January 17, 2024

Myth Busters: Getting a New Job in Pharma/Biotech

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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There are some common MYTHS out there about what it takes to get a new job.

If you’re unhappy in your career and considering a pivot, you won’t want to miss this episode. I’m diving into 8 common myths people have about getting a new job in the life sciences industry.

I won’t just share the myths but I’m going to bust them too so you can stop focusing on the wrong things and move into a role you love this year.

P.S. This is a 3 part myth series! Tune in next week as I share myths about getting promoted and the following week on myths about upgrading your current role.

What you’ll learn:

  • 8 myths about what it takes to get a new job in the life sciences industry
  • How these myths are keeping you focused on the wrong tasks and preventing you from having the job you want
  • After I bust each myth, I’m sharing what to do instead so you can get traction in your job search

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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology, and I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self-worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted, whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week, you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo so you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more, and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up level begins now.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. I hope you are having a great week. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be digging into some myths related to your job. These myths are things that are common beliefs in the industry, beliefs that You might have two that are preventing you from having the job that you actually want. So I want to clear them up for you. Today, we’re going to talk about myths related to getting a new job, the things we believe we need or are true in order to make that change. And I’m going to share the myth, but I’m also going to bust it right here. Then next week, I’m going to talk about promotion myths, and the following week is going to be myths about improving your current role or your current job. So you’re not going to want to miss this series because I promise there are things that I’m going to talk about that you are thinking are 100% true and accurate, but believing these things is keeping you unhappy and making your career growth nonexistent because you’re focused on the wrong action. Now, before we dig into this week’s topic, I have a couple of announcements.

First is that I have another brand new training that’s coming your way next month. This one is all about getting into your dream job, whether that’s a promotion, a new job at a new company, or upgrading your current role while you work on your long term career plan. The training is called How to Get Your Dream Job as a Woman in Pharma-Biotech, Even with Budget Cuts and Layoffs. It’s happening on February 16th at 12:00 PM Eastern. It’s virtual, so you can attend from anywhere in the world. So if you are a woman in pharma biotech who wants a career change or to make sure that you’re on the right path in your career, this is for you. We are going to cover so much. Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about the mistakes you’re making now that are preventing you from having the job that you want, how you can advance your career as a woman in the industry without playing political games or settling for something good enough, some specific strategies that you can implement now that are going to get you dream job offers and promotions, and how the strategies that you’re going to learn are effective even when you’ve been told no already, or there’s layoffs going on, or budget cuts are looming.

Plus, I’m going to share the details for how you can guarantee that you get a new job, a promotion, or upgrade your current role by joining us in Beyond the Ceiling. Beyond the Ceiling is my four-month group coaching program for women in pharma biotech, and enrollment is opening soon on the same day, February 16th. To register for After your training, go to www.yourworthycareer.com/dreamjob and add your name, and you’ll get the Zoom details immediately. All right, let’s dive into these myths about what it takes to get a new job. The first myth is that you have to wait until the market is better. Now, I talked about this one in length in a recent podcast episode, The LifeSciences JobMarket Isn’t Tight Right Now. And I want to say this is a myth. There are opportunities right now, 100%. I would say instead that the market is competitive right now, which means it’s just more important that you know what you want and you have the skills to get the job. But the opportunities are there. You just can’t rely on being a high performer with a great resume anymore because there are many with the same profile.

However, you can stand out and get a job you love where you are now or with another company. So in my group program, Beyond the Ceiling, two of the people that joined the last cohort were unemployed when we started because they were impacted by industry layoffs. But within three weeks, they had a new job. One was a contract role and the other was a full-time role that they’re really enjoying. So you don’t have to wait until the market is better to get into the job you want. You are in the driver’s seat of your career and you can stand out against the competition as the obvious best choice. You can make the career moves you want to make right now. You do not have to wait until the market is better. I don’t know how many times I can say that. I’m going to say it again. You do not have to wait until the market is better. Number two, you just need to work on your resume. Let me just say it. Your resume isn’t what gets you jobs. You are what gets you jobs. Your resume is a piece of paper that represents your experience and qualifications.

And of course, there are best practices for writing your resume. We cover this inside beyond the ceiling. But it isn’t the make or break of whether or not you get the job. In fact, there is no one right way to write your resume. One universal truth is that your resume should show your accomplishments and impact and not just responsibilities. But other than that, whether or not your resume is good is completely subjective to the reviewer. When I worked in HR, I witnessed three different HR people talk about the resumes that they prefer, all different, and all of the HR people were from the same company. They all had different preferences. I have heard hiring managers talk about what they like to see in a resume that is very specific to them. I’ve heard a recruiter from the Life Sciences say they don’t like color on a resume, and I’ve heard others say that they like it. I’ve had clients spend hundreds of dollars or more on a resume writer and then end up hiring me because it didn’t help them get the job. So please save your money unless you really don’t want to write your resume and you find it tedious.

