Finding a Job in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Medical Device Manufacturing – (with Giant Infographic)
Even with the current strength of the pharma and medical device industries, finding a job can still be a long process. We see lots of really accomplished people struggling to get traction in the job market and wasting precious months making the same mistakes over and over again.
Why is that?
Probably the main reason is that job hunting is a highly involved skill set, it requires tons of practice to get good at it and people consistently underestimate the amount of time, effort and skill required.
But the biggest mistake is that they don’t have a consistent well-defined process.
Here at GetReskilled, we have spent almost ten years helping people make mid-career changes into the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and we’d like to think we know a thing or two about this.
So with that in mind, we’d like to present to you our Giant Infographic on ‘How to Find a Job in Pharma” with a cogged wheel which breaks down the process into.
- 25 different task over the first 3 weeks of your job hunt,
- 8 tasks that need to be repeated every week thereafter and
- 7 tasks that need to be completed before every interview.
To use the infographic, read clockwise from ‘midday’:
- Start with the tasks in weeks one to three, in order
- Repeat week four tasks for as many weeks as necessary
- Work through the tasks in the final section in preparation for every interview you secure
If you’re struggling to find time then give yourself longer for each set of tasks – don’t be tempted to jump ahead and miss out steps.
Of course, there may be other things you want to add in – you’ll know the areas that you might want to spend a little extra time preparing. But following the steps outlined here will keep your job hunt progressing and give you a great chance at securing a new job in pharma!
The infographic itself is designed as top-line information and something to jog your memory once you get going. To get the most benefit from it, use it alongside this article which has links to lots of useful resources and takes a more in-depth look at each task in turn.
So what’s in each week? Let’s take a quick overview first before we dive into the details. (You can click on any of these if you want to jump ahead for more information about a particular point).
Week one is about laying the groundwork. In this week you assess your skills and network, and begin research into your local pharma industry environment.
In this week we focus on establishing social media routines focused on job hunting and begin to research opportunities for speculative applications.
- Make contact with another 10 leads
- LinkedIn – search for everyone
- Set up a LinkedIn job search
- Search your 5 job sites
- Apply for jobs
- List 50 companies to target speculatively
- Draft speculative cover letter/email
- Twitter – find 30 useful accounts to follow
- Begin interview preparation
- Search for local career fairs
Week 4 – Repeating As Necessary
The tasks in this week are the tasks that should be carried out weekly for as long as it takes you to find a job. You should keep doing these tasks even if you manage to secure interviews or assessment centres – the only thing that should stop these tasks repeating weekly is a contract of employment signed by both you and an employer.
For Every Interview
Following this set of tasks will help you prepare for an interview – leading you through researching the company as well as your strengths and weakness for the role.
- Ask about the interview process
- Revisit your network & see who’s relevant
- Consider your strengths and weaknesses
- Research the company
- Think of some interesting questions
- Attend the interview well prepared
- Ask for feedback on the interview
- Follow up on the interview
Now let’s take each task in turn and look at the details involved…
Research Job Roles & Salaries
Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned pharma manufacturing industry veteran, your first step should always be to find the job roles that you are most suited to and interested in.
As well as finding the job titles (which you’ll need for effective searching later on), you should be reading job descriptions – finding out about the daily tasks of the job and what responsibilities you would have. You should also search for the local salaries for the jobs in question – set your expectation and know what your skill set is worth.
This tool (also created by us) will provide you with some examples of jobs based on your experience and background, to help get you started. You can also check out our compilation of job descriptions and salaries that we update every year to reflect the latest industry information.
Find 10 Job Adverts & 10 Sample CVs
Once you have a good idea about the jobs you are aiming for, it is time to start focusing on how to successfully apply for them. Look for at least ten job adverts and ten sample CVs for the role(s) you’re interested in. Try using the terms ‘job advert’, ‘CV’ or ‘sample CV’ along with the job title in your preferred search engine.
You should make particular note of the language used in all of the examples you find. Particularly if you’ve never done this job before, you need to pay attention to any industry or job-specific language being used so you can echo it later when you come to write your own CV.
It’s also likely that you will notice multiple job adverts asking for similar skills or abilities and CVs highlighting specific skills or experience in a prominent way. These are also things you should take note of and look to include wherever possible on your CV.
