The debate about the importance to jobseekers of qualifications relative to other factors - such as specific on-the-job experience or 'soft skills' - is likely one that will never be fully resolved. That said, there are certain science sectors in which an attitude can prevail among graduates that expertise gained from an academic qualification will almost always win out over other considerations.

A trickier question than it may seem

We will not spend this piece trying to come up with a definitive answer on how crucial the right qualifications really are for organisations seeking the right staff for hotly contested science jobs in pharmaceutical, biochemistry, engineering and similar fields. After all, opinions vary too widely among even our own highly specialised employer base here at the influential science recruitment agency Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

Nonetheless, it is still possible to map out the rough 'state of play' on this vital debate that could help to shape your future career decisions and use of science recruitment services like ours.

Qualifications are necessary - but how necessary?

First of all, let's disavow the notion that in such a highly specialised part of the economy like science, qualifications can be dismissed in terms of their importance. According to a study of the graduate labour market by the University of Warwick and the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), those in possession of first-class degrees are nearly twice as likely to be in employment as those with lower classifications.

Few working in science recruitment will be surprised by that finding - after all, amid extremely intense competition for the most desirable roles, qualifications provide a seemingly objective and quantifiable metric on which to begin sifting the very best from those who will merely 'do a job'.

That said, in a world in which it is certainly not unheard-of for candidates to exaggerate or outright lie on their CVs, other factors must come into play, even when the number of applications received by a science employer for a given vacancy is not completely overwhelming.  

There's plenty of scope to make yourself stand out

Even when confronted with what may seem like insurmountable odds, there are still powerful ways to get your application noticed - indeed, the magic may not be in the application at all. 'Soft skills' or 'transferrable skills', such as an ability to communicate in an engaging manner, will certainly help to win favour among employers and recruitment consultants. This is one reason why you show a proactive and professional attitude to any science recruitment agency.

Remember that the most intelligent and academically qualified candidates are so often not those that get ahead, due to lacking a determination to adapt themselves to the wider, often less glamorous requirements of the role and simply be an inspiring and supportive leader in the workplace.  

Even across the many hugely varied roles that can be found across science, the fundamental traits required for success - including commitment, a good manner, a good attitude and work ethic and the appropriate 'soft skills' like communication - remain insightfully consistent.

It's one more reason to never be too despondent about your hunt for science jobs through an agency like Hyper Recruitment Solutions, not least given the hands-on and extensive career help that, like all good recruitment agencies, we are happy to provide you with free of charge. 

The fact that 95% of the 600 employers polled in the Recruitment and Employment Federation's (REC) latest JobsOutlook survey were operating with either no spare capacity or only 'a little' capacity to take on extra work with their existing employee base indicates that there will be no shortage of organisations looking to recruit their way to growth in 2016.

Indeed, 81% of those businesses signalled an intention to hire more permanent staff in the coming three months - but why else should staff recruitment be such a key focus for your organisation this year?

It doesn't matter whether your firm specialises in biochemistry, molecular biology or pharmacology - or indeed, doesn't recruit for science jobs at all. The principles are much the same - the recruitment of the most suitable people has been shown to power forward business growth, with the latter having the opposite effect.  

The right employees build the right company reputation 

As the cliche goes, your business is its people, and they certainly play a key role in the reputation of your firm. The interactions and experiences that internal and stakeholders alike have with your staff in such sensitive areas as R&D and quality assurance exerts great influence on how your wider organisation is regarded.

According to another oft-repeated mantra, good reputations are built up over many years and destroyed in seconds, and if your employees stand for anything less than the very highest standards of service and professionalism, you can be sure that your organisation's ability to attract lucrative new contracts and business will be compromised.

Good recruitment now is a long-term investment

Whoever joins your organisation as a consequence of your latest science recruitment campaign, they will exert some kind of influence on your business's culture and how it does its work.

Recruit someone who shares your organisation's mission and values, and your internal culture will be strengthened, making it easier to attract other candidates with similar qualities in the future. This will naturally further your organisation's growth ambitions.

Remember that recruiting the best people now will save you all manner of costs in the long run - for example, those associated with launching a new hiring campaign after a key employee leaves. 78% of employers have difficulties with staff retention, according to the CIPD, and it's a fair bet that such a percentage would be lower if organisations took greater care over exactly who they recruited. 

