Tales and Musings From A Life Sciences Job Seeker: The PhD Industry Career Gap

Posted in Career Advice

Ryan Raver, PhD author of the Grad Student Way blog and formerly of the University of Wisconsin_Madison (my alma mater) posted a piece on his blog about his personal discoveries and revelations about searching for an industrial life sciences jobs.  In my opinion, Ryan’s piece is one of the best that I have read to date that provides a reality-based road map for recently-minted PhDs who want to eschew a postdoc and enter the life sciences industry (he is now working for Sigma in St. Louis, MO)

Ryan has allowed me to reproduce his brilliant piece on BioJobBlog.  Also, I recommend that you visit his blog which is choc full of great ideas and strategies for graduate students considering careers outside of academia.

5 Ways to Gain Valuable Skills Outside of Your Academic Training

November 14, 2013 by 

The PhD Industry Career Gap

We already know that the PhD Market is saturated, and articles that “promote awareness” or point out the PhD-Industry Gap are a dime a dozen. What’s missing from the equation are the solutions.  The reality is that the first job that you obtain directly out of graduate school is the most crucial. It is also the most difficult. Therefore you need to be aware of all of your possible options.

The odds are against you. You look like a science person. You want to go into industry but they look at you as an academic with only one marketable skill: bench science.

The doom and gloom articles aren’t going to help you get anywhere. And frankly, I think we are all just tired of reading them.  Many experienced working professionals are aware of what the market looks like, but as long as they are employed, who wants to think about what they could have faced?

The newly minted PhD is experiencing the hardships right now and searching for answers. The reality is that many just don’t know how to provide real practical solutions and the attitude is that “hard work” will get you to where you need to be. And it’s “good luck” to you because you are entirely on your own.

If you could rewind and go back a few years maybe you wish you knew all this sooner rather than later. Maybe you finally decided to join the 85% club and face reality (only 15% will land a tenure-track position within 5 years). But you need to put the past behind you and move on.

The bottom line is that if you have the right personality, drive, leadership, and strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work well in a team environment, then breaking into a field of your choice is very feasible. You just need the know-how. This ‘right personality’ will be valuable as you work in a team and develop your needed skill set(s) that will carry with you into your future career. Although there is a glut of capable job seekers, do not let this discourage you.

Before we dive deeper, you need to understand that there is no set career path, and everyone’s career path is UNIQUE. Many working professionals stumble into their current career path by accident, chance, change of interests/goals, life situation, or series of occurrences. But hopefully with the advice given, you will find your calling.

If you ask, let’s say an experienced manager in industry, how they got to where they are today-many will tell you that they did not plan on jumping into their field directly from their PhD. That’s because the majority of PhDs don’t really do any career planning. You’ll jump into the postdoc only to leave after you spent X amount of years figuring out what you truly want to do. During graduate school, the focus is on getting the PhD and the attitude is that things will just unfold and work themselves out. This can continue throughout the postdoc position(s).

There is a sense of entitlement among PhD’s. Their ego takes ahold of them. “I worked this hard, therefore I deserve this position or X amount of salary.”  Guess what? You have to pay your dues just like everyone else.  The PhD doesn’t guarantee you the job, and although you may have published a Nature paper, it doesn’t add any value to a company or client (and when you hand your business card to a customer, they see your name, company, your position title, letters next to your name, and nothing else). The real question is can you work well in a team? Can you communicate effectively without putting yourself above others? Once you realize there is a bigger picture than just YOU and how you are just a piece of the puzzle, than you will finally start to see the benefits.  Be someone who under-promises and over-delivers.

There is also a backwards strategy that many PhDs take on during their career search. They focus on the position and match that up to the company. The problem with this is that it takes the focus off how you can add value to a company. It becomes more about you. The point is that if the position that you obtain within the company will add the most value based on your strengths and contributions, then it is the best fit. Therefore, when doing your job searchfocus on the company first, how you can add value, then backtrack to find the correct position. This means you should have multiple roles in mind that play on your strengths and not just one. If you haven’t figured this out yet, here is what you missed earlier.

When it comes to a resume or cover letter, there is too much emphasis placed on these two items. They are simply a tool to get you an interview and nothing else. Once you reach that interview stage, you need to get over what is written on your resume and focus on the value that you can add to a company. Not brag about what you did with your thesis work. No one really cares to hear about your thesis anymore.  A PhD is a training program to help you develop as a scientist and launch your career.

