By Matthew O’Donnell for BioSpace.com
Landing your dream job takes more than just sending a resume and cover letter to prospective employers. The search is filled with potential for mistakes that can prevent you from simply obtaining an interview. Even if you’re certain you’re putting your best foot forward, you could be overlooking these six common mistakes made by biopharmaceutical job seekers:
Mistake #1: Failure to network
When it comes to job searching, it often comes down to who you know. Professional networking is a great way to get your foot in the door with a potential employer. Making these connections is the key to getting your resume directly into the hands of the person making hiring decisions. Don’t be shy! Visit career fairs and sign up with professional organizations to get to know other people in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Mistake #2: Skipping the cover letter for online applications
The more information you provide during the application process, the better chance you have of landing an interview. Today, many applications and resumes are sent via online web forms that ask for specific information from job candidates. Even if it’s not strictly required, send a cover letter with every online application you submit. Doing so will not only make an impression, but it will give the hiring manager more insight into your background and put you one step ahead of other applicants. Two instances where sending a cover letter is not advised is when the job description specifically states not to send one, or there is no section in the online application to submit a cover letter. You might think this is a test of the hiring manager and brownie points will go to the applicant that goes above and beyond the requirements, but it isn’t. In fact, sending a cover letter when the job description explicitly says not to could be used to help weed out the candidates that don’t take the time to read the entire job description or lack attention to detail.
Mistake #3: Sending a generic cover letter
First impressions count. Viewed from the perspective of a hiring manager, sending a generic cover letter is lazy. With this shotgun approach, you may as well send your cover letter out to every company in the biopharmaceutical industry. Instead of sending a canned and generic letter, tailor the letter to your reader by focusing on the needs of the specific company and the details of the specific position for which you are applying. Do your homework and use your cover letter to demonstrate how your skills and experience could benefit the company. In today’s competitive biopharma job industry, your cover letter must be so compelling that the hiring manager immediately sees you as their future employee.
Mistake #4: Procrastination
This isn’t the time to sit back and let opportunities come to you. In today’s job market, many employers receive hundreds of responses to their ad, enabling them to choose a qualified candidate quickly. If you found the job announcement weeks after its initial post date, it may already be too late to apply, even if you are the perfect candidate. Stay on top of the process by searching job boards as frequently as possible, giving yourself plenty of time to assemble a polished application package before the close date.
Mistake #5: You’re distracted
When searching for a job, especially online, it’s easy to become sidetracked. Finding a job requires a minimum of three hours of uninterrupted time where your primary focus is on the job searching process. Set realistic daily goals and don’t get distracted until you have completed your tasks. Preparing quality, tailored resumes and cover letters for each job application requires concentration and dedication.
Mistake #6: Not following up after interviews
After every interview, send a thank-you note promptly. Use this opportunity to thank the interviewer for their time, state what you learned about the organization during the interview, and how your skills and experience will help contribute to the organization. Also, try to mention something about yourself to help the interviewer remember which job applicant you were during the interview process. You want to stand out from the competition and be memorable.
Don’t forget to follow up on applications that haven’t yet netted you an interview, too. Many job seekers make the mistake of sending their resume and never following up to make sure the right person has received it. Remember, the hiring process can take some time, and with the online application process it’s easy to feel like your resume lost its way down a black hole. If you haven’t heard back from the employer after sending your application, don’t be afraid to call or e-mail to ask about the status of the job opening. Doing so could get your resume the attention it deserves.
About the Author
Matthew O’Donnell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.
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