May 1, 2024

What You’re Doing That is Costing You the Job You Want

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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When you’re looking to get promoted or a new job, you might look for all of the options you have. You have a lot of experience that could be lended to different roles or departments. You apply to the ones you are qualified for hoping it’s the one. But when you focus on all the job options, it actually costs you the dream job you want. Tune in to hear what to do instead.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why you shouldn’t apply to all of the jobs you’re qualified for
  • What to do before hiring a resume writer or making any tweaks to it!
  • The old way of getting a new job or promotion that is actually costing you the job you want


  • Get a new job, get promoted, or improve your current role inside Beyond the Ceiling – a group coaching program for women in Pharma/Biotech. Learn more
  • Looking for private 1-1 career and leadership coaching? Learn more and schedule a consultation
  • Want insider tips, access to new trainings, behind the podcast details and first-to-know information from Melissa? Join the free VIP Email Insiders


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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast for women in Pharma and Biotech with me, Melissa Lawrence. I am a certified career and leadership coach with a master’s in Organizational Psychology who has worked in talent and learning development in biotech to large pharma, from non-clinical to commercial. I help women in pharma and biotech create a career worthy of them. Whether you want to get clear on what you want, get a new job, get promoted, or be effective as a leader at any level, this is the place for you. Every week, you will get practical career strategies and mindset shifts to help you overcome the problems you experience at work so you can reach your goals feeling better than ever. Your up level begins now. 

Hello, hello. Welcome to another episode of your worthy career. I’m so happy to be with you here today. I’ve had such a busy week, so I’ve done some really fun things in the business. I am about a month into this current cohort of Beyond the Ceiling, and I’m so proud of all of the women in there who are already getting job interviews and figuring out what they want and overcoming fears and building their confidence and increasing their success rate with their influencing skills and their communication skills at work, making their jobs easier.

There’s so many wins that are happening every week in this group. I just am so honored to be a part of it and to lead these talented women. So I have that going on. Of course, my one-on-one client, I went to a women in bio coffee networking event, which was really fun. They are all over the capital region. So if you’re local to this area, I would definitely check them out. I always love those events. When I was on the leadership team, it’s something that I was a really big advocate for doing because it allows people to come together that don’t have another agenda. It’s not a training, it’s not a bro-ski event. It’s just women coming together for coffee and saying Hi, meeting new people. It’s just such a fun way to get to know women in your community that have interests. I got to see some old friends, old colleagues, also got to meet some people in real life that I’m connected with on LinkedIn, and I got to see them in 3D for the first time. So that was really fun, too. If you follow me on some of my social media channels, I shared on Instagram that I was in a car accident recently.

So it was my first car accident where I was driving. So it really caught me off guard. It was a situation where I was driving the kids to school. Everyone’s okay. So I should probably say that first. Everyone’s okay. I was driving the kids to school in the morning before my busy work day on a Thursday and a freightliner truck, which I didn’t even know that was the name of this type of truck, to be honest. I had to ask when we pulled over to the side of the road. But this freightliner truck didn’t apparently see me coming and just sidelined the side of my car. And, thankfully, everyone is okay. My daughter, especially, because she was sitting on that side of the car right where there was the impact. And it really, it tore up. I need a whole new panel on that side of the car. It tore up that side of my car. And my wife was out of town for a funeral when this happened. So it just was a lot to deal with. But there was so much support around me, and I’m just so grateful for that. And the lesson that it taught me, the reason that I shared this on my social media is because we can get really caught up in everything we have to deliver and everyone around us that we support, me included.

And I take my client calls very seriously. Unless it’s a planned vacation or I get very sick, which doesn’t really happen very much at all, then I don’t miss those calls. They don’t move. They’re static times. I was thinking, Oh, my gosh, this happened. My kids are going to be late for school. Do we call the police? Do we call insurance? Who do we call first? I have two client calls this morning. I have my beyond the ceiling group this morning. What am I going to do? We called the police. They were so supportive and kind. They came right away. So I’m really grateful for that. Even the person that hit my car was kind. Sometimes those things, it can be a lot of hostility or blame or pointing fingers, and there was none of that. We both were very kind and just like, This sucks. This happened. Let’s figure out what to do. So that went well. The car place that is fixing my car, that was well. My insurance carrier stepped in. We’re doing great. Ellen was on the line, reminding me where all of our documents are. So everything went fine.

