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We have all heard the saying, “its not what you know, its who you know”. Very true whether in a conversation, networking event, or recommending someone for a job. They call it ‘name-dropping’ in social circles. Becoming a better networker is not a revolutionary concept, but it’s well worth the investment of your time and energy.

Even though you might have less experience qualifying for a job, having a network of personal contacts can greatly encourage and motivate in looking for a job change.

We are all familiar with asking, ‘who do you know?’ Honestly, it does have validity and does get you recognized. But don’t just rely on someone pushing you over the finish line. Make sure your skills qualify you for the job. There is no substitute for competency – clearly the most important ingredient and determinant for professional job success!

Unfortunately, in our society, it is often easy to take the path of least resistance which can come in the form of denial, rationalization, a distraction, or even laziness. A simple example might look like this: You avoid reaching out to past colleagues and assume they really can’t help identify opportunities or have useful advice. Whether due to embarrassment or pride, this is a common scenario. You convince yourself its not worth the time investing in a relationship and interaction with others to get the reward. You’re just too busy. Don’t accept this trap as an excuse.

Networking can take different forms. Consider becoming a member in a pharmaceutical industry organization. It’s easy and you can start slow by reaching out to people you know. Here is a few to consider:

  1. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (phrma.org)
  2. The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (aaps.org)
  3. Intellus Worldwide – PMRG and PBIRG merged (intellus.org)
  4. Pharmaceutical Management Science Association (pmsa.net)

So what’s the best way to maximize a networking plan to its fullest

1. Reach out often and stay connected.

Back in the mid 1980’s, AT&T generated a great awareness campaign and urged people – metaphorically – to “reach out and touch someone” with their phone service. It was a hit and got people connected long before cell phones were popular. Staying connected in the business world is an absolute requirement. Join one of the many industry organizations as mentioned above.

Sometimes it is better to text or email to make a quick intro, than to pick up the phone and call someone. My old school mindset says a conversation wins the day, but I also agree communicating information quickly is useful. Folks are busy. Texting and email has become a compliment to my network communication with clients, candidates, and key opinion leaders. It all comes down to keeping in touch and maximizing your exposure with others. I absolutely suggest you should habitually connect with others on LinkedIn as well. It is a process developing a network. Keep reaching out and communicate often.

2. Offer some real and useful advice, ask for it too.

When you connect, plan to give more information than you plan to receive. People always remember the person who goes beyond the norm to help someone.

3. Say hello and ask a favor.

Anyone can feel comfortable saying hello, but asking for a favor really determines if another person is willing to invest the time in you. Some common ‘favors’ include; write your request for a ‘Recommendation’ on LinkedIn; act as a reference for a potential new job; or accept a local lunch invitation to catch up and exchange ideas. All make a positive impact and who knows, maybe a future job offer.

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Job growth is off and running. Not only in the medical industry, but in all segments of the US economy. Q1 2018 has already proven itself as a springboard to a successful outcome, both in client demand for top-tier candidates as well as an exciting attraction for those individuals seeking a new career opportunity in the fast-paced, highly demanding, and competitive pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries.

Companies are already strategizing for next year’s marketing plans and targeted campaigns. PharmaOne Search anticipates further candidate headcount expansion especially in a niche where data is the driving force. Here are some reasons we think there’s a continued strong demand for talent in this healthcare pharma sector:

  1. The Job Market is Candidate-Driven

In business cycles, anytime you experience above average growth in any one niche industry, the result is a healthy selection of attractive open positions. As one candidate remarked, “I have multiple opportunities, and a tough decision to make.” It’s a good problem to have! Corporate recruiters have seen a “skilled labor shortage,” especially noted in the data analytics area, and this area of growth seems to be growing faster than others. In a candidate-driven market, multiple job offers are almost inevitable.

  1. Employers Desire Strategic Analysis and Input

It is now expected that new employees not only perform at their highest level of competencies, but also have a ‘seat at the table’ when it comes to strategic input and interpretation of what the data is actually saying as it relates to formulation of an effective product strategy or rollout. Marketing teams need this input and while not always mutually agreeable, it is valuable to get new perspectives. In short, having options makes for better strategic decision-making.

