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Great to see you at Man Met this week - here's the followup I promised

Great to see you at Man Met this week - here's the followup I promised

22 Jan 14:00 by Matthew Rollinson


It’s that time of year again, I’m writing this as a blog this year for two reasons, one my new years resolution was to write more blogs. And two I’ve left the email addresses from Tuesdays I event on a folder, on my desk, and I’m currently at my house so figured instead of individual emails I figured I’d do a blog.

If you’re in a degree course right now thoughts are turning to what you do after graduating.

For that reason, and because we LOVE going to Manchester Metropolitan University and meeting the people there. We were at a meet the employers event this week focusses on career advice for the most difficult, annoying, long winded and disappointment-loaded job moves ever….

The first job move following University.

We’re experts in recruitment, and every year help lots of people to find their next job move including lots of fresh graduates. The following questions came up in the event and hopefully our answers are helpful:

Note – this is a bit of a tongue in cheek look at things, I like to make job hunting enjoyable if I can for everyone, so just to explain the language below.  We were consistently asked 4 main questions needing an expanded answer these were:

  1. What are the best job boards to use?
  2. What are the skills required by clients?
  3. How do I find companies to apply to?
  4. What CV advice can you give?

This is a bit of a long read but feel free to just read the bits that you think will help you. Here we go:


What are the best job boards to use?


These are MY top job boards based on my opinion and how good they are for the candidate in my view, and advice on engagement.  

Reed – EVERY recruiter uses Reed. Period. Get your CV onto Reed.

Monster – Does something very well which is called ‘aggregation’ basically they advertise vacancies on there from OTHER PEOPLES websites. Why is this good? Well you may now have checked said websites, so it saves you missing jobs! Really fab.

Totaljobs -  Lots of jobs, also very accessible for advertising and lots of unique jobs on here

Indeed – Great board, note jobs aren’t automatically closed after a period of time, check age of adverts but a very popular job board.  

LiCa Scientific – As if I’m not going to include us on here. You can sign up for AUTOMATIC vacancy updates in your sector, send us your profile via LinkedIn you don’t even need a CV, and you get access to some of the markets best chemistry centric vacancies. Our website was designed by recruitment wizards who continually find new ways to make it better. Get on there.

Add yourself to the above, and you’ll see 90% of the jobs out there. Also CV Library, Jobsite, New Scientist Jobs are also good.


What are the skills required by clients?


So, the short answer to this question was whatever skills are on the ad. This bumps us into what I like to refer to as…


Which is the following.

The scarcity of well written CVs.

Here’s the deal.

in 2003, when I graduated, if you wanted a job… you went online and saw the ad, got an email for a contact and opened an email and then edited a dedicated CV and attached this to an email with a nice cover note saying why you wanted the job and sent this in.

Here’s what we do in 2018

Load a CV (generic) to 5 job boards like above. Download an app, see a job we like, swipe and tap and application is IN!

What’s the problem with this?

Well first people update CVs, I used to advise having 2 or 3 CVs depending on what sector was being applied to. That’s out the fricking window nowerdays -  the job board gives you 1 CV to use. 

You need more than one version of your CV to do this right. As right now if you’re a chemist you could be an analyst, a QA, a formulator go into finance, teaching, running a country, the world is literally your oyster and yet… there’s 1 generic CV out there appealing to as many people as possible.

Second, people like to read SKILLS PERTAINING TO THEIR AD not some generic stuff. For example if the ad says HPLC and someone sends me a CV with HPLC highlighted in BOLD  or a personal statement covering how much you enjoyed HPLC, then this stands out. So our advice is

  1. Read the ad
  2. Go home
  3. Get the computer out
  4. Look at your CV, next to the ad side by side
  5. Reflect the LANGUAGE OF THE AD in your CV i.e. if there’s a skill needed on the ad get it on the CV (as long as that’s being honest)
  6. Email this with a profile on the CV (MS word format please), OR note in the email. Give interview availability, comment on the location and it’s suitability, and any other information like notice period you may have for example

Do this, and you’re in the top 10% of applications. Even if your application is less ‘good’ than someone else’s, you’ve made more perceivable effort and that = good candidate.

How do I find companies to apply to

Ok so everyone knows GSK, AZ, Bayer, the list goes on. However the majority of the market is small to mid-sized companies or SME’s. The SMEs are where you want to be, these are companies employing hundreds of people making absolute fortunes and often the best places to work. However they do not have the marketing to be in the faces of everyone and are the anonymous logo’s you’d see on most business parks.

So how do you find an SME? Here’s a few angles away from just “go on google”

  1. So google maps… go into here, type ‘chemical companies in Manchester’ (or your town) or pharma companies or… you get the picture. The next few don’t involve google!
  2. Various groups promote the scientific market, such as Bionow and Pharmafile who then produce directories of businesses who you can check out.  
  3. Trade shows, there are several FREE trade shows in the UK that you can attend, such as Making Pharmaceuticals and Laboratory Innovations here you’ll get free access to companies. You can just walk around and write names down or ask people about or just life working there. They are there to promote their business to all not just make sales, they’ll talk to you. 
  4. FREE laboratory information, subscribe to Pharmafocus or Laboratory News again this is all free free FREE and they write articles often along the lines of “Super awesome company gets £400m boost from investors” which then becomes a CV target, as lets face if you don’t want ALL that £400m for your starting salary… just some of it will do and of course they’re hiring!
  5. News alerts, or an app like flipboard app or others give regular market updates based on press releases. A LOT of these are from big companies, ok, but basically they work by aggregating news stories and congregate these into a news feed from sources all over the internet. They can for example pick up the local news about a 200 person company announcing expansion. Worth plugging into.

What CV advice can you give

Our CV writing guide is available on request email basic advice… when I lose my car keys I ask myself “if I were my car keys, where would I be” and a CV needs to be thought of like my lost car keys. Make the CV responsive to searches ask yourself how-would-you-search-for-you. And include those words you’d use on the CV.

If you’ve a microbiologist include aseptic technique an streak plating. Cell Culture it’s HELA cell lines and clean rooms. Chemists it’s HPLC. If you’re using acronyms also use the ‘exploded out’ version, because not everyone searches in the same say so HPLC is also high performance liquid chromatography include both and you come up in both searches.

The degree is what will get you the next job and over 50% of your word count should be about the degree and nothing else. More on this is available on request just email us.

Few more things:

  1. If you drive include you have a driving licence / car
  2. If you’re applying to jobs outside of your current postcode, consider using a local address from someone you know, on job boards/CV as you’ll come up in local searches
  3. Realise that this is the point in your career where you’ll get the most rejection. Everyone’s in the same boat it’s 10ish applications per interview, 3-5 interviews per offer. Apply apply apply.

And finally

If you got a grade poorer than you hoped for, or have another hang up about how well you think you’ll do on the job market, know this. I made the top 90% of my graduating year… POSSIBLE.

It’s ok now but seriously I’ve been there. One thing I’ve learned is if you’re getting knock backs and it seems people don’t want to know, just keep going. While job hunting straight out of University has it’s knock backs - you will find that opportunity you want. Each application is unique, just like a lab result, one simply doesn’t affect another, so keep going and keep smiling.

Good luck!

About the author

Matthew Rollinson is owner of LiCa Scientific, a recruitment agency for scientific staff working with clients from small businesses, through to some of the world’s most recognisable brands, out of our offices in South Manchester. Staffing roles from bench to boardroom.