Novartis AG Layoffs: Game-Changing Tips For Today’s Job Seeker

Published: Aug 07, 2014

Novartis Layoffs: Game-Changing Tips For Today’s Job Seeker
Novartis Layoffs: Game-Changing Tips For Today’s Job Seeker

July 25, 2014
By Jeff Shane, Breaking News Staff

Hundreds of Novartis employees received a rude awakening in early April—mass layoffs would take place beginning June 30. Additional layoffs are likely to be announced September 1st, with the possibility of still more cuts projected in November.

Many of the affected employees have served Novartis for many years—the company was ranked second among all pharmaceutical companies for revenue in 2013. Re-entering the job market will likely prove highly challenging—and stressful—for employees who previously sought employment under different rules and circumstances.

One employment-seeking area that has experienced some “game changing” developments in recent years, is job references. With approximately 135,000 full-time employees worldwide, Novartis’ layoffs of hundreds of employees (perhaps more) will mean that these employees will be going head-to-head with their former corporate associates for a limited number of available jobs with other pharmaceutical and health care manufacturers. The competition for these positions will surely be scarce, and every facet of the job-seeking process—including the importance of one’s corporate references—will be critical. Let’s examine some reference-related trends of particular importance to job seekers:

Novartis Layoffs: Game-Changing Tips For Today’s Job Seeker 1. References have become more, not less, valuable with former supervisors becoming increasingly critical. Former supervisors have increasingly become the "go to" references for prospective employers who have realized that they are far more likely to give candid feedback about a candidate than more traditional HR references. Departing Novartis employees will do well to ask their supervisors for a strong “vote of confidence” when those supervisors are contacted by prospective employers of those who have been laid off.

2. Employers are increasingly conducting reference checks earlier in the job screening process. Traditionally, employers have conducted their reference checks at the end of the candidate screening process after the interviewing process has been concluded. However, an increasing number of employers are deciding that it is more efficient to conduct the reference checks prior to the interview process. The rationale: screen out candidates with a negative reference(s) prior to taking up the valuable time of managers in what sometimes becomes a labor-intensive interview process. The moral for former Novartis employees: assume that prospective employers will be conducting reference checks as the first order of business, and (per item #1 above) ensure that you have solicited a favorable reference from your supervisor sooner, than later.

3. Maintaining close contact with your references has become increasingly important due to demographic shifts in the workplace. Many departing Novartis employees are “boomers” who are now hitting retirement age. It is particularly imperative that these employees keep in close contact with their professional references. If a key reference retires (or has also been laid off) and the job seeker doesn’t have the reference’s current contact information, it could be detrimental to their job seeking process.

4. Staying in touch with former employers can be crucial as “boomerang” hiring intensifies. Many companies that may have had to lay workers off in recent years are now looking to increase their numbers, and many are more than willing to rehire old employees. This is true for a number of reasons, e.g. the employers know what type of employee they are getting based on past experience, the rehired employee may have learned some new skills in the interim, etc. While the Novartis layoffs are sizable indeed, the company noted that “The healthcare environment is rapidly changing and our product portfolio is also changing which is why we regularly evaluate our business to ensure that we are investing in areas where we can significantly advance patient care.” Novartis’ pharmaceutical portfolio includes more than 50 key marketed products, many of which are innovative leaders in their therapeutic areas. With the myriad changes—and prospective future growth—of the health care industry, it is certainly feasible that employers may one day seek to refill some of those positions affected by layoffs. Even now, Novartis is offering jobs that may interest laid-off employees.

5. Effectively formatting one's references can give a candidate a "leg up" on the competition. Savvy job seekers are modernizing their reference lists to make a powerful statement of their qualifications. An effective reference list will identify those attributes the references can attest to, something that will make the prospective employer's job easier—and is guaranteed to reflect the job seeker in a proactive light. (See one such sample format here, offered by professional reference checking firm

While references are but one facet of the job search process, their importance—in part detailed in the changes describe above—will be critical to former Novartis employees (and other job seekers in the pharmaceutical and clinical medicine arenas). Those who understand and adopt this message will likely be among those who are able to find new employment in their chosen field, in the shortest possible time.

Read more recent layoff news here.

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