If you are banging your head against the wall that’s probably because you aren’t doing it right. Or you just lack the marketable skills to crossover (which is discussed later in this article). Or it could be a combination of both.

To quote Donald Asher who is author of Cracking the Hidden Job Market, “You get a job by talking to people: You don’t get a job by having a great resume, a good interview look, a firm handshake, or a solid education. You get a job because you get in front of somebody and they decide to add you to the payroll. Most job seekers look for jobs by talking to computer software. It’s faster to talk to people. People are more likely to pass you along than computers are. Computers are picky. People are helpful.”

You can beat the odds. Frankly, you have to beat the odds.

“The United States quit creating jobs more than a decade ago. Then the Great Recession hit, which I date from September 14, 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed. This smacked down workers even more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1999 and 2009 the U.S. economy created only 121,000 new jobs, a growth rate of .01 percent/year. A decade to create 121,000 net new jobs! It takes 125,000 new jobs per month  to keep up with the population growth alone. It will take considerable time to create enough jobs to absorb the 30 million people who are unemployed, underemployed, or discouraged and off the market.”

The economy is exacerbating anxieties. A survey done in 2012 in Nature shows the concerns of many scientists around the world as the global recession squeezes research budgets. The shortfall in grant funding is nothing new, but many will soon realize that industry offers many attractive ‘alternative’ career options.  On the bright side, the unemployment rate for PhD’s is below 4%. But getting a PhD doesn’t mean that you are immune to economic hardships or the struggles of finding a job.

Half of PhD candidates in the life science and engineering field still requireseven years or more to complete their degree. If you have invested all this time and have decided to finish, don’t you want to see a return on your investment without ‘giving up’ even more years of your life? In other words, if you don’t plan on staying in academia, why are you spending 5+ years as a postdoc?

So the question becomes, how can you beat the odds? What can you do NOW as a PhD student or postdoc that will give you the marketable skills to crossover? And when you gain these marketable skills, how can you couple this with NETWORKING so that you are tapping into the “hidden job market”?

Solutions to Beat The Odds

Now that you are aware of the problems and what you will be faced with or are going through, there needs to be solutions that give you an edge.

If you haven’t already, make sure you read the article: “The missing piece to changing the university culture.” The biggest challenge that we are faced with today as PhD students is a culture change:

70% of life science PhDs pursue a postdoc after graduation (based on 2010 data) which means that PhDs are unsure of their careers and/or unequipped for a nonacademic career. 40% of graduate students are indifferent or unsatisfied with their graduate school experience. Current PhD programs will continue to train primarily for an academic career. But this is a ‘false hope,’ and you may be in your mid-30’s until you’ve come to realize this and decided to make a change. It is time that Universities, faculty, and professors stop looking the other way when it comes to fixing the problem.

The Biotechnology and Life Science Advising (BALSA) group was founded in 2010 by a group of dissatisfied postdocs and graduate students. The result is that through their collaborative efforts, they have developed a model where post-docs and graduate students work with startups in the form of 6 to 8 week consulting projects. The result? BALSA has worked with 37 companies and 53 projects. Graduate students and postdocs are coming out with real world business experience.

Even researchers with NO prior business knowledge are making valuable contributions to both early and late stage companies. As a PhD student or postdoc, you are trained to analyze and think critically. The best part is that BALSA’s partnership with Washington University in Saint Louis and the Office of Technology Management has provided Universities and Principal Investigators as a means to commercialize their work.

Although BALSA’s efforts look promising, we are still left with the question as to whether these efforts can be expanded on a national level. Also, are they sustainable? Will Universities and Professors push more for the adoption of these efforts? Only time will tell.

The bottom line is that you aren’t going to sit around and wait for BALSA to come along to your University. So in the meantime, you have to go create these opportunities on your own. BALSA may give you hands-on experience (via projects) with industry challenges, business concepts, competitive intelligence and market analysis, technology due diligence, regulatory affairs, project management, and licensing/business plan development. Does this sound like a checklist of wishful thinking? Well, there is nothing stopping you from gaining some or a combination of these skills and experience during your time as a graduate student/postdoc.