When you come to your own applications it is extremely important that you tailor your CV in response to each individual job advert (more on that later), but getting yourself familiar with the language and basic themes of your desired area of work is a great starting point.
Set Up Google News Alerts
One of the easiest ways to keep up with news relevant to your local industry is to set up a Google News alert for the industry and your location (e.g. ‘Ireland Pharma’). Google News works as a news aggregator, bringing together stories and articles from many different news sources.
Setting up a news alert means that you’ll receive emails when articles matching your alert are published. You can set the maximum frequency of emails so you’ll never be totally bombarded if you don’t want to be. This is Google’s help page for setting up a news alert.
Creating a news alert has a few advantages:
- You’re getting to know the general environment and what issues are ‘hot’ right now. Being able to hold a conversation about these shows genuine interest in the industry.
- You’ll find out about any planned expansions or new manufacturing plants within your local area. Newly created jobs will typically follow such announcements. Knowing this helps to guide your ongoing job searching as well as potential targeting of speculative applications.
- You might hear about events or networking opportunities in your area.
Plan out Your Network
In 21st century job hunting, networking is key. There is absolutely no denying that ‘who you know’ is just as important (more so, some would argue!), than ‘what you know’.
If you consider your own network, how many people do you think that is? … I can almost guarantee it’s a bigger number than the one you just thought of. People are quick to include their family, friends, and colleagues. People are not so quick to include neighbors, old contacts from school or university or local acquaintances.
So first up, you need to plan out your own network… all of it. Try using our Network mapping template to help guide you through finding out just how big your network really is.
Then you need to set about utilizing it. Identify the ten most promising leads in your network and try to arrange a meeting with each of them – a casual coffee works well. Try to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, but then be willing to see where the conversation takes you.
Examples of suitable goals for these meetings include:
- Industry information gathering
- A new contact and their information
- Feedback on a CV
- Advice on how to progress
- An endorsement direct to HR or a hiring manager
Check out this article on networking for a more detailed look at the basics of networking for a pharma job.
Complete a Skills Assessment
Continuing the week’s theme of ‘laying the groundwork’ – it is time to complete a skills assessment for yourself.
This is particularly useful if you’re trying to get your job in pharma having never worked in the industry before but it’s still a useful exercise even if you have industry experience.
When people talk about their work experience, particularly on their CV or an interview, they generally focus on the responsibilities and duties they carried out as part of each job. Unless you are applying for exactly the same job, this isn’t the best idea.
The employer doesn’t really care about your past job, they care about how prepared you are for carrying out the job they’re hiring for.
Instead, you should be using that time to show employers your achievements and the transferable skills you learned as a result of these roles. This can be a difficult thing to get to grips with at first but if you can do it, your work experience can suddenly be a very powerful tool – even from a somewhat unrelated area.
So you do you assess your own skills? Follow these steps:
- Write a heading for every previous job you’ve had
- Under each of those heading list every single different task you did as part of that job. This is the trickiest part because it’s easy to miss really obvious points, take the time to consider every element of each job.
- Against each of those tasks – describe it at its most basic level. Examples of these basic explainers would be team working, leadership or analytical thinking. Now when you talk about your previous job, you are talking about transferable skills – things that would be useful to a future employer, rather than telling them about tasks in a potentially unrelated industry.
- At this point, also list out any achievements from each role. Again, it can be difficult to identify achievements when you were “just doing your job”, so think about how success was measured by your employer and how you compared to that. What factors were discussed at your appraisals? Were you set any targets or goals as part of your role, and did you meet or exceed them?
- If you’re reskilling from a different industry, you should also make sure you can demonstrate times where you have been successful in learning a new skill or adapting to a new environment.
If you can master this now, so early in your job hunt, writing your CV and discussing your history with employers will be a huge amount easier. This is a task particularly worth spending some time to get right at this stage of your job hunt.
Create a List of Networking Events
Whether it’s written on a calendar hung on your wall or saved onto your smartphone, you need to begin a list of events (and then actually go to them!).
To get this started, search for job fairs, career events and networking opportunities in your area. Start with a broad net and try not to limit your searching too much. Once you see the number of events you have to work with, you might be able to be a little more selective.
This is a list that you should check up on every week – mapping the events into your weekly schedule wherever you can and searching for new additions to your list.
