Expert Tips: How to Stand out in This Life Sciences Job Market

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Are you planning to enter the job market this year? If so, you are not alone. Results from a recent BioSpace Community Survey indicated that 67% of life science respondents are likely to look for a job in the next 12 months. With an influx of talent in the market, how can life science professionals set themselves apart to make a positive impression and land the job? We interviewed two experts in recruiting and executive search organizations to provide insight into getting an edge on the competition.

According to Yaffa Grace, Founder of Yaffa Grace & Co, “In Q4, we saw a lot of movement with multiple layoffs (Bayer, Novartis and Achaogen to name a few) which then floods the market with job seekers. The good news is there are plenty of companies that are hiring and have products in phase II and III…” By staying focused on the job search and being consistent, life science professionals can find open positions. Leslie Loveless, CEO of Slone Partners, mentioned that “it is very common for us to speak to candidates that share with us they learn about new opportunities several times each week. There are many exciting opportunities in the life sciences with technologies and innovations that no one could have anticipated as recently as ten years ago.” Here are the main factors for you to consider: 

Focus on the large demand

There are many fields that are thriving in life sciences, including biotech, pharmaceutical, medical devices, etc. Do some research on what areas are in alignment with your interests, experience and skillset. Loveless noted, “There is a tremendous demand for regulatory leaders with experience moving novel products through the FDA approval process. There is also a huge demand for individuals in product development roles and computational sciences.” Think about how your professional skills might transfer over to new roles.

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Understand local job markets

Have you noticed job opportunities in your local market? Have you thought about relocating to another area with more positions available? Investigate the types of jobs that are open locally to decide what would be the best option for you. “Boston and San Francisco are inundated with both companies and talent right now. San Diego, the New York City area and the Research Triangle in North Carolina are also very strong markets at the moment,” Loveless said. Understand where you fit into the job market based on your position, level within an organization and experience.

Know what you’re up against

Grace points out that, “Organization charts are typically structured like a pyramid, so the higher up you go, the less number of roles.” Are you targeting highly competitive positions? If that is the case, you must ensure that your complete presentation: resume, cover letter, social media profiles and interviewing skills are up to par. Grace shares, “Interestingly, roles with new technologies/therapies that didn’t exist before are often mistaken as too challenging.  Too often candidates worry that they don’t have the exact right experience and don’t apply…if a candidate does the research and highlights their transferable skills, they can present themselves as the solution.”

Be proactive

Once you stumble across a job posted online, the clock is ticking and the time available to submit for the role is counting down. “Be ready – don’t wait until you have to find a new job. Update your resume and social profiles now. Focus on building relationships,” Grace says. Have clarity around your personal values and what type of organization you want to work for.  Loveless adds, “Candidates should look for those companies that also cultivate a great culture, where they can see themselves being happy and productive for a long time.” What aspects of your professional branding, knowledge or skillset do you need to improve on in order to feel ready for a new job?

A recent BioSpace Community Survey supports current research that shows it’s a candidate’s market, and many professionals intend to look for jobs. Due to the increased level of competition, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Target areas where there is a large demand for candidates and thoroughly understand your local job market. Be aware of any challenges that could impact your job search and take a proactive approach to the entire process. Based on insights from the featured experts, how can you stand out from other life science professionals?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

Yaffa Grace is the founder of Yaffa Grace & Co, a Biotech and Pharma recruitment and career strategy firm that works with companies and candidates to match talent with opportunity. She's a career strategist and talent acquisition specialist with a 20+year proven track record.

Leslie Loveless is CEO of Slone Partners founded in 2000. Slone Partners is North America’s leading life sciences and diagnostics executive search firm.

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