When do I start looking?
Start looking for a new role as soon as you know your role is at an end and the prospects internally for reassignment are limited. Even if you will get a redundancy package, it is easier to be re-employed if you have the shortest possible break. You can often negotiate a break prior to starting but get the job first! Market conditions are such that unless you have ‘alternate support’ gap periods are to be avoided.
What do I need to do to my CV?
First of all, look critically at your current CV. Are there any obvious mistakes or omissions: dates of employment that are not consecutive; spelling mistakes; incomplete entries? Correct them now.
Is your CV just a list of responsibilities from your job description? This is unforgiveable and very lazy sloppy even. Your CV must state your own achievements and deliverables in your current and most recent positions. Where these are easily quantifiable, have you included them in this way, e.g. 500 patients recruited 2 months ahead of schedule; staff retention at 95% for over 3 years, 4 global database locks achieved ahead of schedule.
Create a short concise profile promoting yourself and outlining what you seek in terms of location, work scope, responsibility; demonstrate enthusiasm for your subject or current issues prevailing. Be prepared to adapt your CV introduction for each relevant role.
Details differentiate you from others. Add regional terminology e.g. global vs. domestic, country coverage, Phases; size, country coverage, $value - clarify your competence level and aspirations in a new role
Cite awards or highlight contract extensions you have had.
If you’re ‘contract’ not permanent say so misleading people is a sign of underhand tendencies.
Is your CV full of your current company’s acronyms and abbreviations, e.g. PRD, PDOA, GCO? If so, take these out and use generally accepted terms.
If your CV is too long, take out the detail in any role that you held more than 8 years ago.
How do I find roles?
Provide your CV to agencies, after they take the time to listen to your needs in person. Agency staff working in a ‘non commission’ based team will more readily share you and consider you for all jobs as they arise.
Be blunt with the agencies.
• Which client companies do they work represent regularly
• How many similar roles in your location have they had in the past 12 months?
• Will they submit your CV speculatively, if so take great care this could mean a valid detailed future representation from a preferred partner is ignored and in this market your CV could arrive from several agencies in differing formats, specs seldom result in any interest so avoid this tactic
• Do they change your CV before submission, if so can you see it
• How many people they have placed with your skills in the last 6 months and with whom and where.
• Will they let you speak to people they have placed in the companies prior to interview
• If they don’t provide you with information freely, consider going elsewhere there are endless options.
Don’t let any agency require you to sign up ‘selectivity’ it’s not a wise move. You will need to work with 3-4 agencies to gain access to all the major employers, as most employers only work with a few select agencies.
Register with on-line job sites, particularly InPharm, Pharmiweb, EMedcareers, Jobs4DD, JobSearch. You may get a better response if you apply for specific roles on these sites, rather than just loading your CV as it may be submitted without your consent.
Set yourself up for valid tailored bulletins on sites where you can.
Try to build a consistent working relationship with 1-2 agencies discussing all options you see so that you reduce the iteration in discussion and get priority attention and consistent ‘one shop’ representation.
Is it worth applying directly to companies?
Do examine company websites for open positions, more and more clients are saving money by recruiting direct. Be aware that the response to direct applications can be very variable, it’s reliant on the company having resource in place to screen quickly. Once your CV is on the database of a large pharmaceutical company/CRO an agency cannot submit your details there even though your requirements may have changed as you search evolves or your CV may have been improved through dialogue you have with the agency.
How do I increase my chance of employment?
A recent public sector advert I read said “CV submission is not a valid application”. Old fashioned? Maybe not now, write an email highlighting why you think a company should consider you for a role. Provide valid concise background information, highlight where your skills match, your availability, specific software skills . Two paragraphs is enough and could be significant if the company gets 30-40 responses.
Be realistic in what you can do and don’t waste time chasing jobs which are peripheral to your expertise or clearly beyond/below your capabilities. Clients seldom want or now need to consider candidates who don’t meet or exceed the qualification level.
Set up a specific job email address which says something ‘professional’ about you and update any ‘public’ information which employers might access to check your credentials!
Be as flexible as you can in your consideration of salary, location, temporary roles, and full versus part-time roles. Consider moving for the right role even overseas to maximise your potential.
Ask colleagues/your boss ‘what made me a good employee’, review last appraisals and define some core competencies you have. Whilst it’s fresh in your mind think about examples of these to use at interviews.
Ask your colleagues/manager to supply a personal reference, company references say so little now.
Ask your friend or partner ‘what irritates you about me or might improve my prospect at interview’, maybe you need to sharpen up your image after a long period of dressing down!
Contact ex-colleagues to see if there are any opportunities in their companies.
Use social networking sites to get back in touch with former colleagues. If you are not on LinkedIn or Plaxo – join, give yourself a target number of people to get in touch with each week whilst you are not working. Consider signing up with Facebook, Friends Reunited, Bebo to reconnect with ex-colleagues, ask people to write testimonials about you to support employer references on these sites.
Study the pharmaceutical press so you are aware of start-up companies and those with good pipelines relevant to your skills. Search on sections of company text/name to bring up agencies who may be working with that organisation.
Take the opportunity of time off to access training on-line or in house in your notice period to refresh your IT skills or GCP knowledge and show commitment.
Take up offer of career counsel, seek CV assessment and even pay for outplacement/profiling/interview training to provide personal insight if you’ve been out of the market for some years
Rejoin a professional association, get access to current information after you’ve left work.
Listen to the advice of the agencies. They submit many candidates every day – you may only have done so 3-4 times. If they ask you to change your CV it is to help you, not them!
Don’t be dismayed if things take time the market is slow to respond and presently cautious about recruitment. Schedule a 2 weekly update with your preferred agency partners and colleagues, often they hear of jobs which you don’t, keeping ‘in touch’ is critical to your confidence as time elapses and a reputable agency will not overpromise or waste their or your time doing speculative work which is unlikely to yield something for you. If you can afford it plan a week away in 3 months time so you have a breather and something to look forward to. .job search can be soul destroying, it’s not something many of us are familiar with in the pharma industry so make sue of public resources and training access to relax and refresh alongside the ‘waiting’.
Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18