Workplace Politics

Posted in Career Advice

Many years ago when I first started BioJobBlog I wrote a few posts about workplace politics warning job seekers to beware.  While workplace politics are still with us, they have been amplified by the growth of social media and willingness of employees to express their personal opinions all over the Internet.

In the old days before electronic communication it took a while for office politics, comments and the like to bubble their way to the top and cause problems. And,if you were astute at playing the so-called game, it was easy to talk privately and be reasonably assured that your “friends” and colleagues who heard you would likely keep the things you said under wraps and not share them with others; particularly those who may have some control over whether or not you are gainfully employed. Today, you not only have to know how to strategically play the game, you also need to keep your opinions to yourself– if you don’t want them immediately posted to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube etc.

I think Alexandra Levit a well known workplace author, consultant and speaker offered some great advice about office politics when she suggested:

 ”… to generally steer clear of talking about anything you wouldn’t discuss with your religious officiant or grandmother – namely, sex, drugs, and politics. Unless you have a very specific type of job, these subjects shouldn’t be relevant, and by bringing them up you have a better chance of hurting your reputation than helping it.”

I also recommend not publicly criticizing your boss, colleagues or even politicians. Finally, do not say anything critical, negative or pejorative about anybody you work with in e-mail or text conversations.because these things are immortal and will outlive you and your time at a company or organization!

Until next time…

Good luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!


Resume Writing: A Great Example

Posted in Career Advice, Uncategorized

I work with a lot of college graduates and graduate students who looking for their first real jobs.  I am frequently asked about the need for a resume vs. curriculum vitae (CV).  Generally speaking, persons in technical fields with advanced degrees ought to only be concerned with CVs (a resume is too short to adequately represent scholastic, research and  technical achievements).  That said, a resume will suffice for 2-and 4-year college grads seeking employment whether inside or outside of their chosen careers.

Over the course of my career, I have reviewed thousands of CVs and resumes.  While I will admit I have seen more CVs than resumes (I am a scientist after all), I recently came across a resume that was excellent and can serve as a resume template (see below) for recent college grads!.

















The resume writer used action verbs, great descriptive adjectives and clearly demonstrated his/her qualifications an easy-to-understand and concise manner. Hiring managers love this because they can rapidly determine whether or not a job applicant is a good technical fit for an advertised position.

Resumes that are constructed like this one will likely get to the next level whether that is a phone interview or even an on site one-on-one opportunity.

Until next time…

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




Looking for a Job? These Pharma Companies Are “Hiring”!!!!

Posted in BioBusiness

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) perused the corporate websites of 10 major pharma companies to determine the number of available jobs at those companies for the week of June 17-21, 2013.  While this was a laudable exercise, it is important to note that jobs listed on corporate websites usually do not reflect the actual job openings at the companies that post them. That said, although the results offered byGENsurvey may seem encouraging to jobseekers, I would not put much faith in the conclusions that they draw. For example, the author of the piece wrote:

The results show both the U.S.’ continuing dominance of the industry, since nine of 10 companies hired the highest numbers of employees Stateside—as well as significant hiring overseas, especially in China (which dominated Eli Lilly’s listings of available jobs) and Europe.

Anybody looking for a pharmaceutical job in theUSwill tell you that it is one of the worst job markets inUShistory and that the number of new employees being hired is negligible.  Nevertheless, it is fun to rank big pharma companies when there is nothing else to do. To that end, here is the list of big pharma companies that are “hiring”

1.  Novartis

2,740 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 1,096 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(500 jobs);Germany(224);U.K.(127);India(113);Austria(109)

2.  Roche

1,450 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 591 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(240 jobs);Germany(192);China(148);PolandandSingapore(40 each)

3.  Sanofi

1,427 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 744 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(465 jobs);France(68);Germany(51);Canada(45);U.K.(18)

4.  Pfizer

815 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 332 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(249 jobs);U.K.(26);Mexico(18);Taiwan(17);Ukraine(16)

5.  GlaxoSmithKline

733 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 223 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(174 jobs);U.K.(114);Singapore(55);AustraliaandGermany(33 each)

6.  Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals

655 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 232 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(81 jobs);China(63); The Netherlands (40);Mexico(30);France(26)

