If you’re a science student it can sometimes feel that there aren’t many graduate job opportunities out there, despite regular reports in the media stating that STEM students are in demand. So what’s going on and how do you find job opportunities?
It’s important to remember that scientific organisations are all different and all have their own policies and practices when it comes to recruitment. Some may see recruitment fairs and generalist recruitment websites as appropriate for their needs, but many won’t, and will seek out more specialist recruitment sources or recruit from within as far as possible. One graduate recently told us that her company only ever recruited externally as a last resort, preferring to recruit students who had undertaken year in industry placements, internships or attended insight events.
So, if you’re looking for jobs (and internships), the first part of this blog will give you some ideas of where to look for advertised opportunities, while the second part will look at more creative ways to find and create opportunities.
Graduate recruitment websites
General websites are worth checking if they include scientific opportunities. However, they may be combined with engineering and technology vacancies so you will need to search carefully. There are lots of sites, but some examples include:
- www.york.ac.uk/careers/gateway – University of York Careers vacancy website
- www.prospects.ac.uk – national graduate careers website
- www.targetjobs.co.uk – Target Jobs
- www.milkround.com – Milkround
- http://graduate.monster.co.uk – Monster
- www.jobs.ac.uk – academic and research related jobs.
If you are looking for vacancies in specific UK regions you may find some scientific vacancies on regional graduate websites. www.yorkshiregraduates.co.uk covers the Yorkshire region, but you can find similar websites for other regions at www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/findjobs/where/regional
Specialist scientific job websites
These can offer a more targeted search and you may find a wider range of opportunities, including jobs and graduate schemes with large, small and medium sized companies (SMEs). Examples include:
- http://brightrecruits.com – Institute of Physics vacancy service
- http://jobs.rsc.org – Royal Society of Chemistry job vacancies
- www.societyofbiology.org/careers-and-cpd/careers/employment/searching-for-jobs – links to Biology specific vacancy sites
- www.environmentjob.co.uk – Environment opportunities
- www.gradcracker.com – specialist website now including vacancies for chemistry and science
- http://jobs.newscientist.com – New Scientist jobs website
- www.earthworks-jobs.com – range of sectors relating to earth and environmental science, oil and energy sectors.
Some websites include vacancies from a range of other sources, for example:
Use Careers information sheets www.york.ac.uk/careers/infosheets (Considering series) and the Prospects careers website www.prospects.ac.uk/types_of_jobs.htm to research further specific job search resources.
Some employers will not advertise vacancies externally, but use specialist scientific recruitment agencies to help them to fill both permanent and short-term vacancies. There is no charge to candidates for using these services and they can be a useful addition to your job search resources and may be able to offer you career and application advice. However, there is no guarantee that they will be able to find a role that matches your skills and experience. You can search for specialist agencies at websites such as www.agencycentral.co.uk but some well-known ones include:
- Lab Support www.labsupport.co.uk
- SRG www.srg.co.uk
- Matchtech www.matchtech.com
- SCI www.sci-search.com
See the information sheet, Using recruitment agencies, for more information.
Remember that many vacancies are not advertised – some employers prefer to recruit through word of mouth or speculative approaches. Others may advertise opportunities, but only on their own websites, or through more targeted channels such as social media, where they will find an audience who are already showing an interest in them.
To find out about less well-known companies, particularly SMEs, use online business directories such as www.yell.com to help you to identify specific types of organisation by location. If you’re looking for research related organisations check relevant research council websites www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/areas and universities for associated research centres, or www.airto.co.uk for independent research and technology organisations. Many scientific organisations are located on science and technology parks so try websites such as Science City York to search for companies on York Science Park www.scy.co.uk, or the UK Science Park Association for a directory of Science Parks throughout UK www.ukspa.org.uk.
Use the internet to research other specialist directories, such as www.ukbiotech.com, a directory of bioscience companies in the UK and www.labhoo.com, a database of life science related companies in the UK and beyond. Sometimes relevant professional bodies and trade associations list member organisations and/or vacancies – for example, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry careers website has a list of pharmaceutical recruiters http://careers.abpi.org.uk.
When you find companies you’re interested in, check their website to see if they have vacancies or if they offer an address for speculative applications. If not, you could submit a speculative application, outlining your skills experience and the kind of work you’re interested in. They may not have vacancies, but if they are interested they may keep you application on file for future opportunities. See our CV Guide on the VLE for advice on writing CVs and covering letters and for examples.
Learn to network
This is about finding people who can help you – they might not have jobs but they might have information or connections that you could use. Start with your current contacts – family, friends, neighbours, and let them know what kind of work you’re looking for. Going to careers events and fairs and taking the opportunity to chat to professionals and alumni could also help you. Try our autumn recruitment fairs (open to current students and graduates) and Professional Connect events www.york.ac.uk/careers/events – particularly our Science event of 8th May. You can also make contact with York graduates in areas of work that interest you by searching through our online profiles www.york.ac.uk/careers/profiles.
If you are a member of a relevant scientific professional body you may have the opportunity to attend careers events and conferences at low cost and to attend regional networking meetings. For example, the Institute of Physics and Society of Biology run careers events and conferences and the Royal Society of Chemistry runs careers events and regional networking meetings for members.
Make social media work for you. Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and join groups and follow organisations that are relevant to your interest. Participate in discussions and look out for vacancies. Use the search facilities to research employers and see staff profiles – there might be a connection you were unaware of. Twitter also allows you to follow organisations and individuals you’re interested in and may alert you to vacancies and events. Use our information sheet on Successful Networking for more information.
Networking won’t necessarily help you to find vacancies straight away, but it might allow you to gain valuable career advice. Keeping in touch with your contacts could mean that if they do hear of any opportunities they are more likely to let you know.
Successful job searching is about using as many resources as possible, not relying on advertised opportunities alone, but making speculative approaches, building your network and making social media work for you.
Adapted from an original blog post by Elizabeth Wilkinson of Manchester University.
Professional Connect: Thursday 8 May (6.15pm – 8.30pm) – meet professionals working in science-related careers and find out more about roles in the sector.