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Strategies for your science and research job hunt

Four strategies for job hunters in scientific research and development

How are students interested in scientific research and development (R&D) employers approaching their job hunt? Our findings reveal the most popular tactics that you can take on board.

Before you plan for your own job hunt, it’s a good idea to take stock of what other students are doing to increase their chances of landing a job in scientific R&D. That way, you can improve you own job hunt. To help you do just that, we’ve reviewed the Graduate Survey 2018 (the UK’s biggest survey of students’ attitudes towards their job hunts) and its key findings.

The Graduate Survey is conducted by Cibyl UK, a partner of TARGETjobs’ parent company, Group GTI. 73,517 students took part overall, but the following tips are focused on those students who expressed an interest in working for scientific R&D employers.

How to use these findings to become a better job hunter

To get you started, here are four things to add to your to-do list.

Create (or advance) your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is way ahead of the pack when it comes to which social media platforms are used by students interested in scientific R&D employers. 73% of these students use LinkedIn for careers purposes. In comparison, the next most popular social media, Facebook, is significantly behind at 21%, followed by Google+ at 18% and Twitter and YouTube, both at 17%.

With most of your peers making the most of all that LinkedIn offers to graduate job hunters, you should be too, whether you need to create your profile, get around to filling it in properly or check that it’s in the best shape it can be in. You can get your LinkedIn profile reviewed by your careers service. You can use LinkedIn to connect with industry professionals, join relevant groups and participate in discussions.

Another way you can build on the social media success of your peers is to be active on other platforms too. You can comment on companies’ videos on YouTube and you can follow employers you’re interested in on Twitter and retweet and reply to them. You can also follow us @targetjobsUK.

Arrange some work experience – ideally in research and development

62% of penultimate-year students interested in scientific R&D employers had work experience related to their course, while slightly more final years had some (69%). That’s a fairly high percentage and your job hunt will be harder if you’re going up against these students without your own share of related work experience. This could be a couple of weeks’ work experience with a science employer on a nearby business park or, better yet, a summer internship or placement year. If you’re ready to apply for one of these, head to our internships feed for current vacancies.

On top of related work experience, there are plenty of other experiences that are great additions to a CV. The 2018 survey tells us that 83% of both penultimate years and final years interested in scientific R&D employers had work experience unrelated to their course. That’s the majority of these students – and it certainly won’t hurt for you to join them. You could get a part-time job, join a society at university or volunteer in your local community, for example.

Think about what kind of employer you want to work for

When asked what type of company they wanted to work for after graduating, quite a lot of students interested in scientific R&D employers were on the fence. 43% said, ‘Any of the above’ and 9% said ‘Don’t know’. Of those that did have a preference, 19% said 'a large international company', 18% said 'a large UK-based company' and 12% said 'a small/medium-size enterprise'.

It’s sensible to keep an open mind in your job hunt and remain open to employers you hadn’t considered before, but it’s best to avoid being in the 9% that don’t have any idea what kind of company they want to work for.

Thinking about the type of employer you’d like to work for now will help you narrow down which employers to apply to and save you lots of time in the long run. After all, it’s best to submit fewer, more focused applications than to take a scattergun approach and apply to every job you come across. It’s not always easy to balance job hunting with your studies, so you should do everything you can to make your life easier.

Prepare for science employers’ recruitment processes

61% of students interested in scientific R&D employers said, ‘I’m worried about my future career’, although this is extremely close to the average across all sectors (60%) and significantly lower than students interested in property (80%), media and advertising (74%), law – solicitors (69%) and law – barristers (68%) employers.

If you are feeling concerned about your prospects after graduation, though, you can use our advice to help you manage your job hunt and prepare for employers’ recruitment processes. You should also make the most of the support offered to you by your university’s careers service. For example, most offer one-to-one mock interviews and CV workshops.

Different employers use different recruitment processes. Large employers tend to use a combination of the stages listed below, including psychometric tests and video interviews, whereas smaller employers only use two or three (usually an initial application form or CV and covering letter and a face-to-face interview). Familiarising yourself with the different stages and what they are likely to involve will increase your chances of success.

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.