7.  AbbVie (formerly Abbott Labs pharmaceutical division)

555 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 367 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Germany(68 jobs);China(28);France(20);U.K.(16); The Netherlands (14)

8.  AstraZeneca

544 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation: U.S., with 259 jobs listed on website3

Next five countries: China(202 jobs); U.K.(55)3;France (11);Turkey (8);Sweden (7)

9.  Eli Lilly

484 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:China, with 319 jobs listed on website

Next four countries2:U.S. (146 jobs);Canada (16);Australia (2);U.K. (1) 

10.  Bristol-Myers Squibb

368 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 318 jobs listed on website

Next five countries: Irelandand United Kingdom(12 jobs each); France(9)1;Belgium (7);Spain (5)

A quick perusal of the list indicates that Novartis, Roche and Sanofi, arguably the best positioned and well financed of the companies have the most open jobs listed on their corporate sites.  Pfizer, the world’s largest pharma company has a paltry 815 open jobs worldwide.

The remaining 6 companies on the list have had their share of misfortunes lately, most notably Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca whose development pipelines are thin. Maybe that is why Eli Lilly is aggressively expanding its operations inChinawhere it has made substantial R&D investments.

Johnson & Johnson has been rocked by highly publicized problems with its consumer products whereas Bristol-Myers Squibb has undergone significant restructuring in its executive suite of late.

Interestingly, the top three pharma companies in the world are European not US-owned. Maybe that explains why the US life sciences job market is so bad….go figure. Also, it is important to remember that roughly 300,000 pharmaceutical employees have lost their jobs since 2001.

Until next time…

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


The Biotechnology Job Market: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted in BioBusiness

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a Tarrytown, NY-based biotechnology company, today announced plans to add 400 new employees to its fast-growing staff upon completion of two new buildings; additional laboratories and office space.  Regeneron, founded 24 years ago, recently hit its stride after receiving regulatory approval for its first big product called Eylea —a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration—which generated $825 million in sales revenue this past year. This past August, the company received FDA approval for Zaltrap; a colorectal cancer drug that was co-developed with Sanofi.  Finally, the company has a cholesterol-lowering monoclonal antibody drug in Phase III clinical development.  Over the past six years, the headcount at Regeneron has grown from 682 to over 2,000 and the company is still hiring!

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), which eight months ago purchased San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals for $5.3 billion for it diabetes drug franchise, announced today that it will close Amylin’s corporate headquarters in La Jolla at the end of next year. Employees will be given the option to transfer to other BMS locations. Those who don’t transfer will lose their jobs. At present, 420 people work at Amylin’s corporate headquarters and hundreds will likely be layed off. Before the acquisition, Amylin employed about 1,250 workers. Roughly 300 employees at an Ohio manufacturing site and about 400 sales persons have been absorbed into the BMS workforce. To date, approximately 400 Amylin employees have lost their jobs.

Three weeks ago, pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca announced that it was cutting 1,600 R&D jobs by 2016.  Two days later, the company announced that it would cut 2,300 additional jobs (mainly sales and administrative jobs). This brings the layoffs that the company has announced in the last 15 months to 5,050. Since 2007, the company has eliminated over 32,000 jobs.  While this may sound draconian, it is not: most of Astra Zeneca’s competitors including Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, and Bayer etc. have  layed off just as many employees during the same period.  In fact, since 2001 the pharmaceutical industry has shed well over 300,000 jobs.

Until next time…

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





How Not To Use LinkedIn to Find a Job

Posted in Uncategorized

There is no question that LinkedIn has revolutionized the way in which professional can interact with and network with one another online. In the beginning, LinkedIn was new, fresh and exciting! Sadly, LinkedIn’s usefulness as a networking and job seeking tool is waning as much of the material posted in LinkedIn Groups (the best vehicle to look for jobs) is spam and ads by recruiting searching for qualified job applicants.

Despite its shortcomings, most employers allow their employees to post profiles on LinkedIn and permit them to visit the site during working hours. And, because of this, LinkedIn still has value as a job hunting platform. However, over the past several months I have noticed several troubling trends among jobseekers who are using LinkedIn to search for new career opportunities. To that point, I compiled a short list of things NOT TO DO when using LinkedIn to search for jobs.