Don't underestimate the cost of a bad hire

The financial expense of a poor recruitment decision is bad enough, the CIPD having estimated the average cost of recruiting the wrong person to be £8,200, rising to £12,000 for senior managers or directors.

However, a badly-chosen new hire also incurs many less tangible costs, such as lost productivity, damaged workplace morale and harm to your organisation's reputation.

With the hiring of the right person bringing such potentially great benefits for growing companies, and taking on the wrong person having such serious adverse consequences, it couldn't be more important for your organisation to invest not only in recruitment, but the right recruitment approach.

Allow Hyper Recruitment Solutions to be your organisation's science recruitment partner, providing such invaluable services as candidate screening, assessment day management and salary benchmarking, and you can invest in a hiring campaign in 2016 that really does maximise your chances of achieving the greatest possible business growth.  

The productivity gap between the UK and other developed nations is undoubtedly one of the most troubling issues of our current economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that UK workforces are 31% less productive than their US counterparts and 17% less productive than the rest of the G7 countries, despite the number of hours worked by Britons being similar to these other nations.

It is an issue that no organisation launching a science recruitment campaign should ignore - but what are five of the factors that are exerting the greatest influence on staff productivity?

1. Staff attitude

The people who you recruit to your organisation's science jobs need to have the right attitude, but all too often, employees do not enjoy their work and therefore spend more of their time watching the clock or thinking about the money than making a major contribution to their employers' fortunes.

Do your bit to improve employee attitudes by placing them in roles that play to their passions and strengths, in addition to formally recognising their achievements.

2. Ill health

Did you know that during 2014, sickness absence was an average of 2.8% of working time per annum, or 6.5 days per employee, costing employers an average of £16 billion?

Employee ill health is unquestionably a great drain on the productivity of UK workforces, with public sector organisations feeling the worst effects - a median of 3.5% of working time is lost due to sickness time in such organisations, compared to the 2.2% recorded for private sector firms.

3. Technology tools

It isn't just those organisations in more technical fields, such as information systems, that need to keep up to date with the latest technological developments that could benefit their employees' output.

Between 1995 and 2005, the IT revolution was found to be responsible for 0.6% of labour productivity growth and 1% of overall growth in Europe, the US and Japan, so you can rest assured that when your staffers are equipped with the right tools, they will get more done.

4. The 'higher ups'

Are you providing your workers with the supervision that they need to deliver the maximum productivity, not just answering their queries, but also encouraging, motivating and inspiring them, in addition to formally recognising and rewarding their achievements?

Unfortunately, all too many supervisors concentrate on the negative aspects of their employees' performances or don't keep promises to them, thereby eroding the respect that staff members have for them and therefore, their commitment to delivering the best work.

5. Downsizing and outsourcing

It may be tempting to save money by farming out more of your organisation's work to independent professionals or simply downsizing your company, but have you considered the effect that this has on existing staff members' morale?

If your current employees suspect that your firm is on a downward slide, their own focus can suffer as they contemplate their own position within the organisation and potential alternative career opportunities.

One of the most sure-fire employee productivity boosting measures will always be to simply recruit the best-suited individuals in the first place. Your organisation should therefore never underestimate the assistance that a leading science recruitment agency - such as Hyper Recruitment Solutions - can provide in your hunt for the best pharmaceutical, clinical and other science talent. 

The health of the broader UK economy is as much of a concern to those overseeing science recruitment campaigns as it is those in any other sector.

Thankfully, candidates hoping to land lucrative science jobs, as well as organisations seeking to match the right talent to their vacancies, will be heartened to read Britain's latest unemployment figures.

An encouraging last quarter

On the eve of Chancellor George Osborne's latest Budget, it was revealed that UK unemployment fell to 1.68 million between November and January 2016, a 28,000 drop from the previous quarter. It meant that the UK unemployment rate remained static at a decade-low 5.1%.

Among those to respond warmly to the news was UK economist at Capital Economics, Scott Bowman, who described the latest labour market figures as offering "a ray of sunshine" amid "global 'storm clouds'".

Potential applicants for science jobs in the East and North East regions of England may have reason to feel especially warmed by the figures, given the 15,000 decline in the number of unemployed people in the first of those regions and the 11,000 fall recorded for the latter.  

National Living Wage should do little to harm the statistics

We hadn't seen an all-Conservative Budget for more than 18 years when George Osborne delivered the new Government's first spending plan last July, its most eye-catching announcement the introduction of a new compulsory National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for working people aged 25 and over.

