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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.

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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.