As with all your other networking endeavors, you should be researching each event. Who is the audience and what is their purpose for being there – set yourself goals and outcomes to focus your time when you’re actually there.
Identify 5 Job Sites
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of job hunting, you should be identifying at least five job boards or job aggregator sites that display relevant jobs.
What you might find useful if you’re in the UK, Ireland or the USA, is the relevant GetReskilled jobs board for your area:
- GetReskilled’s Irish Jobs Board
- GetReskilled’s UK Jobs Board
- GetReskilled’s USA Validation & Quality Jobs Board
These are specialist pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing jobs boards. All of which are updated twice per month – when all entries are added or checked for ongoing availability.
You can either visit the page directly when you want to search or you can sign up for email updates. The updates mean that you’ll receive an email letting you know when the board you’re interested in has been revised.
If you’re in the UK or Ireland, you should also check out the following pages. They have details about suitable websites displaying relevant jobs:
Make Contact with 10 Network Leads
Making contact with people with your network will be an ongoing task. Even after you’ve exhausted the most obvious options of people that can directly help with your job hunt, don’t stop, move on to less obvious contacts.
Just letting more people know that you are looking for a job can be beneficial by increasing the number of people who might think of you if they hear about opportunities. If they don’t know your intentions, they can’t help.
The other thing is that you are then tapping into their network. They might not know anything about the industry but perhaps they have a friend or relative that does. By talking through what you’re looking to achieve, you might open doors that you didn’t even know existed.
Write a Personal Pitch
A personal pitch is a short statement about yourself that presents your offering to employers in a succinct way. The focus isn’t so much why you want this, it’s why you’d be good at it and what you can offer an employer within the industry.
Usually no more than a few sentences long (taking under a minute to say out loud), investing the time to write a great personal pitch at this point in your job hunt can have several benefits. It can:
- Form the basis of your personal summary/profile on your CV
- Give you an ‘elevator pitch’ for introducing yourself at careers fairs or networking events
- Help you answer the common interview question “Tell me a little about yourself.”
As for its content…
- Base it on 3-5 key messages that you want someone to remember about you
- 75% should be discussing your career history and experience; 25% should be why you want this new opportunity
- Remember to talk about your experience in terms of achievements and transferable skills (from last week’s exercise)
- When discussing why you want it – keep the focus on why your skill set is a great match for them and their industry and not so much on why it would be good for you
For more information about what to include and how to structure a personal pitch – check out our personal pitch article.
Write a Draft of Your CV
Only now do we get to the first draft of your CV.
Using the skills assessment and personal pitch you completed to help guide your content and your network list to direct you to people who can review it and give you feedback, you’re ready to get started.
Firstly, you should start from scratch, don’t just try to rework a CV you already have. This is especially important if you are trying to move into pharma from a different industry. Research different styles and find one that you like (you can check out our CV templates for inspiration).
The other extremely important thing is that your CV is a constant work in progress. Just because you have a decent draft after this task, it’s not something that should ever be viewed as ‘complete’. At the most basic level, your CV should be adapted for each and every job you apply for. In doing this you should reflect the skills required and the language used in each advert.
In addition to this, you should be constantly revisiting your CV in response to feedback.
You should have three people (ideally people with industry experience) to review your first draft CV and give you feedback on how to improve it. Further on, as you meet with network contacts, attend career fairs and have interviews with employers, you should review your CV to make sure it still reflects your most relevant skills and knowledge.
Draft a Cover Letter
Once you have a CV drafted, the cover letter is your next task. There is often debate about the relevance of a cover letter in today’s high-tech job application market but we still think it’s worth it.
While it’s true that some job applications are done via online systems, there will often be a box for free text or other information. In addition, many applications are done via email attachment – that email you send your CV attached to… a cover letter. And of course, there are still old school, send-it-on-paper-via-post applications. It’s definitely worth considering an effective cover letter.
Similar to your CV, it is essential that you tailor a cover letter to reflect the requirements of each job advert or company that you’re applying to. The point of this task is to get the basic ideas down for you to adapt later, NOT to write the cover letter that then gets sent out in identical copies for every application.
Assess Your Online Presence
It’s likely that you have a social media account or two, or that something is written about you somewhere on the internet. Before you start applications, assess your current online presence and update it as necessary.
