Analytical Chemistry, Life Science & Engineering Recruitment

Moving Disciplines

So, you’ve decided what you like (and don’t like) for your next role and concluded it’s time for a career change, a shake-up, time to try new avenues or pursue that “I always had an passion for…”


There is nothing wrong with this and it’s possible now more than ever! Society and our approach to work and careers has changed a lot over the last 25 years. For better or for worse, jobs in which people spend their entire working lives are a rare occurrence.

There are more means to support this flexibility than ever before; training, online courses, personal development, childcare, working hours and remote working. These enabling tools make changing disciplines a lot less scary than it sounds.

Identify your common ground!

By this we mean, transferrable skills.

How much of a career change you’re aiming for determines the length of this list; if it’s a relatively simple change, for example from analytical testing in a environmental lab to pharmaceutical lab, there will still be a lot of parallels you can draw upon. Highlight your transferable, technical and soft skills (communication, team working etc) and understand where you will need further training (e.g. SOPs and industry regulations). Even if you’re aiming for a complete change of track, your past experience can still be drawn upon and you will still have many transferrable skills. Be prepared to critically analyse yourself!

Mammmaaa ooohhhhh….

It’s always good to seek advice and guidance at any stage in your career decision making from friends & family; they should hopefully be brutally honest with you! When suggesting such a change, gauging their reactions can be a real help sometimes. Also, speak to recruiters; we know what the client is looking for “on and off the pitch” and which qualities are important and transferrable.

Your CV

State your career intention immediately - as in after your name/address. Under a heading “Aim”, “Objective” or “Profile”.

A CV is scanned by the reader in as little as 9 seconds! Yes, 9 seconds! So you need to make it really obvious why you want the job you’re applying for & your relevant skills. For example, don’t just focus purely on your laboratory skills when you’re aiming for a move into Technical Sales - unfortunately at this stage you’ve been judged, your passion is the lab, I am not even sure you really meant to apply for this sales role? Harsh but true.

The thing to keep in mind when moving disciplines, is yes it’s a risk for you personally, but it is also a risk for the hiring company to take you on. What if after 3 months you don’t like it and leave? That’s training investment wasted and time wasted with them back to square one re: recruitment. From the very start you must demonstrate certainty and confidence in your decision.

Stage one

Making your CV convincing. Let’s rewrite that opening statement;

No longer are you “A passionate Analytical Chemist with 10 years’ experience developing and validating LC-MS methods as a Senior Scientist in a CRO facility”.

You are “A commercially astute Scientist seeking a technical sales position after gaining client facing experience in a busy CRO environment”.

Reader sees – Wants sales (tick), client facing (transferable skill, tick), busy CRO – (transferable skill, demanding working environment experience, deadlines, fast pace, budgets etc, tick, tick, tick!)

Continue the approach

Whether you’re aiming to move disciplines or ‘next level-up’ by moving companies. Keep highlighting your relevant experience to the new role.

Going for a Manager position? Currently a Senior Scientist who is hands-on in the lab but also oversees others? Start with your supervisory duties and break them down; time sheets, work order management, holiday approval etc – these may just seem like the little extra bits to your core role of Senior Scientist, but they will be core bits to your next role as Manager! These are the elements recruiters and future employees are looking for on your CV.

Hidden Value of ‘interests’

Ah yes, that little awkward bit at the end of your CV – the bit about you outside of the work environment. What’s enough? What’s too much? What’s can I say to hide my true colours as a predominantly Netflix watching, snack binging, pub attending socialite?! (ok, maybe that’s just me!)

Embrace your sporting interests, hobbies, volunteering, crafting skills, etc because these can all support your reasoning for a change in role and suitability for what you’re applying for.

For example:

- Competitive sport indicates you’re naturally competitive - great for sales.

- Like building your own PCs, fixing cars, DIY? Perfect skills for a budding engineer.

- Learning to code? Maybe it’s time to transition from hardware to software?

- Volunteering – demonstrates people skills, communication skills, team work – a good leader maybe?

- Art based crafts, poetry, blogging – could make a great Marketeer.

- Chess – indicates a strategic, considered person – maybe you’d be good in Operations?

- Proof reader – attention to detail, great for QA perhaps?

- Tutoring – strong mentoring skills, patient – perfect experience for a Trainer.

..The list is endless, but hopefully you get my gist.

Above all, remember nothing ventured, nothing gained!

We hope this helps! If you would like further advice please do not hesitate to contact VRS Recruitment. We are here to help and if you are looking for a career shake up, do seek our advice on the best approach.

Follow us on LinkedIn for all the latest job updates and advice tips!

Refer a friend