Insider tips on how to find your next biotech to work in

21 November 2022

When you’re looking for a job in an early-stage biotechnology company, it can feel like there are an infinite number of paths you could take. Where do you start? How do you know what company is right for you?

As a life science professional, you’ve worked hard to get where you are today, so why not make the most of it? It’s not just about having the right skill set and experience, but also finding a company that is going to give you opportunities to develop and perform at your best. Here are the top tips for finding that next biotech job.

Research funding, companies that have raised and have a solid road map.

There are several factors to consider when looking for your next biotech job. One of the most important factors is to research those companies that have received funding. Look at whether they have any external funding (from venture capital firms or private equity investors) as this can indicate that they’ve passed some level of validation in terms of viability and potential growth prospects.

Not only does this indicate stability within the organisation, but it also means that there’s an outside interest in what they’re doing—and that can be good news for you! As that shows that there is a market for their product. It also means they will likely have the resources and expertise to execute their business plan. A good way to find out who has raised money is through websites such as Crunchbase or Pitchbook, which contain information about funding rounds and investors.

Identify funders, established investors would have completed due diligence and gives you confidence the company is well structured and higher chance of success

One of the best ways to identify a good biotech company is to look at who is funding it. It’s important to understand the funders’ investment strategy and how well they have performed in the past, as well as how their experience can be applied to this company’s success.

Established investors would have completed due diligence: As an example, if an investor has been around for more than five years and has invested in more than 20 companies in that time frame, they should have a robust due diligence process. This gives you greater confidence that they have done their homework on the company and its management team before investing— which means there could be less risk associated with selecting an early-stage company such as this for your next move.

Look for companies that have a clear path to commercialisation with a product or service that is differentiated from the competition. Look for companies with solid management teams including scientists and management teams who have experience bringing products to market. Make sure that the company has the potential for significant growth.

Find areas of specialism, a therapeutic area that suit your experience

There are many different areas within this industry. For example, some companies focus specifically on drug discovery while others focus on the latter stages of pharmaceutical development.

Focus on the therapeutic area that interests you most and suits your expertise, this will help narrow down your search.

For example, if you have experience in and/or have the desire to work in oncology or rare diseases, it’s worth looking at companies that science addresses these areas. This will make it much easier for you to find an opportunity that suits both your experience level and career aspirations.

In addition, if you have previous experience working in one of these areas, you’ll have an advantage over other candidates without the same level of knowledge or experience in this area.

Location – small companies prefer in-person collaboration time, so be prepared to relocate.

Collaboration and sharing of ideas are key components to any successful company. Biotechs are no exception and require teamwork to achieve great results. Biotechnology companies are known for cultivating a culture of collaboration, and the industry is largely built on the success of innovation, and the best biotechs are those where the team members can work together in a way that’s productive and inspiring.

This means that it’s not just the leaders who are expected to make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions; instead, employees across all levels of the company should be empowered to make changes and help improve their organisation.

This can be seen in the way that a company’s values are reflected in its hiring practices, as well as the collaborative nature of teams within the organisation. In our experience, our clients prefer to hire candidates that can relocate or spend a significant amount of time on-site.

Identify the best person to speak with and ask good questions.

Identifying the best person to speak with is key. Hiring managers are generally hugely invested in the success of their team, so they may be more proactive to share information about opportunities.

Ask questions about the culture and environment of the company.

They can give you valuable information about what it’s like working at a particular company and what they look for in new employees. When talking with hiring managers (or talent acquisition), ask questions about what makes someone successful at that company or organisation. You can also ask about the lab or division’s specific needs and goals, which will help you tailor your application, accordingly, ask them if they have any suggestions on how you could improve your chances of getting hired— especially if there are certain skills or experiences that they believe would make you a good fit for their team.

Ask if there are opportunities for advancement and growth within the organisation. What kinds of training programs are available? What types of projects make up most of the workload? How many people do they expect to hire this year?

Be prepared with questions that show you’ve done your research on their company and industry as well as yourself. This shows that you’re interested in learning more about them as well as yourself — a great way to build rapport and make yourself stand out.

Small companies seeking culture fit and dedication

Look for companies with a clear company culture. The personality of companies with smaller teams can be much more obvious than those of larger companies. A company’s culture is important for building relationships with colleagues and working collaboratively with them over time. Look for companies that have positive company cultures which promote teamwork and collaboration between departments as well as senior management support for new ideas. Look for companies with strong management teams and leaders that are passionate about their work. So, seek out companies with employees who love what they do and see themselves as part of something bigger than just a job.

The hiring process at a small biotech is likely to be different than at a large company: all candidates are likely to meet with the founders and/or Senior Management Team, who can make final decisions based on your interview performance and how well-matched they feel you are with their culture.

Many biotech companies are small, with around 30 employees or less. In fact, over 90% of biotechs have fewer than 100 employees, so it’s not a huge corporate environment. The culture and values are also more closely aligned with start-ups.

They want employees who are passionate about their work and who share their values and vision for success. They’re also looking for someone who has a good work ethic, is self-motivated, and can handle pressure.

At a smaller business, you’ll have the opportunity to take on more responsibility than you would likely have at larger corporations. It’s up to you to take initiative and problem-solve on your own. You will have more freedom to make decisions that affect the company’s direction and success.

Lastly, if you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t just send a generic CV— tailor your CV to the role and be sure to send a cover letter that shows clearly why you are the right fit for this role.

A cover letter should clearly show how you can add value to the company by showing off your skills, expertise, and experience in the industry. It’s also an opportunity for you to show off your personality. A cover letter can make all the difference in whether you are shortlisted for an interview or not.

When your career is at stake, you want to find an organisation that interconnects with your needs, goals, and ambitions. That’s true in any industry, but it’s especially important in the fast-paced life science sectors.

The biotech industry is a challenging and rewarding space to work in. By taking the time to network with your peers and industry leaders, and by focusing on creating value within your role, you will be on track for a successful biotech career.

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