The debate about the importance to job seekers 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 'transferable 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. Like all good recruitment agencies, we are happy to provide you with free of charge hands-on and extensive career help - simply click below to get started!
Get Career Advice from HRS >