How to Get a Graduate Research Job

By Jane Hotspur , last updated December 11, 2011

Landing a graduate research job will bolster your resume, as it demonstrates that you have solid analytical and communication skills. These days, more than ever before, it is important to complete your graduate degree with an impressive resume in hand. With jobs becoming more competitive to land, given the current state of the economy, you will want to stand out from other applicants. Let this article serve as your guide to how to get a graduate research job.

In order to be offered a graduate research job, you first need to learn about and apply to the position. Most university departments offer graduates the chance to help out on professors' current research projects. It is worth checking with your department head about what research opportunities might exist both in your own university and ones located nearby. Alternatively, if you are a student of the social sciences, you may want to gain research experience at a leading think tank. Many graduate students head to Washington, D.C. in the summer, given the concentration of excellent research institutions there looking for research assistants. Those interested in sciences are also drawn to Washington, D.C., given the research fellowships offered by the National Institute of Health.

Once you have identified a range of graduate research jobs you are interested in, it is time to start on the application. Most research positions require applicants to submit their resume. You should tailor your resume to the position, highlighting your academic experience and any prior research experience you have. In addition to your resume, you should submit a writing sample as well, as most employers want to verify that their researchers can not only develop insightful hypotheses, but also can communicate them in an easy-to-understand manner. Your writing sample should be two to three pages, unless your employer asks for a longer sample.

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