With the National Living Wage having only been introduced this month, it's a little early to make an accurate assessment of its impact on unemployment, although the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimated that UK business should be more than capable of accommodating the additional expense.

Although the OBR forecast the direct loss of 60,000 jobs by 2020 as a consequence of the change, it added that almost one million other jobs would have been created by then to compensate. Many of them, we suspect, will be the chemistry, pharmacology, immunology and clinical roles that science recruitment agencies like Hyper Recruitment Solutions will be inevitably looking to fill in the months and years ahead.

Benefits continue to plummet

However, while low-paid workers were given an unexpectedly pleasant surprise in last summer's Budget in the form of the National Living Wage, some of them were also hit by tax credits now being limited to the first two children for new claims. Meanwhile, those aged between 18 and 21 were to be denied housing benefit altogether.

 As TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady pointed out, young people were particular losers in the first fully Conservative Budget of the 21st century, declaring that "it was all bad news as they will not get the minimum-wage boost and will suffer from cuts to higher education grants and housing benefit."

These will all be worries pressing on the minds of younger graduates seeking their first science jobs this year. However, contrary to O'Grady's verdict, there was some good news for them in the form of a lower unemployment rate among 16 to 24 year olds - 13.7% between November and January 2016, compared to the 16.2% recorded a year earlier.

Are you eager to find the perfect new science role for you in 2016, or could your organisation do with some assistance in filling its latest quality assurance, R&D and/or clinical research vacancies? Either way, simply get in touch with the science recruitment professionals at Hyper Recruitment Solutions today for the most appropriately tailored support. 

We may serve organisations and candidates in a wide range of categories of science jobs here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, from biotechnology and pharmaceutical to FMCG/food and engineering, but many of the pressures that you face will be much the same in any of these roles.

One such pressure is that of achieving the highest level of productivity. Stressed about having to get more done in increasingly little time? Just follow our simple tips.

Eliminate common modern distractions

It seems that anyone in pretty much any role can be very easily distracted by social media updates or even whatever's on TV in the canteen.

You may presume that it's good for your work success to always be connected, but if anything, the opposite is true - it sucks a lot more time from your schedule than you might think.

Set your next day's schedule before you leave the office

A clear schedule helps you to stay organised and focused in a way that doing things 'on the hoof' simply cannot. Nor do you need to leave the daunting task of setting a schedule for the start of each day, a time when you would probably rather ease yourself gradually into work.

Why not, therefore, put together that 'to-do' list for the following day just before you leave, so that you'll know exactly what you have to do from 8am the next morning and can simply focus on racing through the list?

Impose - and meet - your deadlines

Depending on your level of responsibility in your role, you might not have the luxury of setting deadlines for yourself or others in your team. However, whether you do or do not have that power, you should at least ensure that deadlines are stuck to.

Treat your work deadlines like financial budgets that you simply cannot miss, and consider factoring an extra 15 minutes into the plan for your schedule each day, just in case certain assignments do overrun.

Take quick breaks when you need them

The aforementioned rule shouldn't dictate that you stay glued to your desk at all times, even when you are becoming too stressed or distracted to concentrate properly.

Instead, break the cycle by getting out of your chair and going for a short walk down the corridor, stretching your legs or preparing a cup of coffee. It'll give you a fresh pair of eyes which with to attack your work responsibilities again.

Try not to multi-task

We are in an age in which multi-tasking seems not only possible, but also desirable, despite the research findings that point to it being a myth. Indeed, according to a 2009 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, even those who claim to multi-task are actually pretty bad at it.

When you combine such discoveries with the highly delicate and responsible nature of so many science jobs, there's a very strong case for focusing on accomplishing one task at a time to a good standard, rather than joining the league of stressed-out, distracted and poorly-performing multi-taskers.

Fill your mind with positive thoughts

We aren't talking about spending your day repeating endless 'affirmations' in your head that you barely even believe - indeed, we're talking about something that you may not do at work at all.

Before you go to bed at night, remind yourself of your life dreams and your goals for the day ahead, and/or read an inspirational book. Make sure your subconscious is full of uplifting thoughts that will carry you through another drab Monday.

Are you eager to put these productivity tips to the test in your dream science role? Get in touch with the leading science recruitment agency Hyper Recruitment Solutions now, so that we can suitably prepare you for and match you to your next big career opportunity. 

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