Careers

This site is intended to give practical assistance to students and graduates of our MS and BS programs in Statistics. We hope it will also show prospective students something of the diversity and vitality of the job market for statisticians. Your suggestions about content, links, additions, deletions, and so on, are welcomed, especially if you have recently found a job or hired a statistician. Please share your ideas.

We typically list job announcements for our students within the Stat. Majors Organization folder on Blackboard.

Web Sites

General information about the job market in statistics

Current job offerings

  • American Statistical Association (ASA), paid job ads from Amstat News (general, but a high percentage of biostatistics jobs). For those still working on their degrees, ASA also has a list of summer internships, mostly located in the Midwest and East.
  • Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), paid job ads from IMS Bulletin (mostly academic jobs, but increasing attention to corporate sector).
  • San Francisco Chapter of ASA, job listings from newsletter (mostly Bay Area jobs).
  • The Career Development Center also has lists of local jobs and internships.
  • Bay Area SAS Users Group job listings
  • Job listings at companies that have recently hired some of our program's graduates:
  • Some commercial job-search web sites that have been recommended to us:
    • BAJobs.com. (Mostly Bay Area jobs)
    • Monster.com (this link has "Statistics" as the keyword and "Hayward, CA" as the location)
    • Headhunter.net (this link has "Statistics" as the keyword and "Hayward, CA" as the location)
    • Biospace.com (this link has "Statistics" as the keyword and "CA-San Francisco or CA-East Bay" as the location)
    • True Careers.com (this link has "Statistics" as the keyword and "CA" as the location)

CSU East Bay Career Development Center

The student services fee paid by all students helps to support the Career Development Center (CDC). The CDC is available to current students and to graduates in their first quarter following graduation. Other alumni/ae may use these services by paying a modest annual fee.

The CDC provides a spectrum of services, including advice on writing resumes, mock interviews, job fairs and job listings. Explore these resources online at www.csueastbay.edu/aace. The CDC has access to job listings and tools that may not be available to the general public.

General Strategies

When looking for a job as a statistician, you should take the broadest feasible view of the possibilities.

Position Titles: Sometimes the word statistician appears in the job title, often not. A few recent titles of statistical jobs have been: biostatistician, statistical programmer, quality management engineer, financial analyst, environmental risk analyst, senior data associate, data analyst, strategic planning analyst, data mining specialist, SAS programmer, actuary.

Geography: To find the right job are you willing to go anywhere in the world? The US? California? Or do you need to stay in the Bay Area? Obviously the more territory you include, the better your chances of a perfect fit. Even so, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most active and diverse job markets for statisticians.

Contacts: The larger your network, the better your chances. Talk to friends, fellow members of any social/ religious/ political/ service organizations you may belong to, fellow students or employees in your current job, and so on. Attend Statistics Department quarterly parties (lots of networking), meetings of the local Chapter of ASA, local university seminars, annual Joint Statistics Meetings (formal job service), job fairs, and so on. Browse the web sites listed above. Investigate "head hunter" services on the web and otherwise (but be sure to understand who pays for the service and how much).

Resumes

The purpose of a resume is to get a face-to-face interview. You need to answer the crucial question in the employer's mind: "Why should I hire this person and pay him/her $X thousand a year?" Here are some rough guidelines.

  • Your resume needs to have enough information about your education, experience, and career objectives so that the prospective employer thinks it is worthwhile to interview you. But it also needs to be very brief. Unless you have instructions in a specific case to the contrary, the limit is one uncrowded page.
  • Write your resume from the point of view of the prospective employer. You probably can't do that totally on your own. Seek advice from those you know who have read many resumes, or perhaps from friends who have written successful ones. Look at (recent) books on writing resumes. A professional resume-writing service may be well worth a reasonable fee.
  • If you are applying for several kinds of jobs, you probably need to have several different resumes for the different circumstances. For a dream job, it may be worthwhile to create a special one-time resume with exactly the right information.
  • You will probably need to have resumes for two media:
    (1) A nicely formatted resume on some shade of white, high-quality paper for snail mail and always sent with a cover letter. (Also to take with you to job interviews just in case you meet someone crucial to the hiring process who hasn't already seen it.)
    (2) A plain ASCII text version for email and web submissions (no formatting at all, heavy with key words that will catch the "interest" of an automated computer matching process).
  • Don't be too specific or too general. Saying you are "computer literate" or that you know about "data analysis" is too general. Saying you know the "Fisher LSD method of multiple comparisons" is probably too specific. Saying you took a course in "stochastic processes" is probably too general, and saying you took Stat 4401 is helpful only to someone who knows the CSU East Bay program in detail. It is usually best to list specific topics or skills. Perhaps: programmed SAS for data management, simulated queueing models, designed experiments with ANOVA models, performed variable selection in multiple regression, ... .
  • Whenever possible, say what you actually did on a previous job, rather than giving the general job description or saying what you learned from the experience. (Those topics are for the job interview, if asked.) One modern school of resume-writing stresses the use of "action words": supervised, developed, initiated, ....

