Get to know future employers: find clues on their website!

Businessman pointing at search bar on a virtual screen

Whether you are approaching an employer speculatively about a role that isn’t advertised, or you are applying for a role where you are given little information, looking at the organisation’s website can give you helpful clues about what to include in your application.

So if you don’t have a formal job description listing essential skills, how do you make your application fit what the employer is looking for?

You can find out this information yourself, by learning how to research the company or organisation using their website.

Here are some common areas that you might focus on:

“About us”

Most employer websites will have an “About us” page, which gives an overview of the organisation and what they do. These pages can be really useful for finding out about:

  • Specific services that the organisation provides
  • Sectors the organisation works in
  • Relevant language or terminology that the employer uses to describe their work
  • The ethos or history of the company

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Careers outside of academia for humanities and social science researchers: charities and NGOs

Are you a social sciences or humanities postgraduate interested in pursuing a research career, but not sure if academia is the right path right for you? Read on to find out more about other opportunities for using your research skills…

A large number of humanities and social science Masters and PhD students go on to work in research capacities outside academia. This is the third in a short series of blog posts exploring some of the other opportunities available. This post will focus on opportunities in charities and NGOs.

Charities and NGOs need employees with strong research skills that can be applied in various ways to help the organisation achieve its mission – from building an evidence base for advocacy work, to monitoring and evaluating the activities of the organisation to see where improvements can be made.

It’s worth being aware that many of the research-focused roles in this sector won’t necessarily have ‘researcher’ or ‘analyst’ in the job title. So you may have to think creatively and read a few different job descriptions to get an idea of roles where you can apply your research skills. Key words to look out for could include: ‘monitoring’, ‘evaluation’, ‘impact’ and ‘policy’. Communication skills are often a key requirement for these roles, so include examples of your effective communication and interpersonal skills in your application.

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Developing your commercial awareness, by being aware

When attending an interview, one of the things you may be asked is a question around commercial awareness. Recruiters will want to know that you have a genuine interest in the commercial world and in particular they want to know that you are passionate about their business and the industry they work in. Demonstrating your knowledge and insights can be a daunting thing to do, but actually everyone (no matter their academic background), can do this.

Some of the questions you might be asked include:

  • How do you keep up to date with what is going on in our sector?
  • What challenges face our industry or business at this time?
  • What business story has interested you most recently?
  • Who are our competitors? What makes us different from them?

So how would you answer these?

If you are applying to a particular industry you should already be doing some research on the organisation you’re applying for. As you’re looking at their website, take some time to look at their recent news articles, their social media pages, even take a look at their Wikipedia page (although take that last one with a pinch of salt).

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Interested in postdoctoral study and considering your funding options?

Are you contemplating postdoctoral study and considering your funding options?  If so, you might be interested in attending some of the events planned for Fellowship MAY!

Fellowship Day began as an event in the School of Medicine and Dentistry more than a decade ago, and invited representatives from the major Research Councils, Charities and Trusts to come and speak about funding opportunities available for postdocs and early-career researchers.

This year’s event will change slightly in that it will be a series of talks, seminars and funding-related workshops taking place at Mile End, Whitechapel and Charterhouse Square campuses, running from 8-19 May 2017. The schedule for Fellowship MAY! is available below. 

To book on to these sessions, visit our bookings page, login and search for ‘FM‘ in the course code field.  This will list all Fellowship MAY! workshops.  If you don’t yet have a cpdbookings account, you can register here.

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How to research a company

gillGill Lambert, Careers Consultant

This blog focuses on how to research a company, an activity which is needed to make your cover letter stand out and also to answer the inevitable interview question “Why do you want to work for us?”  

I wrote this blog because my daughter recently asked me how to research a company. She graduated last summer and is looking for work through for graduate schemes.  I advised her to use the checklist below to organise the information and then I suggested a number of ways of gathering it. 

Information Checklist 

  • Basics: what the company does, who its customers are, who its competitors are 
  • Size & Reach: how many employees they have, where their offices are
  • History: origins and  defining moments 
  • Industry: trends, opportunities, threats
  • Financials & Operations: how, where and why it is growing (staying stable or shrinking), future plans
  • Reputation: what it offers that’s unique compared to its competitors, its market share, its reputation in the industry
  • News: press releases and articles 
  • Structure: the names of executives and advisers profiled on their employees page, how the company is organised, how the department that you are applying to impacts on the company’s business,  
  • Ethics: values, aims, personnel policies

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PhDs & Postdocs – How to find a job in industry

Part 1: How to find a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

If you’re thinking of finding a job in industry, you’ll need to be persistent and resilient as it may take time. As there isn’t always a straightforward way to find positions, here are my top tips on finding work in industry:

Explore all industry sectors and roles

Look at the range of functions and roles within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies and contract research organisations. See below for a list of:

Research and Development is the typical area that attracts PhDs and Postdocs; within this falls drug discovery, preclinical, clinical research and process development. Drug discovery and preclinical research jobs are the typical jobs for PhDs and Postdocs; job titles within this area usually contain the word ‘scientist’.

Other roles include business development managers, regulatory affairs specialists, medical scientific liaison (MSL) specialists, medical writers and life science consultants.

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Applying for a PhD in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2/2)

Joe Cronin, Application Adviser

In part 1 I outlined some things to consider when thinking about a PhD in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Today I’m going to focus on how to deal with the application process itself.

Your research proposal is just that – a proposal. For almost all applications to PhD programmes (and undoubtedly if you’re applying for a funded position), you will be expected to write a research proposal. This can be a daunting prospect for those who ‘only’ have a Master’s degree and now have to consider how they would plan three years of research. But remember that whoever looks at your proposal is also going to be aware of this. Research proposals are simply a means to show that you are capable of conducting a long-term research project. They are not rigid plans that you have to stick to (and few people do anyway). With that said, it does pay to do some research for your proposal, if only to make sure that you have some knowledge about the topic you’re proposing to study (if it’s related to your Master’s thesis then this is less of a concern), and, in particular, to make sure that no one else has done your project already. However, you don’t have to show a comprehensive knowledge of your topic, nor do you have to know what the findings of your research will be. After all, you haven’t started it yet!

Make sure you have access to a library. When writing your research proposal, it’s a good idea to make sure that you can access a decent amount of scholarly material relating to

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