Russell Collier, a Biological Sciences graduate from the University of Reading (Writing in December 2014).
“After graduating from University I was hit by the bombshell of pressure to find work as soon as possible, stressing myself to find a job and aspire to a long term career. Hearing others who graduated with me this year in Biomedical Science, I can safely say that this feeling is mutual amongst most graduates up and down the country.
So where do you begin? Well in today’s world the first thing you do is grab your laptop, open up Google and search “graduate jobs”, only to scroll through endless job lists on recruitment websites hoping for some inspiration.
It goes without saying, but this process is extremely tedious. I did this for two to three months, going into the science sector on recruitment websites and looking for relevant jobs. I found myself applying to jobs for the sake of it. After just a few days I had applied to dozens of jobs, half hoping I could get some work, half hoping I would be rejected from a job I didn’t really want.
From my experience of doing this I can say that most of the time I was lucky to get a reply. I applied for about 50 jobs, being ignored by 40 and immediately rejected by six. Four employers offered a phone interview, with two subsequently going onto a formal interview.
By this time, however, I had found my inspiration, having found a job in “medical writing” advertised. I quickly read through the details and I felt I had found my future career – now I just needed to get in. I continued to apply online to medical writing jobs, only to find the same result: I was getting nowhere. Someone then suggested that I speak to the careers team at the University of Reading.
So I went in and spoke to a Careers Adviser on Quick Query. The main piece of advice was that I just approach these companies directly, first looking to harvest information on this career. They called this approach “Informational Interviewing”.
At first I was un-confident in this approach, expecting to be ignored like before. It required some effort but I found a few people in the industry and after a couple of polite emails I was talking to these people about medical writing. This helped me gain a network of professionals who could help me get my foot in the door and I also learned a lot about this career path in the process.
After doing this a few times I was offered an interview! They said they liked my pro-activeness and were very impressed; interesting since I hadn’t applied for the vacancy. I have now written to most Science Communications companies near me and have had several phone calls with professionals, including a freelance writer. I now don’t even think I have the time to meet all of the people who have agreed to it!
With this approach, I feel that I have made so much more progress not only in the pursuit of finding a job, but also I have confidence that this career is right for me. After meeting these people, I wrote to thank them for their time and sent a copy of my CV to be considered for any future openings. These conversations have also allowed me to ask “which attributes do I lack,” so I can go out and better myself for subsequent applications.
Don’t get me wrong, many people do still ignore you, but I believe I am moving in the right direction. This approach requires devotion and the faith that eventually you will come across the right person who can get you a job. Patience is key, but if you’re looking for work, don’t waste your time with online applications, be pro-active.”
This article has been provided by an external organisation, as such the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre.