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Research Assistant Resume Example & Writing Guide

All the breakthrough discoveries in your future as a research assistant start with a resume that shows you’ve thoroughly researched the position and employer. This writing guide, backed by resume examples designed for research assistants, leads the way with step-by-step job-winning advice.
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Research Assistant Resume Example & Writing Guide
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Taking for granted that dozens of other qualified applicants will offer similar on-the-job research abilities, you have a make-or-break chance right now to demonstrate excellence in investigating — and communicating — what the employer needs and wants. A groundbreaking research assistant resume will convey your insight into what would make you indispensable on all counts.

Resume.io can help you achieve that result. Our job-winning resources include more than 300 occupation-specific resume examples, alongside corresponding advice and tips.

This writing guide, backed by resume examples for a research assistant, will cover:

  • What a research assistant does
  • How to write a research assistant resume, starting with the best format and general guidelines
  • Advice for each resume section: header, summary, work history, education and skills
  • Resume layout and design hints.

What does a research assistant do?

Research assistants are the wind beneath the wings of the senior researchers they support in every capacity called for. From probing obscure archives and conducting interviews to writing summaries of statistical analyses, they perform myriad duties to ensure published information on specialized subjects is accurate, credible and evidence-based.

Reviewing existing information in the published literature is often the focus of a research assistant’s efforts in collecting and interpreting data. In other instances, they assist in conducting original research. 

Laboratories, universities and research centers may come to mind first as typical workplaces for a research assistant. But hiring organizations cover a wide cross section of sectors and settings, from medicine, marketing and all manner of social sciences to public interest groups, polling agencies, policy think tanks and consulting companies.

Statistical insight

The most relevant employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) applies to social science research assistants. The annual mean wage for this occupation in May 2020 was $49,210. 

According to the BLS, jobs for social science research assistants are projected to increase by 8% between 2020 and 2030, in line with the average for all occupations.

How to write a research assistant resume

As a research assistant candidate, you are likely no stranger to writing projects - likely not as straightforward as creating a resume. The basic framework outlined below makes this task seem less overwhelming. Keep in mind that these components should fit on a single page.

  • Header
  • Summary
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Skills

What will give your resume a job-winning edge is the extent that you address the specific needs of this research position and hiring organization. A custom-tailored version of your resume is necessary for every job you apply for. The only way to convince prospective employers that you’re good at what you do is to persuade them why you’re the best fit for this position. Leave them with no doubt that you’re not just looking for any research assistant job, but that you are the research assistant they are looking for.

Expert tip

Optimize with keywords

The same research methods will lead you to the right keywords to include when writing your resume. This will improve its chances of passing through the applicant tracking systems (ATS) software that most larger organizations use to electronically filter online job applications.

Choosing the best resume format for a research assistant

The most commonly used chronological format may or may not be best suited to your research assistant resume. It depends on the specific position in relation to your background — in particular, how much directly applicable job experience and skills you have. 

For entry-level job seekers, or those whose job history does not follow a linear path of employee positions, there are other options. A functional resume format may be suitable for research assistants who have worked independently as consultants. Relevant qualifications are presented in relation to projects, clients or specialized skills. Hybrid (combination) resume formats offer versatility by including both chronological and functional elements. 

Expert tip

Applying to work at a postsecondary learning institution? For ideas to help write your research assistant resume, check out these examples and writing guides in our education category: 

Resume header

While gaudy and gimmicky have no place anywhere on your resume, that’s not to say it should not be visually distinctive overall. Where that first comes across is in a well-designed header, setting the stage with a look that commands attention in the most inviting and reader-friendly sense.

There are practical considerations too for ensuring your name, occupation and contact information stand out. Who your resume belongs to will never be in question, and duly impressed recruiters will have no trouble finding out how to readily get in touch with you for an interview or more information.

Expert tip

To further demonstrate the detail-oriented sensibility that serves you well as a research assistant, your resume and cover letter should look like matching companion documents, because they are. This will first be apparent in the identical twin header design.

Resume summary example

The summary of your resume (sometimes called “profile” or “personal statement”) holds a magnifying glass to your most impressive qualifications for this research support role.

Concise and precise wording choices  — including ATS-beating keywords — will launch your case here for being an ideal job fit. Aim for a synopsis of attributes and accomplishments that resonates directly and readily with recruiters. Also offer glimpses at your personality and purpose in pursuing a research career. Above all, your summary should elicit the reader’s curiosity to learn more about you, with a view to your future contributions when hired. 

Below is a research assistant resume example summary you can customize.

Adaptable resume summary example

Driven and enthusiastic research assistant committed to providing optimal research support that aligns with the mission and goals of an organization. Adept in assisting with the development of project procedures, data collection and the composition of status reports and presentations.

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Employment history sample

In many instances, the relevance of your work experience as a research assistant is more important than the amount that you’ve acquired. And the more extensive your research background, the more challenging it may be to focus on the most relevant high notes. 

While thoroughness is obviously a prerequisite for your line of work, the need to be selective and specific in this resume section will showcase your communication skills to advantage.

