Tips for Writing a Perfect Research Assistant Resume

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The primary features of a well-written resume are your contact details, educational qualifications (in reverse chronological order) accompanied by your grade point average at the end of 10th grade, 12th grade, and your Bachelor’s degree. Then comes your work experience, again, in reverse chronological order, accompanied by how many years you spent with each organisation and the contributions you made during your tenure there. It also bodes well to include the key skills you gained at each organisation and any accomplishments or awards that may have been conferred upon you. Given below are the specifics of a resume written for the position of a research assistant. 

Key Skills Required in a Research Assistant 

A research assistant is usually last in the hierarchy at any university standard laboratory. At the top of the ladder is the primary researcher or the supervisor, then a post-doctoral candidate (if any), then the PhD students, then the research/project assistants and finally, the interns. At any given point of time, if there is no intern working for the lab, then the last in the hierarchy is the research assistant. According to the needs of the lab, you would either be placed under the guidance of one particular PhD/Post-doc student (in this case, you will help with that person’s research alone), or to be a general helping hand and make minor contributions to multiple PhD /Post-doc students. Either way, these are the key skills you would need. 

Observational Skills: 

Depending on the amount of experience you have had in the field of research, your supervisor may assign a specific amount of time in the beginning of your tenure in the lab, to simply observe the proceedings of the lab. The objective behind this is to help you get a sense of what your job would entail. You could be asked to learn how to use a certain instrument, what a certain observation means, etc. This period is akin to a training period, and it requires a keen attention to detail. Keep in mind, however, that each researcher/supervisor is different. Their requirements are different, and they might use your skills for different things. 

After the training period, your job requires you to conduct experiments, observe their results and draw conclusions. All of this necessitates good observation skills. 

Analytical Skills: 

Apart from being able to analyse the results of experiments, it would also do well to have some basic statistical skills, including graphical representations. This is because potential investors and collaborators want to understand the research that you’re doing with quick and effective visual aids like a bar graph or a curve, before reading the elaborate text. Some of the software commonly used in the field are Anova, Statistical Analysis Software, etc. Although there will be enough time to learn how to use these programs after the job begins, having a fair understanding of these will make your resume stand out. 

Technical Skills: 

This is, simply put, the skill that it takes to conduct the experiments, handle the equipment, etc. Based on your specific field (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc.), you would need to use different instruments. These skills are pivotal to your role in the lab. 

Organisation and Time Management:

While dealing with multiple experiments simultaneously, you might have to assign specific time slots to each experiment based on how long they take to show results, how vulnerable they are to contamination, etc. For example, you would have to start off the day with an experiment that takes more than 7-8 hours to show results, so that you can note the results as the last thing you do before you close for the day. Similarly, you might have to assign the last few minutes of the day for an experiment that needs a whole night to complete. 

Communication Skills:

As it is with almost any other job, it is important that you be able to communicate your predictions and findings with the others in your laboratory. Several times, there would be others in the lab whose experiments and conclusions would be based on what you tell them. In order to keep things cohesive and running smoothly, your supervisor may hold weekly meetings where every researcher explains their progress over the week. In such a context, you should be able to step up and communicate well. Even a minor gap in communication could lead to misinterpretation of results and thereby, a heavy loss in time and resources. 

Teamwork:

A research assistant is always assigned to others’ projects. So, you would never be in charge of your own project/thesis. It is hence absolutely mandatory that you gel well with the others in the lab. You would have to establish friendly yet formal relationships with the student that you would be under, so that you can not only take orders and execute them well, but also make your own suggestions. The brutal truth of the matter is that if you don’t get along with the others in the lab, you would be the one to bear the brunt of it, since you are lower on the hierarchy. For example, if you have been assigned to a PhD student, and you don’t gel well, the supervisor would let you go, because the PhD student is the one who is leading the research. It is easier to hire a replacement for you than for him/her. 

Here is a complete list of all the skills that may come in handy for a research assistant. 

Research Assistant Job Description 

The role of a research assistant is, simply put, to help. You would have to help your supervisor and mentors conduct research, analyse and tabulate the results and draw conclusions. Apart from this, you would have to present your work and keep your higher officials updated. A day in the life of a research assistant involves spending large amounts of time in the lab conducting the experiments, then communicating with the rest of the lab. It also entails physical exertion – you might have to run around across several procedure rooms to collect relevant samples, etc. Here is a complete research assistant job description. 

You could be of different levels at your education while applying for the post of a research assistant. Here are the different ways you should approach the construction of a resume at different stages of education. 

Undergraduate Research Assistant Resume

A day in the life of an undergraduate assistant usually involves a lot pf physical and mental exertion. Here is an article that could help you understand what you can expect. Typically, an undergrad student who works at a lab starts off as an intern. This is because they ‘d have joined the lab in order to do their mandatory internship, a course requirement. Applying for the post of an intern does not always require an elaborate resume because most interns join through recommendation. After the internship is completed, however, things proceed in different ways. 

