Wanted: Applicants with Problem Solving Skills

Posted in Career Advice

There was a very interesting article in today’s NY Times Business Section  entitled “Want to Work for Jaguar Land Rover: Start Playing Phone Games that caught my eye. The article stated that the carmaker would be recruiting 5,000 people people this year. To be considered for employment, prospective employees must download an app with a series of puzzles that they must solve.  Those who score well on the app will be able to progress to the interview stage.  While this may be somewhat unique to companies that are looking for engineers and computer personnel, I think the point here is that the ability to solve problems or puzzles is the single most important attribute that any employee must possess if they want to be hire.  To that point, companies like Marriott Hotels, Axa Group, Deloitte, Xerox, The BBC and Daimler Trucks all use playing games and virtual reality to identify potentially-qualified job applicants.

Companies once relied on job fairs and advertising to court prospective applicants but they have been forced to become much more creative in order to identify the technical skills and business savvy they need.  I will use my son, who graduated from college last month as a case in point.

He applied for a job with a non-profit venture firm. The first thing they asked him to supply was a picture of himself that encapsulated him as a person. After submitting a picture of him and his Cross Country college team after a big meet (and making it to the next round) he was sent a hypothetical and given several days to respond.  He spent an entire day on the hypothetical, submitted it and was subsequently told he would not be considered for a face-to-face interview.

What does this all mean?  Based on my years as a career development consultant, these exercises suggest that while college graduates and advanced degree professionals may have met their academic requirements, there is no guarantee that those degrees qualified  them for jobs in “real life”. Although unemployment is at historic lows in the US, it does not mean that employers are not being selective about who they hire. That said, starting an app company that uses artificial intelligence and virtual reality to assess a candidate’s problem solving ability may be a great idea!

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)


Twitter 101 for Job Seekers

Posted in Social Media

Forget about Facebook. The hottest social media platform on the Internet these days is Twitter the real time, 140 character microblogging service. While most people have heard of Twitter, there are still many folks out there who don’t know what it is or how to use it. Interestingly, a growing number of hiring managers and job seekers are turning to Twitter to search for fresh talent or learn about new job opportunities.

Using Twitter is very easy but potential users may be reluctant to use it simply because it is new and requires a little bit of practice.  To that end, my good friend the Recruiting Animal (@animal), a long time, professional recruiter and BlogTalk Radio personality who hosts the wildly popular the Recruiting Animal Show, did an excellent  television interview with ABC News describing how to use Twitter to find jobs.

For those of you who don’t know Animal he is a very colorful and bombastic personality. However, despite his theatrics, he is a very knowledgeable and insightful. So, listen closely to what he has to say in his video.


Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (and Tweeting too)!!!!!!

BioCrowd Launches the BioJob Center

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Looking for a job can be overwhelming, time consuming and emotionally draining. Recognizing this, BioCrowd founders Cliff Mintz and Vincent Racaniello began searching for a tool that would help to reduce the pain associated with looking for a job. To that end, BioCrowd in association with Career Management Source, Inc— an emerging, life sciences recruiting management software company —are pleased to announce the launch of the BioJob Center at the BioCrowd.

The BioJob Center offers both job seekers and employers ‘real time,’ current job listings, application tracking, and e-mail job alerts. Job seekers can search for jobs (based on job title and/or location) and directly apply for them from the job center.

Employers can list job openings; advertise jobs; call out ‘hot jobs’ or search candidate resume databases. Jobs posted to the BioJob Center are also simultaneously listed on other job sites including www.JobJobHealth.com and Twitter Jobs. Other job boards and sites will be added in the near future.

The search engine that powers the job center was specifically designed to automatically ‘pull’ thousands of job listings from life sciences corporate websites, bioscience job boards and other sources. Job search results are updated in real time and positions that have already been filled are automatically eliminated from search results. This feature prevents job seekers from wasting time applying for jobs that no longer exist!

Job seekers can post their resumes and join the BioJob Center for free! One of the cooler features of the new tool is customized candidate e-mail alerts. Job seekers who use this feature receive alerts when new jobs (that meet specifications) are posted to the BioJob Center or added in real time by the search engine. This helps to save time by avoiding multiple visits to job boards and conducting an endless number of Google searches.