So here are the top 5 solutions to gain valuable skills outside of your academic training and beat the odds once you get your PhD:

1)      Consider Consulting

There are many consulting opportunities available for scientists. These many options span freelance work, working for a consulting firm or even starting your own consulting company. Whichever that may be, I would highly recommend doing freelance consulting work during your PhD. This could shuttle you into a management consulting position upon graduation.

Find a unique skill set that you are good at and offer your services to a company. If you need an example, check out how a graphic illustrator/scientific visual communicator went freelance during and out of graduate school.

Another example is self-taught SEO or social media marketing consulting. Many companies (including start-ups) are blogging and doing digital marketing, and learning the ropes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If you are already running a professional blog (all PhD students should!), you have already learned how to effectively run social media and marketing campaigns, and chances are you could do part-time work offering your services. You are also developing your technical writing skills in addition to sharing scientific ideas and making worldwide network contacts.

**Management consulting can be an excellent way to put your analytical and scientific training to use while you develop your business expertise. If you have the passion to innovate, drive change, and help companies be more successful, it might be the career choice for you. You will learn how to lead teams, manage people, and take on challenging and interesting problems. The connections that you make with top business professionals will also open doors to future career opportunities. And, your hard work and efforts could also have a huge impact on the future direction of the company.

Further Reading:




2)      Consider doing a summer internship during your PhD studies or during your postdoc

As mentioned in a previous article, the most practical solution for many is to obtain a paid internship (ideally) during your time in graduate school. Internships are CRUCIAL and I cannot stress enough that graduate students and post-docs should take a summer off (or balance the internship 50% and graduate school 50%) and obtain industry experience. That way you will come out with real-world industry experience and some marketable skills. You need to negotiate and leverage this in any way that you can.

A lot of companies are willing to try you out for a short 3 months. That initial spark will come from their interest in you via informational interviews (see below). Chances are if they like you at the end of the internship, you might also have an offer waiting for you upon graduation at that same company.

The first step to land an internship position is to do informational interviews and start networking. You can read more about informational interviews here. Read: How To Network and Add Value to Yourself and Others to get a good starting point. Just because internship positions aren’t posted doesn’t mean they can’t be created or they don’t exist. Ask around and you’ll be surprised what you will find.

Internships also boost Postdocs’ skills and really add to their marketability. The challenge as any might imagine, is getting your PI to agree.

3)      Consider auditing or taking business classes, participating in workshops, or leading/organizing business events on campus.

If you are a science person, then take a business class and start networking with business professors and MBA students. If not business, find a secondary interest and step out of your comfort zone. Get involved in patent law, tech transfer, computer programming, or entrepreneurial classes. This will come down solely to you and your interests. Many business professors will allow you to sit in their class even if you aren’t taking the class for credit. Entrepreneurial management classes for example, will expose you to writing business plans and doing SWOT analysis, and growing local starts-ups via group projects.

4)      Start a side business, professional blog, develop a product, or find like-minded individuals preferably with an entrepreneurial mindset or business drive.

5)      Network every week. Then network some more.

Step 1: Network to obtain an internship and gain the marketable skills that you need

Step 2: Network to obtain a job post-PhD

Did you catch that? You need to network to create opportunities. Then you network to create more opportunities beyond that. During or after PhD, it doesn’t matter. If you lack marketable skills, you’ll need to network to obtain them or find out what those specific skills are. Even with internship experience under you belt, you will need to network beyond the PhD to land an industry position. Obviously, it is MUCH easier to use the power of networking when you already have the marketable skills to find an industry job versus networking from scratch (i.e. skipping Step 1 and jumping right into Step 2). But whatever stage you are in, it is never too late to start. There is no stopping when it comes to networking and the truth is that it is a lifelong process and requires continual effort.

PhD graduate students and postdocs simply don’t network enough. How can you understand the needs of a company if you don’t speak to people? How can you know the industry, the market, and the customer? Chances are a startup company in your area has a need. What value can you add to fulfill that need?  This ties into #2 above.

There are many more examples. The reality is that it is not impossible to create opportunities, take on an internship, do consulting, and/or run a professional blog during your PhD and come out with a huge leg up upon graduation. Those that do #1-#5 or a combination thereof will stand out from the crowd and will most likely beat out other PhD students who focused on nothing else but getting their degree. Chances are you will land a job in industry and work in a fulfilling career. Gaining the marketable skills to crossover is no easy task, but with hard work, patience, and the right connections anything is possible.

Keep pushing and you will see good things come your way.