Incomplete Personal Profiles
Like it or not, LinkedIn profiles are essentially electronic resumes. Not fully completing your LinkedIn profile is tantamount to providing a hiring manager with an incomplete and poorly prepared resume of CV. And, as most experienced jobseekers will tell you; this is the kiss of death. Also, many LinkedIn profiles do not contain personal photos. This is also a mistake. Prospective employers want to see whether or not potential candidates are professional-looking and are attentive to personal grooming. While posting an icon rather than a personal photo is OK, I highly recommend that serious jobseekers post a professional photo (not one that contains your pet or children).

Responding to Job Listings
There are many job listings and messages from recruiters on LinkedIn looking for qualified job applicants. I frequently see persons publicly responding to these ads and queries with “I am very interested; please check out my LinkedIn profile.” I am not sure what these people are thinking but do they really think that they are special enough for a hiring managers or recruiters (who screen thousands of applicants daily) to take time out from their busy schedules to look at their LinkedIn profiles? Also, publicly responding to a job ad is inappropriate. These responses should be private and not for everyone to see.

Publicly Listing Availability on LinkedIn
If you are unemployed or a recent graduate looking for a job, it is perfectly acceptable to post to LinkedIn that you are looking for a job. However, I seriously question the wisdom of persons who are currently employed and post that they are looking for new opportunities or publicly respond to posted job ads. Allowing your current employer to learn that you are not happy at your current job and actively looking for a new one is a good way to get yourself fired! If you are seriously considering moving on, I suggest that you privately respond to potential new job opportunities. The best way to do this is to send the person who advertised the job a LinkedIn note and ask that more information about the opportunity be sent to a personal e-mail address. It is important to remember that LinkedIn, like Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are searchable and anything posted to the networks can be found by performing a simple Google Search

Spamming and Inappropriate Remarks
Constantly posting the same messages, queries or “I am looking for a job” to LinkedIn groups is annoying, unprofessional and simply too spammy! This shows others that you are 1) inconsiderate, 2) self-focused and 3) desperate. And to be blunt, none of these characteristics will help you land a job! Further, you lose credibility and people tend to ignore your posts!

Also, do not post inappropriate remarks, express your true feelings or get into arguments with person on LinkedIn. Again, comments on LinkedIn are permanent and can and will be found by prospective employers and hiring managers if they look hard enough. To that point, while you may think that this is not going on in today’s extremely tough and competitive job market, then you are ill-informed and out-of-touch with today’s hiring practices.

I am sure that I have not identified all of the inappropriate behaviors that can be found on LinkedIn. Those of you, who want to add to my list, please do!

Until next time….

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

Healthcare Informatics: Who’s Hiring?

Posted in BioEducation

The past several years I have been touting healthcare informatics technology (HIT) as an alternate career option for life scientists. For those of you who may not know, healthcare informatics is a field tasked with organizing, mining and distributing electronic health records (EHRs) to physicians and other healthcare providers. Persons with a background in medicine/biology and familiarity with computer software and managing and manipulating large digital data sites are ideal candidates for HIT jobs

The US federal government is mainly responsible for the growth of the US HIT field because it is offering financial incentives (mandated in the 2009 federal stimulus package) to healthcare providers who switch from paper to EHRs. The government began to disburse the money last May to those institutions and providers who applied for the funds. To date, hospitals and healthcare providers have received $2.5 billion of a potential $27 billion in stimulus funds.

At present, nearly 40 percent of American primary care physicians and approximately 25 percent of hospitals use EHRs. Thousands more are likely to adopt EHRs this year to qualify for federal stimulus monies. 

So, which major companies are hiring health informatics employees? They include:

  1. Epic Systems
  2. Allscripts
  3. Meditech
  4. Cerner
  5. IBM
  6. McKesson
  7. Siemens
  8. GE Healthcare

Of course, there are smaller companies and start-ups that are also looking for health informatics employees. To that end, persons with a strong background in biology who are comfortable writing code or working with software packages that handle large datasets ought to consider careers in HIT.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (check out Epic in Madison, WI)


Alcon Announces Plans to Expand Its Workforce In Texas

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Despite a stalling economy, there are signs that some American companies are hiring and helping to improve local economies. A good of example of this is Alcon Laboratories located in Fort Worth, Texas. The company, which specializes in vision products, today announced that it leased 87,000 sq. feet of office space to house 400 new employees that it is moving into the Fort Worth area.