  1. Pharma Client Profits are Steady and Growing

Company profits from these corporate entities have been consistent and solid all the way around. New products with or without co-promotion partners are being introduced with robust pipelines to facilitate the demand. Product teams are delivering, and sales forces are expanding. Simply put: their profits could be part of your reward in terms of job leads and new job placements.

  1. Candidates and Clients are Waiting for the Best Fit

We are seeing a “more selective – willing to wait” type of candidate. Clients too seem to be waiting longer for a particular candidate to be that “right fit”. When the wait is finally over, and the job is accepted, this gives added job security and personal fulfillment by knowing that you chose the job that best fit your skill set and goals.

 

Make it Count!

Steve Kane

PharmaOne Search, LLC

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2017 is coming to a close. I think everyone anticipates excitement and optimism entering 2018!  We have witnessed sustained economic headway and will undoubtedly continue into First Quarter. The pharma/biotech sector is steaming ahead with steady and consistent growth.  Feels good to ride the wave!

Every Q1 of the calendar year is the best time to re-evaluate career direction and personal aspirations. Why? Because three factors are in your favor:

  1. Corporate headcounts are approved.
  2. Prior year annual bonuses are paid after which people leave the company, and in some cases produces a backfill need.
  3. New year, new outlook, and dept. expansions.

In coaching calls recently and speaking to potential candidates, many of you are getting the itch to perhaps make a change. You know what I mean. Prevent yourself from becoming mediocre and take on something new – a new challenges, new opportunity, job, higher earnings potential, etc.

The employment landscape overall appears very positive. The past 6 – 8 months my conversations seem more zealous, more deliberate, more collaborative. This time period is a very favorable environment to consider ‘kicking the tires’ and possibly evaluating job changes.

A few “what-if” scenarios may be running through your head. Questions like: What’s the job market like? Is it slowing down, picking up? Who’s hiring? Who’s downsizing? If I take this job, do you think the company will be acquired in a few years? These are all fair questions. There is risk in any life changing decision but I think people are more confident of the industry stability and willing to take a look around at making a change.

Job change affects many things and there may not always be “right” answers; however, the more information you gather, the more equipped you are in making an effective decision.

In my coaching discussions, I help unwrap any anxiousness and point out some key strategies you may want to consider. You need to be in-the-know as much as possible and have an edge on the landscape ahead. Staying informed will help you understand industry trends, growing therapeutic areas. In 2018, the healthcare industry will continue to expand, transform. Access, quality, and cost play key roles and probably are the biggest healthcare challenges. Its crazy out there but you can only control and prepare best when you focus on improving you!

Let me recommend three key steps in maintaining the edge to get noticed, score a promotion, and prepare to make a career change:

  1. Self-Analysis.Are you working strategically and intelligently? Are you too complacent? Step back. Evaluate your own job performance. Break out the job description outlining your current role. Are you performing all that is required? Take on some new responsibilities to help increase your talents and marketability. Be thorough and be effective. Master the basics first, then work to improve other new areas.
  2. Avoid Frustration. Better understand your company and department objectives. Working in a vacuum is dangerous. You may “feel” you are on-track, but are you? I was listening to a mid-level executive recently who mentioned he wasn’t getting the visibility he deserved. Turns out he was getting sidetracked on another department project that was not his direct responsibility. Regroup and do the proactive assignments that get you noticed while maintaining your responsibilities and department objectives.
  3. Appeal to your creative mind.Yes, think ‘out of the box’. Everyone has creativity. Some better than others. We all offer different views and perspectives. A key ingredient, and requirement, is understanding the work landscape – your stakeholders, the environment, your competitors. For example, when in the midst of a product launch, what factors are involved? Is it price, positioning, competitive intelligence? Lean on past projects and accomplishments to help scope out a new strategy. Invite your colleague to give you candid and honest feedback on your contributions and performance. Recommend new, innovative ways to test an idea or product or analyze quantitative results that stretches beyond an obvious result. Creativity will stir new opportunities.

