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How to build a successful career in the life sciences industry

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​The life sciences sector has been recognised as one of the most important industries for the future growth of the UK’s economy. It’s an industry that offers a vast field of study for the understanding of human life, diseases, and the welfare of other living things, including animals and even bacteria. Life sciences can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career for the right professional. There are a variety of career options in this sector as it covers a wide range of jobs – and there’s always room for growth and development. We spoke to some life sciences specialists, who gave us some insights into their career paths and the skills required for their roles. With that in mind, here’s how to build a successful career in the life sciences industry:

Establish an expertise

As is the case in many industries, it’s beneficial to develop a speciality in life sciences as this can potentially make you more marketable. With so much competition and demands for roles, professionals must identify their interests and passions, whether that’s MedTech, chemistry or pharmaceuticals. While there are so many different roles, it’s important to understand your capabilities and preferences, to identify which job suits you the best. For example, a quality engineer requires very specific skills. When speaking to Tara Hamadani, quality engineer at a leading pharmaceuticals company, she emphases the importance of having a level of creativity in problem-solving, as a lot of issues aren’t simple and require outside-the-box thinking. She’s passionate about her work and believes that social media can sway people away from a regular nine to five in the engineering field. Personality traits and soft skills also play a crucial role when it comes to securing roles and developing your expertise. For quality engineers, Tara said that “teamwork, creativity and being open to other people’s opinions” is beneficial – and having a background in English from college is also advantageous.

Choose between contracting or permanent

When it comes to successfully building a career in life sciences, professionals need to decide whether they’ll take on a permanent role or a contract position. Both routes have different advantages and will suit individuals depending on their work style. Working as a contractor, Tara believes it’s easier to be bolder in job opportunities and she has a high level of contact with Orion. However, speaking to Ian Dunn, Biomedical Engineer, there is a minimal difference between being a contractor and a permanent employee. He said, “it’s not a long term commitment upfront but a great way to gain experience.” Working as a contractor has always given Ian's access to developing his interest in many different fields. Whether or not you choose to take a permanent and contract role, it’s a vital step in building a successful career in life sciences.

Start networking

Connections are essential to a successful career. These fellow professionals can be mentors, colleagues, graduates and past employers. A successful career is largely dependent on the pool of people in your network and the ideas and information you have learnt in the past. That’s why networking is crucial for opening up new opportunities. One of the best ways to build connections is, of course, through LinkedIn, but attending life sciences networking events is equally and if not more valuable. It gives you the chance to meet people in person who are further ahead in the industry and can provide advice and expertise.

Take a course

Professionals that work in the life sciences sector have the potential to make a difference, but education is key for gaining the right credentials that will help in building a successful career. There are a variety of courses and university degrees that can be beneficial for a career in life sciences. For example, when speaking to Project Manager Tara Ahern, he said he chose to study Medical Electronics. He saw it as an innovative field that would suit Tara's engineering mind and later cater to his interest in the medical sector as Tara originally wanted to be a dentist. However, he was drawn to a career in life sciences and he gained much of his project management skills during further education. This shows the importance of education to develop new interests and to help build the foundation for success later on.

Build your online profile

Building a strong online profile is crucial for career success. Whether you’re seeking a role as a validation engineer or a development scientist, you need to create a strong first impression in your business profile. This includes finding your unique selling point, which is what differentiates you from other candidates. It means you need to think about your goals and long-term career plans. Tara's advice is to have a goal in mind when choosing a career path in life sciences – so a good way to building your online profile is by outlining your motivations for wanting to work in life sciences. For example, this could be the desire to help people and to be seen as an innovative problem-solver, so showcase your skills in this area. Also, professionals should promote themselves appropriately online, research new life sciences trends and any developments in the industry. That way, you can position yourself as a thought leader which will no doubt advance your career.

Are you looking for a new role in the life sciences industry?

At Orion, we recruit professionals for a variety of roles across the life sciences industry. With offices situated in Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific, we have a global network which makes us well-equipped to offer the best recruitment solutions. We have an excellent team of specialist recruitment consultants who have significant experience in recruiting on a permanent and contractual basis. We have many life sciences jobs available in a range of areas, including biotechnology and clinical research. At Orion, we pride ourselves on helping professionals take their careers to the next level.Contact us today or quick send your CV to find out more information about our jobs.

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