Search your name and location in a search engine and have a look at what comes up. This is a common thing for recruitment professionals to do these days so make sure there are no nasty surprises.
Then log out of your social media accounts and search for yourself. See what things are visible from your profile to someone that you are not connected to. Change your privacy settings if there are Facebook photos or posts that you’d rather a potential employer didn’t see and consider deleting any visible content (tweets etc) that might be viewed as offensive or reflect negatively on you.
For more information about this, have a look at our article on Managing Your Online Reputation.
Create a LinkedIn Account
LinkedIn is a social network with a focus on professional networking. If you only plan to use one social network in your job hunt, LinkedIn should be it.
Create yourself a profile or completely revamp a profile you already have. Search for several examples of people in similar roles to the ones you’re targeting and get an idea of common language and layouts used.
We have already written an article that goes into a lot of detail about how to setup and use LinkedIn effectively in your job hunt (you can see that here) so we won’t go into too much detail here. Once you have a profile that you’re happy with, check it against our LinkedIn checklist to make sure it is complete and you’re not making any of the common mistakes.
Create a Twitter Account
The role of Twitter in a job hunt is a little less obvious than LinkedIn but it’s still worth using.
Companies use Twitter to highlight their current activities and messages that are important to them – this can be a great insight if you’re researching a company for an interview. It’s also a good way to keep up with industry news and discussions. In addition, there are a lot of accounts on Twitter that post job vacancies – the benefit of finding these should be obvious!
So while it might not be something you’d normally consider, creating a Twitter account and writing your profile can be extremely useful (here is Twitter’s help page on this if you need a little more information on getting yourself set up). We’ll cover some more useful Twitter specifics later on.
Search for Networking Opportunities
It is time to get yourself into the habit of checking for updates to that list of events that you made in week one. You might just accidentally come across these while you’re on social media or reading a local paper but it’s worth setting aside a little time each week for a few internet searches to make sure you are not missing out on a great event.
Most big events are publicised for a few weeks before they happen but some smaller events might only give a week or two’s notice. You might also consider signing up to the email lists of companies or organisations you know run events so that you’ll receive email notifications of events when they are announced.
Make Contact with Another 10 Leads
Keep up with your networking efforts – it can take time to set up meetings and get replies from people so don’t be put off it is taking longer than you hoped.
LinkedIn – Search for Everyone
Having set up your LinkedIn account and written your profile last week, efforts this week should focus on building out your number of connections and networking opportunities.
- Start with the network list you wrote out in week one and search for each of these contacts on LinkedIn, writing a personalized message to accompany your connection request (if you’re unsure about how exactly to do this, check out LinkedIn’s help page on connections).
- As people accept your invitation to connect, endorse them for skills you know they have (this makes them much more likely to endorse your skills).
Request recommendations from appropriate people (again, you might want to look at LinkedIn’s help page on this for more information).
- Join at least five relevant groups and participate in each. If you don’t feel able to answer someone’s question, try asking one. Or perhaps you could share a relevant article. This helps to develop you as an active participant in something industry related, building your reputation and making it clear that you are keen to be involved in the industry.
For more information like this, check out our article on utilising social media in your job hunt.
Set Up a LinkedIn Job Search
Another useful feature of LinkedIn is that companies can use it to post job vacancies. There are several ways you can search and filter these jobs so it is fairly easy to identify the most relevant jobs for you.
LinkedIn uses Boolean searching rules. This is a way of searching that includes terms like AND, OR, NOT as well as parentheses to make your search highly specific. It’s worth taking the time to get to grips with the basics of Boolean searching and developing a few individualized searches to save yourself time in the long run.
Once you have a search that is giving you the sort of jobs that you are interested in seeing, you can set it up as a saved search or a job alert.
A saved search makes it quicker and easier to run a useful search whenever you want to. An alert means that you’ll be emailed when jobs fitting your search terms are posted. For more details about how to set up these options, have a look at LinkedIn’s help page on this.
Search Your 5 Job Sites
In week one you identified a minimum of five job sites displaying relevant jobs – from this week onwards you should get into a habit of checking them regularly for new postings. Getting into a routine with this makes it easier to identify the new jobs and makes it much less likely that you’ll miss a relevant posting.
