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Asking us to help you find your next opportunity is the best possible start you can make. We'll help you perfect your CV, secure an interview for the job you want, and then help you prepare for it. But in the interests of being as helpful as possible we've put together some advice with the help of Andy Smith - clinical recruiter for pharma and biotech since 2003 and Manager of our Clinical Business Unit - to help you along the way...
Rushing a mediocre CV out at the last minute costs highly qualified people their ideal job. A good CV gives a recruiter a detailed impression of you from only a glance, and they can tell right away who's taken time to prepare, and who's rushed it. Regard your CV and application letter as work in progress and give it a polish every couple of months. You never know when you'll be asked for it.
For each occupation, each level of each occupation, and for changes of career and country, there are key things that recruiters want to hear. If you already know what these are then spend some time considering them before you begin to write. If not, speak to your recruiter and find out what buzzwords, concepts and competencies will carry conviction.
A boring format or copy of your job definition won't stand out; you need to make sure you hook your recruiter's interest pretty much straight away. Spend a bit of time thinking about how you'll sell yourself to your reader; what makes you stand out from the crowd? The story of your career needs to convince your recruiter that you're worth meeting. You need to contextualise your achievements and tell your recruiter what value you can add to an employer's future.
Structure and presentation is critical. Begin your CV with a short profile section containing your contact details and education, including your degree if you have one, and its classification, and then move on to what you're doing now. Your current job is what your recruiter is most interested in. If your education and information about your current job won't fit on the first page, demote your education to the second page. If you have trouble filling the two pages, pad out the second with your hobbies. Be sure to arrange your text in a logical, clear and consistent way, and include the company name, and the areas and phases you've worked on when describing your responsibilities. There's no need to pepper your CV with titles like 'Profile' 'Career Objective' and 'Skills.' All you really need is a few sensible headlines such as 'Career,' 'Education' and 'Personal.' Make sure that you widen your papers' margins, use the same font throughout, and keep the layout consistent. Attention to detail is extremely important in the clinical market, and so must be spot-on in your CV. Finally, when you think you're finished, take a step back and ask yourself whether you think it looks good; if you're not 100%, work on its appearance until you are.
Bulleted paragraphs are a great way to save space and add impact but they need to relate to each other in an intelligent way and carry their own merit. A list of superlative claims with no substantiating evidence won't fool anyone.
If your reader's reached the third paragraph of your letter and glanced at your CV, you've already shown them that you can communicate; there's no need to tell them in so many words that you're a 'good communicator,' a 'self-starter' or a 'great team player.' Your skills should be implicit in the quality, structure and relevance of your CV's content.
Your letter needs to capture the spirit of what's best about you. Safe, boring, over-length, repetitive letters that regurgitate your CV or try to match every single minor point in the job definition won't get you the job you want.
Professional writers throw away more stuff than they publish; put your information down and then reduce it until you fit two pages. If necessary group information about your early career under a separate heading and just give each job a line or two. Place the focus on the last 5 -10 years and the highest levels of activity and achievement. Only people with at least 25 years of experience will need 3 pages. If you're short on space cut the minor roles and competencies which are already implied in the big stuff you do. Write your brief and powerful introduction last, when you know what you need to say to summarise your offering, and don't worry about giving it a heading; your reader will be able to tell what it is.
When you've looked at something for a long time, your eyes easily skim over errors. To be on the safe side, ask someone else to read over your CV; fresh eyes that aren't accustomed to particular errors may spot something you've missed.
Generally speaking, psychometric testing is tailored towards sales people and so isn't common in the clinical market. When it does happen, it tends to an assessment requirement for more senior positions. If it is required then we'll help you to prepare of course, but in the mean time, here's some general info.
Psychometric tests are usually a series of multiple-choice questions that are designed to measure your thinking and reasoning capabilities, particularly your logical/analytical reasoning ability. They are taken under timed exam conditions and usually include a numerical and a verbal reasoning test.
There's little you can do to prepare for these tests but there's usually a set of example questions to look through before you start. It's also worth remembering that psychometric tests are rarely the deciding factor in whether or not a company offers a job, they tend to be used simply to supplement the results of other types of assessment.
Personality profiling is designed to assess your character; it helps a potential employer to gauge whether you'll be a good company fit, and understand how you're likely to react to given situations. Unlike psychometric tests, these are not normally timed and there aren't any right or wrong answers. The key is to answer honestly as they're specifically designed to catch out inconsistencies and will often ask the same question in a variety of ways.
As with psychometric tests, personality profiling isn't used often in clinical interviews.
It's more than likely that you'll have to deliver a presentation during your interview, particularly if you're interested in a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) position. The key to making an impact is preparation. The advice below will help you create an impressive presentation that resonates with your audience no matter what the role.
Before working on content, determine from your recruiter your audience's level of knowledge. It's important not to bore or patronise your listeners with information they already know, but conversely, don't overestimate their level of understanding either. If you're not sure, you may like to begin by explaining what assumptions you've made about your audience's understanding and how you've structured the presentation
Ensure that you're smartly, yet comfortably dressed and take water with you, as talking at length can play havoc with your voice. If you're suffering from any topical conditions, such as a cold, ensure you take provisions for this to avoid being distracted by minor irritations.
Interviews for clinical jobs are usually pretty straight forward. It's likely you'll be interviewed over the telephone first of all and if you're successful a face to face interview will follow. We've known of job offers based on an exceptional telephone interview, but it's rare! Usually only one face to face interview is necessary, and it's likely to last around an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes there's a second interview too.
We'll prep you thoroughly of course, but be prepared to talk through your CV, summarise your experience and reasons for leaving jobs, and to answer a selection of competency based questions about your achievements and skills in areas such as team work and innovation. It's also a good opportunity for you to ask more about the role and the company.
Best of luck with your application and let us know if we can help.