4 Things New Life Science Graduates Need to Know to Land that First Job

Four Things New Life Science Graduates Need to Know to Land that First Job
April 21, 2016
By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

This year’s life science graduates are collecting their diplomas at an opportune time. According to Michigan State University’s Recruiting Trends Report, U.S. employers are planning a 15 percent increase in new graduate hiring across all degree levels. Among the more than 4,700 employers surveyed, 68 percent cited company growth as their primary reason for recruiting more freshly-minted life science professionals. Another 56 percent said employee turnover—including retiring staff—is a driving factor. *

Of course, competition for the best entry-level life science jobs is still fierce—whether you’re seeking employment in pharmaceutical or medical equipment manufacturing, research and development, or a testing, medical or diagnostic laboratory. Consider these four things every new life science graduate needs to know in order to land that first job.

1. Your resume should be simple yet complete.
Adam Farmer, technical recruiter at Kelly Scientific Resources—a leading scientific staffing firm—has reviewed thousands of resumes over the course of his career. While he suggests leaving personal photos off your document and careful proofreading to eliminate typographical and grammatical errors, there are definite must-haves as well. “Every life science resume should include a list of technical skills and a section on additional achievements such as your publication history and awards,” he recently told BioSpace . When describing your work history and responsibilities, he adds, “Use bullet points and simple sentences to convey the highlights. This should not be paragraphs or a novel.”

Bonus tip: “Constantly update and review your resume throughout your career,” Farmer urges. “There is nothing worse than starting from scratch after working a job for years. You’ll forget half of the good stuff you have accomplished!”

2. You’re going to have to deal with rejection.
It’s very likely that you’re going to need to apply for dozens of life science jobs before you get an offer. However, while repeated rejection can feel personal, it really isn’t. There are numerous reasons an employer might decide to go with a different candidate that have nothing to do with your individual worth or even your qualifications. You can waste time feeling down about it or you can put your focus on the future. You didn’t get this job, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get the next.

If you simply cannot walk away, try to turn the rejection into something positive. Reach out to the hiring managers who interviewed you and thank them for their time. Ask them to keep you in mind for similar positions that may be available in the future. You can even ask for specific feedback on things you can do to build on your qualifications in the meantime.

3. Take every opportunity to help employers find you.
Yes, employers post jobs online and then review the resumes and applications they receive in response. But that’s not the only way they find qualified candidates. In fact, according to one 2015 survey, 78 percent of recruiters and employers said referrals are their best source of quality hires. This was followed by social networks (56 percent), interns (55 percent), direct applications (46 percent), outside recruiters (38 percent), internet job boards (37 percent), and mobile career sites (19 percent).* What does this mean for your job search? Simply that in addition to actively applying for the life science jobs you want, you should take every opportunity to help employers find you as well. This includes everything from uploading your resume to BioSpace.com and establishing an online presence to pursing internships and developing a network of professionals who work where you want to work.

4. You don’t have to hold out for the “perfect” job.
You’re looking for your first post-graduate job, not your final one. Keep in mind that this is merely the beginning of your life science career. While you should try to find a position within a company you respect and a workplace culture in which you can thrive, it doesn’t all have to be perfect. In fact, even a negative experience can teach you a lot about what you need from your employer in order to be comfortable, successful and enjoy your job. This doesn’t mean you should become a serial job hopper, of course, but you really shouldn’t stress if the first job you get isn’t one you want to keep for life.

* Employers could select more than one answer, thus percent numbers do not add to 100.

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