As a reminder, if you’re in the UK or Ireland, the following pages have details about suitable websites displaying relevant jobs:
And if you’re in the UK, Ireland or the USA, here are links to the relevant GetReskilled jobs boards:
Apply for Jobs
If your CV has been reviewed by three people and you have adapted it based on feedback – you should begin applying for jobs.
If you’re still trying to get people to review your CV, focus on that during this week rather than applications. It is better to wait a week or two and send a CV that has been reviewed by others than to begin applying for jobs with a potentially sub-standard CV – you could be doing yourself more harm than good otherwise.
List 50 Companies to Target Speculatively
Not all jobs reach jobs boards. The easiest way for hiring managers to fill vacancies is by reaching out first within their own network.
Speculative applications are a way for you to put yourself on the radar of the company network. Quite simply, they are an application you send to the HR department of a company who aren’t currently advertising the types of jobs you are looking for.
You may land lucky and find that there is an opening that just hasn’t been advertised yet or is opening for applications soon. Or you might find that you are told that your CV will be kept on file for a certain amount of time. If a suitable job comes up in that time, you may be invited to interview.
Of course, many speculative applications don’t result in a job but all it takes is the right application at the right time. For that reason, we believe that speculative applications are an important part of the job hunting process.
At this early stage, we recommend compiling a list of fifty companies to target with speculative applications. You would never send them out all at once (mainly because there should still be an element of adaption to each CV and cover letter), but having the list compiled now means that a lot of the work is done, ready for you to apply when the time is right.
Think about these factors when considering which companies it might be most useful to send a speculative application to:
- Companies who are actively recruiting for a lot of roles – maybe they just haven’t gotten around to listing one that fits your skill set
- Companies who have made announcements about expansion plans – if they’re looking to hire a couple of hundred people, you definitely want your CV in front of HR
- Companies who have announced new facilities or construction projects – you might want to wait a while after an announcement like this but you should definitely keep these projects on your job hunt radar
For a more in-depth look at speculative applications and which companies to target, check out this article.
We linked to these pages previously because they had job sites but they also have a list of companies with pharma manufacturing plants in each country. If you’re in these countries then our directories can be a great start to your speculative application list.
Draft Speculative Cover Letter/Email
In the same way you previously drafted out a cover letter for replying to job adverts, you can now write a similar document to accompany speculative applications. As previously mentioned, even with a speculative application, this should always be adapted for each new application.
Twitter – Find 30 Useful Accounts to Follow
In week two you opened a Twitter account and wrote the profile. This week is when you start customising your account so it works as efficiently as possible for you.
Find at least thirty accounts to follow. As examples, you might consider pharma or med device companies, job posting accounts, industry news accounts or recruitment companies. The most effective way to organize this is into ‘lists’ (here is Twitter’s help page for setting up a list).
We would actually recommend a couple of different lists – one for accounts that talk generally about the industry and job hunting, and a separate one only for accounts that post job vacancies. This way, it is quick and easy to keep track of any jobs being posted and you can be sure that they are not getting lost in the ‘noise’ of a general Twitter feed.
Social media can be a great help to your job hunt but if you’re not careful it can actually take up a lot of your time. By optimizing your social media accounts in ways like this, you can minimize the time used by social media while still getting all the benefits. Spending a little time setting this up now, can save you a huge amount of time in the future.
Begin Interview Preparation
You might think that the majority of interview preparation begins when you get word that you have secured an interview but there is no reason you can’t get yourself as prepared as possible before that. In this week, start researching interview questions and formats commonly used for the types of jobs you are applying to.
Similar to when you looked for CVs and job descriptions try the job title and ‘interview questions’ or ‘interview’ in your search engine as a starting point.
Week 4 – Repeating
With weeks one to three taking care of most of the set up for your job hunt, the tasks in this next section should be repeated every week until you have a job. So you can think of these as the tasks for week five, week six, week seven… You get the idea!
One of the biggest mistakes we see people making is stopping their job hunt when they have an application that is going well. Either they see a job that is so perfect for them that they put everything else on hold until they see what happens with that application, or they get word of an interview and their job hunt comes screeching to a halt until the outcome of that is known.
