4 quick tips for job seekers in STEM

Hands on a keyboard typing, searching online

Job searching is always a stressful and exciting time filled with mixed emotions. If you’ve ever searched online for job seeker advice or asked for help you are not alone! 

""The School of STEM Division of Computing & Software Systems (CSS) is a sponsor and partner with ChickTech for the upcoming 2021 ACT-W (Advancing the Careers of Technical Women) virtual conference taking place July 26-30. This content was sparked based on a conference discussion post for ACT-W job seekers asking “What advice would you give to someone seeking a job”?


Here are some tips and tricks from the School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Graduate Career Counselor Yasemin Bolstad that have worked well for our students and alumni at the University of Washington Bothell:

4 quick tips for job seekers in STEM

1. Have a well-written resume

Most people use their resume to showcase the responsibilities they’ve held in previous positions, but what really makes a recruiter say WOW to a resume isn’t a list of responsibilities, it’s the impact the individual has/had on the company/organization. Focusing on achievements makes a resume that much more impactful. 

Although it sounds daunting to focus on impact, it’s as easy as NOT SAYING “responsible for the design of xx software to optimize user experience” BUT SAYING “Designed xx software to optimize user experience leading to a higher customer satisfaction, increasing retention by 15% in the first month.” Quantifying your impact is an easy way to illustrate your achievement! 

Make sure your resume and cover letter do not have typos or grammatical errors! Recruiters pay attention to those more than you’d think!

2. Customize your resume for every position you apply to

Ever heard of the job seeker that is very qualified, but isn’t getting any calls from the position they’ve applied to? They probably fell into the common mistake of sending the same resume, without any customization, to every position they’ve applied to. While this may sound like an easy thing to do, it is NOT an efficient way of getting a job.

For every position a candidate is interested in applying for, I recommend crafting 20% of the resume to the job description with lots of keywords from the job description. This will increase the chances of your resume passing the Applicant Tracking System and landing in front of a recruiter. Remember, some Applicant Tracking Systems will rank your match to the job based on your resume!

3. Network, network, nework

Hating networking and not sure why you should even network? The job market is very much like the shape of an iceberg—the small portion on the surface is the jobs everyone sees on various job platforms. Networking is crucial because it gives you access to the larger underwater portion of the iceberg: the hidden job market! 

The hidden job market consists of jobs that aren’t posted or advertised by employers and are typically filled through employee referrals or internal hires. Networking, and networking strategically, will allow you to have access to those jobs that aren’t advertised.  One way to do this is by building a good professional network on LinkedIn and expanding your network through your alumni network. 

4. Interviewing is a skill

Interviewing is about effective communication. It’s about your ability to articulate thoughts and experiences while demonstrating self-awareness. You may be the most qualified candidate for the position, but a poor interview will very quickly disqualify you. Here are some ways you can train yourself to become better at interviewing:

  • Take deep slow breaths to regulate your stress—this isn’t harder than anything you’ve done until now!        
  • Make sure to understand what the interviewer is asking you by clarifying the questions.    
  • Tell a story, your story because the interviewer wants to know about you! The best way to answer questions, such as competencies, is through the STARR (situation, task, action, result, reflect) technique.        
  • Demonstrate your research into the company and show your interviewer you’re not just the right candidate for the position, but you’re the right fit for the company.        
  • Ask questions that demonstrate your passion to work for the organization and strive to grow at the organization!

Check out the School of STEM Office of Graduate Studies Career Resources for students and employers.

ACT-W career fair and sponsoring students

As part of this conference CSS will sponsor 12 students to attend, participate in the virtual career fair and engage with talented women, non-binary people, and allies, to share opportunities to break into software engineering with a nine-month Graduate Certificate in Software Design & Development or advance their career with a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering or Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering

Twelve CSS students received scholarships to virtually attend the conference to access a week of interactive sessions, technical workshops, career coaching, and connect with technical womxn and allies. 

UW discount code to attend

UW Bothell registrants can use code "UW25" for 25% off general or student tickets. Register for ACT-W tickets!