This question has been asked on other SE forums, but has anyone on Cross Validated added their profile information (either putting their handle, rep, or both) on their resume or curriculum vitae?

There are, of course, numerous other factors that influence applicability for a job; & acquiring rep/presence on a SE site is particular to just this community, making it rather arbitrary to an outsider. However, the question below & its subsequent answers got me thinking that the nature of the CV forum in particular as it relates to working in the field of statistics:
Unanswered questions as percentage of total – why does CV stand out?

In the organizations I have worked or interviewed – largely requiring an applied statistics background – researching, understanding to the best extent possible, & then communicating technical concepts from statistics is critical. Oftentimes the client/asker doesn't know specifically what they want to see beyond a broad conceptual outcome. And of course there may be multiple approaches to any problem given the background of the expert/client, as well as organizational constraints (available time, technology, etc.). The nature of the questions & answers on CV, which frequently require deeper research & are more specific or nuanced than other SE sites, seems reflective of what I & others have encountered in the workforce. As Glen_b summarizes this well:

In the course of answering questions over a few days, I often find myself doing algebra I've never quite attempted before, running simulations I've never run before (and writing and debugging code to do them!), suggesting novel or tweaked test statistics and exploring their properties, comparing the properties of several approaches to a problem, coming up with slightly novel way to visualize some data, reading papers to follow the history of some little technique, reading more papers to even figure out what a person is asking about ... and so on. That is, a lot of questions here take actual research effort. Sometimes hours of it.

Glen_b's summary seems to be exactly the kind of mindset required for many stats positions. So having a quality presence on CV in particular may serve as a plausible representation of one's aptitude in solving statistical problems in general. This is different from SO for example, where questions are expected to be very specific w/ reproducible code, solutions don't necessarily need to be as nuanced, potential number of solutions are more limited, & the community/pool of knowledge is generally larger.


Similar SE questions:


NOTE: I'm asking this as a general question. I definitely would not classify my current presence on CV as "quality".

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Great question! +1s all around. Very nice to have heard from our top three contributors right away, all professional statisticians. Valuable perspectives as always. –  Nick Stauner Jul 24 at 6:15

6 Answers 6

up vote 21 down vote accepted

As an independent consultant I am open to opportunities of any sort, including working full time for a (worthy) organization. I therefore maintain different resumes according to the type of position: consulting, academic, and industrial. The academic and industrial ones mention SE, but it is just one short entry out of many under "professional activities." It is there as a strategic element, intended to provide an opening for further discussion in an interview. Given such a chance, I would make a case similar to Glen B's, but I would not emphasize this in any application materials.

Others, elsewhere, have pointed to a significant problem with CV (and SE in general): a high reputation is not necessarily associated with knowledge, quality of exposition, or even a tendency to be correct. Moreover, a very high rate of participation could be a negative in some employers' views ("why would she spend so much time at that and would that activity distract from her job?"), so you should be prepared to provide a good explanation if you are in that category.


That has begged the question of what I might say during that hypothetical interview. Some points I think would be worth making about CV in particular are:

  • Active participation--even if it is primarily reading, editing, and commenting--exposes us to far more statistical consulting problems than anyone ever has seen in their lifetime before. It can thereby serve as excellent preparation for consulting and to demonstrate one's fitness to serve as a statistician in almost any environment or organization.

  • Actively answering, especially with the care described by Glen B, will teach anyone who is sufficiently thoughtful and humble to improve their communications skills as well as their statistical expertise.

  • The site is useful as a "sandbox" in which to test ideas that might be turned into more formal resources such as a blog, a textbook, or (in a few cases) published papers.

  • Involvement in as many topics as possible exposes one to a wider range of solutions and thereby, over time, can considerably augment one's skills and tools.

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Great points. Agree about high rep != good quality. I think "quality presence", as a part of a professional portfolio, is something I would be more apt to advertise, vs just trying to rack up rep. And hopefully any potential employer - or my current employer - doesn't scrutinize the timestamps of my posts too closely... –  Niubius Jul 23 at 17:01

My effort here is not on my resume, nor do I envision any very likely situation in which I would include it. It's possible that I might in the right circumstance, but it would require a situation (or a potential employer) that doesn't presently apply.

The basic issue is that I don't anticipate that an organization I would be likely to work for would be likely to care very much about it ... but perhaps one might come up at some point.

I think some of my activities here have added (at least a bit) to particular aspects of my communication skills, such as they are, and I've certainly learned some things I wouldn't have learned otherwise - those things are positives an employer would care about. But those would be skills which if I really had them, I could demonstrate in other ways.

If in an interview, we came to a discussion of my hobbies, I might mention my activities here among them; I don't list my hobbies on my resume, though.

