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Right next to an effective resume, the phone interview is the most important step to securing momentum for the all-important invitation to a face-to-face interview.

You would be very surprised how often we encounter clients who determine a candidate did not prepare properly for the phone interview. And likewise, the candidate complains he/she didn’t get a “green light” to be invited to the next step.
Being prepared for your all important phone interview requires these simple, yet effective points:

1. Know the company, their key brands – even pipeline activity – and the therapeutic category you are looking into. Company websites are full of informative facts.

2. Study your resume. Know what’s on it. Recognize relative skill sets/core competencies related to the job description and ask your recruiter to forward a copy of the job description to you for prior review.

3. Be prepared to briefly describe or “walk-thru” a project, strategic plan, or research study that you feel comfortable with and can be discussed without disclosing proprietary information. Hiring managers especially are looking for a thought process – how do you think, approach challenges, etc. Do well here and you are “rounding the bases”!

4. Ask your recruiter for help. Review, rehearse, rethink. Pick his/her brain about any issues, hot buttons, background on the company, interviewer(s), etc.

5. Smile, yes smile while you are on the phone (practice in the mirror!) and be a regular person. Companies want a fit in personality as well as skills and knowledge. Don’t be bashful in brandishing your “human side”. You can be professional and serious and still score points with a fresh, interpersonal, and relational side of yourself.

We have seen these 5 key phone interview steps be valuable assets to the advancement of candidates in the interview process. We trust it will help you as well.

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Several colleagues of mine, working in various pharma/biotech companies have been impressed with the level of talent in recently submitted candidates for their open positions.

Right now, it is certainly a very strong candidate-driven market in one of the most healthy industries in corporate America – pharmaceutical/biotech and
medical device.

How can you further become that “top-level based candidate” that every company wants?

HERE ARE 3 WAYS OF DEVELOPING PRESENCE IN YOUR CAREER:

1. Confidence, not arrogance –
There is something to be said of being confident and collaborative vs. a “know-it-all” on every topic. Supervisors are fully aware of a person’s talent without playing an over-confident role that can lborder on perceived arrogance. For example, stating a legitimate strategic point in a meeting with support data/criteria is enough especially when your reputation for completeness is your forte. Upper mgmt likes consistency, especially when you deliver, but not over-deliver.

2. Keep your resume current, and updated –
You never know when a recruiter will call with an opportunity that you are interested in pursuing. Attempting to update your resume in one evening is tough. You will certainly not remember every single achievement, etc. It takes a tedious mindset and refinement which could take more than a few days.

3. And finally, become VISIBLE in the workplace –
Offer to lead a group from your dept or office to a lunch or dinner meeting. Network at conventions, association conferences, off-site meetings, etc. This will help build presence and also credibility amongst your peers. VISIBILITY (in the proper mode) equals increased CREDIBILITY in the workplace.

Three basic but important points in further defining your career and laying the groundwork for moving up the ladder.

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Making a stellar first impression during any face-to-face meeting is key to moving the process forward.

Here are five (5) “sure-fire” DO’s to make your positive impact in the interview:

1. Make eye contact, smile, give a firm handshake, and anticipate the first question with a solid answer. These simple first steps relax the nerves for both parties.

2. Engage in collaborative conversation. The comfort level of the interviewer and his/her control of the interview promotes a positive atmosphere.

3. Be prepared to briefly explain a study/project that captivates an influential result or achievement that YOU controlled or for which you received credit.

4. Adjust your personality to make the interviewer feel in control. If you both get off topic and it’s the interviewer’s lead, go with it; but you be the one to bring the conversation back on track to continue the intended purpose of the interview.

5. Conclude by listening for “buying signals”. For example, “when can you meet with the rest of my team?” or “I would like you to come back next week to meet with my colleague(s).”

Now, you’ve made an impact! Consider these DON’Ts when preparing for an interview:

1. Never appear you are “running away” from your current company. If it is a bad situation, don’t let it influence your responses to the interviewer. Be positive about why you desire this new position.

2. Avoid giving yes and no answers. If an interviewer asks a closed-ended question, respond with “yes, but let me tell you….” Always respond with a brief, but informative answer.

3. Don’t look at your watch or the wall clock. Doing this promotes a feeling of “I’m not interested” to the interviewer. If you are late for your next interview, so what. The schedule will always vary somewhat so relax and concentrate on scoring points with the person across the desk.

