Employers will look for experience that has given you relevant technical and personal skills, ideally gained through industrial placements or internships.
In an industry that is so dependent on obtaining funding to support research, commercial or industrial awareness is a key attribute that is often lacking in applicants. Visit our webpage to find out more about commercial awareness.
Industrial placement and internships are very beneficial, but if you don't yet have that directly relevant experience, keeping up to date with industry developments through news items on key websites, or perhaps folowing a particular organisation's social media feeds can all help to build your commercial awareness.
Working in retail or fundraising for charities, etc, can also be useful in helping you to understand how important the financial aspects of a business are.
Large pharmaceutical companies often advise those who are aiming for R&D roles to contact them towards the end of their undergraduate degree and maintain links throughout their further studies so they can stay informed about what employers are looking for.
There are many roles available across the biotechnology sector and some, particularly those in R&D, will have specific degree subject requirements.
In general, desirable degree subjects include microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, biological and chemical engineering.
Research roles will almost always require a postgraduate qualification, often a PhD. Some of the subject areas you could study at postgraduate level include:
- industrial biotechnology
- molecular microbiology
- synthetic biology
- biopharmaceuticals and enterprise
- medical biotechnology
- plant biotechnology
- animal biotechnology
- regenerative therapies
- environmental biotechnology
Specific skills requirements will be role dependent, but in general employers will be looking for:
- evidence of your interest in science
- curiosity and a receptiveness to new ideas
- strong data analysis and problem-solving skills
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- strong communication skills and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team
- networking skills, with the ability to build effective relationships
- commercial awareness
Some of the larger organisations run formal graduate recruitment programmes, e.g. AstraZeneca or the NHS Scientist Training Programme, but as so many of the employers are small companies, their recruitment processes are often less formal.
Networking can play an important role in your job search. Joining relevant online networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook could be an excellent way to identify potential employers, participate in discussions, make useful contacts and find out about upcoming vacancies.
Visit our networking page to find out more about networking effectively.
If you can identify a small number of companies working in fields that particularly interest you, make contact to find out more about them and consider sending in a speculative application.
Commercial research organisations often use recruitment agencies.
Our source of vacancies from local, national and international companies and organisations
Specialist recruitment agencies are a good source of vacancies. Use the search term 'biotechnology' to start your search. Scientific agencies include:
Science Recruitment Group
Jobs in Science
Access Science Jobs
To identify other agencies, use the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's 'Find an Agency' tool, searchable under a number of criteria, including sector and region.
The following sites may be useful:
Royal Society of Chemistry