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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 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.

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A successful phone interview is certainly the big prerequisite to the in-house/face-to-face interview which will hopefully lead to the offer. So how do I start the process?

Preparation is Key

How should you prepare for the phone interview? Here are five of our best tips we have developed from experience over the years:

1. Be prepared and don’t “wing it”.
Prepare as you would for a regular interview. Compile a separate list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical interview questions*. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills. As a rule, follow the resume flow. It will impress the interviewer.

2. Have your resume in front of you.
From a point outlined on your resume, be prepared to give a project overview from start to finish. As you go through the project, shorten or lengthen your discussion based upon the interaction with the interviewer. But do keep it short and concise. Your objective here is to relay to the interviewer your thinking process!

3. Ask questions pertinent to the position.
Don’t ask those “pie in the sky” questions like “what’s the company outlook for the future?” Stick to the relevancy of the position for which you are interviewing. You are being evaluated on skills first. Save the company questions for later.

4. If you must use a cell phone, make sure it has a strong signal.
We have interviewed folks from their cell phones that had AWFUL reception. Technology and professionalism go together. Upgrade to a better phone or better signal–it will reflect better on you.

5. Remember your goal is to impress the interviewer enough to move on to a face-to-face interview.
If you focus on your skills, answer the questions precisely, and come across in a professional yet communicative manner, then you will hit the double off the center field wall. Now get ready to hit a home run when you get that call that says, “We want to bring you in!”

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Deciding on a career change is one of most exciting yet “nerve-racking” times in anyone’s life – especially in a competitive and candidate driven market. Here are some tips to digest when you get that call to join a company from your recruiter and/or the client:
1. While verbal offers are the first indicator of “WE WANT YOU!”, wait for the written offer as a next step.

2. Discuss the details of the offer with your recruiter. He/she may be able to suggest if there is any “wiggle room” on the salary. Nowadays, companies are giving out their best offer thus avoiding the “haggle” factor.

3. Don’t worry about minimal tweaks like 2-3% on the bonus or a few thousand dollars in the base salary. Hiring managers these days have a lot more flexibility and in some cases have discretionary dollars for a new hire after the first 6-12 months. The bottom line is this: Work hard, be a team player, produce quality work, and you will be rewarded.

4. Remember acceptance, even verbal acceptance is a commitment – make sure that you have all the details about the offer before making that commitment.

5. Don’t be pressured into a hasty decision. Be sure to ask for an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the offer and make a decision. Typically 2 or 3 days is a reasonable amount of time to make a decision – a week would be dragging it out, on the spot would be somewhat unrealistic.

6. Remember, an acceptance, even a verbal acceptance is a serious commitment. Don’t accept if you think you may have to back out later, unless something changes drastically (personal situation, etc.)

7. Before leaving your old employer, hand deliver a signed resignation letter to your immediate supervisor. Make it simple, upbeat about your tenure with the company, and always give a two week notice. You may wrap-up in a few days or stay the entire time – either way you get compensated for the two weeks.

8. Call your new hiring manager directly with appreciation about the offer and excitement about your new position!

9. As a courtesy, notify other recruiters/companies that your job search is over. It is unethical to continue a job search after accepting a position.

10. Congratulations! Treat yourself! Celebrate! You are now launched into a new company, new career track, and new environment. Enjoy! And make it count!

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A recent article highlighted several years ago talked about how executives of Fortune 1000 companies are basically in agreement that the “good old days” of rewarding employees for 35 years of loyal service are a thing of the past. Years ago, individuals who had experience at several companies were considered “job-hoppers”. Potential employers wondered what was wrong with them and why they couldn’t hold a job.

Today, changing jobs has become a necessity if individuals expect to advance their careers, especially when there are so many attractive opportunities in the marketplace. The very traits that made them unstable are now hallmarks of a well-rounded, ambitious and assertive professional.

Change and its associated risks are never easy. To quit or not to quit is often a gut-wrenching decision – requiring careful consideration and soul-searching. It involves one of those passages in life that requires abandoning the comfort of the old and assuming the risk of the new. Should you uproot your family; leave behind your friends, your status and the company that helped you progress professionally? As a professional, your career decisions must be made objectively, not emotionally; which is easier said than done.

“When one door closes, another opens: but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

– Alexander Graham Bell

Once the often-agonizing decision to leave has been made, you must plan your resignation and how you will handle your employer’s response. It is important to end your relationship as professionally and as simply as possible and not to burn your bridges; you never know when you may need a future reference. Compose a brief letter stating your last day of employment (“the two week notice”) as well as expressing your appreciation of your current supervisor and that your decision is irrevocable. Keep it short, simple and positive.

Do not recite a list of grievances. Before you present your resignation letter, you must be committed to leaving. Otherwise, temporary promises and solutions in the form of a counter-offer may entice you to stay. A “project” that has to be completed forces one to have guilt about leaving their beloved company.

Surprisingly, the very best companies rarely make counter-offers. They believe they treat their employees fairly and wish them well if a better opportunity exists elsewhere. If you work for one of them, do not be disappointed if you fail to receive a counter-offer. Never take it personal. You may ask to stay the full two weeks to finish a project or two or be “whisked out the door.” Again, nothing personal and don’t take as such. Complete whatever you need to complete and leave.

On the other hand, most employers do not like to be “fired”. Your departure may jeopardize an important project or vacation schedule, create additional workload and even negatively impact employee morale.

In order to prevent you from leaving and causing turmoil within the organization, your employer may make you a counter-offer. Appealing to greed or ego, companies will offer resigning employees promotions, additional training, more money or simply promises of future consideration.

They may also prey upon the employee’s conflicting emotions by creating guilt about the present (“How can you leave us at a time like this?”) or uncertainty about the future of the new company you are joining, if they even know. Don’t volunteer. Keep it confidential if you can until asked (“We hear the Justice Department is investigating them”).

Some common tactics include:

• “We haven’t given you the recognition you deserve; please give us another chance.”

• “You’re too valuable for us to lose.”

• “We were just about to promote you (or give you a raise), but we had to keep it confidential until now.”

• “The grass isn’t always greener, you know. Why take the chance?”

Counter-offers can be very flattering. Before you fall victim to accepting one, here are a few things to think about:

• Why did you have to resign before they offered to give you what you are worth?

• Where is the additional money coming from? Is it simply your next raise a few months early?

• Is your employer buying time until a replacement can be found?

• When the next opportunity for promotion comes along, will the company consider you as loyal as your competitors for the position?

• Once the word gets out, can your relationship with your co-workers ever be the same?

• When an economic slow-down occurs, will you be the first to go?

• Have the same circumstances that caused you to consider a change disappeared?

In fact, statistics prove that nearly four out of five people who accept counter-offers are gone within the first year – and on their employer’s terms and timing.

Although your employer may truly consider you to be an asset and genuinely care about you, your interests are secondary to your boss’ career and your company’s profit. Counteroffers are attempts to manipulate you to do something that is in your employer’s best interests, not necessarily yours. You should hold a steady course from the beginning and stick with your decision to move on to a bigger and brighter future.