Help your prospective supervisors envision the benefits of you joining their research team. From their perspective, elaborate on accomplishments you could replicate in future projects. Focus on the results of your most impressive investigative findings that will grab their attention. 

Descriptive and dynamic action verbs not only make your writing more concise and compelling to read, but also lend an energetic and self-assured tone. 

Expert tip

Citing facts and figures to quantify outcomes should come naturally to a research specialist. Keep a master list handy to cherry-pick every time you customize your resume for a new job application. Start by brainstorming answers to questions like these:

  • How many project topics did you cover?
  • How many specimen cell counts did you perform … with what degree of accuracy?
  • How many student papers did you grade?
  • How many survey responses did you process?
  • What about peer-reviewed publications?
  • Conference presentations?
  • Professor commendations for research quality?
  • What efficiency improvements were to your credit?

Below is a research assistant employment history resume sample you can modify.

Adaptable resume employment history example

Research Assistant, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Apr 2018 - Jan 2022

  • Researched and collected data through literature reviews while accurately cataloging citation information.
  • Interpreted and analyzed data using scientific and statistical techniques.
  • Wrote and edited material for presentation and publication.
  • Oversaw research and support staff regarding technical procedures and equipment operation.

 

Research Assistant, Yale Behavioral Psychology Lab, New Haven
Jan 2017 - Apr 2018

  • Scheduled and coordinated research activities.
  • Worked to ensure that results are compiled, analyzed and presented properly.
  • Coordinated a range of academic programs and projects.
  • Remained committed to managing all stages of research exploring issues of strategic management and the facilitation of cutting-edge science from conception through clinical trial to public benefit.
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CV skills example

Again, we come back to the vitally influential impact of a resume that’s geared specifically to what the job and the employer require. Deciding which hard skills and soft skills to list on your research assistant resume will require as much selectivity as it took to showcase your work experience, while avoiding repetition. 

Obviously, you need to revisit the advertised job posting to be sure all those boxes are checked on your skills list. Otherwise, certain generic research skills can be taken for granted, which means they are likely to appear on the resumes of many other job contenders. That means you can expect recruiters to be underwhelmed each and every time they see the expected analytical skills, technical skills, time management skills and others along those lines.

Expert tip

A Taylor & Francis blog post identified four skills for researchers of the future:

  1. Research communication and public engagement
  2. Research collaboration beyond academia — working with businesses, industry, government and policymakers
  3. Use of digital tools — social media, academic blogging, programming and YouTube
  4. Use of open research practices

Check out a research assistant CV sample for the skills section below.

Adaptable resume skills example
  • Effective Time Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Clinical Research & Development
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Biochemistry
  • Neurobiology
  • Agile Project Management
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Research assistant resume education example

Compared to many other occupations, this education section may be more detailed for research assistants and certain other academic professionals. It may also retain importance even after work experience has been gained.

Just as their employers span a vast spectrum of industries and study specialties, research assistants can come from diversely different academic backgrounds, from math and microbiology to psychology and marketing. What most will have in common is a bachelor’s degree in a field of study matching the research job focus. 

That means high school information — noteworthy only in the absence of postsecondary graduation — can be omitted from your research assistant resume. Otherwise, list all of your most relevant and recent college degrees in reverse chronological order, from highest to lowest level, including the institution name, location and date. If you are still studying, indicate your expected graduation date. 

Expert tip

Recent graduates or current students may opt to put their resume’s education section ahead of their work experience.

Below is the education section from a research assistant resume you can modify.

Adaptable resume education example

Master of Science in Neurobiology, Yale University, New Haven
Sep 2015 - May 2018

  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude
  • President of the Department of Neuroscience Club

Bachelor of Science in Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca
Sep 2011 - May 2015

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Resume layout and design

Research assistants who have a hand in preparing reports and presentations may have an advantage when it comes to ensuring their resume looks as good as it reads. You appreciate why every last detail needs attention for an overall result that’s impeccably well put-together. But that doesn’t not mean clean, neat and orderly is synonymous with stark, sterile and yawn-inducing. 

Polished can be eye-pleasing and inviting to read at the same time. At first glance, the right balance between text-dense black blocks and white space should be noticeable. This can be achieved by amplifying the surrounding page margins and spacing between lines and paragraphs.

From font style and size to graphic elements, all of your text formatting decisions should be guided by the goal of enhanced readability. For the same reason, color splashes and other creative touches should be sparing.

Expert tip

You can save time and lessen the margin for formatting errors by using a field-tested resume template. It’s the hassle-free way to achieve professional results in no time.

Key takeaways for a research assistant resume

  1. The investigative and communication skills that research assistants bring to bear in their work can be useful when tailoring each resume to specific job and employer requirements. Thoroughly researching the employer’s needs and expectations is the first step.
  2. The employment history section should take the recruiter’s perspective in highlighting directly relevant accomplishments with quantifiable results that could be repeated.
  3. The education section of a research assistant’s resume may be more important than it would be for someone in another occupation, especially if they have little or no work experience.
  4. Check out our adaptable research assistant resume sample for more ideas on creating a page layout that catches the employer’s attention.
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