October 9, 2014
By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com
It happens to everyone—even the best life science professionals in the industry—at least once. An Internet search leads you to a biotech or pharma job posting that seems like a perfect fit. You dust off your resume and cover letter, submit them according to the instructions…but nothing happens. Weeks later, you find yourself wondering, “Did I attend the wrong school?” “Have I worked for the wrong employers?” “Were my application materials too casual, too formal or too elaborate?” Chances are your rejection had little to do with any of these points. Rather, you may have failed to consider your candidacy from the employer’s perspective.
Whether you’re a scientist of molecular pathology who dreams of working for Stem CentRx or a regional clinical research associate who aspires to join the team at Novo Nordisk, implement these suggestions to help you get a biotech job by thinking like a hiring manager.
1. Ensure your skills meet the biopharma company’s needs.
The reality is that few life science employers are really interested in your college GPA, every organization you’ve worked for over the last decade, or your expertise in anything that doesn’t directly relate to the job at hand. What they do want to know is whether you can meet their specific set of needs. Clutter your resume with skills and accomplishments outside of those margins and you’re only making it harder for them to recognize your suitability.
How can you make sure your application materials are presenting you as a good fit? Compare them to the job description and adjust accordingly. Eliminate any irrelevant information. Prominently feature the experiences that best align with your potential employer’s list of requirements. For example, ADVENT Engineering Services recently posted an opening for a process engineer scientists. The position requires a combination of strong technical aptitude, project engineering skills, and dedication to industry quality systems. Your resume should focus on these points and avoid wasting space on unrelated experience you may have acquired in packaging or quality engineering.
2. Make communication with the hiring manager a priority.
Hiring a new employee—in any industry—is a time-consuming and expensive process. Whether the hiring manager is replacing a retired test engineer or adding quality assurance analysts to meet growing demand, it’s likely the staff shortage is reducing the facility’s productivity. Do whatever you can to make hiring you for the job an easy decision—from submitting a clear and concise resume to returning phone calls and emails promptly.
While you’re at it, take care with any written responses to requests for information. Sure, you may be responding to an email about an interview for a pharmacokinetics research associate job on your mobile phone while enjoying a meal out with friends, but proper grammar and punctuation are still necessary—and the hiring manager may hold any blunders against you.
3. Don’t forget the soft skills.
While technical skills are certainly essential—such as familiarity with big data tools and expertise in predictive modeling, if you’re a data scientist—hiring managers are also interested in your soft skills. These are less tangible traits often associated with personality. One recent survey found that the five most popular soft skills employers look for are strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude, self-motivated, and team oriented. Experts recommend including these skills within accomplishments on your resume. For example, if you’re a data scientist applying for a job, you might include a statement such as “led a team that conducted several large-scale data studies and found new uses for existing data sources” rather than “works well on a team.”