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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 expertise 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 Samantha Wise - pharma recruitment specialist since 2001 and the pharma business unit's Team Leader - to give you an understanding of what's expected of you.
The biggest error most people make is to rush out a mediocre CV at the last minute; a good CV gives a recruiter a detailed impression of you from only a glance. 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 will 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 what those things are, make a list before you start writing to help concentrate your thoughts. If you need more information, speak to your recruiter to 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.
Structure and presentation is critical. Keep it short and punchy. Write 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. At the beginning of each employment section make sure that you state the role, 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.' Make sure that your style is consistent throughout; use the same font and keep the layout consistent. Finally, when you think you've finished, take a look over your CV and ask yourself whether you think it looks good; if it doesn't, 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.' Your 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 won't do the job.
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 all early career information 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.
Your eyes tend to skim over errors if you've been looking over the same thing for a long time. 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.
Good luck in writing your CV and let us know if you'd like some feedback.
Psychometric testing is common in the pharma industry; we'll help prepare you for this ahead of time, but here's a brief overview.
Several different types of tests are used, but they're all designed to look at the person that sits behind the competencies. They're 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 be caught 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 is common in pharma interviews; it usually happens at second stage. They're designed to assess your characteristics, indicate how you're likely to react to different scenarios, and suggest whether or not you'll be a good company fit. They're not timed and there are no right or wrong answers. The key is to answer honestly; the tests are specifically designed to catch out inconsistencies and will often ask the same question in a variety of ways.
A pharma assessment centre will typically involve a presentation, a role-play, 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 remember to be proactive and polite throughout the day. Assessment usually takes a Circumstance - Action - Result format; you can talk this through with your recruiter ahead of time if you'd like some extra practise. You should structure your calls before you go in and set yourself some pre-call objectives, making sure that you're making the best possible impression in the time you're given.
Interviews in the pharma industry usually involve a quick talk through your CV, summarising experience and the reasons you have for leaving previous jobs, and a selection of competency questions during which your interviewer will look for examples of your achievements and skills in areas such as team work and innovation. As well as giving the interviewer the chance to find out more about you, remember that it's also an opportunity for you to find out more about the role and the company too.
In short, the key to making an impact is preparation. Stick to the brief and the timelines and make it specific to the role you're applying for - generic presentations are a no-no. And once you've done all that, practise, practise and practise some more.
Best of luck and let us know if we can do anything to help.
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