? How can you help them? Why are you the right fit for the role? Finally, close it out with an actionable ending. Take the time to thank them for reading your email, acknowledging how busy they are and try to get something on the books. Give them a couple time slots to make it as easy as possible. For example, you can say, “Let me know if you are free for a 15 minute chat on Tuesday at 9:30am PST or Thursday at 3:30pm PST.” Make sure that you attach your resume to the email as well in case they forward it along to another team member.
For more cold email templates and guidance, check out our article.
Step 3: Prepare for your interviews
As you prepare for phone screens and behavioral interviews, you need to develop a strong understanding of a company’s culture, as well as their values, mission, and products. Spend the time to research the company by checking out their About page, Careers page, and Products page. This knowledge will come in handy when you prepare for your sessions because they will be looking to see how you fit in with the company’s culture and goals.
You should also come up with general responses for common behavioral interview questions. In almost every interview, you will need an elevator pitch, so make sure you have a solid one ready. It should be 2–5 minutes long. Make sure you include information about your education, experience, projects, and a conclusion with a summary of yourself as a candidate and a preview of “why this company.”
Take the time to practice other questions that are often asked like “What is your greatest weakness/strength?” and “Talk about a time you dealt with a conflict at work.” We’ve compiled a list of 45+ behavioral interview questions from top tech companies that you can use to practice.
Step 4: Practice for your technical interviews
Technical interviews can be stressful, especially if you are in the earlier stage of your career. We recommend spending a fair amount of time practicing the questions and topics you are likely to be asked. Treat it like the real thing, too. You don’t want to start solving the problem until you understand each component. Be ready to ask clarifying questions to the interviewer before starting to work, like “What time period does the data cover?” or “What are you measuring here?”
Interviewers want to understand your logic and reasoning skills, so you should practice explaining your process as you solve problems, as well. Almost all of the questions on your technical interview will test your knowledge and understanding of the following areas:
- Specific case studies
Therefore, you should carefully study these fundamentals so that you develop a thorough understanding of each one. To help you get going, we compiled a list of data science interview questions from top tech companies.
With the above tips, you should be on your way finding great entry level data science jobs that fit your goals. For more inside information and guidance, you can also check out our guide on how to get a data science job.
Pathrise is an online program that works with students and professionals to land their dream job. Mentors work 1-on-1 with fellows on each component of their job search, including resume, LinkedIn, and portfolio optimization, cold emailing, behavioral and technical interviewing, and negotiation. If you are interested in joining Pathrise, apply here.
Learn more about the data science bootcamp and other courses by visiting Practicum and signing up for your free introductory class.