Whether you are a job seeker or employer, Vincent and I believe that the BioJob Center will help to expedite and alleviate some of the stress associated with job searches.

Please visit the BioJob Center today and let us know what you think! Also, those of you who may have suggestions, ideas, kudos, kvetches, etc please feel free to contact me!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


Facebook Reaches 500 Million Users but Pharma Continues to be Slow to React

Posted in Social Media

An article in today’s New York Times business section loudly proclaimed that the number of people using Facebook had topped 500 million. Further, according to the article: “The company has grown at a meteoric pace, doubling in size from a year ago and each month, more than 30 billion photographs, links to Web sites and news articles are shared through the site, and its members spend roughly 700 billion minutes there.”  

While these statistics are mind boggling and represent an incredible business opportunity for any company, life sciences companies including most major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have largely shunned Facebook. In a post earlier this week on EyeonFDA, its author, Mark Senak rightly noted that:

 “When social media began to ebb from a media pathway for individuals to connect, to one where institutions and industry began to employ social media as a means of communicating with their constituencies Facebook has become an extremely important referral source - a driver of traffic – to Web pages.” Despite this, “the pharmaceutical industry, as a highly regulated industry, has lagged behind other sectors.”

The reasons for pharma’s reluctance to use social media to engage stakeholders are numerous. The most common ones offered include the lack of regulations guiding the use of social media and its possible effects on adverse event reporting for approved medicines. However, the lack of regulatory guidance and consequences for adverse event reporting didn’t prevent life sciences companies from building branded product websites, sponsoring patient communities or investing in social networks for physicians. Therefore, it is unlikely that the lack of regulatory guidance and fears of overwhelming adverse event reporting aren’t responsible for pharma’s reluctance to embrace social media. I suspect that the real reasons may have more to do with increasing transparency surrounding clinical testing, drug approvals and drug pricing and reimbursement. But, I digress….

Interestingly, despite the lack of regulatory guidance and concerns over adverse event reporting, some pharmaceutical companies have chosen to boldly go where no other life sciences companies have gone before on Facebook.  According to Mark, the following companies have created corporate or disease/cause-related fan pages on Facebook:

  1. Labs Are Vital sponsored by Abbott Laboratories
  2. AstraZeneca US Community Connections
  3. AstraZenecaCareers
  4. Bayer Karriere
  5. Bayer Sustainability
  6. Johnson & Johnson Network
  7. Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson
  8. Pfizer

While the number of person who are fans of these pages are minute (as compared with the total number of Facebook users) they likely represent highly committed and focused groups of user—any pharmaceutical marketer’s dream! Although Facebook still subscribes to the notion that “bigger is better, niche networking and social media sites are growing in popularity. This is because these sites may give marketers and advertisers a “bigger bang for their buck” as compared with larger, more unfocused and disparate user communities. In other words, penetration and uptake rates are likely to greater in focused niche populations as compared with the general population at large.

I have long contended that social media tools can be used for other than promotional purposes in the life sciences industry. To that end, the use of social media for clinical trial patient recruitment and retention is rapidly expanding and there are signs that pharmaceutical companies have finally recognized the power of social media for recruiting purposes e.g. AstraZenecaCareers .  

I have no doubt that the life science industry will eventually recognize the utility power of social media. It is no longer a question of “if” but rather ‘when” for social media and the life sciences industry?

