Here are some tips on securing a role in industry, based on a recent discussion with an industry recruiter.
Use a recruiter: Recruiters can be a very useful addition to your job-hunting toolkit. Recruiters prefer to find you on LinkedIn rather than you search them out. However, you may approach a recruiter directly on LinkedIn, or by email, if someone has recommended them.
Treat the recruiter as an equal: If they are experienced and from a reputable company, a recruiter will know employers and their needs more than you. Ensure that you work with them, explaining your background and experience, so they can best represent you to the employer. Never go directly to the employer, if you have found out about a position through a recruiter. Understandably, this will not go down well and you may struggle to secure the role without their representation. REC lists reputable recruitment companies.
Know what role you want: Know what type of role you are searching for in industry. Look at the different roles open to PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers on the ABPI careers website. This will help you to be focused in your job search and help you to target your LinkedIn profile.
A CV is not that important: Do not spend hours crafting the perfect CV. A CV has a 10% weighting in terms of securing you an industry role. A good LinkedIn profile and referrals from people within the company play a more important part.
Recruiters find people on LinkedIn: Recruiters pay a substantial yearly fee to access relevant data on LinkedIn. They can only access this data if you turn on the ‘let recruiters know you’re open’ button in the career interest section on your dashboard. Here you can specify the types of roles you are interested in and your availability.
Extend your network: Employees in companies get paid a referral fee if they refer individuals to the company who are subsequently hired. LinkedIn has a referral function. If you are applying for a job on LinkedIn, and you have a first-degree connection at the company, you can ask for a referral. Connect with alumni from your current university/research institute that are now working in industry. They will become first degree connections that can refer you when job hunting.
Mind the gap: One of the first things that recruiters look for in your LinkedIn profile are gaps in employment. If there are gaps in your employment, recruiters start to speculate about why you are, or were, not working. Explain what you are doing from month to month, even if you are travelling, caring for people etc. Add any part-time work and other activities that you are, or were, carrying out during this time.
Use key words in your LinkedIn profile: Recruiters use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sift out applicants for roles. Look at people on LinkedIn that are doing the type of role that you are interested in. Look at the key words they use in all sections of their profile and add these words to your profile, if appropriate. Websites like jobscan offer one free trial that looks at LinkedIn optimisation for specific roles.
Get good at answering competency questions: You will be asked competency questions at interviews. Save up a list of experiences that you can talk about during the interview. Look at the job description and list all the competencies required e.g. teamwork, relationship building etc. Try to record scenarios where you have used these skills. It can otherwise be difficult to answer questions such as ‘tell me about a time when a team member was not working effectively. How did you deal with this?’ Use the STAR technique to help structure your answers.
Negotiate your salary with the recruiter. Recruiters get paid 15 – 20% of your first year’s salary, if they place you. It is in their interest to get you the salary you deserve. A recruiter will negotiate your salary with the employer, saving you a job! Make sure you ask for what you are worth. This article from Nature discusses industry salary negotiation.