  1. You might want to leave the lab and pursue your master’s degree. 
  2. You might want to continue in the laboratory as a paid research assistant. 

If your intention is to continue in the lab, again, things can go two ways. 

  1. You might have to reapply for the position of research assistant
  2. The supervisor might employ you without that additional step. 

While reapplying for the position, your employment will be heavily dependent on the supervisor’s assessment of your competencies, because you already worked for them during your internship. However, having an updated resume with your latest educational qualifications and work experience will certainly help. 

At other times, you might be applying for the post of undergraduate research assistant independent of your degree. Either way, a resume for the post will comprise your grade point average at 10th grade, 12th grade and your bachelor’s degree, along with any other competitions you might have won that may highlight the relevant skills and competencies. 

Undergraduate Research Assistant Resume Sample Templates

Your resume is the first impression that you have on potential employers. So, it is crucial that your undergraduate research assistant resume looks organised and well-planned. For this, it might help to use pre-existing templates and samples that are available online. 

Graduate Research Assistant Resume

As a graduate student, you might have more important responsibilities. At this stage, you would be expected to know how the lab works, thanks to some work experience at the end of your graduation. While applying for this post, mention your experience as an intern, and highlight the key skills you gained. Quote relevant examples of your contribution towards the project and make a mention of how you are capable of adapting to a new atmosphere and contributing to new projects. Here is an example for graduate level research assistant resume. 

Another variable that would change your approach to the application procedure is your area of expertise/specific subject you are pursuing. Here is an example: 

Biology Research Assistant Resume

A research assistant in Biology needs a specific set of attributes. This is because a lot of the experiments conducted in biology deal with life – you might have to handle lab rats, live microorganisms that can get contaminated easily and even infectious, fatal diseases. Being frivolous in such circumstances is an absolute no-no.  For example, in the field of pharmacology, you might have to deal with drug trials with placebo groups and the like. Such experiments require an impeccable sense of responsibility as well as objectivity. Minor mistakes can compromise the entire trial and waste a lot of resources. Here’s a link that explains how you can pursue biology research assistantship. A potential employer or supervisor may look specifically for attributes like keen attention to detail, problem solving skills, crisis management, precision and accuracy in technical work, etc. It is essential to keep these prerequisites in mind while drafting a resume. You could make mentions of any and all lab experiences to highlight these skills. You can use this link to find examples of biology research assistant resumes. 

Although most entry level candidates will be given enough time to train for the position before conducting or helping with actual experiments, it helps to have some of the relevant skills before applying.   

Whichever subject it is, the key guidelines and fundamental blocks of your resume remain common. 

Research Assistant Resume Sample Templates

A research assistant resume is usually minimal in design. The use of vibrant colours or flashy fonts is not recommended. Some of the mandatory details to include in your resume are:

  1. Name and basic personal details: Your name as it is in your birth certificate, place of residence and age are necessary. Mentioning these details validates your resume. 
  2. Photograph: A decent passport size photograph further validates your identity. 
  3. Contact details: An up-to-date residential address, at least two contact numbers in case you aren’t reachable on one of them and an email ID are crucial. 

After these details, you start talking about your skills, qualifications and work experience. 

As mentioned before, a resume is the first impression you make on a potential employer. A supervisor may see the way you have framed your resume while considering your application. So, you could use some of the templates and samples that are available on the internet while you draft the resume. This will not only help you look neat and organised, it will also make the task easier for you. 

Research Assistant Resume Examples

Sometimes, it helps to have an effective resume as a reference while drafting your own. Here are some such references. This will help you figure out which skills and competencies are relevant to the job title. Here are some sample templates and examples.

Research Assistant Resume Objective

An effective objective statement comprises a simple introduction of the candidate, their skills and competencies, all communicated in a crisp and straightforward manner. This statement is the first thing that an employer would see within the resume. So, you need to keep it crisp and catchy, yet not too informal or flashy. Include some of the skills that are most relevant to the job, like attention to detail, analytical skills, technical skills, etc. Do not go into the details of your educational qualifications and work experience here, there will be space for that later. Instead, show that you are a candidate who is confident about his/her proficiencies. Do not use words that would in anyway insinuate that you are underconfident or trying to use flattery. So, don’t praise your employers – not just in the objective, but anywhere throughout the resume. 

Research Assistant Resume Summary

An effective summary for this post is very similar to the objective statement, but it is a bit more elaborate. Here, you can talk about your skills, but also about the specific experiences that gave you those skills. You could keep in mind one specific work experience that you thought was the most useful, and then build your summary on that experience. Do not make it too elaborate. The summary should also be crisp and concise. Here is a resource that could help you frame your summary and objective clearly. 

Finding the right employer can be difficult, and an effective and concise resume is most certainly a step in the right direction. 

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