Most of the commercial job-search sites have professional resume services to sell you. Of these, Monster gives an unusual amount of really sound advice before you get to the sales pitch.

References

Letters of recommendation or phone conversations between the prospective employer and someone who knows you often make the difference between getting a job and not. Here are some guidelines.

  • Give specific references only when they are requested, and as nearly as possible to the specifications requested (as to their number, past relationship with you, and so on).
  • Never give a person's name as reference unless you have contacted him/her about the specific position you are now applying for. You should make sure the reference is willing to serve, knows why his/her opinion of you is important in the present instance, and will be available in the required time frame (either to write the letter or to talk with the prospective employer).
  • If it has been some time since you have been in contact with a reference, make sure he/she remembers who you are. A personal visit (where possible); a reminder of special projects, incidents, or characteristics; or a photographs of yourself may be helpful.

Interviews

It is difficult to make hard and fast rules about interviewing skills because the details depend on your background and personality, on the status and personality of the interviewer, and on the type of job you are seeking. All interviews require careful preparation. Interview skills are best learned by practice.

  • At the start of your career, it is almost always a mistake to turn down a job interview that may give you experience in interviewing, even if you're not absolutely sure you want the job. (Some of these "practice" interviews have turned into unexpectedly good job offers.)
  • Always be exactly on time, even if it means arriving in the neighborhood half an hour early and spending it in a nearby coffee shop re-reading the job description and the company's product list until the appointed hour.
  • Unless you have a good reason for being evasive, answer directly every question asked, usually with just a small amount of elaboration. Don't answer just with "yes" or "no" so often the interviewer has the feeling he/she has to drag everything out of you. But a worse mistake is to go on and on, and make the interviewer wonder if you will ever shut up so the next question can be asked. If the interviewer wants more information, he/she will not be bashful about asking for it. Practice with a friend so that you learn to feel how long 30 seconds is. Answers longer than 30 sec. should be really rare. Save your one or two long answers for questions that give you a crucial chance to show yourself at your best.
  • Never go to an interview without doing your "homework." Use the web, library, company/ agency promotional literature to learn all you can about the prospective employer's business and the particular function of the group you would be working for. If possible, learn about the professional interests and accomplishments of specific people involved.
  • Dress codes are in transition. Several years ago, the invariable rule was that men must wear a suit and tie to an interview and that women must dress with comparable formality. This is still true in some sectors and for almost all positions that involve face-to-face contact with customers/ clients. In the recent job market when positions have been difficult to fill, some organizations have adopted much more relaxed dress codes in their internal offices, and it is more difficult to know how much more formally job seekers are expected to dress than they would on the job, if hired. (In late 2000 one large SF actuarial firm listed as a "job benefit" that employees are usually free to work in tee shirts, jeans and sneakers; but we don't suppose that would be the dress code for an interview.) It is not yet clear whether this trend will survive if future job markets are less favorable to job seekers. You might start by asking what the dress code of the office is, then dress somewhat more formally for an interview.
  • Some interviews are screening sessions with the "human resources" department and some are with the person who has the de facto authority to hire. It is important to know which kind of interview to prepare for. Clearly, the second kind of interview is preferable, but sometimes talking with a human resources person is an unavoidable intermediate step. If it is not obvious from the start, it is fair to ask whether you will/may be talking with your prospective boss at some point during the interview.
  • Print This Page
  • Bookmark and Share