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Careers Centres

Nearly all universities have a careers centre and it is well worth you seeking them out whilst you are a student. Some offer a "Graduate Service" for a small fee to students who have already graduated. Services vary but they offer basic careers guidance and have general information and resources that are available for your use. They may offer you skills workshops in things such as how to write a successful application form and interview technique.  You will also get a chance to practice psychometric tests that you may have to undertake when applying for jobs.

Careers Fairs

Throughout your time at university there will be many careers fairs that you can attend. They are useful events that will give you a chance to explore many different areas of work and meet different employers. Some fairs will also offer you specific advice on skills such as writing an effective CV. To find out more about careers fairs in your area look at your University careers website or visit your careers centre, alternatively do a search for careers fairs on the Internet. The Royal Society of Biology runs an annual Life Sciences Careers Conferences.

The Press

Many new jobs are advertised every week in the press. National broadsheets should be scanned every week. They generally focus on particular job areas on different days so find out which day is appropriate to you. Some science journals are worth scanning every week i.e. New Scientist, Nature. It is also worth finding out about specialist titles for your area of work and looking at them e.g. Farmers Weekly.

The Internet

For most jobs it is possible to do online applications, CVs and cover letters. Searching Google for 'Biology Jobs' doesn't always work, so we have listed a selection of useful job search engines for you to try. From the links you will be able to search for jobs in biology and apply for them.

The General Graduate Jobs list contains sites which list vacancies from other industries which may be of interest to you. You can build online profiles which identify your skills and try to match you up to jobs that could potentially interest you, on some you are able to upload your CV for prospective employers to view.

Some of the sites hold information on vacancies for other countries as well as the UK which can be useful if you do want to work abroad.

If you are interested in working in a highly competitive area e.g. the media, then it might be necessary to take a more proactive attitude towards your job search involving networking and speculative applications.

Here are a selection of websites which have information on current job vacancies within biology and in science-related areas:

General Graduate Jobs

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is similar to a social networking site which has 'Over 225 million professionals' currently signed up but is focused on finding people who can help you achieve your goals through their expertise and skills. This includes finding new employees.

To get the most out of LinkedIn you need to register and make an online profile.From here you can add friends/connections and create links with your friends and past employers.

LinkedIn is a useful tool for job hunting as your past employers can give you references which can then be seen by prospective employers who use this site to search for employees with certain skills.

You can also use LinkedIn to search for jobs and if you are signed in you can 'see if you have connections (friends) who can help you get this job'. You might have a relative who is somehow connected to the employer offering the job you like. One of your work experience supervisors may have been university pals with the person who is advertising a job that you are thinking of applying to. If that work experience supervisor gave you a good reference then you may be more likely to get that job.

Even if you don't have dazzling connections you can still use the jobs search option to view current vacancies from specific companies.

You can also add the Royal Society of Biology as a connection to give your profile something extra.

Networking

Seeking people out, talking to them, learning from them, getting people's advice. It is a very useful tool and improves your awareness and knowledge of careers in your field - it can be a useful way of identifying openings and being 'at the right place at the right time'.

To begin networking:

  1. Think about all the people you know that work in a similar field to the area you're interested in, at social occasions look out for people who are working in areas that interest you. By talking to these people you might be able to find out information or be given advice about careers in your field of interest. Even if a person can't help you directly, they may know someone who can.
  2. If you know someone that might be able to help try emailing or ringing them. If you don't feel comfortable with this approach you could always write a letter and follow it up with a phone call.
  3. Be clear about the information you want when contacting these people. You might want to find out general information about the job area or more specific advice such as feedback on your CV or opportunities for work experience.
  4. Try to get names of more people that might be able to help you from your first contact and in this way you will be able to continue expanding your network.
  5. After you have received advice always write a thank you letter to the person who has helped you, not only does this reflect well on your manners, it also keeps your name fresh in the mind of the contact.

Speculative approaches

Jobs that are in areas that are very competitive are often never advertised, instead the companies rely on speculative applications.

Speculative applications are when people write an application letter to a company when they are not advertising any suitable vacancies. The applications must be well targeted and are much more effective if written to a specific person and not just 'Head of Recruitment'. If someone who is a mutual contact has recommended you to write to the company, mention their name in the letter.