How to make your bioscience job search less frustrating

www.biosciencejobkit.comYou have just finished your dissertation defense and have changed focus to an industry job.  You have created your resume and you are spending time on your bioscience job search.  Although you have sent out over 50 resumes to the job boards for positions you think you can do, you have heard nothing.  Or perhaps you have received just an email saying “we got your resume”.  And not a single recruiter has called you, even though you filled in a Profile on LinkedIn.  It has been a month. Frustration does not begin to express what’s going on inside you!


No one has ever taught you how to find a job in the bioscience industries. You know everything there is to know about molecular engineering or other technical field but have no clue about how to get a job. And on top of that recruiting and hiring are generally broken.

There are three basic ways that industry fills the jobs they have. One is by recruiters. But this will cost the company the most. So no company uses a retained or contingency search firm to find entry-level candidates. And recruiters really only see about 5% of the jobs that need to be filled.

Let’s look at the process of hiring. What happens first is that the person who is trying to do your job and their own job knows the team needs to hire somebody long before the hiring manager does. When the hiring manager realizes that the work is not going to get done in the amount of time scheduled for it, he or she says, “Oh, damn, we have to hire someone! Who do we know?”

75% of all jobs are filled at the “who-do-we-know” level. This includes people who are already working at the company because they’re already known, liked, and trusted. The other known people are referrals from people whom the hiring manager already knows.

If no one on the team knows someone for the open spot, then the hiring manager calls HR and says, “Find me a {title}”. The HR person may ask for more details or may say, “Oh yeah, we hired one of those not long ago. I’ll use the same position description.” This means that the position description may or may not be exactly what the hiring manager needs.


www.biosciencejobkit.comHR will upload it to the applicant tracking system, a computer software program that receives and scans all resumes and applications, saves them, matches the words in the resumes and applications to the position description, and creates a list of people whose applications and resumes matched the position description. This computer does not care what your objective is. It does not know synonyms. It only cares that you have used the same words in your resume that were programmed into it from the job description.


Every time and HR person posts a job to the Internet somewhere between 100 and 500 people apply. Of those 100 to 500, many just want “a job any job”. And in self-defense, HR has chosen to screen the applications. Only 2% of the people who apply online get a first screening call. All the rest of the applications disappear into the “black hole”.


chronological_resumeIf you do make it through the applicant tracking system (ATS), the next person to look at your resume will be someone in HR. If you are applying for a very technical position, using very technical terms, it is unlikely that the person whose job it is to screen the resumes that made it through the ATS will actually understand those terms. It is their job to reduce the number of resumes from a potential of 10 down to five that the hiring manager will have time to look at.

woman on phone

If this particular position has been filled by this particular HR person before, she may understand enough about what the company needs to hire to be able to do the first prescreen. Or it may be left to the hiring manager.


So how can we make this less frustrating? Well first of all, only apply online for jobs that match your skills by at least 85%. You will need to be able to prove that. If you don’t have 85% of the requirements, don’t apply. Why send your resume to a black hole? Many companies have enormous databases of black hole resumes and never search through them again. So do yourself in the HR team a favor and only apply to the jobs which actually do meet your skills.


Second step, if you’re applying online, is to use the language that the position description uses to describe those skills. If you have used a software program that is the next generation of the one they’re asking for in the position description and think “everybody knows that this is the better program” you are simply shooting yourself in the foot.


Third step, a resume is not a CV. It does not include everything you’ve ever done. It is an advertisement, designed to get you an interview by proving that you can solve the problem they’re facing.

networking over lunch

So how can you know what problem they’re facing? This is why 75% of jobs are filled by networking. People who are networked, or friends with, or at least have had coffee with, person who is trying to solve a problem will know better than you can what that problem it is. They will be using the same language that the person with the problem is using to talk about it. Not English or German, but in-house jargon and lingo. The more you know about the company, the team, the goals, and the problems, the easier it will be for you to get the job you want.


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