If (as in one of your links) that mention somehow led to a question about what my reputation was, that would make me concerned about their priorities (what would that indicate, on its own? It's easy to accumulate fake internet points reputation without being particularly insightful - there are many better statisticians here with lower reputation than I have).

On the other hand, if they asked about say reputation per answer, that would say more (though it's at least somewhat confounded with/distorted by several other things). If they asked me to show them three of my answers I thought were good, that might provide something to go on -- but even then I think it would only be particularly relevant to certain kinds of jobs.

Imagine (so I don't have to talk about myself) I were someone with whuber's reputation. Would I show that reputation score to an employer? Probably not. But if I were someone with some of his answers? Yes, it's certainly possible I'd show some of those in the right situation - many of them are wonderful. The quality of those sort of activities might say a lot. [But I doubt whuber needs to, since he has so many other achievements he could point to in their stead. Similar comments would apply to many of the other high reputation users - they have some wonderful answers that might be worth a mention in the right situation, but probably don't need to.]


You quote me talking about doing research in my activities here - one problem I'd note is that a lot of the research I do to answer questions doesn't end up anywhere but in my head. I spent a couple of hours researching an answer in the last day ... but by the time I was confident I could provide a good answer backed up with a suitable reference, someone had already written one. There was (as is often the case) nothing to do but upvote it and move on. Where's the evidence I did that research and learned something worthwhile? Nowhere.

[I might read an article, do some algebra and perform a simulation study. Where does all that go if there's already a decent answer in the meantime with all the essentials? Nowhere. Even when I do give an answer, a lot of that effort may end up as a parenthetical comment in a single sentence, or if I am lucky, appear as a single image. On the other hand, some of that learning definitely shows up - if less directly - in the course of my work. I know a few more things, and am more practiced at explaining them concisely. I am aware of references I otherwise wouldn't be. Stuff like that.]


I'd agree with whuber that active participation exposes one to many varied problems, and that serves as excellent preparation for consulting - but I spent years doing consulting already, both in an academic capacity (consulting to research students in a variety of areas) and in several different application areas (in 'industry' as they say). I don't even include all my actual paid consulting on my resume.

I'd also agree with him that involvement in as many topics as possible "exposes one to a wider range of solutions and thereby, over time, can considerably augment one's skills and tools". Indeed, that's one of the major attractions of the site to me.

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The evidence of your research may be intangible, but it's there. It will be reflected in future answers, in how you think about future problems, and how you share your insights. Isn't that ultimately its greatest value? Those who spend their time only answering questions they know the answers to are valuable contributors but it's unlikely they gain as much from those efforts (or write answers that are as clear and helpful). BTW, your remarks about anonymity presented an interesting challenge. You should update that fuzzy blue & red photo! ;-) –  whuber Jul 23 at 19:59
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@whuber On the research that didn't end up in an answer - please don't take it that I feel like the research was wasted. Not in the least - it's one of the reasons I come here. It's just that, in the context of the question, it doesn't result in something I can directly show to (for example) a potential employer - there's no direct evidence I did anything. Since I don't regard my activities here as something I would try to show a potential employer, it's really a non-issue for me. Eventually it will come in useful, though, since it does have relevance to some things I do. –  Glen_b Jul 23 at 20:33
    
I removed anything that might be taken as a challenge. –  Glen_b Jul 23 at 20:38

Not on my resume but I have it on my website. That way, it can be a link.

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Same here; not on my resume, but I have the flair box on my website. –  Avraham Jul 23 at 14:42

I have. I'm a psychologist in the early stages of my career though. I have a lot more space on my curriculum vitae and LinkedIn profile than some of these other guys, fewer other ways to demonstrate my statistical skills, such as they are (@Glen_b is overly modest when he refers to his readily evident communication skills with this phrase, but my stats skills are still largely untested outside this forum), and fewer things to mention in cover letters and interviews, especially since I also fall into @whuber's category of very high rate-of-participation users. I've been overdoing it on edits and votes all year! I've been mostly unemployed post-PhD too (vacation attributable to post-reinforcement pause, heavy remedial study of stats for analysis overhaul prior to dissertation publication, moving out, brutal job market for teachers, etc.), so my activity here has probably been my most valuable and demonstrable professional activity since grad school. Since abandoning teaching applications, I've even been making a tentative (and temporary) career shift toward statistical consulting. I've had two private clients since graduating – one referred by a friend, and another who found me here! This inspired me to just list myself as a freelance statistical consultant on my CV, LinkedIn, etc., which resulted in a hiring company contacting me (I didn't have the software knowledge necessary though). Clearly it's a better entry than nothing to account for my time since graduating...but I'm fairly atypical.

