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As an executive recruiter, one of the biggest candidate assets to a client company is the resume. A majority of potential candidates spend more time on trying to make it the “best of the rest” than on any other part of the job search process. And well they should because the resume is a reflection of the candidates themselves.

A resume has many components that should capture the attention of a specific hiring manager, human resources person and even the headhunter/recruiter. In our office at PharmaOne Search, we see over 450 resumes per month – some outstanding, some pretty well done and others needing a lot of work.

To maximize your resume’s effectiveness in the pharmaceutical industry, adhere to these simple guidelines:

• The myth of the one (1) page resume is just that – a myth. Hiring managers don’t have time to assume a candidate has the in-depth knowledge that he/she is looking for in the position. They want to know as much pertinent detail as possible in an organized fashion. Therefore, make the resume 2-3 pages if necessary in order to highlight your experiences and accomplishments.

• Make your resume shine with bullet points instead of paragraphs. Hiring managers are picky and pressed for time. They will not read a paragraph, no matter how good it is. Instead, list information using bullet points and keep each point to no more than two lines long. The resume will flow and the reading will too.

• List the most detail for your most current position. Start with 8-10 bullets of accomplishments/experiences in your present position and work backward so that the next most recent position has 6-8 bullet points, and so on.

• Don’t take the chance of leaving an industry (i.e., pharmaceutical) unless you are absolutely convinced that a career change is right for you. For example, a candidate leaves pharmaceutical to pursue medical equipment and finds out it was not the right move 18 months later. Too many talented individuals go to seemingly greener pastures and then find out it is 10 times more difficult to get back into the industry they know best. Salary increases and/or big stock option packages are not always a reflection of the company itself. Investigate the company thoroughly. Consider what you are giving up long term. It may not be worth it.

• Include an addendum along with your resume. We have found that hiring managers want to see a capsule of one’s talent in a short, precise, easy-to-read format. Typically, the “addendum to resume” is a separate one-page document attached to the end of the resume with 10-12 bullet points highlighting specific job accomplishments that coincide with the position being applied for. It works! The extra attention given to resume preparation may not always get the job, but it does help pave the way to a more effective and successful interview.

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Here’s are three important tips from PharmaOne Search for selling yourself to colleagues, supervisors, and even new potential employers – everyday:

In addition to the resume, we coach candidates to always maintain an addendum and/or file of key accomplishments, achievements, annual reviews, and pertinent documentation over one’s career. This information is more valuable than you think – especially when a job change is likely and in the stages of a final interview.

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

Often over-zealous colleagues will dominate a product management or strategy session with ramblings and non-pertinent “fluff” in order to look good in front of management. Recent studies and experience show that having complete, yet specific topic detail with recommendations supported by appropriate data will float you right to the top in getting noticed for that next promotion. Be passionate in your recommendations, yet professional in what is pertinent.
These are three key attributes to help sell yourself at every opportunity in a competitive work environment!

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Most candidates adopt an attitude before interviewing that in some cases sounds fatalistic. For example, “I’ll just answer their questions to the best of my ability and let the chips fall where they may…” As a result, most of them get the old phrase “We’ll get back to you when we are finished interviewing others,” in response.

Many times candidates don’t have a clue as to why they did not do well in the interview despite their own confidence that the interview was successful.

Here are some basic points on being prepared:

  1. Turn the interview into a conversation.
    A conversation, simply at a higher level. Example: “Ms. Smith, are you willing to travel?” Response: “Yes, I am. Can you give me an idea of the extent and kind of travel involved in MY position”? The ‘MY’ forces the interviewer to visualize her on the job by using assumptive interviewing techniques which work. Bingo!
  2. How do I handle the salary question?
    This is not as tough as you think.
    Example: “What salary are you expecting?” Response: “Mr./Ms. Employer, like everyone, no matter how much I earn, there never seems to be enough. However, salary is not my primary goal. I’m more interested in the people I will be working with and the kind of long term opportunities here at <company name>. But since you mentioned it, what kind of salary RANGE did you have in mind?”
    If the employer names a salary range, then respond like this: “When you decide I’m the person for you, I am sure we can make it a ‘win-win’ for both of us.”
  3. HR questions: How do handle them.
    Often I hear these questions as “blue sky” questions, like “What are your long-term goals?” Most candidates answer in the subject of JOB TITLE (i.e., Director, Marketing).
    A better answer discusses future job CONTENT such as, “I would like to have the responsibility for people reporting to me, helping them realize their potential, strengthening weaknesses, motivation, etc. Is this type of opportunity available to me here at <company name>?” See the difference? You have now responded “out-of-the-box” and HR has to be impressed. You passed in flying colors!
  4. Ask for the job.
    Most interviewers close by saying, “…we have covered a lot of ground today, do you have any further questions at this time?”
    Response: “I am sure that I’ll think of questions after I leave, however, based on our conversation, I want you to know that I am very interested in this position. I’m confident I more than meet the expectations of the position.
    How do you see me fitting into your team?”


