Job hunting can be a real headache for any recent pharmacy graduate. After targeting a few companies, the thing to do is to prepare a CV and cover letter. It’s a first step in the right direction to getting an interview, and possibly a job, in the pharmaceutical industry.
At the CV-writing stage, it is important to mention all of the experiences that could highlight your qualifications for the jobs you’re applying for. The CV can be a true passport to desirable jobs, only it must be coherent and linked to the area concerned.
“What must jump off the page from the very beginning is a candidate’s work experience, no matter how limited,” says Manon Boileau, president of Prospect Plus inc., a staffing agency specializing in administration, pharmaceuticals and management. “It’s what we look at first.”
Note that not everyone has a long list of valuable work experience. Recent graduates often have few accomplishments to discuss. Luckily, all experience counts, according to Ms. Boileau. Nothing should be discounted.
“There is always a way to mention something on a CV in a way that emphasizes the person’s strengths. Students, for example, can specify summer job or volunteer experience in relation to the position they’re applying for. If your dream is to work in a lab, you can even mention related skills acquired in the context of a hobby. Nothing is impossible; you just have to put all the chances on your side.”
Experience aside, it is important to put some thought into the details of your document. Your CV should be concise and clear, because it is true that employers will make up their minds about it at first glance. If the presentation is too cluttered, sloppy or full of spelling mistakes, it will probably end up in the round file. So keep in mind that clarity is crucial.
COVER LETTERS—A NECESSARY EVIL?
After preparing your CV, you should write a cover letter to accompany it. The idea is to summarize why you are applying for a particular position. It should also include your qualities in relation to the job. In short, the cover letter is a sales pitch. Explain why the job is perfect for you and why you should be hired.
But watch out, not everyone agrees on the importance of the cover letter, with some even considering it immaterial. “In fact, it is rarely looked at,” admits Ms. Boileau. “Although it should still be included, it should be very short—two to three paragraphs are enough. The CV is really what will be looked at first, even before the cover letter, and not the other way around. Experience is what employers want to see!”
AN ACTIVE APPROACH
Much of your work still lies ahead of you after finalizing your CV and cover letter. The first job-hunting mistake to avoid is to relax while waiting for a response. Sending out applications is one thing; following up is another, but crucial for turning the odds in your favour.
“You need to be proactive to get results,” adds the pharmaceutical recruiting specialist. “If you just sit there waiting for a job to fall into your lap, you’ll be sadly disappointed.”
Job hunters should therefore follow up with their company contact by making sure that their application was received and inquiring if the person has any questions. This shows a marked interest in the company and availability to come in for a possible interview. It is also a way for candidate to stand out from the competition by being resourceful and determined—very popular qualities with employers.
“I think people who are serious about getting a job need to find a variety of ways to show their interest,” sums up Ms. Boileau.
And if, after all this effort—developing a winning CV and closely following up with potential employers, you still have not had any nibbles, do not give up and especially do not start to doubt yourself.
“Under no circumstances should you take it personally and start questioning your skills,” reassures Ms. Boileau. “Often, it’s only a question of circumstances. Finding a job can take time, and you have to be patient.”
Ms. Boileau reassuringly reminds job hunters that pharmaceuticals are one of the most promising and interesting sectors for recent graduates, with plenty of job opportunities.
“Anyone with the required pre-requisites to work in the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t have to worry, they will eventually find something. It is always been a field with attractive working conditions for its employees. And while the pharma sector has slowed down a bit in the past few years, it’s remained an interesting field. Many people are thinking about retiring soon, so there will be many jobs to fill in the years to come.”