What does the ideal candidate for an entry-level job in pharma manufacturing look like? We’ve analysed job adverts from pharma employers across the UK to find out.

In this article we’re specifically looking at “soft” or transferable skills, counting down to the most popular. No matter what your education background or work experience is, it’s likely that you can boost the case for yourself as a suitable candidate by demonstrating you have these skills.

And while this is a good general guide, the most important thing to remember is to carefully read each individual job advert and highlight the skills mentioned within it as your tailor your CV for that application.

6. Organisation

22% of adverts mentioned Organisational Skills

About this skill: Organisation is a broad skill that can mean different things to different people. Things like time-management, task prioritisation, and multitasking can all fall under the umbrella term of organisation. You’ll often find other clues in the advert to guide you on what organisation means to that specific company.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: As an entry-level manufacturing employee it is likely that you will only be involved in one small part of the manufacturing process. Organisational skills are key to ensure that your tasks are completed both on time (so as not to delay later parts of the process) and to the highest standards (to ensure patient safety).

Examples from real job adverts:

Plans, prioritises and organises work to deliver on time.
Good organisational and time keeping skills.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Have you taken charge of organising some aspect of a previous job?
  • Do you have to manage your own workload throughout the day?
  • Are you routinely multitasking or having to set priorities to ensure your work tasks get completed?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Have you organised an event?
  • Or taken part in a fundraiser?
  • Do you organise sports games or leisure activities for groups of your friends?

5. Computer Skills / IT Literacy

33% of adverts mentioned Computer Skills or IT Literacy

About this skill: It’s extremely common to see Computer Skills listed on job adverts across all sectors these days, and the Pharma industry is no different. Some adverts will specify particular things they are keen to see (see examples below), whereas others will just reference the skill more broadly.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: Computer systems are involved throughout the pharmaceutical manufacturing process and while full training will be given on the specific systems to be used, employers are looking to see that applicants can demonstrate learning and using a system before.

Examples from real job adverts:

Computer keyboard and computer literacy skills.
Proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel.
Comfortable using a computer, including e-mail.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you use a computer system in your current employment?
  • Have you previously had to learn a new IT system for a job?
  • Does your work currently require use of specific packages such as Microsoft Office?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you regularly use a computer at home?
  • Are you the person that friends and family come to when their IT goes wrong?
  • Have you bought and had to learn how to use a new piece of IT for your home?

4. Attention To Detail

33% of adverts mentioned Attention to Detail

About this skill: Paying attention to the smallest details, working with precision and accuracy, and taking great pride in doing things “right first time” are all components of this skill.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: In order to maintain the overall quality of the product (and therefore the safety of the patient using it), the Pharma industry has clear rules and regulations that must be followed at all times. Every member of staff must also be able to quickly spot when something isn’t right and take effective action to correct it.

Examples from real job adverts:

Keen attention to detail.
Quality focussed with attention to detail.
Thoroughness and attention to detail.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you have experience working in any type of regulated environment?
  • Have you had to follow strict rules and protocols before?
  • Have you noticed when something wasn’t right and taken steps to correct it?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you have a hobby that requires close attention to detail?
  • Has your “right first time” mindset saved you time, money, or prevented an accident?
  • Is there an area of your life where you have to stick closely to rules or regulations?

3. Proactive

47% of adverts mentioned being Proactive

About this skill: Being proactive is often closely linked in job adverts to initiative, self-motivation, and the ability to work on your own.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: As previously mentioned, there are strict rules and regulations that need to be followed in Pharma manufacturing, and employers are looking for staff that can be trusted to follow those without constant oversight. It’s also important that staff report when things go wrong, confidently following procedures.

Examples from real job adverts:

Have a proactive approach.
Be a self starter.
Demonstrates self-motivated, proactive and enthusiastic approach.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you have examples of where you’ve gone “above and beyond” within the workplace?
  • Can you describe times where you’ve taken proactive steps to meet workplace goals?
  • Was there a time where you showed initiative to make sure a positive outcome was achieved?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you have any hobbies that require you to be proactive?
  • Have you ever taken the lead to initiate change within a group?
  • Are there examples from your social life where you’ve proactively taken steps that have led to improvement or progress?

2. Team Work / Interpersonal Skills

47% of adverts mentioned Team Working or Interpersonal Skills

About this skill: Team working is an important skill in many jobs. Communication, finding compromise, and working in collaboration with others towards a shared goal are all parts of success within this skill.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: Pharma manufacturing is definitely a “team effort”. You might share a space with colleagues working on the same stage of manufacturing and even if you’re the only person doing your specific task, there will be others interacting with you on a regular basis.

Examples from real job adverts:

Good interpersonal and team working skills.
Ability to work effectively and efficiently in a team environment.
Motivated team player.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Where can you show team working from within your employment history?
  • When have you worked with others to achieve a common goal?
  • Have you had to overcome any difficult team dynamics to achieve success?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you take part in any team sports?
  • Are you a member of a club that requires you to work with others?
  • Have you worked with others in your community to achieve a common goal?

1. Communication (Verbal and Written)

70% of adverts mentioned Communication Skills (Written & Verbal)

About this skill: Verbal communication skills are about how well you can verbally explain your point to others or persuade someone to your way of thinking. Written communication skills refer to the ability to clearly and concisely relay information in writing. Successful communication usually requires that someone can achieve these things with a wide range of people, adapting their communication style to fit the audience.

Why it’s important in Pharma manufacturing: Product quality and patient safety are crucial outcomes within pharmaceutical manufacturing and communication is key to achieving both. Employees must be able to take instruction (both verbally and in writing) and follow it precisely. They must also be able to relay information to others in a clear and succinct way, and document their actions in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Examples from real job adverts:

Strong verbal and written communication skills.
Demonstrates clear and effective communication.
Good communication skills with the ability to relay information at a level relevant to the audience.

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • What previous duties have required you to interact verbally with other staff members or customers?
  • Have any of your previous roles required you to communicate in writing?
  • Can you demonstrate praise from previous employers (perhaps through appraisals) of your communication skills?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do any of your hobbies require you to relay information verbally in a clear and concise way?
  • Do any of your hobbies rely on written communication?
  • Are you responsible for written communication (such as keeping minutes or writing a newsletter) within any groups or committees?

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If you are interested in retraining or upskilling for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, check out our pharmaceutical industry courses.