This post has been updated, find it here
If you’re a science student who loves science, it can sometimes feel like all the jobs are for business students, engineers or computer scientists. This is to reassure you that there are ways of finding science jobs – if you know where to look.
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 lot 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
- The cons – they may not be recruiting when you need a job
Where to look for science job adverts – some starting points
- The Careers Service, specifically, CareersLink (for University of Manchester students and recent graduates, login required)
- Graduate JobSearch – over 200 tailored mobile-friendly searches for graduate level jobs, including scientific work, energy and environment jobs, using recruitment sites such as Gradcracker, Target, Reed, jobs.ac.uk and many more
- General science jobs websites such as
- Specialist science jobs websites
- The Prospects website has suggested vacancy sites for different types of scientific work (in the “Employers and vacancies” section for each type of work).
- Here are just a few examples of targeted or niche scientific jobs sites:
- Use targeted search criteria in sites which pull in vacancies from other sources
- Science recruitment agencies
How to look for potential scientific employers
If you want to do cutting edge science, don’t just think of the big household names – think small!
Why? Because science which emerges from fundamental academic research is often based in start-up and spin-out companies, often located around universities, in “incubation centres” (ie. very small emerging companies – may not be too many roles for new scientists here) and science parks (companies which are starting to grow might be a better bet for science jobs for recent graduates).
How can you find these companies which you’ve never heard of? Try these approaches:
- University of Manchester Careers Service – CareersLink
- Look under “Organisation Directory” – this is our employer database of organisations who want to target University of Manchester students. Using “Advanced search”, you can filter by “Organisation Sector” – which lists over 400 science employers.
- Our Which Career – Scientific Work web pages include sources of scientific employers
- Look in science and innovation parks
- Research institutes, centres and companies interested in researchers
- www.jobs.ac.uk/employers – browse employers by type, including those outside academia
- UK Research Councils – UK government funded research centres and institutes. Check each Research Council for lists of its funded institutes
- AIRTO – a membership organisation for a number of commercial and government funded research organisations and institutes
- Networks of scientists
- Trade associations often have lists of members, for example:
- Professional bodies – get involved with a relevant scientific professional body to meet scientists in your field (you might get to know your future interviewer!)
- LinkedIn – join groups for your field to link to other scientists; search companies, groups or people by keyword, including technical terms.
- Your contacts
- Tell everyone you know what you’re looking for, social and online contacts included. You never know who a friend or a distant cousin might know …
What to do once you’ve found a suitable scientific employer
- 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.
- See if the employer is attending a recruitment event in the near future.
- Send a targeted speculative application. If they say they will “keep you on file”, don’t give up hope. When a vacancy arises, that file of recent applications is the first place many employers look before advertising, particularly for specialist posts (I know it’s what I did when I was recruiting in the polymer industry).
- Try to talk to someone from the employer you want to target.
- If they’re a recruiting manager, ask how they recruit new scientists, are there any plans for expansion, where would they advertise?
- If they don’t recruit personally, you can still get a feel for the type of scientific work they do the sort of employer they are, and whether this would suit you.
- Either way, you get inside information, you should now 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 – and not necessarily at a recruitment event.
- If they target researchers, they may be part of university collaborations. Are they giving a seminar or talk on campus? Could you ask the academics involved in the collaboration to introduce you?
Further information for scientists
See our recent post:
- Do you want to work in or out of the lab? Things you need to know with a bio/life science degree – FAQs
Careers Consultant (Postgraduate) at the University of Manchester, UK