And the only way that you’ll have one is if you outsource it and you have the money to spend on it, then of course, it’s like a luxury, but you don’t need it. It’s up to you. But it is a myth that you need to just tinker with your resume or you need to make it better. You just have to have it professionally written. And once you do that, then you’ll get the job. That is a complete myth. So it’s very much a luxury nice to have. It’s not something that you need. Number three, the job you want just isn’t available. This is false, 100% false. I’m so passionate about this because this is what I help people do is figure out what their next best role is and then get into it. And a specialty that I have is helping my clients get their ideal job created for them. This is such a different angle and opportunity than we’re used to having in the industry. I didn’t know this until I did this for myself. I had a role created for myself when I was in industry, and I’ve helped many clients do this since.

Even with budget cuts, even with layoffs, even when the role didn’t exist before. I’ve helped clients write their own job descriptions multiple times and have it created. I’ve helped clients negotiate their responsibilities and get better responsibilities added to their job and the ones that they didn’t like removed, both with a current company and during the interview process. Yes, you can even negotiate this during the interview process. So if you aren’t finding the job you want, it might be because you aren’t 100 % sure what role is best for you. So you’re casting your net too wide or nothing feels like the right job because you aren’t super clear on what you want. It might also be because you’re not looking in the right places or you’re not tapping into the hidden job market. Yes, this is a real thing. Or that you need to instead get the role created for you. That is the solution that you need. No matter what the circumstance, there is a solution and the job that you want 100 % is out there. The first step is to know specifically what that is, and then we can position you to get it.

The fourth myth is that dream jobs don’t exist. This is similar to the last one, that the job you’re looking for isn’t available. But it’s a little bit more specific because we’re talking about dream jobs here. And here’s the thing, only the people that don’t have their dream job say that dream jobs don’t exist. It’s based on their experience. It’s just like relationships. People that say there is no perfect partner. Just don’t have the perfect partner for them. So who are you talking to? Who are you surrounding yourself with? People happy in their jobs or people who aren’t? If you asked me, I would say 100 % because I’m in my dream job. I’m living proof. I have a client I’m working with right now who proudly exclaimed last month that she is in her job and she can’t believe it. And I want to give you that example because I know when I say I’m in my dream job, some of you skeptical thinkers out there might be thinking, well, that’s because you created your own business. But this is what I help people do is get into a job that feels like their dream job in the industry.

A very, very, very small percentage of people that I work with to actually start their own business. So what’s funny enough about this client that recently was gitty, exclaiming that she has moved into her dream job, is that I sometimes have to coach people on allowing themselves to be happy because they achieve the dream job status they didn’t think they could, and then they aren’t used to not having problems. And that can be uncomfortable, to not be firefighting, to not be unhappy, or trying to figure what to do all the time. I was talking to someone once that told me she didn’t think dream jobs exist because she had a mentor who was a mom like she was, and that mentor told her that if she wanted to advance her career, she would have to choose between being a mom and having her career advance. She stayed stuck wanting to advance her career but feeling afraid to go any higher because she believed this myth. But that was just her mentor’s experience. It doesn’t make it fact for the entire world. If you want more proof, especially for the moms, listen to the episode I had with Michelle Kinder recently.

It’s called Excel in your Career as a Working Mom with Michelle Kinder. She used to struggle with this, too, and then she achieved it, and she shared how on that episode. So 100 % dream jobs exist. If you don’t know what your job is that you want, you can figure it out and we can get it created for you and we can find it for you. If it’s something that you know that you want already and you’re just not seeing it, then you just need a different strategy. So it 100 % is out there for you. Number five, it takes a lot of time to change your job. No, it does not. Now I’m just saying the myth and saying no. I already shared that I had a couple of people get into new roles in Beyond the Ceiling within three weeks. The client I mentioned who said she was in her dream job recently went from an exploratory call to an offer in just a few weeks also. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Once you know what you want and you implement a good strategy that works, it can happen very quickly.

Whether it’s a new job at a new company or with your current company, it’s all in you knowing what you want in the angle that you’re using, how you’re positioning yourself. Okay, the sixth myth. Your skills aren’t transferable. Your skills are 100 % transferable. Let me shout it for you. Your skills are transferable. If you want to move from the bench to the office, from product to animal development to a new department, wherever you think you might want to go, all of your skills and experience are relevant. Nothing was a waste, and it all will help you get where you want to go. It’s all about the positioning. You have to make it crystal clear how your skills are relevant, and you can’t expect people to make that connection for you. So there is some strategy to this, but 100% everything you have done before has led to this moment. Please don’t let this keep you unhappy in your job. I’ve helped people move out of the lab into an office setting, into new departments, starting their own businesses. You can definitely get a new job. Your skills are relevant and you aren’t going to lose them.

The seventh myth. You need a new certification, training, or degree to get the job that you want. Now, this is the hot topic. I’m a fellow pad my resume, girl, with countless certifications, certificates. I have three college degrees. Believe me, I get it. It’s a safe investment, it seems. It also, for me at least, was a way to continually grow and learn and feel like I was advancing. It was something that was in my control. Whereas promotions and new jobs, they didn’t feel like they were in my control. I was talking to someone recently who wanted to move into industry from an area that was transferable, and it was something that the industry needed, and she thought she needed to go to graduate school. She actually enrolled to get a pharmacy degree to get a job for a skill she already had that the industry needed. But this is just a myth, and it can be a big mistake that costs you a lot of time and money. You have to be sure of what you want first before investing in any training or education. Then once you know what you want, you can get the job without a specialized degree in some cases.