Email me with any questions. Future article will be on how to transition into Product Management, Marketing, or Sales.

Further Reading:

Internships Boost Postdocs’ Skills, Worldliness, and Marketability

The PhD Industry Gap

Life after the PhD: Re-Train Your Brain

3 Things PhDs Leaving Academia Should Know About Business

Taking Charge of Your Career

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Seeking!!!!!!!!!

Jobseekers: When Creating a LinkedIn Profile and Twitter Account May Simply Not Be Enough!

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The advent of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter have spawned a plethora of articles, blog posts and even white papers on how important these communication networks may be for jobseekers. In fact, many recruiters and career development counselors that I have talked with believe (and publicly espouse) that finding a job without using these platforms will be extremely difficult. While I believe that social media—when used correctly—can be a powerful job hunting tool, many job seekers believe that simply creating a LinkedIn profile and Twitter account will magically result in gainful employment.  Sadly, these job seekers are mistaken and they are setting themselves up for a “rude awakening.”

The key word in the phrase “social media” is social. Being social means interacting and actively communicating with others in the networks that you have built on LinkedIn or Twitter; not creating a profile, remaining silent and then expecting prospective employers to find you!  Networking, whether online or in real life (IRL) is a social not a solitary endeavor!

The main point of a LinkedIn profile or Twitter account is provide users with a mechanism to help them to “stand out” from the rest of the competition and ultimately convince prospective employers that they, not their colleagues, are the right persons to hire into their organizations. People who create a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter account and never use them are kidding themselves if they think that their behavior will result in job leads or possible interviews. To wit, there are currently over 200 million registered LinkedIn users; expecting prospective employers or to spend their time searching LinkedIn databases to identify inactive users as possible job candidates is sheer lunacy in today’s fiercely competitive global job market.  It is tantamount to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack; who has the time to do that?

I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn (because it is a strictly professional network) looking for writing assignments and other business opportunities.  I frequently come upon job posts in the many groups that I belong to.  Invariably I see individual group members interested who are interested in the posted jobs publicly leave messages that read (and I am not kidding): “I am interested in the job opportunity. Please contact me.”

I am shocked that the persons who leave these messages actually believe that most  recruiters or hiring manager are actually going  to look at their LinkedIn profiles to see whether or not they may be qualified for the advertised job!  For the record, the appropriate response to a job posting on LinkedIn is to send a private message to the recruiter or hiring manager and inquire about the job specifics. This ought to provide enough information for a job seeker and recruiter/hiring manager to determine whether or not to proceed further.

The point that I am trying to make is in today’s fiercely competitive job market, jobseekers must be aggressive, interactive and tenacious when networking both online and in real life.  Simply creating profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and exclusively applying for online jobs is likely not going to be enough to land a job these days.  As most recruiters and job counselors will tell you “Finding a new job is really a full time job that requires the same amount of time and commitment” And, like it or not, they’re right!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!



So You Want To Be A Regulatory Affairs Professional?

Posted in BioEducation

As anyone who works in the drug development industry and they will invariably tell you how complex the environment has become in the past 10 years to get a new drug or medical device approved. While this increased regulatory scrutiny has been brought on by drug and device makers themselves (has there been a time over the past decade when there has not been some reports in the news media about drug recalls, tainted drugs or marketing scandals?), it does not obviate the growing need for more regulatory affairs professionals at drug and medical devices companies. To that end, people looking to break into the life sciences industry ought to consider whether becoming a regulatory affairs professional may be right for them.

Zachary Brousseau, who is Senior Manager of Communications for the trade group the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS), alerted me to a recent annual survey conducted by the group entitled “Global Scope of Practice and Compensation Survey”. This survey which has been conducted by RAPS for the past 20 years provides insights into the regulatory affairs profession and the compensation persons interested in this career might expect.

I highly recommend those of you who are considering regulatory affairs careers to read the post below and to also look at the entire survey. Also, RAPS offers traditional classroom and online courses for those who are looking for training to break into the profession.

RAPS Scope of Practice Study: Tracking the Regulatory Profession

RAPS recently fielded the 2012 iteration of its ongoing research initiative on the regulatory profession, the RAPS Global Scope of Practice & Compensation Survey.

This research has been conducted by RAPS for more than 20 years, and it continues to be the largest, most comprehensive study of the healthcare product regulatory profession. RAPS Executive Director Sherry Keramidas, PhD, FASAE, CAE, recently spoke with Regulatory Focus about the study and its implications.