And it just reminded me as I was navigating all of this, how grateful I am for the support, but just that the support is there. I shared this just so that you know the support is there for you too, whether it’s your colleagues at work or someone at home, to step in when you need it. And it doesn’t need to be a car accident. So in this situation, of course, I was like, I can’t cancel these calls. What am I going to do? I ended up canceling them because I literally wasn’t home. I was talking to the police, and then I was trying to figure out where to take my car, and I was on the phone with the insurance company, and I was trying to get my kids to school. And my son’s backpack was locked in the trunk and wasn’t opening because of the impact on the car. So all of this stuff was going on? So I ended up contacting my assistant, which I’m so grateful for her also, and let her know I was going to need to cancel the group call and what to do, what email to send, who to send it to, what to do in our community, all of that.

I posted in our community so they knew right away as early as possible that we weren’t going to have that call and that I was going to get it rescheduled. And then I contacted my one-on-one client and let them know. And everyone was so supportive. Everyone was like, I’m so glad you’re okay. I’m so glad you’re okay. No problem. And of course, I don’t think my clients are going to reply with anything different. We have a strong relationship, and they’re my clients, they’re fabulous. But I still take my job very seriously, and I don’t want to let anyone down. And so this was a good reminder for me that things can come up, big or small, and if you need time to take it. And that’s something we talk about in my group. Some of my clients are stressed or they have bosses that they’re dealing with and they’re just trying to appease them and do the right thing and deliver no matter what. And the conversation we have a lot of times is not just how to deal with those situations from a strategic perspective, but how to take care of you.

Where do you need rest? Where do you need someone to take a meeting for you? Where do you need to take a spa day? You don’t have to carry the burden of everything on your shoulders all the time. And this car accident was a reminder for me that I have support, and I know that I have support. So I don’t want this to be like, I didn’t know I had support. I know that I have support. It really showed me, I guess, more of what is really important and that things can happen and it’s not going to be the end of the world. Because when it happened, this impact, it did feel surreal almost because I haven’t really experienced it before where I was the driver. It wasn’t a reckless situation. So it also was a really good lesson for my son who’s taking his driver’s test in a few days to see how accidents can happen because this wasn’t a situation where there was necessarily reckless driving or being on your phone. I don’t know what the other driver was doing. But for me, We were going slow, we were merging.

There wasn’t anything that was a red flag necessarily. So accidents can happen and you can recover from them and you can have support around you and it’s all going to be okay. So let’s dig into today’s topic. Now you have a little bit of an update of what I’ve been going through in the last few days. I want to talk to you about focusing on the right job. So if you’re looking to make a pivot fit in your career, if you’re looking to get something better, either because you don’t like where you’re at and you want to find a better company culture fit, you want to find a job you’re more passionate about or more interested in, you’re worried about the impact that you’re making in your career or the difference you’re making, you’re thinking about job security and stability. And so maybe you’re thinking about what is the safest bet for my career that I can continue to grow in. Maybe you’re looking for a promotion and you’re like, I’ve been in this industry for awhile. It’s time for me to get to the next level, and I’m ready for that step, whatever it is.

I want to talk to you about the importance of knowing what direction you’re going. And if you’re not new to the podcast, You’ve definitely heard me talk about this before. It is the foundation of the work that I do that helps people know exactly what it is that they want. Because if you think about a line of dominoes and you think about all of those dominoes representing something you have to do in order to get into that dream job. So if you think about your LinkedIn, your resume, the interviewing, the negotiating, the company you want to work for. If you think of everything that goes into making a job change, whether it’s lateral or for a promotion, all of those things are so much harder if you don’t know what you want. So that domino, that very first domino, if you make that domino getting clear on what it is that you want your next role to look like, it knocks all of the others down. Just think about that. If you focus on the most important, the root cause, in this industry, what root cause? What Kappas? Deviations, investigation. The root cause of you not getting into the job that you want, there are, of course, things around marketing yourself, positioning, opportunity, of course.

