Where are all the science jobs?

NB. This is an old blog post and likely to be out of date. For a more recent version see:

Where are all the science jobs? October 2016

Old version:

Recruitment fairs can often look as if they’re just about engineering, IT, finance and business jobs. If you’re after a science job, where are they all?

Well, they’re sometimes tucked away within those companies which look like they’re just about engineering. At our upcoming Engineering, Science and Technology Fair this week (Wednesday 17th October), we’ll highlight which stands you should visit if you want to talk science.

UPDATE 16/10/12: Here’s a link to the excel spreadsheet showing which companies (coming to the fairs), are looking for science graduates/postgraduates. This includes those specifically looking for science grads (shown by discipline), plus those who say “any degree welcome”. There are two tabs in the spreadsheet, showing employers at either the Engineering, Science and Technology Fair, or the Finance, Business and Management Fair (yes, really!) who are specifically advertising for science grads.

However, not all scientific employers come to the big fairs. That may be because they don’t need to publicise themselves because you know who they are already. This is particularly true of pharmaceutical companies, who normally only attend life science specific fairs, such as the Society of Biology’s Life Science Careers Conferences.

A more common reason is that many scientific employers only recruit a small number of new graduates or postgraduates each year. It’s not a good use of their time or money to come along to a fair for one new recruit.

So, how do you find those science jobs? I’ve put together a handout which will be available the fair this week, which you can access here (pdf).

Alternatively, here’s the text with clickable links:

Where Are All The Science Jobs?

If you’re looking for a job in science, two alternatives are:

a) Look for science jobs which are being advertised

  • The pros – you know there is a job to be filled
  • The cons – so do lots of other people, so the competition will be high

b) Look for scientific employers and see if they have any jobs

  • The pros – they may have jobs to be filled, but if a job isn’t available now, they may keep you on file; this means that when a vacancy does occur, they may contact you before even considering advertising, so there is less competition (and the job may never get advertised if your CV on file fits the bill)
  • The cons – may not be recruiting when you need a job

To give yourself the best chance, you could try a combination of both of these strategies.

Where to look for science job adverts – some examples

Your university careers service

General science jobs websites such as

Specialist science jobs websites
Here are just a few examples of targeted or niche scientific jobs sites:

Use targeted search criteria in general graduate recruitment sites such as

Use targeted search criteria in sites which pull in vacancies from many other sources on the internet, such as

Science recruitment agencies

How to look for potential scientific employers

Your university careers service

  • The University of Manchester Careers Service has an online directory of organisations who want to promote themselves to their students (www.manchester.ac.uk/careerslink – see Organisation Search, login required).
  • Check with your own institution to see if they have details of employers who want to target their students (eg promotional information or visits).

Look in science and innovation parks

Research institutes, centres and companies interested in those with research experience

  • Jobs.ac.uk allows you to browse employers by type, including non-academic employers who advertise on their recruitment site (www.jobs.ac.uk/employers)
  • Government research centres and institutes are normally funded (at least in part) by one of the UK Research Councils (www.rcuk.ac.uk). Check each Research Council for lists of its funded institutes.
  • AIRTO is a membership organisation for a number of commercial and government funded research organisations and institutes (www.airto.co.uk/our-members.html).

Trade associations

  • Often have lists of members – find a relevant trade association with the Trade Association Forum Directory (www.taforum.org/Members)
  • For example, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has its own careers website with lists of employers (http://careers.abpi.org.uk)

Professional bodies

  • If you get involved with a relevant scientific professional body, attend meetings or conferences, or see who is on their committees, you may be able to find out where other members work. There are lots of scientific professional bodies – www.totalprofessions.com/profession-finder

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com)

  • If you are a member of LinkedIn, you can join groups which are relevant to your scientific interests. This will let you see where other group members work.
  • You can also search companies by keyword. For example, a search for “Proteomics” results in 223 companies worldwide. You can then filter by location etc.

Your contacts

  • Don’t underestimate the power of contacts – tell everyone you know, even socially, what you’re looking for. You never know when a distant cousin might live next door to a laser physics expert.

What to do once you’ve found a suitable scientific employer

  • Don’t ignore the most obvious approach – simply type “Employer-name jobs” into a search engine!
  • Check the employer’s website regularly to see if they are advertising any suitable jobs.
  • Type the employer’s name into some of the sites which pull in vacancies from lots of source. Careerjet, Indeed and SimplyHired) allow you to set up alerts by e-mail or RSS feed when a new job is posted.
  • See if the employer is attending a recruitment event in the near future.
  • Send them a targeted speculative application. If they say they will “keep you on file”, don’t give up hope. When they have a suitable vacancy, that file of recent applications is the first place many employers look before they think about advertising, particularly for specialist technical posts.
  • Try to talk to someone from the employer you want to target, to ask about the sort of scientific work they do; how they recruit new scientists; if there are any plans for expansion. If the person you talk to isn’t a recruiting manager, they may not be able to help you with details of jobs coming up, but you can get a feel for the type of work they do and the sort of employer they are, and whether this would suit you. Then you know whether to look out for job ads, and how to target your applications.
  • See if someone from the employer you want to target is going to be on campus. If they target researchers, they may be part of university collaborations. Are they giving any seminars or talks on campus? Could you ask the academics involved in the collaboration to introduce you?


5 responses to “Where are all the science jobs?”

  1. For a laugh, I’ve taken the question too literally.


    I can’t say the graph is the most useful ever, but it might be interesting.

    1. Elizabeth (Postgrad blog) Avatar
      Elizabeth (Postgrad blog)

      Thanks – you know I love a good graph! I’ll also comment directly on your blog.

      Have you seen the gorgeous infographic on the global movement of scientists, from Nature?


      I think this one is specifically for academic researchers, rather than excluding post-docs, so not the same target. Looks like more detail to come in December
      *rubs hands together in glee*


  2. Really useful resource – thanks !

    1. Elizabeth (Postgrad blog) Avatar
      Elizabeth (Postgrad blog)

      Hi Janice

      Glad it’s of use. I assume your York scientists have the same problem as ours – lack of visibility of science jobs amongst all the higher profile finance/engineering/IT jobs. Just trying to redress the balance.

      Hope you’re surviving the autumn term – soon be Christmas!


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