J&J Exec Reveals How You Can Stand Out Among 3,000 Job Seekers

Johnson & Johnson Interior

Once upon a time, before the internet, you typically heard of a job through your local newspaper. As a result, they tended to be found by people actively looking for them in the specific region. Now, thanks to the internet and numerous online job postings, far more people are likely to be applying for the same jobs from all over the country or the world. Sjoerd Gehring, global head of Recruiting at Johnson & Johnson, in a Forbes blog post, said he’d seen some jobs where as many as 3,000 people applied for the same position!

However, Gehring also provides a few tips on how to get your application to be heard over all the noise.

First, he covers a 20,000-foot-elevation philosophy, saying the most impressive candidates for jobs ranging from interns to executives all have something in common: a professional purpose.

“By that,” he writes, “I mean they know why they do what they do, what they want to ultimately achieve and how they plan to get there. Because they’re so clear on their goals, and so open in sharing them, I can tell almost instantly when I’ve met someone who should be working at our company.”

That’s his first, broadest piece of advice. But how? He provides two steps.

1. Get Clarity

By this he means that most of us are caught up in day-to-day minutiae of earning a living, raising our children, being in relationships, that before we know it, years have gone by. “That’s why,” he writes, “it’s important to take time out, hit the pause button and think about what a successful career really means to you.”

And if you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, Lily Zhang, a career development specialist with MIT, suggests starting with three questions:

A. What can you do to help other people?

B. What does your ideal day look like?

C. What do you find intolerable?

This vision doesn’t necessarily have to be profound, like helping cure a disease. It could simply be: To provide my employers, and as a result, the end-users or customers, with high-quality, reliable services that will make their lives easier or better. But you have to believe it.

And it’s something that can guide your answers to interview questions like: Why are you interested in this position? Or, tell me a little bit about yourself. Which leads to Gehring’s second point.

2. Share It

Gehring doesn’t mean you should type up your mission statement and wear it on a T-shirt or say it every time someone says hello. But in the context of your professional life, it’s worthwhile—and important—to make sure your mission and philosophy is known by you and the people you work with. You don’t have to hammer them in the head with it, but weaving it into your professional life is good.

Gehring writes, “You’ll stand out more when you answer the question by explaining why the job’s values fit with your professional purpose—and why it matters so much to you. ‘I’d like to work here as a designer because I am passionate about more transparent package design, which can help mothers choose better products for their children,’ is an answer that’s true—and will get further than, “I want to work here because this company is a leader in the field.’ (You don’t lose any points with the second option, but every other person may say the exact same thing.”

Job Examples

Johnson & Johnson is an enormous company with approximately 127,000 employees worldwide. Its headquarters is in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but has operations in 60 countries and markets products in over 175 countries. A visit to its career page lists jobs in the Czech Republic, the U.S., Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, India, Brazil and many others. Examples include:

Principal Engineer – Advance Electronics and Sensors in Cincinnati, Ohio. The candidate will provide technical leadership for projects in the areas of sensors and circuit design for 3D Printed Electronics, Processing and Conductive/Non-conductive Ink Development. It calls for a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering or equivalent experience with 9+ years of experience or a Master’s Degree with 7+ years of experience, or a PhD and 5+ years of experience.

Senior Statistician in Raritan, New Jersey. The candidate should have a Master’s degree in Statistics or a related field with at least 4 years of clinical data analysis, or a PhD in Statistics or related field. A working knowledge of statistical software such as SAS, R, or SPlus is required. The individual will provide statistical input into the clinical development of cancer drugs.

Senior Manager, Clinical Research at multiple locations, including Santa Ana, California and Jacksonville, Florida. The company is looking for individuals with a Bachelor’s of Science and an advanced degree such as MD, OD, MS, PhD, PharmD in a science-related field with a minimum of 8 years of clinical or related technical experience. The candidate will be a Senior Manager Clinical Research in the ophthalmic clinical research and develop research programs that can be used both domestically and internationally for ophthalmic device products.

Principal Scientist, Translational Biomarker Research for Janssen Research & Development in Spring House, Pennsylvania. This position calls for a Master’s of Science degree with at least 10 years of experience or a PhD with at least 5 years of experience, preferably in immunology, rheumatology, immuno-oncology, biomarker research or a related field. The individual will work within the Immunology Biomarkers department to develop and implement approaches to identifying and validating novel biomarkers for investigational therapies.

Do you know why you want this job? Are you able to articulate it? Then it’s time to brush up your resume and apply. Good luck!

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