Regulatory Focus (RF): What is the goal of the Scope of Practice Survey?

RAPS Executive Director Sherry Keramidas (SK): The Scope of Practice Survey gives us a look at the development of the regulatory profession, monitoring trends and changes in what we call the scope of practice: the duties and responsibilities of regulatory professionals. It also gives us a look at their career progression and compensation.

RF: Why is it important?

SK: Like any profession, the regulatory profession must adapt and evolve. This research provides a way of seeing how it has adapted and changed over time, and gives us insight that helps regulatory professionals respond to the changing needs and anticipate what may be coming next. What we learn helps RAPS create and improve professional development initiatives to ensure regulatory professionals have the knowledge and skills to excel in their roles today and tomorrow. It also provides critical information for RAPS to help the world beyond the profession understand what regulatory professionals do and its importance.

RF: What have you learned about the regulatory profession from previous surveys and what do you expect to learn from the current survey?

SK: We have seen a number of important developments over the 20-plus years we have been conducting this research. We have seen increased movement of professionals across product lines—from more pharma-oriented jobs to medical device jobs and vice versa, and we have witnessed increased involvement in combination products. We have seen a trend away from country-specific specialization to more professionals who have multinational or worldwide responsibilities. And we see strong similarities in the scope of practice of professionals around the world, regardless of where they live and work. Today’s regulatory professionals have to be more familiar with regulations and requirements for many different global markets and different products. There is still specialization, certainly, but there is an increasing need for regulatory professionals to understand the broader regulatory landscape. Another interesting development has been that regulatory professionals have become more involved in business and strategic decision making. I would expect each of these trends to continue.

RF: What do you think is driving the increasing involvement in business?

SK: The shift toward more business involvement is something we started to see more than 10 years ago. I think the increasing number of regulatory professionals ascending to higher executive levels played a role in companies’ and organizations’ burgeoning recognition that regulatory expertise can provide valuable insight to drive more-effective organizational strategies. The fact that regulatory professionals were increasingly being called upon to influence business and strategy decisions led RAPS to launch its Executive Development Program in partnership with the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. That is a pretty good example of how this research helped RAPS identify and respond to a growing need within the profession.

RF: What other changes in the profession have you seen, and what do you think is driving them?

SK: Another trend and an important factor, I think, in the business involvement has been regulatory’s increasing engagement throughout the product lifecycle. This made regulatory professionals more important players in all aspects of healthcare products—from research and development through postmarketing. Regulatory has a role at every stage, whereas years ago, the emphasis for regulatory professionals was on submissions and compliance. This change aligns with what is going on in the overall the healthcare product sector. In recent years, we have seen industry’s focus shift a bit toward more postmarketing activities and keeping existing products on the market.

RF: Have there been any surprising results from past years’ surveys?

SK: I don’t think we expected to see the business involvement when it first emerged. Other interesting trends we have seen develop include increased engagement in reimbursement and health technology assessment. Issues of regulation and reimbursement are more often being considered in coordination with one another at earlier stages. A viable product needs to be both approvable and reimbursable, and regulatory professionals are increasingly being asked to help bridge the gap between the two areas.

RF: What new questions have been added to the survey this year? What do you hope to glean from these questions?

SK: We have refined the breakdown of where regulatory professionals spend their time based on feedback from those in the field, and we have added some new questions about what brought them into the profession in the first place and what factors help shape their career decisions. For organizations that employ regulatory people, there is a need to find the best way to recruit, develop and retain regulatory professionals. More information will help both professionals and employers better address career development and talent management.

RF: What can the Scope of Practice survey tell us about the importance of the regulatory profession?

SK: The profession continues to evolve closely in step with the overall healthcare product sector, including the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries. Translating scientific and technological breakthroughs in these areas into real, accessible patient treatments demands that regulation keeps pace. In many ways, the regulatory profession is on the cutting edge, at the intersection of innovation, regulation and business. There is a growing recognition of the critical role of regulatory professionals, even as work remains to help those outside the profession more fully understand what they do. Regulatory professionals do important work that, as RAPS’ tagline says, ‘helps make better healthcare products possible.’ The Scope of Practice Study helps us tell this important story.

