The life sciences industry is competitive, fast-paced, and full of opportunities.
For many graduates and people looking to take a step into life sciences for the first time, the process can seem intimidating, particularly if you aren’t sure where to start.
The industry is experiencing significant growth, and no matter which specific role you’re looking for or the sector you’re interested in, there’s bound to be a perfect role waiting for you in life sciences.
The likes of the UK, Germany, France and the Nordic countries account for more than 65% of the total European VC deal volume, and there are a variety of regions where you could consider starting your career… but where do you start?
Let’s take a look at the five steps you can take to kick off your life sciences job search in 2023.
1. Consider your career preferences
Before taking any other steps, it’s important to think about your criteria for a job role in life sciences.
If you’re a recent graduate or someone entering the industry for the first time, it’s likely that there are certain factors you’ll consider to be important in your decision-making.
For example, are you looking to work for a large, global business - such as the likes of Pfizer - or are you more interested in joining a start-up?
Though this might seem like quite a broad area of consideration, this will impact your ability to secure a role.
Larger organisations will generally have much fiercer competition for roles, and a more focused approach to recruitment and the experience/skills they’re looking for.
Startups, however, might be more open to having you work a more multifaceted role so that you can contribute to their growth period.
Other areas to consider include:
The industry or area of therapeutic focus: are you interested specifically in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries? Or are you looking for a specific therapeutic area, such as oncology? This would require a different approach in your CV and interviews.
Location: there are a variety of life sciences clusters in Europe that will usually have multiple job opportunities ranging across industries, so this requires careful consideration to best maximise your search.
Business performance: if an organisation is in growth mode, it’s likely that the roles available will be more fast-paced and will have clearly defined goals for performance.
2. Customise your CV
Once you’ve done your research, you want to make sure that you’re focusing on the elements most important for the job roles you’re applying for.
This is why it’s so important to consider which types of jobs you’re applying for (and the other elements discussed above).
Take a look at some of the job descriptions of roles you’re interested in.
Which skills are most commonly highlighted? Which type of degree/academic background are they looking for? Which transferable skills can you include from your previous roles that are highlighted in the ads?
Knowing the industry and the language used is important, because it means that you can tailor your CV well enough that a hiring manager or recruiter can easily pinpoint the attributes you have that are ideal for the job.
Use the STAR method for writing your CV – Situation, Task, Activity, Result – and highlight not only any key career achievements you have, but the evidence and context to back them up.
Keep in mind that hiring managers are looking to see how your skills can impact the specialisms and processes driving their organisation, so you need to customise your CV accordingly.
3. Take a look at your online presence
In the same way that you’ll search life sciences organisations online, hiring managers are likely to also be looking at each candidate’s online presence too.
This doesn’t just apply to making sure that your social media accounts are appropriate and set to private, but also the use of networking platforms such as LinkedIn.
LinkedIn can be a great way for you to be approached by hiring managers and recruiters for life sciences job roles.
If you optimise your profile properly by putting all of your relevant experience and using relevant keywords that hiring managers would be looking for, then it makes it easier than ever for you to be approached.
Advertising jobs via platforms like LinkedIn is increasingly common, alongside the use of LinkedIn as a means to screen potential hires.
Make sure that your profile is a condensed, concise version of your CV, including all of your achievements – ideally, you’ll also be able to post some content and share your thoughts on relevant industry topics and news.
4. Take a look at the different hiring channels
From traditional job boards like Indeed to direct applications, there are multiple ways in which you can apply for life sciences jobs.
Job boards are the most common option, with both general and specialist boards to find opportunities on – you can filter location, specialism, and more to target specific job roles.
Applying directly may be a less common option or one you haven’t considered, yet a large number of life sciences organisations and specialist life sciences recruitment companies will not actively post vacancies on job boards, and will instead post vacancies on their website or LinkedIn primarily.
To cover all bases, you can create a list of the companies you’d like to work for and get in touch with them about potential vacancies. In addition, you can then also go through a life sciences recruitment agency, which can be a much more transparent and supportive approach for candidates.
You can get tailored career advice and collaborate through the process, rather than having to potentially wait for long periods of time for updates and contact.
5. Be prepared
Succeeding in getting to the interview stage is good, but now you need to adequately convey that you’re the best candidate for the job.
To do this, you need to go beyond what you’ve already shown in your CV and any other communication you’ve had.
Go deeper and consider:
What makes this company different? Is it their area of therapeutics? Is it their values? Do they have a strong stance on social or ethical issues?
What is the current life sciences market like? Can you go deeper into the specific industry (e.g. medical devices)? Which trends are impacting the market?
What kind of culture does the company have? Is this something that attracted you to the role?
Going beyond describing your experience and qualifications means that you can give a hiring manager the impression that you’re a perfect fit for the company from a skills and culture perspective.
You don’t have to do it alone
You can start or continue your life sciences career journey today by connecting with the expert consultants here at Panda.
We can introduce you to leading global companies and innovative startups in life sciences, supporting you every step of the way.