Companies desire employees with leadership qualities, creativity, and camaraderie in a team goal-oriented environment. Consider these recommended steps and hopefully will help you track better and excel in 2018 and beyond!

Make it count, Steve Kane

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Ask yourself:

  1. Have you ever sat around and wondered if your career is on track? Absolutely.
  2. Have you been overlooked for a promotion or told during your annual review you need more experience? Probably.
  3. Are you too busy to even think about exploring a new company, new position, new location? Definitely!

 

You are not alone. We all get busy, and frankly too distracted to seriously consider career advice or change. Developing, and nurturing your identity in the corporate space can often be a tightrope while creating and maintaining your image and integrity. Preparing yourself to take advantage of emerging opportunities takes some planning and initiative. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Career planning is a personal plan. Knowing when to seek career advice is often intuitive. You are determined to focus your career goals around your unique skills and ambitions as you should but sometimes you need help; another set of eyes and ears to really give you advice you have not considered.

In every economic industry, including pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device, there are stages in anyone’s career that give pause. Measure your current situation and make the best decision in light of actual circumstances. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they have a better chance of succeeding.

Here are 4 brief tips to consider and digest when thinking about a career change:

  1. Seek Advice from an Acquaintance – Select someone who knows you well but not a real close friend. Why? Because they can give you an objective perspective not influenced by emotion, or personal feelings without hurting your feelings and telling you what you want to hear. This person could be a neighbor, college friend/alumni, project teammate.
  2. Contact a Former Supervisor – These individuals, while not directly involved with your current job, know your skills and competencies and can give you good advice having worked with you directly. It has been our experience, these individuals see your potential and will not hesitate to honestly describe your strengths and weaknesses
  3. Call a Relative or Extended Family Member – Often a relative, cousin, aunt or uncle tend to be very honest with you after discussing your situation and circumstances. Studies have proven that family members give resourceful advice, honest advice, because they have your best interest at heart.
  4. Discuss with your Executive Recruiter and/or Financial Advisor – When you make a career or life change, financial considerations are always near the top of the list. You certainly want to make the best decision in financial longevity and security. Buying a car is a temporary yet emotional decision, but changing jobs and/or careers is life changing.  It not only affects you, but also affects a spouse, high school and college bound children, or even aging parents. A 15 minute discussion can be worth a lifetime of mentorship.

Every career move involves a certain amount of risk. Weighing all the factors are important; however, risk in anything requires exploring and evaluating options. Seek out advice. You will feel better when you do.

 

Make it count!

Steve Kane

 

 

 

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Have you spent days (NIGHTS!) contemplating the right approach to a face-to-face interview?

One of the major challenges is “selling yourself” to a stranger never met before. This is especially difficult when feeling the pressure to perform well, yet trying to focus on making a good, strong, lasting impression. In a face-to-face interview, there is a lot at stake.

To help you in your next interview, here are four important tips from http://pharmaonesearch.com/ for selling yourself to potential employers; as well as colleagues, and supervisors.

1.    MAINTAIN A DOCUMENT “FOLDER” OF PERTINENT DETAILS: In addition to the resume, we coach job candidates to maintain an addendum and/or file of key accomplishments, achievements, annual reviews, and pertinent documentation over one’s career. When you are mentioned in your company newsletter, receive an award; recognized for a specific achievement at work – be sure to keep for use later for potential employers if needed.

This information is more valuable than you think, especially when a job change is likely. These “details” will help in late stages of an important final interview!

2.    DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Are you well-informed about company news, products, and current industry events? No one needs to bring it up, but it helps to know company history, and what direction they are headed. If you are in the pharmaceutical space, the industry is changing, and possibly affecting company profits and reputation. It helps to know the past, so you never play a role in repeating it.

On the reverse side, know what did work, what contributed great success! If the company has experienced success with a product you know nothing about, you will look poorly in the interview. Do your homework before the big day. Best source: Company website. It is a big benefit when you meet senior management face-to-face.

3.    AN ADVOCATE FOR SUCCESS: In corporate life, surround yourself with positive colleagues, and directly encourage those who are having challenging issues with their respective responsibilities. This will likely promote you as the “go-to” person on the brand or departmental team. You will be surprised when people gravitate to you without politics getting in the way.