In reality, the process of applications and interviewing for a job can take a while. If you stop everything else until you hear from one job, you’ve likely wasted a lot of time in you are ultimately unsuccessful. And by the time you get your applications back up and running again, you can end up with a huge gap in your job hunt.
As we said at the start, the only thing that should stop you from completing the following tasks from week four onwards, every week, is a contract of employment signed by both you and the employer. To further emphasize our point, we wouldn’t even recommend stopping your job hunt after a verbal offer of employment, things go wrong all too often.
So, on to these tasks…
Review Job Listings & Apply for 5 Jobs
Review your preferred job listings websites and apply for at least five jobs (yes, that’s right, five applications per week!). Ideally at least three of these applications should be in response to job adverts but you should consider speculative applications for the rest. With your list of companies to target speculatively that you put together in week three, this should be very straightforward.
If you haven’t had to job hunt for a while, this number may seem a little high to you but we know from experience that this is a realistic number of applications and the number you should be aiming at for a successful job hunt that progresses quickly.
Revise CV in Response to Feedback
As we mentioned in week two, the job of writing a CV is never one you should consider complete. You should make time every week to reflect on your CV and make changes based on feedback, new information or skills gained and of course, for every application.
Arrange More People to Look at Your CV
If you’ve not yet managed to have three people look at your CV, continue trying to arrange this. As we mentioned previously, it is better to wait a week or two and send a CV that has been reviewed by others than to begin applying for jobs with a potentially sub-optimal CV.
Continue to Arrange Networking Meetings
Continue to work through your network and arrange meetings with people.
As this progresses you should find you begin to get ‘referrals’ to meet with other people (contacts of people within your network), use this as an opportunity to expand your own network.
Also make sure you follow up on any information or resources (such as websites or local groups) you get from these meetings.
Search for Local Networking Opportunities
Keep up to date with your searches for local career fairs, business events and networking opportunities, updating the list you created in week one.
LinkedIn – Participate in Your Groups
Maintain an active presence on LinkedIn.
Do this by:
- Participating in each of your groups (LinkedIn’s help page on groups)
- Run your saved job search
- Review the “People you might know” list to find new connections (LinkedIn’s help page on the People You May Know feature).
Twitter – Review ‘Who to Follow’ Suggestions
On Twitter there are some basic things you should make time for every week:
- Review the ‘who to follow’ suggestions (Twitter’s help page on this)
- Review the lists you created, especially for job postings (Twitter’s help page on this)
Be sure to keep your social media activities structured and precise – spending hours looking through a Twitter feed and doing nothing else is not effective job hunting!
For Every Interview
Preparing for each and every interview is essential – there are some basic steps you should follow every time. As a minimum, follow the tasks below to make sure you are making the most of every single interview opportunity.
Think about your research falling into three separate categories:
Yourself – know your strengths and weaknesses for each role. Be confident in your personal pitch as this can form the basis of an answer if asked: “Tell me a little about yourself”.
The company – research the company, their products, and their history. It’s not uncommon to be asked to outline what you know about a company at interview. As well as that, it’s also important that you find a company that you’ll be happy working for.
The interview process – knowing what to expect from this interview and the rest of the interview process allows you to confidently address each task in turn.
For more details on each of these three areas, check out this article on how to prepare for an interview.
Now, back to the interview related tasks…
Ask About the Interview Process
First up, always ask about the interview process and confirm specific details of the interview. Getting a phone call to say you have an interview is great but if it takes you by surprise, then you can be left afterward not really sure what you’re facing. So have a few set questions prepared that you want to be answered about any interview you are offered.
- Who is conducting the interview and what is their position within the company?
- What format will the interview take?
- How long is the interview expected to last?
Knowing these sorts of things allows you to prepare effectively and go into the interview with confidence.
Revisit Your Network & See who’s Relevant
Take another look over your network and see if there’s anyone particularly relevant to this job that you could talk to. You can also search for the company on LinkedIn and it will show you any connections you have that work there. Reliable first hand information is like gold in interview preparation.
Consider Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Consider your particular strengths and weaknesses for this role and how to address them.
What experience do you have that lines up against required skills? For each of the skills mentioned, think of an example that shows you have that skill. Practice talking about this experience in a clear and concise way – leave the interviewer in no doubt that you ‘tick that box’.