4. Don’t leave until you have thanked your interviewer. His/her time is valuable. Offering a thank you means you are sensitive to the time and energy the interviewer has given you. That’s appreciated.

5. Never fail to make direct eye contact when the interview is over. That last glance and impression will stay with the interviewer if he/she is deciding to invite you back for the next round, or even make you an offer.

These simple, yet important steps can lead to landing that job you really want. You’ve got the experience, the skills, the desire for the job. Now go make a great impression!

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2011 has proven to be a very challenging, yet active and busy year – both in client business and candidate opportunities in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology/medical device arena.

At PharmaOne Search we anticipate further expansion in this marketplace for several reasons even though the economy has taken a dive:

1. It’s a Candidate-Driven Market.
In business cycles, anytime you experience above average growth in any one niche industry, the result is a healthy selection of open positions especially in this market. As one candidate remarked, “I have multiple offers, and a tough decision to make. It’s a happy problem!” Corporate recruiters have been predicting a “skilled labor shortage” for almost a year now.

2. Client Profits are Steady!
Profits have been consistent and solid all the way around. New product intro’s, robust pipelines, product teams are delivering, and sales forces are expanding – good stuff, good times, good feelings about this market are ringing true.

3. Candidates and Clients are becoming more Sophisticated.
Yes, career-wise we are becoming a “more selective – be patient” type of candidate. Clients, too, seem to be waiting longer for a particular candidate to be that “right fit”.

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If you are like most of us, you yearn for moments of recognition in the workplace. Lately, the pace is staggering. Your cell phone/Blackberry is a permanent fixture in your daily routine, and taking a break is tough. How can you find time to keep life, with all its challenges and enjoyments, in perspective?

Throughout the years, we have talked with many of you who are adjusting to a work/life balance, while simultaneously making an effort to get your next promotion. Here are four ways that will help maintain your focus and pursue that promotion:

1. Get out of the office and meet a non-workplace friend for lunch. Connecting with others away from work gets your brain off acceleration mode. It’s refreshing and motivating.

2. Participate in an intramural sport, contest, competition, or other recreational activity with your office/sales team. When others see you in “leisure/fun mode” it scores points in the meeting room. All work and no play keeps the promotions away!

3. Bring your son or daughter (preferably middle or high school age) to your office one Friday afternoon and let them see what you really do at work. Your child will enjoy the experience and colleagues will appreciate seeing you in a different, yet just as meaningful role.

4. Assist a co-worker with a key project and don’t take credit for it…yep, you heard it right here. It’s a surefire way to gain leverage in the workplace. Why? Your teamwork attitude will eventually make its way to a supervisor. No doubt your superior will be impressed with your selfless approach and advancement may come sooner than expected.

These are just a few examples of keeping the “sanity meter” on auto pilot. Work is challenging these days, so enjoy the ride to the next level!

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Getting prepared for out-of-town interviews is a comprehensive task these days. Travel by car and more possibly by plane is just the beginning. Preparation is key. Here are some tips:

1. Give yourself enough time to review and answer the Top 25 Interview questions (see our website for details). They are very worthwhile.

2. Know the client company website as well as names and titles of the people you are meeting in the interview. Your recruiter may know some background on each which will help you prepare.

3. Run mapquest.com to get the right directions to/from the airport and/or use a rental car with a navigation system.

4. Keep all of your receipts, e.g., mileage, hotel, meals, etc. (Note: Don’t use the hotel room minibar, even if you are paying for it. It could get charged to the client by mistake. Not good.)

5. Be as pleasant and professional as possible when “checking-in” with the receptionist. This is huge! Believe it or not, this person evaluates your first impression. They have input to the interview team and often give it openly. Don’t take this person for granted.

6. After interviewing, send a follow up email 1-2 days afterwards to the hiring manager first, then to the team members. Get their business card. Written thank you notes are deemed “too casual”. Keep it professional.

7. Update your recruiter on the positives and challenges you encountered. It is best you give feedback first so that the recruiter can have some idea of your impressions, etc. before he/she talks with the client.

Often times out-of-town interviews are more stressful than local drives because of all of the intangibles related to travel, forgetting a file, etc.

Plan well in advance and your efforts will pay off in getting the ultimate offer.