Living in rural or remote areas can make job hunting even harder. But there may be more opportunities than you think, explains Charlotte Ashley-Roberts
Q: I am a chemistry graduate in a really rural area and I don’t drive. I have been unemployed for six months and there is nothing in the area. I don’t know what to do to find a job. Is there any way you can help me?
A: It may be cold comfort, but you’re certainly not alone in your situation - finding a job can be a difficult process, even without the problems posed by living in a remote location. You don’t tell me what area of chemistry you are in or would like to be working in so I am going to give you some fairly generic advice in my response. However, you are very welcome to contact me to arrange a personal consultation.
When you live in a rural area and you rely on public transport, it can be much trickier to find a job or company that works for you. In these cases you may need to be more flexible or creative in your approach. This could mean looking at options such as working from home. For example, you could think about science writing or tutoring, setting up your own business or even working part time. Some people in your situation try and create a portfolio career (ie a flexible portfolio of work, doing several paid activities at the same time). This could be as varied as you like to fit around the lifestyle you wish to lead. It might involve working part time and tutoring in the afternoons. Or it could combine consulting with cupcake baking, freelance writing and guided walks. You should also think about how far you are able to commute, as this will have an impact on where you are able to find work.
Job searching has shifted in recent years to being predominantly online, so as long as you have an internet connection, you have access to a great source of information. You can find out about roles and jobs at the click of a button, as well as being able to send out your applications by email. It is also easy to find out more about local companies and there may be more scientific companies around you than you think. It would be worth looking at the Labhoo website (www.labhoo.com), which is the most comprehensive database of scientific organisations we know about. If you are unable to get the internet where you live, then you may be able to find it at a local library, school or job centre.
But while searching online is quick and easy, you shouldn’t limit yourself to this one method. You can also use recruitment agencies, and getting in touch by phone or email is fine if you are unable to travel to meet them. Newspapers often have job adverts or supplements that have science positions available. Finally, there is networking - although this is most effective when done in person, virtual networking can also be very valuable and is obviously much more accessible. There are plenty of opportunities to network online through social media and professional networking sites such as MyRSC, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Think of networking just like talking, you can do this via email or through instant messaging. It is also possible to network using ‘like’ buttons or by commenting on forums or articles.
Despite all of these opportunities to research and apply from the comfort of your own home, you will also need to be realistic in your approach. There is often more work around big cities and you may have to consider moving where the work is. Or you may have to accept a long commute, and you will need to consider your transport options, learning to drive or car-sharing with someone else. There are websites set up to tell you who is car-sharing locally.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this reply, you are very welcome to use the RSC careers service as we can give you tailored advice and I think it might be useful to find out a bit more about your situation so that I can help further. We hold specialist careers events and this month we are running an online event, ChemCareers, on 29-30 May where you can meet employers and learn about the options open to you. You can find out more by logging in to MyRSC.