But the root cause of the problem is not knowing what you want. Because when you know exactly what you want, you’re able to make steps in that direction more quickly. You’re able to be more confident in the interview process. You’re able to know exactly what jobs to apply for. You save so much time. You don’t spend time doing LinkedIn learnings, going to grad school, taking more courses, or doing a bunch of trainings at work. You don’t spend your time doing things to pad your resume to show how wonderful you are and how you know so much information, how valuable you are. Instead, you just focus your sights on what it is that you want and you take the strategic steps to get it. So you might be thinking, but I do know what I want. And to that, I want to say In my experience, and I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve talked to a lot of women, you may know what you want, but it most likely isn’t at the granularity that you need to know in order to get the impact and the success that you want through the job search process or the promotion process.

So I was talking to someone recently, and she was telling me that she was thinking of… She’s very credentialed, very educated in her area. She’s a technical expert. And she was telling me that she was considering two different paths. She’s like, Do I want to lean into the technical piece or do I want to go into quality or management piece? Right. That’s very common. No matter what part of the industry that you’re in, there’s usually a point where you can lean more into the technical or lean more into the leadership or going into quality or something like that. From her perspective, she knew generally what she wanted. But what that looked like, because she didn’t know specifically, she was thinking of things like, what’s the safer bet? With technology and different things coming out into play, where am I going to be able to have the most longevity in my career? Where am I going to be able to make the most impact? She was thinking a little bit about what she enjoys, but also thinking about her current role and what she didn’t like about it and what path would solve those pain points that she had.

That’s very logical, right? That makes so much sense. That’s how I would look at careers in the past, too, 100 %. But the problem is, because she has that little bit of differential where she’s not exactly clear, and she has a couple of different options, what that looks like is, I don’t really know exactly what I want So I’m going to learn a bunch of things that are related to these areas so I can put them on my resume. So when I do figure it out or when I do decide, I’ll be able to easily get that job because my resume is going to be more marketable. I’m going to have more assets on my resume, more proof on my resume, right? Another way that looks is scrolling on LinkedIn, scrolling on Indeed, looking for the next best job, but none of them are ringing a bell. None of them sound like your perfect job. And the reason that is is because you don’t know what that job is. So when we don’t know exactly what we want, there’s so many more options. A lot more things could look like it could be the next best move, but because you don’t actually know for sure, none of them look like the best move.

So it’s almost like casting your net a little wider with the different options, leaning into all of the different areas of expertise you have, make it so much harder for you to actually make a decision on what that next best move should be. The other thing that happens is when you know exactly what you want, you’re not only just targeting those companies, targeting those specific roles, you’re also able to tap into the hidden job market, you’re also able to use some of the strategies that I talk about, including there’s a resource that I have called Four Hidden Ways Women Can Influence Their Career in the Industry. Those are things that I’ve helped women do when they know what they are and you can download that resource on my website. I’ll put a link in the show notes for you. It’s completely free. You can see what those strategies are and dig deep into them. See if there’s any you can use right now or try to do what you’re already doing. But knowing what you want gives you so many more opportunities. And it also gets you results so much faster because instead of applying to 10 different jobs, you apply to only the five that you want.

Instead of only applying to everything that you’re qualified for, You’re able to have strategic conversations and talk about the problems you solve, your value proposition. You’re able to market yourself specifically. Instead of looking at your LinkedIn or resume and saying, look at all of these things you’re qualified in, you don’t look like an expert in anything or it’s not really clear what problems you solve because there’s so much on there. So when you know what you want, you’re able to target everything so much clearer, you’re able to make progress so much faster. Or you also prevent yourself from getting into a situation where you get into a job and then you think, oh, well, this isn’t really what I thought it was going to be. Have you ever been in that situation? We were thinking, oh, this sounded good. They’re putting their best foot forward. I’m putting my best foot forward. But then what happens is you get into the job and you’re like, oh, I thought the responsibilities were going to be a little bit different. I thought I was in a more strategic role. Oh, I didn’t realize I was also going to be responsible for this.

So you alleviate all of those problems and you’re able to not look at the interview process as, I hope it works out. I hope I get an offer. Instead, you know exactly how to navigate the process. You know when to opt out because the job is not actually a good fit for you and what they’re putting on the job description on the website, that you have that granularity and that detail to know whether or not that’s going to be a good fit. And you opt out and stop wasting both of your time if it’s not a good fit. Instead of thinking, well, let me see what the offer says and then I’ll make a decision. And then let me get into the job and then I just hope it works out. Instead, you know exactly what it is that you want. You know exactly how to get it. Everything is so much easier. So focusing on all of the jobs you could do is costing you so much time. It’s actually costing you the job that you actually want. Because instead of just focusing on the job that you want and knowing what that is and getting into it, you’re settling.