Remember, preparation WILL make a difference in the interview. Over the years we have seen remarkable results based on the above principles.

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Over the past several years, December has proven to be much busier in terms of interview activity than most people realize. Why? Clients would like to secure phone interviews before the holidays and schedule in-house interviews first thing in January. This ensures a fast start to the new calendar year.

December Tip

So, if you are a selected candidate for a particular position, now would be a good time to secure that phone interview and/or corporate in-house interview.

First, be sure your resume is accurate. Check and double check dates and specific titles held while working for specific employers – both past and present. Also, be specific in listing your responsibilities and accomplisments. Don’t let a mistake on your resume be an embarrassment to you later.

Second, use bullet points vs. paragraphs when listing responsibilities and accomplishments directly in line with the specific position held. This format is easier for a client to read and make note of your special skills when he or she may have a pile of resumes to review.

Finally, it has been our experience that Arial or Times Roman 11 sized font is best for resumes. The appearance of your resume should reflect the business professional that you are.

Refer Us To a Colleague

Do you know someone in the pharmaceutical industry who could benefit from our service? Our specialties include market research, marketing, sales management, and business analysis positions. Feel free to give them our phone number and email address. We would also be glad to add them to our newsletter distribution list. This is a great way to keep in touch and let you know what positions we are working on.

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Have you ever wondered how we find exceptional candidates for our clients? We hear that particular question a lot. At PharmaOne Search, our mission is to uncover the very best talent for our clients in the least amount of time.

The pharmaceutical industry is home to a lot of talent. For us, the key to finding the perfect candidates for our clients is analyzing exactly what qualities they desire in a candidate. Most often, these talented individuals are “passive” candidates, happy and content in their current positions, not actively searching -but open to taking a look at new opportunities. Because PharmaOne Search takes a proactive approach in locating candidates (we don’t sit back and wait for them to come to us), we are able to unearth candidates that our clients wouldn’t find through the course of their normal recruiting practices.

We start our searches by calling on people with whom we have already spoken – a logical place for us to start because our contact network is one of the best in the industry. When we first come across a candidate, our research department initiates a dialogue with them to learn more about the individual’s career objectives and aspirations. It is our policy not to recommend a position unless the candidate will benefit and take a ‘step up’ the career ladder. If we don’t have an immediate opportunity for a candidate, we stay in touch with them, because there is likely to be a match for them in the future.

Our sources for finding top talent come from a variety of places, such as industry directories and contacts, internet postings, supplier resources and competitors. However, our most important source is referrals from candidates. We have found it to be true that excellent candidates refer other excellent candidates.

People are what make this job great! During the course of the day, I get to speak to a lot of wonderful candidates. Through my job, I have made a lot of great friends all over the country. So, the next time you receive a call from PharmaOne Search, keep in mind that we have your best interests at heart.

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During a typical week I will get quite a few calls from folks asking about new opportunities in pharmaceutical companies, and some will want advice on resume preparation as well as scenarios at their current employer, etc.

My advice is consistent…. Make sure you are being proactive and improving your skills with initiative and professional persistence to perform at your best, each and every day.

Competition for talent is fierce. Improvement and self evaluation are necessary. If you find your career is lacking challenge or the glass ceiling is getting thicker, perhaps the time is right to explore new opportunities.

I was recently talking to friend of mine who is a senior level executive at one of our pharma clients and I found her advice to be quite valuable: “I am more interested in what a candidate tells me about vision and initiative for the future and what they see ahead for the company, than spending a majority of time reviewing what he/she has done in the past….”

Wow! She is right! A resume with a track record and experience is great, but companies want to hear about how a person can make a difference and add value to a company. The result: You’re hired!

So, if you are in the ditch, close to the ditch, or the mud is flying up on your new car – take an inventory of where you are, what you’re doing, and recommit, get focused, or start exploring for new opportunities because the positions are out there and companies can’t wait to hire you – if the glove fits…you’ve got the job!!