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Gearing Up In 2010

Gearing Up In 2010


This is the second of two articles written by Caroline Lock and Spencer Marsh at Only Medics Recruitment Ltd. In the last edition they looked at Recruitment 2010 and in this article they discuss Career Planning 2010.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

Career Planning 2010

At the individual level, a fresh approach is needed for career planning as organisations gear up in 2010 and place yet more emphasis on finding the right ‘fit’ of individual for each role.

Many physicians have been heard to say they have secured every job they have applied for. This may be true in a primary or secondary care setting but in the pharma sector it’s more competitive, Organisations, especially after the economic gloom of the past year, now take a tougher line with hiring decisions to ensure they offer to the right candidate.

So what is a career plan ? It’s probably true that most people put more thought, effort and time into planning their holidays in comparison to a plan to secure a new job ! The key issue is to consider your individual needs, looking for a role that matches your skills, aspirations, personal profile and personality. You may feel stale or unchallenged in your current role but lack confidence to make a move. You may not know where to turn for advice yet somewhere, deep inside, you know it’s time for change.

As a starting point, set time aside to think carefully about your answer to the question “Where do I want to be in 5/10 years time ?” Many people give a blue sky answer but if you have thought thoroughly about it, you can portray a lot about yourself and what you have to offer a future employer by shaping your answer in the right way. Yes, some form of change in your career path is likely and change is a scary place for some, however change isn’t just about changing job, it’s about how you handle changes themselves which may mean a different approach to who you are and how you do things so that your overall skill set alters in a positive direction.

In any career plan, include options within the strategy. Your long term career goal should remain constant but the short term step(s) you take to reach it can vary either in terms of experience you could gain from different types of organisation, working in a different therapy or product area etc. In recent years when the job market was more buoyant, candidates could be specific about their requirements for a new role. In the current climate, consider other opportunities which you may in the past have dismissed. For example, relocation or working for a start-up or very small company as opposed to adopting ‘survivor mode’ and clinging to what you already know in a ‘me too’ role within a large established organisation.

As part of your plan, don’t forget to ensure that your CV says everything you would do if you were in the room at an interview. Optimise the information you provide in a concise format and clearly highlight your achievements and successes in each of the positions you have held during your career to date. Spend time brushing up on interview technique. Specific preparation before an interview to cover the company and its products is essential but generic preparation can be completed now. Much has been written on this topic so utilise available resources well and take advice on board. Employers are increasingly stringent with their selection criteria so you need to sell your skills to any future employer.

Asking questions at an interview is something that comes up time and again. Candidates never seem to know what to ask. Yet it’s not so much about asking questions per se, it’s about asking the ‘right’ questions. Don’t be afraid to query something which comes up during the conversation but also have some generic questions up your sleeve too, such as, why the vacancy exists, what process will be used to make the hiring decision, what is the company specifically looking for as a measure of success in the role.

The need for professionalism should never be underestimated whether in the language and style of your emails or the way you present yourself at interview. On their own, small details don’t appear to carry much weight but added together they validate your level of commitment to the process. Despite the current trend for dressing down, it’s important to turn up in proper business attire no matter when or where you are being interviewed. Even if this means you need to stop somewhere en route to an interview to change your clothes – do it.

Your career plan is something you should live, not just have written down to review from time to time. Some aspects of your plan are things you should do almost daily, so build things like ‘industry awareness’ into your schedule. Sign up for e-newsletters from industry websites, read the pharmaceutical press and ensure you are aware of what is happening on a local, European and Global basis. Scan key news headlines and drill down into relevant articles you can use when required to demonstrate you are fully abreast of information that could directly impact you and your job.

Look for organisations that are innovative. In this type of culture individuals are encouraged to use their strengths to best effect and develop new skills in order to achieve success. Risk may be a part of the equation in such companies but this goes hand-in-hand with greater return. This of course doesn’t mean that larger organisations that are often perceived to be more stable, if not hugely innovative, are not a good option for some. However, these environments sometimes present little opportunity to take an entrepreneurial line and create such a big difference.

Mergers too can have the same impact of creating opportunities. Many people shudder and fear the worst when M&A activity abounds in the pharmaceutical sector but there are many Pharmaceutical Physicians out there whose careers have positively benefited from such situations.

Even if you don’t want to look externally for a new role in 2010, internal opportunities will still exist. Moving resources around within a company costs less than bringing in new staff and it may be possible to make a sideways move to a different type of role. Such an opportunity previously might not have that been open to you but it may now enable you to build new skills for your future career.

Do’s and don’ts :
• Do begin your search with a plan of action starting with an overall career goal and options for
steps you might take along the way to achieve it.
• Don’t rely on charm to get you through an interview.
• Don’t get discouraged or distracted if it takes time. Instead, remain positive and stay focused on your long-term goal. Include a strategy to cope with rejection. Although you want to achieve success and put 100% effort into preparing for any interview, it can still be tough out there
• Do keep in touch with your Recruitment Consultant. It’s not just one-way traffic that ensures success. Your Consultant needs to know you are keen and hungry to find success. Remember, it’s your job search and you need to follow up on all opportunities you have discussed and for which
an application been submitted. Even if you fall into the passive candidate category, good recruiters will always be happy to chat with you about the current market and come back to you if a relevant and tempting opportunity becomes available.
• Do take time to review your CV regularly, ensuring it contains up-to-date information about your career track, successes and achievements.
• Do use your own personal mobile phone and email address to conduct your job search, not your current employers. The same principle should hold for arranging interviews – arrange them in your own time, don’t skive or go AWOL otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.
• Don’t underestimate the positive nature of networking. Yes I know it’s a bit clichéd but it really does work and increases your knowledge of the industry grapevine.
• Don’t let negative comments in the media put you off your job search. Remember, the press focus on the bad bits but there is always a level of staff turnover and change in any organisation that creates opportunities which cannot be filled from within.

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