It’s another way of settling for good enough. I could do this, I could do that. We’ll see what happens. Don’t you want to feel in more control than that? Feel more empowered to know for sure to drive your career in the direction you want it to go? If you think of driving a car, right? You want to go to the destination that you choose. You don’t want someone to hijack that car and take you somewhere else. And that’s what you do. And it’s so funny because I just started talking about this and I started with the car accident. So it must be on my mind. But I’m just thinking about someone driving down the road and you have multiple exit points. And so you’re like, I could do this. And so you start taking that exit off the road. But then you take a U-turn because you’re like, oh, I don’t know if I want that. And then you keep driving. Then you’re like, oh, I could go down this exit. And then you go down that exit. And then you take a U-turn. Oh, I don’t know if I want that. Oh, what’s this over here?

Oh, my gosh, I’m going to stop over here. Oh, what’s this all around the side of the road? When you’re doing all of that. Oh, and then, oh, my car’s dirty. Let me get a car wash. It’s like what you’re doing with the certification from the padding of the resume, right? When you’re doing all of that, what you’re not doing is just driving from A to B. Going from where you are to where you want to go without traffic, without car accidents, right? And when those things happen, you know exactly how to handle them. You know exactly what to do. You have the support to get where you want to go. So you’re not taking any detours. You’re not taking any U-turns. You’re not getting flat tires on the way. You’re not sprucing up your car and making it look nicer, hoping that then it attracts more attention. Instead, you just go from where you are to where you want to go. Doesn’t that sound easier? Doesn’t that sound more simple? And on top of it, it’s not just the easier way to go, but think of the impact of that. Think about the impact of being in a role you actually want to be in, of loving your job, of knowing you’re in the right place, that you’re contributing on a high level, that what you’re doing is meaningful.

And then imagine knowing exactly how to replicate that for the rest of your career, how to figure out what that next step is, how to get it, how to advocate for yourself in the interview process, exactly what matters when it comes to resumes and what doesn’t. Because, spoiler alert, resume writers are not a good investment. They’re not going to say that. They’re not. They can pretty up your resume, but if you don’t know what you want, it’s just a bunch of words. It’s like if you use the car analogy of driving down the road and getting off at all the exits, It’s putting all of those exits on your resume. That’s not helping you get the job that you want. Also, I happen to know, because I work with a lot of life sciences recruiters, that resumes are very biased. I also worked in HR. Depending on who I talk to in HR in the same large pharma company, they had a different preference for how your resume should look. And then hiring managers have a different preference for how your resume should look. So you could apply for a job. You could apply for the 50 different jobs you’re qualified for.

And in one job, let’s say you get an interview, the hiring manager, the recruiter, and then the HR business partner that you might meet with later in the interview process, your stakeholders or senior leaders you might meet with, and any peers you might meet with, they could all have a different opinion of how your resume should look. Yet that’s where we feel more comfortable spending time and money is to let me hire a resume writer to put all of my skills in a nice format because that’s going to help me get the interview, and it doesn’t. It doesn’t. It doesn’t get you any closer to getting the job that you want. What helps you is knowing what you want, being super clear on what it is that you want, why, the unique problems that you solve. All of that is what matters. Think about going through the interview process and being able to share your expertise, share how you will solve their problems, share how you will contribute to their bottom line, what an asset you’ll be to the team, not because you’re trying to get the right answer or or because you’re trying to think of all of the ways that you could do that, because you know, like deep…

Like with this much conviction as I am on this podcast episode, telling you the importance of knowing what you want, being so important to the job change process, imagine Imagine having that conviction in what you do and what you want. It’s so much more compelling. Right? Imagine if as an expert in career development, if I said, Well, I could help you with this, or I could help you with this, or I could help you with… Yes, we could do a resume writer, or we could… If I was all over the place like that saying all the things I could do, I have a very extensive career background. Working in industry, working with the government. I have a master’s in organizational psychology. I have so many certifications. I could talk about so many different things, right? But that’s not going to help you get the result any faster. As I’m an expert, I need to know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, how it helps, the problems I solve, right? For the work I want to do. Of course, I could solve more problems. I could niche into any area, right? But this is my secret sauce.

