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The current Job market in the science industry

New Scientist, in conjunction with specialist science recruitment business SRG, has surveyed 4100 scientists, engineers, lecturers and other researchers to find out how they feel about their jobs.

The respondents span a spectrum of ages, experience levels, qualifications and contract types. Over two-thirds describe themselves as scientists, while the rest regarded themselves as engineers, academics or as working on clinical trials. In the UK, 35% of respondents had PhDs, while in other European countries and North America, that figure was over 50%.

Their insight reveals how companies recruit, what employers and employees are looking for, and how much you can expect to earn in various sectors.

Recent salary figures

Recent years have been less than consistent for salaries in the various fields of science and the trends for 2015 are mixed. The average salary has dropped slightly, from £34,452 in 2014 to £34,384 with bonuses dropping almost £600 to £2,262 compared with last year and jobs in industry often offering bigger pay packets than those in academia.

Employees aged over 55 seem to be the winners in terms of growth of pay as their average salary increased from £48,543 to £51,542 in 2015. This might be because companies do not want to lose the wealth of experience that this age group have normally acquired.

Specialists in areas including biometrics, regulation and certain fields of medical research can also command higher wages and in areas where there is a skill shortage, there is usually an increase in salary.

Factors of job satisfaction

There were mixed statistics over how respondents rated their employers. Only 12% felt their employers were ‘poor’ whilst over half stated that they felt their job was very stressful and more than a third admitting that they were not able to achieve a good work/life balance. At least 30% of respondents declared that they did not feel valued by the organisation and 86% feel that work pressure has increased over the years.

The survey revealed that paid overtime was better than its European counterparts with 23% of those in the UK receiving such a benefit which is considered to be an important factor for employees.

Interestingly, companies are starting to recognise that well-being and motivation are strong drivers both for employees and contractors in order to attract top candidates to their organisations.

Finding the ideal job

The survey revealed that the top way of securing a job was through direct hiring of the company’s HR department followed by networking with approximately 33% of employers recruiting via referrals from their own employees.

Just under half of companies use Linkedin as direct way of recruiting with approximately 20% using social media to seek candidates. With those statistics, it is therefore very important to have a well-written profile which is regularly updated (if you are job-seeking) in order to maximise best exposure to recruiting companies.

Many organisations will advertise roles through their own websites which can assist you to get a very good idea of what they do as a business. Social media can help to paint a picture of the company’s culture (see which allows you find out valuable information such as company reviews, typical salaries, interviews). Undertaking such research will allow you to demonstrate your understanding and passion for the organisation’s work.

On application and during the interview, you need to demonstrate that you are a good all-rounder – companies are looking for individuals who have more than just the required technical skills. They are looking for qualities including innovation, teamwork, leadership and drive to make an impact on their business.

Size of the organisation

Preference was given to small-to-medium-sized companies as being more desirable than working for larger organisations.The off-putting factor seeming to be that large companies offered less stability than they had previously whilst smaller companies allowed candidates to prioritise on the more exciting areas of research and innovation.

This research was published by the New Scientist and the full article can be found at

How do you ensure that your organisation retains the top talent in your team? Are you developing and motivating them to make your employees feel valued? Are you equipping them with the skills needed to manage high levels of pressure? … Or are you an individual who requires help applying for roles or need confidence for networking skills?


Copyright 2015 Sinclair Career Consulting

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