In an interview, the same positive attitude will shine through as a person everyone wants to work with. It goes a long way helping you get on the “potential hire” short-list.

4.    KNOW YOUR BEST (And Worst) SKILLS: In most job interviews, this is a common question asked by interviewers. You should know how to answer the question effectively and truthfully, without being a turn off to a potential job offer. What IS your answer to this question? How can you telegraph your best skills without seeming cocky but confident? How can you communicate a worst skill(s) without making yourself look invaluable and unintelligent? Our best tip: Practice answering for each question in the mirror. Yep, in the mirror. It seems quirky, but it works.

Knowing how to articulate your good points and minimizing weaker points will tactfully help turn away competencies not suited for you and, be attractive to positions best suited for your skills.

Consider these tips whether exploring new job opportunities, moving your career forward, or gaining credibility in your current position. These recommendations go a long way with securing career momentum!

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If history repeats itself, the first 4 months of any calendar year seems to be the ideal time to investigate changing jobs and evaluating your career strategy. A few factors come into play.

 

First, most pharma/biotech and medical device companies award performance bonuses from the previous year, during this 3-4 month stretch. Most folks tend to wait for their payout before investigating new positions with other companies. As an example, it was common 10+ years ago, if you resigned in 2017, before the 2016 bonus was actually paid, a check was mailed to you. In today’s corporate environment, to receive bonus payout from the previous year, the individual must be fully employed by the company.Sounds a little unfair, but now that’s standard policy for almost all healthcare companies. So historically, when you receive the bonus payout, you are apt to be more inclined to investigate new job career opportunities.

Secondly, new headcounts get approval to start the calendar year and hiring managers want new staff on board ideally before the scheduled national sales meetings begin in mid-late 1st Quarter. Therefore, positions are posted and need to be filled. It’s like running a track meet: You want all of your runners in place to start the race!
One of the most common questions most often asked during coaching calls is: “Why should I explore job opportunities right now?”
Does this sound familiar? As a pharmaceutical/biotech executive search firm, we hear it a lot. Whether it’s an incoming direct call asking for additional information, or an outbound call to a perspective candidate, this question has become one that we expect to hear.

 

Here are 3 points to ponder if (or why) investigating new job opportunities is right for you:

1. Evaluate all department opportunities within your group. If somewhat ‘stuck in neutral’ in your current position, explore the next position with a focus of learning something new, stretching yourself before changing jobs. We all go through stages of disappointment, discouragement, rejection, and missing out on that key promotion. When it happens, right away we want to flee, instead of fight, for recognition. Remember, attitude is everything! It’s important to take things in stride and remain positive.

Take a good look at your current role on the team and evaluate how you are coming across to your boss and peers. Are people asking you questions? Did your last project turn heads? Are your recommendations moving forward? Step back and take a look at how you are perceived. We are all in different phases of our lives: Some are moving fast forward; others stagnant, and still some are drifting behind from the rest of the pack. Which one are you in? The answer could suggest what your next step should be.

2. Consider what is the next planned promotion based on most recent performance evaluation. This is key. Normally your supervisor needs to hear from you, as to why moving to the next level is deserved. Too many times we don’t plant the seed for that next level promotion, and skip along with the status quo. Make your intentions known about that next career step. It’s a bold, and even uncomfortable move for some people, but it shows initiative.

3. Make sure bonus percentage and salary increase are in line with your performance. Many companies routinely ask their supervisors to write out their own evaluations to justify the salary increases, etc. This is ideal, and to your advantage. Be honest in the evaluation and highlight accomplishments as well as things you want to improve. Detail supporting documents and projects to help support your facts. Once completed, your boss will meet you face-to-face to discuss it. Be ready with supporting information of your past projects and campaigns. In that meeting, you are “selling” something that is truly important: YOU.

If any two of the three scenarios above are in question, then it may be time to look elsewhere for new career opportunities. It never hurts to investigate a perspective call from a friend, recruiter, or an old boss. I hope these suggestions get you on a faster career track in the 2017!