PhDs & Postdocs – How to apply to a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

Part 2: How to apply to a job in industry

  • Make speculative applications

Not all biotechnology companies and contract research organisations have the resources to run formal recruitment processes in the way that large pharmaceutical companies do. It’s therefore worth approaching them even if they are not advertising a job!

Some of the careers sections on their websites will have contact details of where to send the applications, but others may not. If there are no contact details on their website, look at LinkedIn or do some online research to find an appropriate person to send your application to. Here is some information on how to make speculative applications

  • Target your applications

To work out which companies to apply to, explore the various sectors and organisations to see where your expertise and subject knowledge fits.  If you have immunology experience, you may want to look at biotechnology companies that specialise in immunotherapy. A good place to start searching biotechnology companies for various roles is GolgiCareers or on LinkedIn. Once you find a company that aligns with your research or could use your research techniques, put together a CV and cover letter and send it off.

  • How to improve your CV

You will need to think about using a CV format that allows you to highlight the most relevant skills to the particular job you’re applying for. We recommend that you keep a

traditional chronological CV with all your job titles, dates, responsibilities and achievements listed to act as a base document, which you can then adapt for specific opportunities.

To construct a targeted skills-based CV, read the advert and job description through very carefully. Highlight the key words and phrases that the employer is using to describe the skills and experience they need. Be careful to pay attention to the behavioural skills, such as team working, communication skills and customer focus. It’s just as important for you to address these requirements in your CV as the technical specifications. 

Construct page 1 of your skills-based CV to demonstrate that you have the skills and experience that are most relevant to them. Use section headings to match the advert and give bullet point examples of times when you have demonstrated these skills. Quantify as much of the information as you can for maximum impact.

Page 2 can be a brief reverse chronological account of your career to date and your Higher Education. There’s no need to include A levels (unless you have something different from science that’s relevant to the job).  You can also include professional training and other relevant information that could be useful, but is not page 1 material.

Remember, you can book an appointment with the PhD/Postdoc Careers Consultant for feedback on your CV, or for any other careers advice.

For information on finding a job in industry, see our recent blog PhDs & Postdocs – How to find a job in industry.


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