Problems with a Coworker? Don’t Go to Your Boss First

Posted in Career Advice

In a recent blog post career coach and workplace expert Alexandra Levit recommended that talking to a troublesome co-worker before going to your boss is proper workplace etiquette. Levit suggested that “In general, you should reserve complaining to someone’s boss for cases in which that someone is not giving you what you need, and has been repeatedly forewarned.”  And, even then, you should proceed with caution.  After all, running to the  boss to solve problems or deal with difficult office politics is not going to endear you to your colleagues and fellow employees.

Levit recommends that the “boss card” should only be played when it is absolutely necessary and you have no other choice i.e. the co-worker’s behavior is affecting your work product, making you look bad or damaging the possibility of your year end bonus! Understandably,it takes a lot of courage to talk to a troublesome employee and to explain to them why their behavior is inappropriate, irritating or unprofessional. Nevertheless, this is a requisite first step that cannot be avoided before you schedule a meeting with your boss to diss your colleague.

Nobody likes a “rat” but sometimes it is necessary to go over someone else’s “head” to protect yourself.  And, in many cases, it is likely that you are not the only person who has problems with a  particular co-worker (every office has one or two). That said, before going to the boss, it is wise to be very mindful of prevailing office politics and whether or not the troublesome co-worker is allied with persons who can have a direct impact on your future employment with your organization.

Until next time….

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

An Analysis: Big Pharma and Social Media Usage

Posted in Social Media

A study conducted in November 2011 by Cegedim Strategic Data, a market research and promotional audit firm analyzed the world’s top 100 pharmaceutical companies expenditure on traditional promotional (marketing spends) and then compared that spending with their presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Not surprisingly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck (the world’s largest big pharma companies) finished in the top three for traditional promotional spending. However, their use of social media i.e. Twitter and Facebook varied widely. For example, Pfizer—the top promotional spender—was first in its number of Twitter followers and third in the number of likes on Facebook. On the other hand, second ranked Novartis was fifth in the number of Twitter followers and in seventeenth position for likes on Facebook. Finally, third ranked Merck was fifteenth in the number of Twitter followers (third for the number of tweets) and in the tenth position for the number of likes on Facebook (but has more pages than any of its Facebook competitors).

Other notable companies included:

  • Johnson &Johnson, eleventh in promotional spending and number two on the number of Facebook likes
  • Roche, number fifteen on the promotional spending list was ranked number two for the number of Twitter followers
  • Proctor and Gamble which ranked a distant 54th in promotional spending was number four on the Twitter follower list

What does this all mean? A whole lot of nothing because nobody can determine what effects the use of social media has on the bottom line for most pharmaceutical companies. Unlike other industries, where social media can be used to sell products, it cannot be used for direct promotional purposes in the life sciences industry. While most people will tell you this is because of the lack of guidance by FDA on the use of social media, the bottom line is that social media will never be allowed for direct-to-consumer advertising in the pharmaceutical industry. That said, pharma and biotech will have to find other uses for social media including clinical trial recruitment and retention, adverse event reporting, employee recruitment and retention and education and outreach.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Tweeting (and Liking)


Competition for Pharma Talent Is Heating Up in Emerging Markets

Posted in BioJobBuzz

While R&D scientists and sales representatives continue to struggle to find jobs in the US at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the competition is fierce to hire and retain pharma employees in emerging markets like China and India. Earlier this week, I posted a piece on big pharma’s continuing expansion of its R&D activities in Asia and the growing need for US-trained PhDs in this region. However, it appears that hiring and retaining pharma sales reps is a bigger problem in China and India for big pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi-Aventis (SA) and Pfizer.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg News about 20 percent of GSK’s sales forces in both countries quits each year in favor of better offers from its rivals including Pfizer and SA. One GSK executive quipped “There’s a huge war for talent. It’s hard to do anything about. If you have a good person, they could find someone else willing to pay twice as much.” This is in marked contrast with the US where almost 100,000 pharma sales reps may have lost jobs over the past five years.

