Finding and applying for jobs relating to Biosciences and Chemistry

Full details of how to apply for graduate scientific roles are given in the document on the RHS:  'A Guide to Finding Graduate Scientific Work'. There is no one location where all scientific vacancies are advertised and a combined approach is required; making use of

  • scientific job search websites
  • graduate job search websites
  • recruitment agencies
  • generic job search websites
  • direct application to companies of interest

Graduate schemes are offered by larger organisations such as DSTL (public sector), GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZenica, Reckitt Benckiser and Proctor and Gamble and the NHS. These companies usually have a greater capacity to advertise vacancies and can pay to market their vacancies on specialist graduate job websites and at career fairs. Small to medium-sized employers also offer many great opportunities; however roles within these companies are often not advertised as extensively. Use the 'Finding Graduate Work Experience' document to identify how to find these vacancies and scientific employers.

Science graduates have the skills to work in a wide range of roles in different industries working for large and smaller scale employers. Approximately 60% of vacancies notified to the Careers and Employment team are aimed at graduates with ANY degree. Science students are well placed to apply for these vacancies so you should check UniHub and other Graduate job websites regularly.

CV and Applications

Application methods vary between sectors, companies and even roles .

For speculative applications, jobs applied for via recruitment agencies and some job applications, a CV can be required. A CV is rarely sent without a covering letter, which again needs to be targeted to the specific opportunity. For some scientific PhD applications which carry funding a CV can be a very important part of the application. 

Application forms are used more regularly by large organisations and are used by universities for postgraduate course applications.


There are general tips which apply to scientific CVs that apply to any type of CV. Firstly that they should be targeted to the specific opportunity you are applying for and should highlight the particular skills and experience that apply to it.  See the Useful Files on the RHS for further details.

  • an academic CV used for applying to scientific masters or PhD level study and research posts needs to focus on your academic and research skills
  • make use of a laboratory skills section
  • a CV used for applying for a job in the science and pharmaceutical industry may need a chronological approach
  • if you want to apply your scientific skills to look at more general graduate vacancies then a transferable skills CV could be the answer
  • if you are creating a CV for a placement there is more emphasis on the individual modules taken and marks obtained

Look at the examples in the Useful Files section of this page for more information. There is more advice in the CV section of the website.


Application forms are used more regularly by large organisations and are used by universities for postgraduate course applications. There is often a section requiring you to highlight your suitability for the post which needs to be organised and clear with attention to the detail in the job specification or course description. The NHS has very specific essential and desirable criteria that an applicant must give examples of using the STAR technique

Some employers like to ask questions in these sections which you answer. For example the NHS Scientific Training Programme has an online form which asks a series of 5 Motivational questions which have a word restriction. 



Interviews vary enormously between employers from ones that can be a little informal in nature in a small medium enterprise (SME) to an interview that is part of an assessment centre process in large graduate recruiters such as GlaxoSmithKline to ones that have an academic slant in research departments of universities. Questions will often be geared to your scientific skills and may involve a lab test or tour. Check out the interviews section for more information.

You can also get specialist support from employability advisers in your department or the Careers and Employability Centre. They will help you with all aspects of your job search. There will also be workshops and events organised throughout the year to help you prepare.

Current issues in science industries

Employers want bioscience and chemistry graduates to be commercially and academically aware and up to date with current issues affecting this area. They may well ask you questions at interview that will 'test' your awareness and knowledge of the current key scientific, ethical, regulatory and financial challenges in the sector. Information on the Science and Pharmaceutical sectors and Health and Social Care sectors are available on the Prospects website. These overviews offer a clear outline of the jobs, entry requirements, typical employers, opportunities abroad and future trends in these areas of work. 

The Sector Skills Council for Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies has detailed reports highlighting employment trends and skills gaps and are useful for understanding the UK and Worldwide Bioscience industry. It identifies that the UK science industry employment is expected to be 15,000 higher in 2016 with an average annual rate of growth of 1.3%. Another research piece from the UK's national innovation agency identified three key areas for growth and development: genomics; industrial biotechnology; agriculture and food. This includes advancements in biofuels, new crop varieties, bio - based materials, novel medicines and sustainable alternatives to petroleum derived products. 

To keep yourself informed read the industry specific trade papers and refer to the professional associations websites such as:

Last modified: 
Monday, January 9, 2017 - 12:35