1. Be prepared for competition
There's no denying that the life sciences - and the many specialist fields that make up this industry - are competitive. Be aware of the people you're up against, but don't let that awareness hinder you. Whilst there may be other people applying your dream job, just remember that you are just as worthy an applicant as any of them!
Being aware of your competition and taking action will help you to stand out above the rest. Here's what to do:
- Optimise - Take a look at the job description and pick out the key words within it. Weave these words into your CV to show that you share the same values and mindset as the employer. Research the general ethos of the company you're applying for, and implement this throughout your CV and cover letter.
- Streamline - Take your CV apart each time you apply for a role and streamline it to be tailored to the specific field, topic or speciality. Use subject- or topic-specific terminology to showcase your expertise and experience.
- Demonstrate - A good job application should be all about showing off what you've accomplished! Discuss the experiences that you've had within the industry, and make sure they're relevant to the job that you're applying for. This could be through work experience, part-time jobs, or relevant courses and extra-curricular activities. Make sure that everything you say in your CV or cover letter is backed up by evidence or a purpose.
2. Look beyond the big job boards
We've all heard of Monster, Indeed, Reed and so on - but is there another way to get noticed as an applicant? Yes!
Sway from the norm, and start browsing smaller job boards that focus on specific sectors and niches. These job boards usually have more insight into the life science industry, and can provide you with unique advice for the job you wish to apply for. Also, it makes the whole process easier. Instead of trawling through countless irrelevant job listings, you'll be able to see specific job listings for the life science industry.
The other option is, of course, to reach out directly. There's nothing wrong with networking; it can help you to build up a reputation within the industry. It also shows determination, which is an extremely desirable quality for a candidate. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!
3. Ask insightful questions during job interviews
At the end of your interview, be sure to have a few questions up your sleeve for the interviewer. When you're up against dozens or maybe even hundreds of other applicants, you'll want to leave a lasting impression. Asking a solid, thought-provoking question is a good way to do that.
When preparing questions for the end of your job interview, your aim should be to show that you have a genuine interest in the role. On top of that, you need to show that you value your interviewer's answer.
Here are a few strong questions to ask:
- How would you describe this company's values?
- What's the most important part of your job?
- What career paths / progression will be available to the person who holds this position?
4. Remind yourself why you started
The job application process can seem arduous and never-ending, but it's important to remember why you started your journey within the life science industry. Be sure to check in with yourself every so often - thinking about the following questions can help you to stay motivated and keep your eyes on the prize:
- What inspired me to take this path?
- What difference do I want to make in the life science industry?
- What's my proudest career-related achievement to date?
- What's the biggest struggle I've overcome in my career so far?
5. Don't be afraid to make mistakes...and then try again!
Much like a science experiment, job hunting involves a lot of trial and error. Trust the process, and trust your own abilities - it's unlikely that you'll be offered every job you apply for, but what is certain is that you can improve your skills each time.
Make sure you reflect on each application or interview. What did you do well? What do you need to tweak in your application? Where could you have improved? There's no shame in wanting to improve, and ultimately, it will lead you to a job that makes you happy.