Emerging Asia Pacific markets accounted for roughly 17 percent of GSK’s sales in 2010 as compared with 18 percent for Pfizer and 30 percent for SA. Sales revenues for most major pharmaceutical companies declined in both the US and Europe last year. There is no question that big pharma is turning to emerging markets as a means to maintain and increase sales of drugs after patents expire and generic competition cuts into revenue. Sales in emerging markets are predicted to reach about $400 billion by 2020 which is equivalent to the current size of the US and the five biggest European markets combined!

By its own admission, GSK was “fairly late” in their investments in China and may explain why the company may be experiencing trouble with competing for talent in that market. Employment opportunities in emerging markets will likely resemble those in the late 1990s in the US and Europe, when there was a dearth of talents life sciences professionals and companies were willing to pay large salaries (regardless of whether or not job candidates were qualified) to employees to maintain operations. This trend is driving up labor costs in China and interestingly, China is beginning to outsource work to Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore where labor and raw materials costs are less expensive.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (Go East Young Man and Woman)


Beware of Job Title Inflation

Posted in Career Advice

Although the economy is in the toilet and unemployment remains high, highly skilled and ambitious employees are usually not at risk of losing their jobs. In fact, these employees are highly sought after and frequently contacted by recruiters trying to get them to “jump ship.” In other words, there will always be jobs for these employees even though the rest of us may be unemployed. Companies clearly recognize the value of these employees and will use all available strategies to retain them. 

During good economic times, this usually means a promotion and a concomitant salary increase. However, during recessionary times companies tend to promote these “good” employees into position with greater authority without a pay raise: the assumption being that tacking on a fancy new job title with some added responsibilities will be sufficient to stroke an employee’s ego and ignore the lack of additional compensation for a larger workload. 

To that end, the folks over at the online masters degree website recently posted an article entitled Job Title Stuffing 101: 12 Buzzwords to Inflate a Job’s Importance. It is a veritable tutorial on inflated job titles and the one that you ought to avoid (see below) if possible.

1. Manager: This title may be given to anyone and everyone who ever heads up a project or department, no matter how large or small. It’s used to give slight leverage to the person in charge of the task at hand, but can mean little to the project manager’s supervisors. Because many companies push team creativity, the manager is primarily responsible for turning things in and will be the one to hear about if the boss isn’t satisfied

2. Strategist: A strategist of any type simply means you plan tasks and have some idea of how these tasks are most efficiently executed. For example, in the case of a content strategist, it means you create and organize the content of a newsletter, website, or blog. Is the job important? Sure. But for some reason content strategist sounds a lot more impressive than web editor. You take your pick, but if the former is going on your resume, you better deliver.

3. Deputy: In the age of the Internet, there’s a deputy for many jobs. What does this mean? Well, it means you aren’t quite a junior or an assistant, but the company doesn’t have the funds to pay you like they would someone with the actual title. An example is an editor-in-chief versus a deputy editor. One issuse that you may run into being a deputy of any sort is more on your plate than you bargained for. But you’re the deputy, so you can handle it, right?

4. Senior: Companies love to tack this one onto a title. Senior web writer or senior designers are common for firms. What does this senior title translate to? Anyone with 5+ years of experience in a field and still utilizing those skills can serve as a senior, usually without the pay or responsibilities of management. Simply put – you do your job well, but the buck stops here.

5. Producer: This one has become popular for the web. Web producer pops up on many mainstream blogs and sites. A producer can wear many hats, and for a company that means more bang for their buck. Sure, you will be producing content, but expect handling anything the project throws your way even if it isn’t in the job description (and there’s a solid chance it won’t be)..

6. Supervisor: Like managers, this title can be hit or miss. For large corporations that have had to cut back and eliminate lower level management, pawning the title of supervisor off on an entry level employee who’s been in their cubicle for six months means having someone in the office to make sure things run well without having to douse them in a raise. There are some supervisors who are able to oversee a small department, but ultimately are not the first in command for their subordinates.