But similarly, what requirements for the job are you not so well matched to? Are you lacking in experience, missing the desired qualification or have a gap in your CV? The good news is that if you have been called for an interview, then it is not an absolute deal breaker. But you have to have a concise answer that addresses the point – don’t leave yourself rambling and making excuses.
Ideally, you should prepare a response that tackles any concern they have and minimizes it in their mind. This might be by showing strength in a related area/skill, showing a willingness to learn or simply by being able to explain why something occurred and why it won’t be an issue again.
Research the Company
Researching the company is an absolute necessity for every interview.
You want to show genuine enthusiasm for the company in the interview but you also need to be sure that the company would be a good fit for you. Do its values tie in with your own? What are their priorities and are they things you are motivated by?
You can find lots of useful information using search engines, news aggregators, social media pages and, of course, talking to people.
For some guidance on the specifics of how to achieve this simply and effectively, try filling out one of our interview preparation forms for every interview you secure.
Think of Some Interesting Questions
If there is one thing you can be sure of in an interview, it’s that you will be asked if you have any questions for your interviewer. Make sure to prepare some in advance and, if possible, reference some of the things you learned while researching the company.
A couple of carefully considered questions will show genuine interest and enthusiasm for the job. You should never be in the position of saying no when asked if you have any questions.
Resist the urge to ask about salary, holidays or benefits in a first round interview. Try to stick to areas such as company culture, the environment in which the company is currently operating or about the team you’d be joining.
Attend the Interview Well Prepared
If you’ve followed the above steps then all that’s left is to attend the interview well prepared and confident! Of course, there is a lot we could say about how to conduct yourself in an interview, how to answer different sorts of questions or what to expect from different sorts of interviews – but that’s too much to go into here.
For some general pointers, have a look through our 10 mistakes to avoid at interview.
Ask for Feedback on the Interview
Ideally while you’re still in the interview, ask for some feedback on your performance. Try to get a sense of what were considered your strengths and what were considered your weaknesses.
This is useful because it allows you to see any barriers to getting this job – which you then have the opportunity to address in a very direct way.
It also lets you see how you are presenting yourself to employers. If there’s something you are not making clear or an area where you are falling short, it should be obvious from their response. You can then alter your approach for the next interview you secure, making sure you don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Make note of your own interview feedback as well. As soon as you can after leaving the interview, sit for a few minutes and make some notes about the interview.
You might consider noting:
- What questions you felt you answered well (the interviewer responded well to)
- What questions you felt you didn’t answer well – maybe it took you a little too long to make your point or you didn’t pick your strongest example
- Any questions you weren’t prepared for or that caught you off guard
- Things the interviewer suggested were your strengths as a candidate
- Anything the interviewer drilled-down on or asked several questions about (this could be a sign they thought you had a weakness in this area)
- Anything the interviewer directly addressed as a weakness in your application
- When they said you should hear about the outcome
By doing this, you can identify the things you’re doing well so you can keep doing them (!), as well as the things you could improve on, so can do so before your next interview.
Follow Up on the Interview
Always follow up appropriately after your interview – an email direct to the interviewer, later that same day is the ideal scenario. This ensures that you make another impression on the hiring manager, allows you to make a couple of quick ‘key’ points and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job.
If you’re stuck on what to say, try the following format:
- Thank them for their time and for the informative conversation
- Outline any questions you feel they had about your suitability and take the chance to answer those again
- Confirm your position as their ideal candidate
- Thank them for their insight into the company and the role
- Highlight one area that you’re particularly excited by – a specific duty, the company 5-year plan, anything really
- Tell them you’re looking forward to hearing from them soon
- List your contact information
You should also be clear on when you’ll hear the outcome of your interview. If that time comes and goes, it’s appropriate to send a polite email ‘checking in’ with them about the status of your application. Just be sure you don’t overdo the follow-up and make yourself memorable for the wrong reasons!
So there you have it – our step by step guide to finding a job in pharma. As you can see, there’s a lot of work involved. It will likely take you many applications and a lot of time, and a clear process is key! But the good news is, that it’s worth it – the pharmaceutical and medical device industries are a strong and reliable sector, jobs are highly paid and the product of your day’s work could literally be life-saving.
If you’d like to discuss your suitability for a role in the pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing industries, contact us for an informal chat.