Until next time…

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


Job Opportunities for Indian Life Scientists

Posted in BioJobBuzz

As many of you may know, I attend national science meetings where I offer resume critiquing services and give career development seminars on topics ranging from resume writing to alternate career opportunities for life scientists. Frequently, I critique the resumes of foreign PhD students and postdocs who want remain in the US but cannot for a variety of reasons related to visa status. I usually tell them that there are more job opportunities for them in their home countries; usually India and China, than there are in the US which no longer has a great demand for R&D scientists

Until recently, I hadn’t heard of any Asian recruiting firms or organizations that would help to find jobs for US-trained life scientists. Much to my surprise, I heard from Shyam Suryanarayanan, an entrepreneur who started a recruiting organization called ABLE C-Drive that helps place US-trained Indian nationals into life science jobs at Indian pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.   I asked Shyam to send me a description of the services offered by ABLE C-Drive. Here is what he wrote:

"ABLE C-DRIVE (www.cdrivejobs.com) is a specialist Life Science Career Platform for the Indian Life Science Industry.  It is an initiative launched by C-DRIVE ( a specialist Life Science Career Solutions Company), in collaboration with ABLE – (Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises), the Industry Association and the face of the Indian Biotech sector. The company is a pioneering initiative in the Indian Life Science Careers space to help Life Science Professionals be accessible/visible to a whole host of hiring organizations in a discreet manner, with a view to getting hired.  The ‘Returning Indian’ Community is a preferred group, given their strong training and experience in World Class research labs.

The list of companies hiring from this platform includes a mix of large global home grown leaders, as well as exciting small and medium-sized outfits across pharma, biotech, agricultural sciences (nutraceuticals), bioinformatics, clinical research, contract research and manufacturing." 

Our platform is a boon to hiring companies, because it is a single destination for pre-screened, quality life science professionals which significantly lower the cost, time and effort required for hiring. For additional information, please visit www.cdrivejobs.com or send your resume to lifejobs@cdrivecareers.com

Those of you who are seeking life sciences jobs in India ought to check ABLE-C Drive out!

Until next time…

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

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Social Networks and Corporate Recruiting: Leveraging Employee Referrals to Find New Talent

Posted in Social Media

The advent of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Linked In have been a boon to recruiters and human resources (HR) professionals. Social networks represent a vast and easily-accessible source of job candidates whose professional credentials and personal information are readily available to determine whether or not they may be potential new hires. While the effectiveness of recruiters and HR professionals to source new talent is debatable, I contend that there is nobody more qualified than employees at a company to identify prospective new employees who may bring value to an organization. A number of forward-thinking companies have realized that the best way to find “right fit job candidates” is to mine the social networking contacts of their existing employees. To that end, Appirio and Jobvite, two San Francisco, CA-based start ups, developed software platforms that allow their clients to link employee social networks and candidate sourcing solutions to employee referral programs. 

A hiring company that uses Appirio’s application, ask its employees who belong to Facebook to add the application to their personal pages. When new jobs are available, Appirio’s matching engine searches the Facebook pages of an employee’s friends and uses job titles, geography and key words to determine which friends might be a good fit for the available positions. Once identified, a friend receives a referral from the employee inviting him/her to apply for the job (if interested). If the “friend” is ultimately hired, Appirio’s application allows the company to identify which employee found the match and offer a referral bonus. To address privacy concerns, the list of possible matches is available to only to friends/employees—not the hiring company or Appirio.

Jobvite offers a similar service but in addition to Facebook, it also searches and mines friend/contact information from Linked In and Twitter. And, anyone who receives a Jobvite referral can also search his/her own network to identify suitable job candidates and pass it along again. Jobvite recipients who are hired can be tracked to the original sender, so that the employee can receive a referral bonus—even if the Jobvite referral has been passed from one inbox to another up to six times.

Despite the explosion of job boards, social networking sites and social media tools like Twitter, employee referrals are still the most effective way for jobseekers to find new jobs. The Appirio and Jobvite solutions represent a novel way to leverage employee relationships to match jobseekers with prospective new employers. However, in this job market, I wouldn’t sit around and wait to receive an Appirio or Jobvite invitation from one of your social networking friends. Instead, I recommend that you put your social networking sites to good use and tell everyone you know that you are actively seeking employment.  Because at the end of the day finding a new job is all about networking!

Until next time…

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


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Three Ways Pharma uses Facebook

Posted in Social Media

After having looked at pharma’s use of twitter, I decided to also get a feel for how pharma is engaging with facebook so far. Three main uses emerge: 1. connecting employees, 2. attracting talent and 3. promoting disease awareness or treatment adherence

1. Connecting current and ex- employees definately has the most activity. Numerous official and unofficial  groups or fan pages bring together the employees of most of the top pharma companies. For the purpose of this analysis let me concentrate the largest groups with apparent corporate endorsement (ie. use of official logo, links to company website and corporate messaging in group purpose).

Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer/Wyeth and Roche seem to be leading the pack in terms of activity. Sanofi and Novartis both set up official fan pages with over one thousand members. Lots of employee activism as well at  Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, Novartis and Wyeth with facebook groups of 500+ members. (Check out this video from the official BI facebook group, just for fun).

Other, not so active groups: AstraZeneca (also have an English and French fan page), TevaGSK (French fan page), Lilly, JNJ, and Pfizer.

Interestingly, there are a number of unofficial “Pfizer“ groups expressing negative sentiment towards the company (most of it coming from layed off employees). Pfizer is also the only company that someone set up a group about them, called “conversations of Pfizer“. Not much activity unfortunately, but intersting concept nevertheless.

Another strange aside: Egytian and Turkish country groups seem to exist for basically every pharma company I researched, must be a cultural thing?

2. Regarding attracting talent, there is an overwhelming number of student, intern and training program groups for all companies; most of them probably not official. GSK seems to have the largest number of student groups, a lot of them private. Merck also stands out for its excellent Merck Careers fan page, well done, I think, but not much activity, yet.

3. Promoting disesase awareness is where I believe things finally get interesting for patients. Examples of pharma companies using facebook to drive disease awareness and treatment adherence aare not bountiful, but I did find two great examples.

The first example is the ADHD Moms group, sponsored by McNeil Pediatrics, a JNJ company. The group counts close to 8000 members, but, for me, it is not these numbers that make the group exciting. By setting up this fan page, McNeil has done a great job at creating an environment in which patients/caregivers can receive valuable information concerning treatment management and adherence, while staying within the pharma “comfort zone“.

The concept is simple. One Pediatrician and three ADHD moms, as well as “guest writers“ discuss topics of importance to raising a child with ADHD. There are polls to each topic to get the audience’s feedback, while avoiding  thorny legal issues such as adverse event reporting or off-label usage. The site also offers a podcast series and links to prominent ADHD organizaions.

The second example comes from Novartis Zometa product. It is called: Marica Strassman Takes Role as Patient Advocate. In this group, celebrity and breast cancer survivor Marcia Strassman takes on the mission to “inform breast cancer patients and caregivers about the importance of following treatment regiments outlined by their doctors “. Thus a clear focus on promoting disease awareness and treatment adherence.

The setup up is also highly transparant, clearly disclosing Zometa sponsorship with links to the Zometa homepage, product information and the facebook groupe mission:“ To educate patients with advanced breast cancer and other metastatic cancers about the risks and benefits of Zometa.“

This fan page, like the ADHD example, features links to the most prominent cancer organizations as a further resources for patients. Also, similar to the ADHD page, this site does not allow any comments from its members to prevent any legal issues.

So overall, highly encouraging signs that pharma is starting to use facebook. Most companies still seem to first experiment with more internally focused groups, but some are starting to “test the waters“ and to engage with patients on important topics like disease awareness and treatment adherence.

Silja Chouquet is the owner and CEO of whydot GmbH, an agency specialized in social media consulting, coaching and training. Her fields of expertise are the creation of patient-focused social media communications and marketing campaigns. She runs the whydotpharma blog where she discusses social media and the life sciences and other pharma-related topics.