This is the thing that I am absolutely best at, the thing I’ve been doing for a very long time and that I know is the right place for me. I’m in my dream job and I know that. And I am able to talk about that with conviction because I know that. But I wasn’t always this clear. When I worked in the industry, it took me a couple of years to make the change that I wanted to make because I was just like these examples that I share with you. That’s why I can also talk about it so clearly, not just because this is what my clients struggle with, but because I used to struggle with it, too. I posted on LinkedIn recently that my wife told me to quit my job for two years before I did, but I didn’t know what I wanted. So instead, I padded my resume. I told myself it was good enough. Instead of just figuring out exactly what it was. And the reason I didn’t is because I didn’t know anyone that could help me with that. I didn’t exist. That’s why I created this business, because I didn’t have that.

There wasn’t anyone that could tell me. There were mentors and HR and career development resources, and they were helpful, but they were mostly helpful if you knew what you wanted first. If you didn’t know what you wanted, then it was just, well, there’s this option or this option, or I think you’re really good at this, right? And then you’re trying things on like clothing, but you don’t know what that fit is. You don’t know what that perfect outfit is. You have to figure that out. And so I created a process to help women in the industry do that because it didn’t exist before. My process still doesn’t exist unless you do it with me because I created it. So I just think it’s so, so, so important to know what you want. So if you’re thinking, okay, well, I want to know what I want, but I want to try to figure it out on my own. Well, then I would look at some of my prior episodes. I talk about how to figure that out. So I would go back and listen to those to get a little bit more guidance and clarity on where you’re going.

But the point of this episode is really just for you to understand that when you’re focusing on all of the jobs you could do, when you want to advance your career, you’re focusing on all of the things you’re qualified in. That is costing you the job you actually want. Even if you don’t know what that job is that you want, it’s costing you that because you’re not going to get there if you don’t figure it out. If you know what you want, you just need to get a little bit more specific so that you can get there or faster. So if you’re thinking the industry is slow and there’s not a lot of movement, that’s just not true. Right now, it’s actually a great time to get a new job or to get a promotion because the industry is having a lot of movement right now because we’re just getting past bonus time. So there’s a lot of people that are making moves. And when those people make moves, that creates more openings. But another thing is one of my secret strategies that I use, which is in that resource, if you download that, is around creating a job for you.

Getting a promotion created for you that doesn’t exist, getting a new role created for you that doesn’t exist. And the way that I’m able to help women do that is by knowing what they want with granularity, knowing their value proposition, knowing their business case, which I help you create those things. But the foundation is knowing what you want. Because imagine going to your boss and saying, Could you just create this promotion for me? I work really hard. I’ve been here for a few years. This is how I deliver. They’d be like, Yes, you’re amazing, but we don’t have the budget for that right now. Or that doesn’t make sense because who’s going to do your job? You’re going to get more objections and resistance to the job that you want if you don’t know what you want. When you know what you want, then you’re able to say, These are the problems I solve. This is how I can help you. Then we can put a strategy together that’s actually going to disrupt the industry and get you into the job that you want. So I feel like I could go on forever about this, but I’m going leave it right here.

The thing that I would ask you to take away is how can you get more specific on what it is that you want in your career so that you can get the job you want more quickly? If you need help, I of course, have a process, reach out to me. And whether it’s joining the next round of beyond the ceiling, that’s going to be opening up in July, or it’s working with me one on one, you can inquire on availability for that. Don’t stay stuck. And if you haven’t tried that approach, if you just keep applying, you’re not getting the interviews you want, you’re not getting the offers that you want, then my advice would be to take a step back and ask yourself, are you as clear as you could be on what it is that you want, on the problems you solve? Do you know you’re applying for the right jobs for you? And start there. And I promise you’ll get different results. All right, have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Hey, the episode is over, but I want to let you in on a secret. There are four hidden ways you can use to advance your career as a woman in Pharma or Biotech that your boss or HR doesn’t want you to know about. These are strategies that are proven to work even after you’ve been told no. Save yourself so much time and advance your career on your terms by downloading the strategies at my website, They’re completely free. Go get them now.

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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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