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Asking Star to help you find your next opportunity will give you the best possible chance of securing the job you want. We'll use our network, industry experience and recruitment savvy to help you perfect your CV, secure an interview, and then prepare for it. But in the interests of being as useful as possible at all times we've put together some advice with the help of Mark Britton - healthcare recruitment specialist and our Recruitment Manager - to help you understand what's expected of you.
The biggest error most people make is to rush out a mediocre CV out at the last minute; it takes at least two days to write a superb new application. Your CV should give your recruiter a detailed impression of you from only a brief read through; they'll be able to tell right away who's taken the time to prepare, and who hasn't. Think of your CV and application letter as a constant 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 and each level of each occupation, and for changes of career and country, there are key things you need to be saying that recruiters want to hear. If you already know enough then spend some time listing these key things before you start writing. If you need more information, don't make do, start collecting it; speak to your recruiter and find out what buzzwords, concepts and competencies will carry conviction.
A boring format or copy of your job definition makes very dull reading for recruiters; you need to 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.
In healthcare, recruiters look for a full understanding of your experience with different product groups; we want to know the level of engagement you've secured with your customer base and how high up the food chain you've worked. Healthcare recruiters like to see results and financials, sales versus target - specific, detailed information. Start your CV with a small personal profile including your contact details and education, including a degree if you have one and its classification, then move on to what you're doing now. Begin each employment section with the role's title, and the company and the dates you were there, beginning with your most recent post. Below each employment heading put down perhaps three bullet points about the role, something along the lines of who you sold to, what you sold and the geography you worked. Now list your achievements but make sure they're comparative; if you achieved 100% versus the national average, don't forget to tell your reader what the national average is. Bullet points are a great space-saver, but you must make sure they relate to each other in a logical way and carry their own merit. A list of superlative claims without evidence won't fool anyone. Your CV should be no more than two pages long. Only people with around 25 or more years of experience warrant a third page. Stay away from titles like 'Profile' 'Career Objective' and 'Skills.' All you really need is a few sensible headlines such as 'Career,' 'Education' and 'Personal' under which you can group your skills and qualifications, narrative of achievements and personal details. Make sure that your style is consistent throughout; use the same font and keep the layout consistent. Finally, when you think you're done, take a look over your CV and ask yourself whether you think it looks good; if you don't think it looks good, work on its appearance until you're completely satisfied that it looks appealing.
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;' people who get good jobs come across as mature enough to know how to say things that matter about the real issues involved. Their skills should be implicit in the quality, structure and relevance of their 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 will be boring for your reader.
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. If you're short on space cut the minor roles and competencies which are already implied by the big stuff you do. Write your brief and a 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 can 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.
Psychometric testing isn't common in healthcare; around 10% or so of our clients use it. It's not something we'll generally prepare you for, but if it comes up, we'll make sure that you're fully aware of what to expect and how to deal with it.
Psychometric tests are used to assess the person that sits behind the competencies. The tests are usually multiple-choice questions that are designed to measure your thinking and reasoning capabilities, particularly your analytical and reasoning ability. They're taken under timed exam conditions and often include a numerical and verbal reasoning test.
There's not a great deal you can do to prepare for these tests; they're designed to ask the same question in a variety of ways and so you'll catch yourself out if you say what you think your assessor wants to hear; put your business head on and answer as honestly as you can.
Personality profiling doesn't happen a lot in healthcare; if it does take place, it's mostly done informally by hiring managers. It's designed to assess your characteristics, indicate how you're likely to react to given situations, and suggest whether or not you're likely to be a good company fit. The test is usually timed and there are no 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.
Assessment centres are unusual in the healthcare market because there doesn't tend to be a large volume of people at final stage interview. If an assessment centre is conducted, it tends to follow the pharma model, and in these circumstances, we'll make sure you're fully prepared for it. An assessment centre will nearly always involve a presentation, a role-play, and a competency-based interview, and sometimes a group discussion. To prepare, make sure that you've completed your presentation with enough time left over to email it to your recruiter for objective critique. Arrive in plenty of time, or if it's an early start and a long way to travel, consider staying over nearby the night before. Bear in mind that you're always being assessed, so act accordingly throughout the day. Assessment usually takes a Circumstance - Action - Result format; talk this through with your recruiter ahead of time if you'd like some extra practise. You should also spend time structuring your calls before you go in, setting yourself some pre-call objectives and so on, making sure that you make the best possible impression in your allotted time.
In short, you must make sure ahead of time that you fully understand what your interviewer's looking for, and provide that in a succinct way. You should also ask your recruiter who your audience is, and what their expectations are; four different interviewers may have four different sets of perceptions and expectations - it's important that you pitch to all attendees. And of course, there's no better advantage than getting help from your recruiter.
Regardless of whom, and for what industry, these simple rules will help you create a meaningful and impactful presentation that resonates with your audience and push your career further.
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.
The best piece of advice we can give you is to talk to your recruiter, who'll understand the job, and the employer and what they're looking for; don't apply for a role without seeking expert advice first.
In healthcare, a first interview is usually based on the experience you've captured in your CV; your interviewer wants to know what value you can add to their company, and will seek to understand what you've done, what you've achieved, your motivations, and what you're looking for in a long term career. Your potential employer will also assess whether or not you'll get on well with the team and their customers, and so your personality and character are important at this stage too. Recruitment Managers usually hold the first interview; if you're successful, HR personnel and Senior Managers will conduct the final stage. Some final stage interviews can have up to four different components, though normally it's just the two. As competition becomes tougher and tougher, employers are more and more willing to wait for the right person exactly, leaving the position vacant until that person comes along if they have to. In our experience candidates who are underprepared and don't listen, fail and to impress their interviewers; as far as we're concerned, you can never, ever be too prepared for an interview.
Best of luck and let us know if we can do anything else to help.