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5 Hiring Tricks Revealed in BioPharma

10/8/2013 2:16:08 PM

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October 17, 2013

Finding a job in biopharma is hard enough - Be sure not to fall for these 5 hiring tricks used by biopharma employers.

By Angela Rose for

Your education, skills and experience are obviously important to employers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. However, they aren’t the only details a recruiter or hiring manager will consider when evaluating your suitability for a job. In fact, they may focus on tangential factors in order to speed up the candidate screening process. Consider the following five hiring tricks particularly common in the biopharma world.

1. They want to find a reason not to hire you.
Jobs for scientists, research assistants, project managers and other biopharma roles generate dozens of resumes. In fact, according to the 2012 BioSpace Life Sciences Annual Report compiled by, junior scientist job postings received an average of more than 300 applicants for each available position. Reviewing that many candidates’ qualifications in detail would be a full time job for any hiring manager—so they focus on flaws first in order to narrow the field. As a result, failing to include relevant keywords, submitting a poorly formatted document, or disregarding the need for a final proofread may lead to your rejection.

2. They will never read your resume or CV fully.
Many large employers in the biopharma industry utilize applicant tracking systems—software programmed to search for specific qualifications—to narrow the pool of potential candidates before a real human being ever lays eyes on them. Even if you make it through this digital gauntlet, it’s unlikely the hiring manager will do more than scan your resume. Make sure you tailor your wording to match that of the job posting and format it in such a way that your qualifications are easily recognized.

3. They may use information you volunteer against you.
Asking a job candidate about his or her marital and family status is against the law. However, you can bet biopharma employers are still very interested in these details. Some will go so far as to place photos of children in prominent locations within their office to encourage you to volunteer specifics about your own family. Others will look to see if you’re wearing a wedding ring. While this may not seem like a big deal, remember that in the eyes of potential employers, children and spouses mean you have external obligations childless or unmarried candidates do not have.

4. They’ll watch what you do while waiting.
Some biopharma hiring managers and recruiters will ask the receptionist to observe how you occupy your time while waiting for them to call you into the interview. Taking a nap or talking loudly on your cell phone may sabotage your chances of landing the job. Reviewing the newspaper or industry publications available in the waiting room, on the other hand, may enhance them.

5. They’re more inclined to hire you if you’re a woman.
According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, women still regularly earn an average of 30 percent less than men do. Experts estimate that at least a portion of this discrepancy is due to many females’ reluctance to negotiate pay. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical and biotechnology employers and recruiters are not above using this reluctance to their advantage—and some prefer to hire female candidates as a result. To make sure you get a fair wage regardless of your sex, don’t hesitate to ask diplomatically for more than their initial salary offer.

In Don Quixote, author Miguel de Cervantes wrote, “Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” Now that you are aware of the most common hiring tricks used by biopharma employers, you can utilize them to your advantage and improve your chances of securing your next biotechnology or pharmaceutical position.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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