I’ve seen job descriptions be edited to remove advanced degree requirements for the right candidate. So someone applied that didn’t have the degree requirement, got the interview anyway, and then the hiring manager and team liked them so much, they removed that advanced degree requirement to hire them. Also, unless the degree is qualifying you in something very technical that is required for the job, that specific degree won’t help you get the job. There are so many other factors that go into the strategy of getting the job you want. And if you don’t have or use that strategy and instead just have a nice resume with another degree or certification, you likely won’t even get an interview. So then you would have wasted so much time and money in delaying getting into the job you want by years. Years. I had another client who was going to get a project management certification when we had our consultation call. And instead, we worked on getting her clear on what she wanted and delaying the project management certification until she knew she needed it. So she trusted me enough to pause that plan and hire me and determine what came out of that process first before she moved forward.

And what we discovered is she didn’t actually need that certification. She didn’t even want to do project management. She just was so unhappy in her job, she couldn’t see clearly. And so she moved to a new company. She moved to a new company, she got promoted, she got a big raise, and she got a sign-on bonus that essentially reimbursed her for the coaching fee that she paid me. So she got the job she wanted, she got extra money in the bank that compounds year after year from her promotion. She built her confidence in her professional skills to influence effectively at all levels, which will help her continue to advance as well as be effective and essentially got her coaching paid for and saved herself the time and money of the certification. So you definitely want to make sure that you’re really clear on what you first. And you can hear her story. She was on my podcast. Her name is Katherine Hsu. And so her episode was a couple of months ago. We’ll link to that if you want to go back to that one. Okay. Also, consuming content and continuing to get credentials for your resume when you’re unhappy in your job is often a buffer or distraction.

It’s also playing it safe. Instead of investing in something that has proven to get you the result that you want, but you haven’t done before, so you feel nervous us about, you invest in something that will at least get you a new credential on your resume, and so it feels better, but it actually isn’t getting you the new job. It’s actually not getting you the promotion. And I have a love of learning, and I need to taper this for myself too, because I’m one that can really get sucked into. Even now, I want to be the best coach, so I have to budget time and money for the things I want to learn and grow in and the new things I want to provide for my clients. I love education. I have a lot of it. But just please consider if you’re using the education or training because you’re running from something or you think it’s going to give you a sure result to a new job, know that it won’t. And it’s a total myth that you need it. Okay, the final myth we’re going to talk about today. I swear I could talk about this forever, all of these different myths, but I boiled it down to eight.

So the eighth myth we’re going to talk about is that you have to be 100% qualified to get the job. Now, this is a question I get a lot. Do you need to meet all of the qualifications? And the short answer is no. Job descriptions are often a wishlist. Also, it’s important to know that confidence is going to be more influential in an interview process than competence. Meaning, How you present yourself is going to influence whether you get the job more than the credentials or experience on your resume. Maybe I should say that again. How you present yourself is going to influence components, whether you get the job more than the credentials or experience on your resume. I’ve given you some examples of this already in this episode. But a rule of thumb is if you are 70% qualified, I’d suggest you apply. The only caveat I’d make is that if there is a critical technical skill required for the job and you don’t have any experience or transferable experience, then I wouldn’t apply. For example, if the job requires that you have to have experience with biomarkers and you don’t have any, you’ve never worked with biomarkers, I wanted to apply because of the criticality of that role, of what a role that works within biomarkers or selecting biomarkers is doing.

If the role requires, let’s say it requires you to manage and be responsible for FDA audits and you’ve never directly supported an audit, I wouldn’t apply. But it is a myth that you need to be 100 % qualified, or if you’re not, that you wouldn’t be the best candidate among the sea of other candidates who maybe have met more of the qualifications than you. That’s just not true. All right, so we’ve covered eight myths about getting a new job and we busted them. Now, the thing about myths is they keep us stuck. They keep us head down and working on all the wrong things, which is why this is such an important thing for us to talk about. When you approach your job search, I want you to keep these in mind. And if you want to dig deeper on the strategy to getting a new job, I’ve given you some guidance here, but I’m going to go a lot deeper in the upcoming training that I have. How to Get Your Dream Job as a Woman in Pharma/Biotech, even with budget cuts and layoffs, is happening on February 16th. The link is in the show notes.

I’ll talk to you next week when we dive into myths about getting promoted. Have an amazing week. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you’re ready to know your best career move and get into a new job, get promoted, or upgrade your current role to one you love, join me inside Beyond the Ceiling. Beyond the Ceiling is a four-month group coaching program exclusively for women in pharma biotech. Enrollment begins February 16th. Learn more and join us at www.yourworthycareer.com/beyond.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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