The 2012 RAPS Global Scope of Practice & Compensation Survey is open now, and regulatory professionals can complete it online at www.raps.org/2012globalstudy.

Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!


BioJobBlog Surpasses the 2.0 Million Reader Mark!

Posted in BioEducation

I started BioJobBlog in 2007 primarily as a means for me to express myself about life science careers and issue and challenges confronting the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. That said, I never thought that BioJobBlog would ever amount to much; it was simply a vehicle for me to rant and rave about things that were important to me! It is a daunting challenge to begin a blog with no readers and then realize that 5 years later over 2.0 million unique readers have visited to read my thoughts and ideas about a wide breadth of topics.

I want to thank the readers who continue to visit BioJobBlog. And, I hope that what I have written over the past five years has either helped or induced you to think about issues in the life sciences industry. While I have no plans to stop blogging; my schedule is becoming increasingly challenging and I can no longer post articles as frequently as I have in the past. Nevertheless, I will continue do what I can to keep the content at BioJobBlog interesting, fresh and thought-provoking. 

Please feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts or comments about the blog (or anything else for that matter). 

Thanks for supporting BioJobBlog!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!


Mirror, Mirror On the Wall: Which Recent College Graduates Have the Highest Unemployment Rates of All?

Posted in BioEducation

It is no secret that recent college graduates are having a tough time finding work. However, not all college majors are created equal and the unemployment rates among different disciplines are likely to vary. To answer this question, a group of researchers at the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce analyzed employment data for recent college graduates from an in-depth US census study entitled the American Community Survey conducted in 2009 and 2010. In the study, recent college grades were defined as workers (with college degrees of course) between ages 22 and 26.

The results of the study are shown in the graph below.

The data clearly show that among recent college grads, those who studied architecture have the highest unemployment rate at 13.9%. This finding was not that surprisingly given that the collapse of the housing and construction markets were mainly responsible for the ongoing recession that began in 2007. 

Unemployment rates were lowest among college graduates with training in education and healthcare. Again, these results are not that start. Again, these results were not startling because the US population continues to age (healthcare-related jobs) and the number of school-aged children skyrocketed in the past 20 years (education jobs).

Interestingly, the unemployment rate among engineering graduate, 7.4% is relatively high despite the fact that HR and employment experts contend that there is a shortage of engineers in the US.

Finally, unemployment rates among graduates with art degrees and those who possess degrees in the humanities and liberal art are still very high at 11.1% and 9.4% respectively. That said, maybe getting that MS or PhD degree in the life sciences was not such a bad idea after all!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!


More Resume Writing Tips: Things That Absolutely, Positively Should Not Appear on Your CV

Posted in BioEducation

There are differences of opinions regarding whether or not to include certain things on a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Some career specialists contend that it is okay to include things like an objective statement, “references upon request”, telephone numbers and hobbies on a CV whereas others do not. That said, most career experts agree that the following SHOULD NOT appear on a resume or CV

  1. Martial status, religious preference or social security numbers (it is illegal in the US to require this information)
  2. Graduation dates from high school, college or graduate/professional school (this allows employers to estimate your age)
  3. Current business contact information (do you want a hiring manager to contact you at work about a new position or monitor your e-mail and phone calls?)
  4. An unprofessional e-mail address (hottie@gmail.com does not send the right message to prospective employers)
  5. Writing in the third person (it is your career and life so write in the first person)

While these recommendations may be obvious to many, they are not so obvious to others, especially people who come from other countries where inclusion of personal information like martial status, nationality, religious preference etc are allowable and in some cases expected.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!



Preparing For and Coping With Annual Performance Reviews

Posted in Career Advice

For many corporate employees, the annual performance review process is a bane to their existence. For those of you who may not be familiar with annual reviews, most corporate employees are required to undergo a review process that includes a synopsis of their accomplishments over the past year and new goals for the upcoming one. And, as all corporate employees understand, the quality of an annual review determines the size of the bonus that they can expect to receive and whether or not a salary increase is in order for the upcoming fiscal year. In other words, you never want to get a “less than stellar” annual review because your fiscal well-being depends on it!

Not surprisingly, preparing for the annual review can be nerve-racking and dealing with the results of the review can be equally challenge (especially if the review is a negative one). Although, most of the annual reviews for 2011 have been completed, Eilene Zimmerman who writes the Career Couch for the New Times posted a helpful article that deals with preparing for the dreaded annual review and how best to respond to either a positive or negative one.