7. Ambassador: This job title buzzword is almost an insult to the actual word! In the age of promoting, you know, everything, the job title of brand ambassador is given to celebrities in a niche group that endorse the product sometimes without appearing in ads. This person is contracted by the company or simply receives perks and free services from the brand. They often do little more than show up at launch parties and events and plugs the company as needed. For Channel, The Misshapes Leigh Lazar serves as a brand ambassador and for AT&T, there’s Internet has-been Justine. The problem with brand ambassadors is often large corporations are the last to discover the new face of a niche audience.

8. Professional: A friend says that anytime you have to tack the word professional onto your job title, you must not have a real job. This is up for debate, but let’s take a look at a couple of titles that utilize the word. How about professional organizer? Or records distribution professional? By the way, the latter is the new uppity name for mail room clerk. Yes, even those fresh out of college need an inflated job title. Professional used to mean you had proper training for whatever you do, now it means you are paid some type of wage for what you do, no matter how little that is or the responsibility it entails.

9. Consultant: Who knows what you do with this title. It can mean you directly fix problems, as in the case of IT consultants or it can mean you merely offer your advice, in the case of interior design consultants. Many consultants bring in the big bucks and are contracted by major corporations, but many others work for themselves and struggle to get by. While this title isn’t necessarily inflated, it doesn’t really give the total picture of what you’re hired to do either (which you may prefer).

10. Vice President: Somewhere in the past decade, a lot more vice presidents have shown up to the company picnic. Instead of having a manager of ____, that job became VP of Public Relations or VP of Human Resources. It means second-in-command, in that department and not much more. There used to be only one

VP per company, but we’re guessing the more, the merrier, even if it is job title inflation in its boldest form.

11. Global: Even a mom-and-pop shop can have a Global Director of Communications. It can be mom, working from the family’s dry cleaning business to update the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Many companies are employing social media personnel and since a lot of these companies indeed do business around the world, why not stick the word global onto the job title of someone who represents your business to the world? It makes the job sound more exciting and may get you onto someone’s Follow Friday!

12. Lead: The word lead in a job title can mean a lot or a little. In some cases, it means you are heading up an operation, but in most cases it means the company is utilizing you for your skills and maximum potential without proper pay. Some companies use this title as a stepping stone between entry level and a lower management position to see if someone is ready for the next tier of responsibilities.

While promotion without compensation is not novel, it is rampant in today’s uncertain economic times. A word of advice: if you are being considered for a promotion, the first thing that I would ask is whether or not the promotion comes with a pay increase. If not, you ought to think twice about accepting the promotion and call the recruiters back who are trying to lure you away to a competitor’s company. Accepting a position with increased responsibility without a pay raise sends a signal to management that you can be exploited and taken advantage of. And, management will likely continue to exploit you until you call that recruiter back who tells you that a person with your title and level of responsibility can earn much more at a competitor company! That begs the question: Is job title inflation without compensation really a good way to promote employee retention? I think not!

Hat tip to

Until next time…

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


How to Keep Your Job Whether or Not We're in a Recession

Posted in Career Advice

Over the past few weeks, I have seen many posts on various career and job blogs offering people advice and tips on how to hold on to their current jobs. In my opinion, most of these posts didn’t offer any new or insight tips on this topics. Instead most of the suggestions were obvious and rather pedestrian. For example, be pleasant to your boss, show up on time, don’t leave before the official work day ends, volunteer to take on new projects yada, yada, yada.

While these suggestions may help to some extent, I think that the best way to keep a job is to think strategically and learn how to manage it to your maximum benefit regardless of prevailing economic conditions. In other words don’t wait until you are in a precarious situation to become a model employee. With this in mind, I came across an extremely insightful article on job retention in the business section of today’s NY Times.

The author, who has been a practicing psychologist for 22 years and a “boss” for the past couple of years, provides insights on job retention from both employee and managerial perspectives. I highly recommend that you read this article—even I learned a thing or two!!!

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (hang on to your current one if you can—its tough out there)!!!!