5 Job Truths From The Brains Behind Career Experts

Published: Jan 23, 2014

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5 Job Truths From The Brains Behind Career Experts January 23, 2014

Career experts reveal five tips for those seeking biotech jobs.

By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “If I only knew then what I know now,” you’re not alone. Every biopharma job seeker can tell at least one story of an opportunity lost due to a mistake made when writing a cover letter, submitting a resume, or answering a job interview question. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn from past blunders. Before you pursue your next career step, consider these five job truths from the brains behind top career experts. Coupled with the knowledge you’ve gained through your own experience, you might discover just what you need to land a new position.

1. Use your cover letter to establish a direct relationship between your qualifications and the position.

Biopharma employers often receive hundreds of resumes in response to each job posting. If you want to stand out in a crowd of equally qualified candidates, create a highly customized cover letter. According to Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast, “The best cover letters I’ve read are the ones that make a personal connection between your career experience, talent, passion, and how those fit the opening the employer has available. Connect the dots for the employer between you and the opening and you will establish a direct and immediate relationship.”

2. If you have decades of experience, include only the last 10 to 15 years on your resume.

A biopharma hiring manager is likely to devote mere minutes to scanning the information in your resume. If you’ve been in the industry for decades, including pages upon pages of employment history may be less help than hindrance. According to Jeff Shane, professional resume writer and Vice President of Allison & Taylor, Inc.,“Trim your employment history to reflect your past 10-15 years. If you have hard-hitting employment credentials beyond this period, summarize them in a section at the end of your employment history.” For example, if you are applying for a research scientist position, you could say, "In the past 10 years, I have committed myself to top biopharma XYZ and have been an integral part of the R&D team that brought two drugs to the approval stage."

3. Expect interview questions about the company and the job.

If you’ve been to a few interviews, you’re likely familiar with popular questions such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What would you say is your biggest weakness?” While it’s important to practice succinct answers to common questions like these, you should spend time learning about the biopharma employer and job you are interviewing for, as well. According to Bob McIntosh, Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Trainer, “Interviewers want to know why you want to work for them, what you know about their plans and goals, and what understanding you have of their products and services. And, knowing the company’s competitors will be an added bonus."

4. Never waste an interviewer’s time with a generic thank you note.

Sending a thank you note after an interview—whether by email or by snail mail—is certainly the courteous thing to do. However, too many biopharma job seekers send generic missives that mean little to employers. According to Alison Green, writer of the popular “Ask a Manager” blog, “They send generic, perfunctory notes that signal, ‘I’m just sending this because I heard I was supposed to.’ These aren’t especially useful or impressive to an employer. Instead, your note should be truly personalized and should build on the conversation that you had in the interview. If it just conveys thanks for an interviewer’s time and reiterates that you’re interested in the job, it won’t add much to your candidacy.” For example, if the hiring manager stated he or she has been with XYZ pharma for 10 years, include that in your thank you note: “After meeting with you, it’s easy to see why you would remain with top XYZ pharma for as long as you have. It seems like a great place to work.”

5. Confirm next steps so you can properly follow up.

It can take months to complete the biopharma hiring process, from submission of your resume to interviews to the final job offer. It’s important to follow up along the way to ensure employers know you’re still available and enthusiastic about the opportunity to work for their company. Ford R. Myers, President of Career Potential, LLC and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring,” suggests job seekers confirm next steps whenever possible. He writes, “Remember, an interview (or ANY meeting, for that matter) is only as good as the follow-up actions that it generates. Don’t settle for ‘We’ll let you know’ or similar comments that place you in a passive position. Assume a more active role, and get a commitment from the employer for ‘what comes next!’”

For more insider advice from top career experts as well as thousands of North American biopharma jobs, visit the BioSpace Career Resource Center.

About the Author

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

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