I can tell you from personal experience, the annual review is probably one of the silliest and most inane things that was ever invented for corporate employees. That said, it is part and parcel of the corporate workplace game and to excel you need to get good at!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


Tips on How To Cope After Being Layed Off

Posted in Career Advice

Getting layed off is not uncommon in today’s economy.  Nevertheless, it is a difficult experience even for the most season employees.  I found a video on YouTube that provides some ideas on how to manage being layed off and what you can do to get back up on your feet. 

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!

Improving Employment Opportunities for Life Sciences Graduates

Posted in Career Advice

There are a variety of reasons why the life sciences job market has been so dismal in recent years. First and foremost, there are too many applicants for too few jobs; employers are ignoring resumes/CVs that previously commanded face-to-face interviews. Second and perhaps more pernicious, is the notion among corporate executives and hiring managers that current graduates (both undergraduate and graduate students) have been catered to and are so academically untested that they bring little or no value to today’s fast-paced and demanding workplaces. While this characterization may or may not be warranted, it is a prevailing attitude that is likely hindering employment opportunities for recent life sciences graduates.

According to an insightful article written by Robert W. Goldfarb, a management consultant, entitled “Help Graduates Find Their Footing” in the past, senior hiring managers were willing to hire applicants that thought outside of the box or were a bit unconventional to bring in new ideas and create some chaos in quiet office environments. But Goldfarb asserts, that long, painful and largely unsuccessful job searches “have sapped their daring, creativity and willingness to challenge old procedures.” Further he believes that older employees, once extremely resistant to change, are much more willing to reinvent themselves by adapting to a technically-challenging workplace and bringing mature problem solving skills to the job to protect their jobs and 401K plans. Because of this, Goldfarb contends that “managers have become far less tolerant of the missteps that once expected of any new hires” and not surprisingly older workers make mistakes. Finally, previously supportive hiring managers, criticize recent graduates for poor quality written and oral reports and the inability to recognize trends or draw conclusions from masses of data. 

So what can be done to ensure that the current generation of college graduates does not remain unemployed into perpetuity? Goldfarb suggests that mentoring and building partnerships between recent college graduates and companies that want to hire them would be an important first step toward fixing the problem. He suggests that companies should consider investing in training programs designed to shape the employees that they ultimately will need for their businesses. For example, Goldfarb suggests that:

 “high potential graduates for whom there isn’t an immediate opening could be hired, not as unpaid interns but as salaried trainees given three to six months to prove their value in a series of assignments. Those who don’t seize the opportunity can quickly be dismissed.

Also, he suggests that trainees must be mentored to help them avoid the “small missteps that can damage a career before it starts.” Interesting, back in the 70s and 80s most major corporation had training programs in place. These were largely abandoned in the 90s as a result of global competition and increasing US labor costs.

Goldfarb’s plan requires companies to think strategically, and plan for their employment needs of the future. Sadly, as many of you already know, must companies focus on the short term and are not mindful of future needs; after all they are someone else’s problems to solve). But, in response to this attitude, Goldfarb offers this dire warning:

“Employers can keep faulting overindulgent parents, ineffectual teachers, colleges without required subjects and graduates unsuited to today’s complex workplace or they can play a greater role in training and developing a generation longing to take its place in the American mainstream.”

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!


Move Over China and India: Latin American Markets Are Sizzling

Posted in BioJobBuzz

While China and India have gotten the most attention as emerging pharmaceutical markets, Latin American markets most notably Mexico and Brazil (okay, it is a South American country but it can be included in Latin America) have been quietly expanding as rapidly as the Indian and Chinese markets. To wit, Denmark-based, Novo Nordisk—the world’s largest insulin maker—recently announced that it will be beefing up its medical consultant (aka sales reps) presence in Latin America over the next two to three years. During this period, the company expects to increase its current headcount of 300 to 800 employees.

Novo currently holds a 50 percent share of the Latin American insulin market. The company currently generates annual sales in Latin America of approximately $360 million. But, its main rivals Sanofi Aventis and Eli Lilly & Co, which sell faster-acting insulins, are beginning to cut into Novo’s market share.  The solution: add more sales reps in the region. While this may be great news for Latin American sales reps, it is not good news for American sales reps. Unless, of course, these reps speak Spanish and are willing to relocate!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!