The company immediately needed the space to accommodate employees relocating from Atlanta and to house new hires as the company plans to expand existing facilities in south Fort Worth. Alcon was acquired this past April by Novartis, which operate the Atlanta-based CIBA Vision and Novartis Ophthalmic Units which are being consolidated into Alcon’s existing Forth Worth operations. While some of Novartis’ Atlanta employees lost their jobs as a result of the Alcon acquisition, many of them are relocating to new jobs at the Forth Worth facility.

Alcon notified Fort Worth city officials that it plans on expanding its current workforce of 3,200 to about 4,000 and spends millions of dollars to expand existing facilities over the next few years. Ironically, while most big US pharmaceutical companies are slashing domestic jobs and investing in emerging markets like China and India, Novartis, a Swiss company, is investing in America! Go figure!!!!!!!

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!!!!!!


Tis The Season: Novartis to Cut 2,000 Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

It seems that big pharma always waits for early Fall to announce pending job cuts. Novartis, Europe’s second largest pharmaceutical company, announced two days ago that it would eliminate 2,000 jobs mainly in the US and Switzerland but add new employees to operations in emerging markets like India and China. Novartis is just another addition to a growing list of big pharma companies that are slashing jobs in the US and Europe and hiring new employees in lower cost markets.

The announce cuts represent a 1 percent reduction in Novartis’ global workforce. The cuts will be implemented over the next three years and are predicted to save the company in excess of $200 million annually. 

According to a company spokesperson, Novartis will eliminate 1,100 jobs in Switzerland, with the balance in the U.S., Jimenez said. Some research will be moved to the U.S. from Switzerland, and reductions will be made in technical research and development, data management, clinical trial monitoring, drug safety and regulatory affairs. Novartis will add 700 positions in China and India in data management and trial monitoring.

As part of the reorganization and job cuts the company will close an over-the-counter drug manufacturing plant in Nyon, Switzerland and chemical production facilities in Basel and Torre, Italy.

The current cuts come after Novartis announced last November that it would eliminate 1400 U.S. sales jobs and more recently in March that it would reduce operations in the UK.

Although life science pundits recently suggested that job cuts in the pharmaceutical industry are slowing and may have hit rock bottom, it appears that the carnage is still taking place and will likely continue well into the future as more resources and monies are invested in emerging markets.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


Looking for a Job in the Life Science Industry? Try China!

Posted in BioJobBuzz

By now, most BioJobBlog readers have heard that China is poised to become a world leader in the life sciences. As some of you may already know, over 80 per cent of the worlds active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that are used to produce FDA-approved medicines are synthesized in China and exported to manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Further, not a day goes bye without a press release about a new partnership forged between multinational life sciences companies and a Chinese partner. Finally, the Chinese government is heavily investing in the life science industry in an attempt to manufacture medicines for internal use and to export. 

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Chinese life sciences companies are hiring. One such company is ShangPharma Corporation. ShangPharma was established in 2002 and has locations in Chengdu and Shanghai, China. It is one of China’s largest contract research organizations and employs over 1,600 persons. The company offers discovery and preclinical development services in both chemistry and biology including API and biologics manufacturing. 

The company is currently looking for a person with a PhD or Masters degree with expertise in CNS and/or cognitive subhuman primates (cymologous and/or rhesus monkeys) models. This is a Group Leader position and the ideal candidate will have a background in pharmacology and neurosurgery. Strong communication skills and the ability to speak and write reports in English are required. Please click here for more information or to apply for the position.

While working in China may not be the first choice for most Americans, it may be ideal for foreign students who trained in the US and have a good command of the English language. Whether you are Chinese or American, a sobering fact to remember is that almost 300,000 American pharmaceutical employees have lost their jobs since 2001; making this one of the worst life sciences job markets in history!

Until next time…

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