By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com
You’ve been searching for a new biotech or pharma job for months. You’ve spent hours combing through job boards. You’ve submitted resume after resume. You’ve been called in for a couple of interviews but were told you weren’t ‘the right match.’ You’ve continuously wondered if a new position will forever be out of reach—and you’re not alone.
“In today’s market, candidates are required to be smart and savvy, resourceful and creative, technically competent and passionate,” Vicki Gaddy, vice president of talent services for BioNJ, an industry association, recently told BioSpace (DHX). It’s a tough order for any mere mortal to fill, and “some may feel the hiring process is riddled with minefields and traps to dissuade employers from inviting candidates to participate in the next phase of the process,” Gaddy says.
Fortunately, she has some good news as well. While many life science job seekers make mistakes that essentially become roadblocks on the path to their next position, the four most common blunders are surprisingly easy to avoid.
1. Rushing through the application process.
When you find an ad for the perfect biotech or pharma job, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your discovery. The sooner the hiring manager receives your resume, the shorter your job search will be, right? Not so fast. When you rush through the application process, you may make mistakes—from typos in your resume to failing to include essential keywords in your cover letter—that will prevent you from advancing to the next step of the process.
“Simple things like grammar or spelling errors can easily prevent a candidate from moving forward, even if they are the most qualified person for the position,” Gaddy explains. “Keywords, acronyms and targeted phrases are essential, and systems today are designed to prioritize candidates by selecting those who use the specific language of the company and the function. When such terms are absent, the candidate is often eliminated from consideration.”
2. Not communicating your passion.
Whether you love talking about yourself or dread the opportunity to sing your own praises, convincing a potential employer that you’re the right professional for the job requires more than words; enthusiasm and passion are essential as well. “Candidates who remain involved in work that they are passionate about, and who can share authentic examples of their capabilities and success, always stand out,” says Gaddy. “Additionally, those whose personal passions are aligned with the company’s mission generally rise above others who may only have the technical know-how but not the visceral desire.”
3. Relying on your resume and cover letter alone.
What’s the simplest way to ensure a long job search? Apply, wait and repeat. If you want to reduce the time it will take to land your next pharma or biotech position, you need to use all of the tools at your disposal—from job boards to referrals to networking and social media. “It has become increasingly clear over the past several years that visibility comes in many different forms,” Gaddy says. “Candidates need to embrace the multitude of options available to them. Simply submitting a resume to an online system or even to a company email is just not enough. There really is a ‘black hole’ where resumes go to die if they are left to try to survive on their own.”
She suggests candidates supplement online applications with personal referrals and meet-and-greet opportunities. “BioNJ and other professional organizations offer myriad opportunities for candidates to meet potential employers,” she explains.
4. Not preparing for interviews.
“There is just no excuse for not doing your research these days,” Gaddy says. “Candidates need to be capable of having a fluent conversation about the business climate, industry challenges and even the competition. But so often, professionals who are otherwise extremely successful blow the opportunity to enhance their first impression by failing to appropriately prepare for the interview.”
From a simple Google search or review of the company’s website to industry-related publications and current employees, “there are endless research resources available for anyone to access,” Gaddy concludes. “Researching a company in advance is a simple task.”