Greggs Steak Bake (the science in your snacks!): a life sciences recruiter’s perspective

Many thanks to Susan Bird (Careers Consultant for the School of Biological Sciences) for this blog post from Gavin Gallimore which gives an insight into opportunities in the life sciences sector – Rebecca

Gavin Gallimore is a scientific recruitment consultant for Search Scientific Consultancy. With a background in microbiology, he’s worked at Astrazeneca and Eli Lilly and recruits for many life science employers so knows a thing or two about the industry.

With 650 companies in Scotland employing around 32000 life science employees, there is plenty scope for employment.  Employers tends to be in five major life science “hubs” including around Edinburgh and Dundee and growth is at 8% and rising, especially in biotechnology.  Much activity is in science parks such as Edinburgh BioQuarter, BioDundee, BioCity, West of Scotland which includes the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research. Parks also include spinout companies which tend to be smaller and can offer scope for work shadowing. UK science parks can be identified on the United Kingdom Science Park Association website. More resources for identifying employers are also on the Careers Service website.

Sectors include environmental, food and drink, pharmaceutical, forensics, chemical and oil and gas. Global companies with a UK presence include Albany and Merck Millipore. Less obvious employers include Greggs where life science graduates work in product development of new bakery items and in quality assurance, a recent example being microbiologists analysing & testing during industry horsemeat concerns. The rise of counterfeit food and drink products and their impact on safety (and profit…) means life scientists including forensic scientists work with whiskey manufacturers William Grant to quality test products and suspected fakes. Other scientific recruiters include:

GSKSAFC (Sigma Aldrich)Eli LillyAstra ZenecaSanofi-AventisNovartis PharmaceuticalsCapsugelReckitt BenckiserP&G

TES Bretby Ltd

Scottish Water

ThermofisherAptuitAngel BiotechnologyBeatson InstituteMacFarlane Smith (JM)Boots Contract ManufacturingJohnson & Johnson MedicalMaster FoodsKraft

Forensic Science Service


With advertised vacancies, entry level positions can have a range of titles but include: “graduate scheme; lab technician / assistant; production scientist; quality technician; R+D technician; trainee…; QC Tech / Micro / analyst”.

Entry level salaries can start surprisingly low across a range of sector employers £13K – 30K but once entrants have a year’s experience, often seen as an in-house training year, they are established and salaries go up. Employers are keen to keep people once they are in so will need reassurance and commitment at outset that applicants are planning to stick around.

 Gavin’s advice for applicants?

  • Use a range of approaches, websites, LinkedIn, advertised and speculative applications
  • Tailor your CV to the role “we want spear fisherman not trawlers”
  • Make sure your CV is detailed enough about technical skills, techniques & key modules
  • Highlight hands-on experience gained from projects, modules and lab experience
  • Embed throughout your CV where and how you have developed soft skills and avoid a generic opening summary merely listing soft skills


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