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Jobseekers Beginning to Favor Social Networking over Online Career Sites to Find Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Online career sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and Yahoo Hot Jobs have gotten so big and over subscribed that they are no longer useful to most jobseekers. Many career development experts have discovered that the large career sites tend to overwhelm jobseekers because of the enormity of job possibilities that appear on them.  Unfortunately, this seemingly endless supply of job opportunities frequently induces jobseekers to spend too much time applying for online jobs and not enough time exploring non-internet based job possibilities. While applying for online jobs is facile and may be emotionally-gratifying, it usually doesn’t culminate in many face-to-face interviews or job offers for that matter. This is because most online job applications are screened by software programs looking for key words or phrases and, if your resume doesn’t contain them it will not be reviewed by a human. Further, many of the openings posted on job boards are actually placed there by recruiters and contract employment agencies—not actual companies seeking to fill positions. Often times, recruiters post expired or fictitious job descriptions on the boards to “pad” their candidate databases with qualified applicants who can be used for future job orders. Finally, sometimes unscrupulous people/companies place false or misleading ads on the big job boards. Unfortunately, these people have no qualms about taking financial advantage of job seekers who may be desperate or “down on their luck

The declining usefulness of the big online job boards has given rise to smaller career sites like Indeed.com and Simply Hired.com which are driven by powerful search engines and permit jobseekers to customize job searches based on industry, geography, salary and job availability. Other companies like BioInsights.com and OneScience.com have built niche job boards that specialize in industry-specific job listings (in this case pharma and biotech). While these new careers site are more focused, easier to navigate and frequently yield better results than the large job boards, they too can be exploited by recruiters and unscrupulous would-be employers. 

The growing popularity of social networking sites represents an important paradigm shift for jobseekers and employers. Belonging to popular social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook or Plaxo allows job seekers to cast a wider net by taking advantage of the contacts or connections that their “friends” may have at various companies and organizations. Further, it is not uncommon for people within a network to pass on resumes or put in a good word to hiring managers on behalf of friends or contacts from their network who are seeking employment.  However, it is important to also point out that recruiters and contract employment agencies have also recognized the potential and power of social networks. Recruiters and HR specialists now routinely troll social networks (particularly Linked In and Facebook) for qualified candidates and don’t hesitate to contact “qualified candidates” whether or not they are actively looking for a job. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, hiring managers and recruiters are becoming increasingly reliant on social networks to screen and gather personal information about job candidates to assess their suitability for certain jobs. According to a 2006 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, recruiters use social networking sites 23 per cent more than they did in 2006 to verify resumes, screen applicants and fill vacancies. Also, the study found that possible negative information posted on social network profiles—personal views, alcohol or drug use, sexually-oriented pictures or social commentaries— have a greater impact on hiring decisions than any positive information that may also appear on job seeker profiles.

The growing use of social networks by job seekers to find employment and employers and recruiters to screen job applicants has profound implications for people who belong to these networks. With this in mind, if you currently have profiles associated with your legal name on social networks like Face Book, MySpace or Linked In, I strongly recommend that are completely devoid of the following: 1) sexually suggestive or explicit photographs, 2) posts or photos depicting excessive alcohol or drug use, 3) any rants that you may have posted about your boss or a current place of employment and 4) personal information about your age, marital status, children or sexual orientation. Also, if you are actively involved in a job search, it is a good idea to upload a short bio or resume to your profile and to post any bonafide recommendations or career award and honors that you may have received. However, if you find the prospect of having to sanitize your MySpace and Facebook profiles unpalatable, then I suggest that you remove your name from your current profile(s) and replace it with an alias (your friends will still  know who you are) and build another profile with your real name for professional use only.   

We live in a highly competitive, constantly-changing world where even slightly negative perceptions about a person may mean the different between employment or not. Ironically, while the Internet allows greater freedom of expression, it also permits people with decision-making powers to more easily scrutinize our daily activities and gain greater insights into our personal lives. Consequently, the onus is on jobseekers to regulate or control what prospective employers may learn about them online. Put simply, the success or failure of your career may literally be in your own hands. That said, the next time that you update your Facebook or MySpace profiles take a moment (before you hit the “send button”) and ask yourself whether or not the new information “is going to help or hurt my career?”

Until next time…


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


BioJobBlog Talks with the Recruiting Animal

Posted in Career Advice

I was contacted by the Recruiting Animal to see whether I would be interested in joining him on his show, to talk about recruiting in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields. Although I am a recovering recruiter and have not placed a single candidate in the past 5 years, I decided what the heck—what do I have to lose?

For those of you who are interested you can hear my pearls of wisdom by clicking the icon below.



Until next time…

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