Moreover, I've just been hired for a psychology postdoc with heavy stats demands. I got this far in part by studying longitudinal SEM, and I owe much of my confidence with these methods to my experience here, since I've had limited chances to apply them otherwise. In applying, I described my activity since graduating as statistical consulting – mostly volunteer – and mentioned my experience here on CV briefly in both my cover letter and during the interview. Both were received well. I don't think the mention of CV in my cover letter mattered much, but I noticed a little bit of surprised enthusiasm when I described over the phone how I've been sticking my nose in people's statistical problems from all over the world and all sorts of careers for the past 8 months. I don't want to overplay the effect – I have a lot of other strengths and lucky compatibilities going for me in this case – but mentioning my work here (briefly, as others have advised; it wouldn't have been enough in isolation) sure didn't hurt my chances. See also this related question: Does being on StackExchange help get consulting jobs?

Hope my self-indulgent autobio doesn't seem too tangential. I prefer to tell the story than advocate my choices, as my only support for them is in their results so far. My relevant curriculum vitae entries:

Professional Experience

  • Statistical consultant, various clients and projects, 2013–2014
  • [One other unrelated entry here – president of a departmental grad student association]

Professional Memberships

These are just one line apiece in fields I wanted to include anyway – nothing too obtrusive or emphatic. FWIW, on LinkedIn, Cross Validated is somewhat more prominent on my profile. I list three websites, one of which is my profile here. I list myself as a "personality & social psychologist and statistical consultant". I describe my experience as, "Statistical analysis, review, reporting, editing, and consultation," which largely refers to my activity here. Last, there is a field for volunteer work – Cross Validated is my only entry there, and though it may not amount to a hill of beans on the job market, I'm very proud of it.

Oh, and my alibi for my (hyper)activity here, should it be called into question: I've been striving to build connections and contribute to the staying power of one of the best professional resources I know of, and now that I've got this job, I'll probably be transitioning away from editing/reviewing/answering and toward asking! Bounties forthcoming as necessary – I can certainly afford a few now. Thanks CV!

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I typically consider professional memberships to be in dues-paying orgs like APA/PRSA/APHA/whatevs but definitely agree that quality activity on an SE site can be a good proxy for professional experience early in one's career, whether on or off paper. Looking back, I really wish I had known about CV/SO 3-4 yrs ago when I was just starting on the job market & was looking for opportunities to increase my professional activity level in any way. And my path toward stats probably would have been accomplished faster & w/ less alcohol-induced life rumination. –  Niubius Jul 24 at 13:44
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If you do find a job in academia you can consider contributions here as service to the field as well - which people typically do put those markers (journal/grant reviewer etc.) on their vitae. –  Andy W Jul 24 at 14:13
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Good luck with the postdoc. –  Glen_b Jul 25 at 1:34
    
I got the job! Thanks :) Simulation study and longitudinal SEM questions coming soon, I'm sure! –  Nick Stauner Jul 27 at 6:59
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@NickStauner: Congratulations! –  Scortchi Jul 30 at 12:01

My background: 5 years job experience in non-academia, working in software development and ML "research".

My overall (sad ?) impression based on this and based on reading career advices for programmers is, that what you have done and how it contributed to the business is way more important (and explainable) in job interviews then how strong your theoretic background is.

Made up example: Suppose you have created a sophisticated spam-filter and email-sorting system, which had to deal with only a small amount of labeled data (semi-supervised learning), could be improved efficiently by each user (active learning) and worked only well by doing more than the bag-of-words-approach (natural language processing).

When the interviewer understands all this, one can explain this in detail. Otherwise, it is more advised to focus on how much this improved the overall workflow.

The same goes for stats.SE. While I would put the activity here on the CV as hobby, I'd rather use the limited space to focus on my biggest practical accomplishments which are easy to understand even for HR drones.

Personally, I have improved a lot by participating on stats.SE (and got a lot of ideas), but this only mattered and become visible at the very moment I have solved a business problem using that knowledge. Then none cared WHY I was able to do it, just that I did it.

Last point: While I agree with whuber that active participation on stats.SE should matter for an employer, it is hard to explain that shortly in a CV (may be even in a job interview if this point has not been raised by the interviewer). As another example, I have a hobby which is social, requires self-organization and keeps my creativity alive, but is not known (and understood) that widely that I'd put in in the CV.

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I guess, it depends on the match between the requirements of the job you are applying for and your activity profile (I emphasize profile, not only rating) on CV. Persons applying for a teaching statistics position could, in my opinion, profit by placing their CV profile in their applications if they have provided many good answers on CV and less so if they have asked many good questions. If you are a researcher or an independent consultant you apply with the projects/studies you have carried out, and less with the exchange of ideas in the course of carrying out your projects. And if you have the CV profile of whuber or Peter Flom you can only profit from it, no matter what position you are applying for and whether you put it on your website or on your curriculum vitae - there just aren't that many of these profiles.

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