0-4 Minutes - Introductions
5-9 Minutes - Communication and how it works
9-14 Minutes - Your overall impact and how to manage it
15-23 Minutes - How to tell a story / keep answers relatable
24-25 Minutes - Interview questions / breakdown
25-30 Minutes - Specific Video / Phone Interview advice points
30-34 Minutes - AOB and Positive words exercise
A few weeks ago, I got in touch with Manchester Metropolitan University with an idea about helping with video interviewing. The above video is the session that got delivered on the 19th June 2020.
Video interviewing has become huge in the last few months. I booked more video interviews in June than I did in my entire career beforehand (I do recruit scientists and it’s a pretty hands-on tangible sort of job that didn’t lend itself to video interviewing).
My association with Manchester Metropolitan University goes back a long way, I love helping people find jobs and especially love helping people work out the scientific job market (as it’s pretty challenging at the best of times!) and so do they. They have a fantastic team of dedicated careers advisers who cannot do enough for the students.
This has led to a range of sit down ‘connections café’ events and presenting to classes in the lecture hall. In regards the students, every single time I come here I’m struck by how professional and prepared the students are. By this time in any year I would have been over a few times and it was definitely a gap that this hadn't happened. So, we did the session remotely instead.
On Friday the 19th June I spoke to the Year 2 and Final Year regarding video interviewing. In planning this, Manchester Metropolitan University and I both felt it was key to put in place understanding of why communication works as it does, and how interviewing works, before discussing the specifics of video interviews and our advice.
One slide that really got people talking was one of the last ones. This was to do with the way to find your next job. I promised some detailed followup and it follows now.
The Fine Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals market is, by and large, a very inward facing market. I used the example of filling the car with petrol. Petrol isn’t just hydrocarbons, it’s actually very complex and a cocktail of polymers and molecules added to make it work properly. These are things like anticorrosion, antifoam, anti-knocking, stabilising agents, the list goes on. I’m going to give a live example of this. Read the ingredients on a shampoo bottle and you’ll see a myriad of chemical names. Now, try and name one of the manufacturers.
This is our problem.
...that unknown manufacturer, is also a potential employer.
The manufacturer however has a limited marketing budget and wants to sell, say, 1-2-5- methyl-pentantol. I don’t know if I IUPAC-named that right but what I’m saying is we would never purchase that chemical directly.
So the manufacturer will not market to the public so much. They market to Shell Corporation or Esso or others. This means most Chemical/Pharma companies, in my opinion, fly under the radar. However they need Synthesis Chemists, Analysts, Production staff, and so on to make the above product.
I’ll give another example for context. Manchester United is a ‘big’ company – by that I mean who hasn’t heard of them? I’m going to burst a bubble here though… Manchester United’s not so much a big company in the context of the world stage of companies. It’s a big football club for sure – I mean their turnover alone was £794 million in 2019. However compared to a big chemical company that wouldn’t even be half a week.
In the same year 2019 Johnson Mathey made £10.6 BILLION or 99.25% more than Manchester United did (excuse my maths or any inaccuracy... but the point I’m illustrating is simply that it’s loads, loads more).
Some reading this may have heard of Johnson Mathey. I hadn’t at 21 (that’s ok because it illustrates my point). So, by a ‘small to mid scale’ business I’m probably talking companies that make around what a Premier League football club makes.
Any thought that these are shoestring operations, having a spirited go at things, in some industrial unit etc.. absolutely not. We are talking extremely successful companies, with millions in revenues, where once inside you will be exposed to incredible opportunities for career development.
So, why have you heard of Manchester United? The simple reason is you’re a potential customer. Why (potentially) hadn't you heard of so many chemical companies? The inverse reason – you’re not as much a potential customer.
So, where are these companies found? Below is a list of websites that the Chemical Industry or Pharmaceutical industry uses to locate suppliers. You can use this to locate companies to work for.
Now we’ve qualified the issue, lets quantify it. How many are there? Lets look at the broader number of small to midscale businesses.
In 2018 the Department for Exiting the EU surveyed the UK Small-to-Mid-Scale (SME) market in this sector. They found almost exactly 2,500 companies. I compared this to another ‘big’ company we all know well. McDonalds. They have 1,300 restaurants in the UK.
So, for every McDonalds you see, I want you to now think “Two potential employers are nearby”.
In Stockport where I’m sat in my garden writing this, we have 6 McDonalds and I think I could list between 10 and 15 small to mid scale chemical or pharma companies in this town… it’s certainly not significantly more or less.
I know this is broad-brush however I wanted to give an order to work within - in the same way if I said if something is 1x10e6 you would see 10 as the tip of the iceberg… this way if you find 10... you’re probably close to the right number.
List of websites to then find companies on:
UKAS is searchable for organisations accredited for lab testing. A UKAS certificate will also typically contain contact information for someone in a leadership role.
Chemical Industries Association Members List
Directory of Chemical Manufacturers
Directory of Life Sciences/Pharma Companies
This is science parks, however in many cases they will then have a directory of companies on their campus.
Directory of Contract Suppliers to the Pharmaceutical Industry
North East Process Industry Cluster (North East UK based Chemical/Pharma companies)
Chemicals Northwest (North West UK based Chemical/Pharma companies)
Search “Pharmaceutical companies in” and your town
Matthew Rollinson, June 2020 - all view my own