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Physics Physics buzzwords?

  1. Dec 20, 2011 #1
    Hi everyone, I just graduated with my B.S. in Physics and I'm knee deep in the uncertainty of finding a (good) job with just a four year degree in physics. I'm currently writing my resume and people have told me that it should have more physics "buzzwords". This is probably because I am going to post it on places like monster that have automated searches for employers. What are good physics buzzwords that I can put on my resume that would better help my potential job finding effort?

    You can assume I've had a typical undergraduate education (in the U.S.A.) in all the classic physics disciplines. (Mechanics, E&M, Thermal/Stat. Mech., Quantum, Solid State, Astro., Modern Optics, etc.)

    And if you're wondering what KIND of job I'm looking for, just something science/engineering/technology related. I like optics, thermal, mechanics and E&M probably the most, so buzzwords that would help me find a job in those related fields would be nice.

    And by "buzzwords" I simply mean that in fields like computer science, you would fill your application up with particular skills (and in this particular case it would be programming languages you are familiar with, etc.) like "C++" or "Java" skills. Those would enable automatic search engines to zero in on your application and make you rise to the top that much easier.

    So far I only have "fourier analysis" listed on my resume that I think is remotely useful as a buzzword.

    I'm just finding it hard in general to list what my skills are that I've gained from a major in physics and minor in mathematics. Please help me figure out the right things to put down.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2011 #2
    I think that you should figure out what you'd like to do first, and then write down words associated with the action, not just topics that you've covered in school.

    To be honest though, I don't think that this particular job search is going to be the most rewarding for you. I'd suggest that you look into some industries and find an interest in specific companies. Once you've targeted those companies as successful, expanding, relevant to your skills etc., you should ask them if they are hiring and express your interest in them. If they say that they aren't, ask if you can volunteer to get some industry experience. If they say yes, the chances are that they will hire you after you take on responsibilities that only you are familiar with.

    Oh yeah, and if you do get that volunteer position, start hiding things, important things. Steal a stapler and wait for someone to need it and then come to the rescue.
  4. Dec 20, 2011 #3

    But in response to the rest of your post, it's interesting that you say I need to be more specific about what I want to do, I have thought about this before. It seems though, that physics majors have to be willing to learn new things and go into areas in industry that they didn't necessarily study in college (I'm probably not going to find a job calculating partition functions..) I know my last sentence isn't exactly what you're talking about, you're suggesting (rightfully) that I should add buzzwords that are important to a specific industry that I want to get into and that I should be contacting specific companies instead of searching monster. Point taken (I like your advice and have started to think in this way), but just in general, there has to be some general buzzwords that are quite general in physics, sort of like "C++", "linux", etc. in computer science. I'll probably be calling multiple HR departments for various companies and sending the same resume to all of them.

    I'm also not sure if I have the money to not be willing to get paid at all. I'm going to have to at least get something like 10 or 15$ an hour even during and internship or volunteer type position. I just got out of a debt inducing 4 year cycle after all...
  5. Dec 20, 2011 #4
    Haha, yes that's true. That's no doubt an unfortunate side effect of education.

    I am currently a physics major enrolled in a co-op program, so I do have some work experience and I have a decent idea of what some companies are looking for in an employee. Sadly, a large percentage are looking for programming skills. If you have those, put them on. In my admittedly limited experiences, optics and thermodynamics seem to be one of the more useful areas of study in relation to industry. The thermal stuff will often go to engineers, but leave optics to the physicists.

    I'm trying to think of some buzzwords for you now...It's pretty difficult. Mostly because nothing I learn in university is applicable at my job...

    -Microsoft Office Experience
    -Lab Proficiency
    -Data Acquisition
    -Hardware\Software Integartion
    -Statistical Analysis

    Its tough, I hope some of these help.
  6. Dec 20, 2011 #5
    This is good for me, I do have (good) experience in C++ and Java and so I put those down on my resume. Although I didn't study any computer science in college, I used to do it competitively in high school.

    Interestingly, those were my two favorite classes heh, especially optics. I was thinking of optics topics I could put on my resume that I know about but it's hard to make "knows how interference, polarizers, and diffraction works, and also did tons of experiments in optics lab with lasers and optical systems using said optics principles".. heh, I'm know I'm exaggerating the difficulty but not by much. I would like to get into the optics field if somebody is looking at this thread and reserving the forbearing of buzzwords due to my apparent lack of specific interest in an industry. Though "optics" is still quite broad.

    I know it is difficult and for just the reason you said. I like your suggestions though, maybe I need to be real general like that.
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