Establishing a professional network is one of the most important aspects of career development within the life sciences sector. Making good connections and being known by those who are involved with recruiting for jobs at pharmaceutical companies can support your job applications and increase the likelyhood that you will be headhunted for new roles in the future.
While only accounting for a small number of job applications, employee referrals account for nearly half of all hires. These referrals don’t just happen instantly; they require significant time investment to build up a list of good contacts.
Achieving a good network, however, can be difficult and requires various resources.
LinkedIn is one of the easiest and most effective ways to network within the pharmaceutical industry. Because your LinkedIn profile reads like a CV, it is used by recruitment agencies and HR teams within pharmaceutical organisations to headhunt new talent. Optimise your profile to increase the amount of searches that your profile will appear in by including keywords that are related to your career and what direction you are hoping to take in the future.
You will be able to see who is looking at your profile online and then look at theirs. If their connection is of interest to the advancement of your career, then go ahead and request to connect.
If you are actively looking for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, you might wish to use LinkedIn's premium features to search individuals in your field who are outside of your current network. Strike up conversations with them and request that they connect with you.
Use LinkedIn's groups as a means to build your reputation and establish new connections by participating in discussion topics that are related to your field of expertise. Share your knowledge or point of view, ensuring that you always remain professional. As you increase your participation in these networks you will find that more individuals will reach out and connect with your profile. From there you can contact people of interest on a one-to-one level and identify and secure new employment opportunities.
Connecting with current and former colleagues could benefit your career further down the line. Former colleages or managers who you have impressed in the past might be able to reccommend or refer you for new pharmaceutical jobs in the future. Ask other people in your network to endorse your skills too, and always return the favour for them to keep the goodwill going.
One of the best methods to grow your professional network is to attend pharmaceutical industry conferences. Conferences offer one of the best returns because you are able to attend an event where there are several high-positioned managers within the industry in addition to representatives from pharmaceutical recruitment agencies.
Many of these events include networking times specifically to connect with people in the industry. The 2014 DIA Annual EuroMeeting in Vienna was a good example of how attendees could develop a good network. At the event there were seven different times in which rooms were made available to help attendees to communicate with potential employers. The DIA's confence attracts professionals of all disciplines within the life sciences industry and is held annually in the spring.
There are many conferences where you can network with hiring managers and fellow professionals within more specific scientific functions. Key conferences coming up this autumn include:
- Pharmaceutical Users Software Exchange (PhUSE) | 12 – 15 October 2014 | London, UK:
Network with professionals who are influential in hiring for biometrics jobs. This conference is attended by data managers, statisticians, PK/PD specialists, and health outcomes and economics specialists.
- 11th TOPRA Annual Symposium 2014 | 13 – 15 October 2014 | Brussels, Belgium:
Network with industry representatives and recruitment agencies who are looking for skilled professionals working in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs jobs,including clinical development, post licensing, labelling and artwork, compliance and CMC.
- The 2014 RQA Annual Conference | 12 – 14 November 2014 | Brighton, UK:
Meet potential employers responsible for hiring quality assurance professionals, including auditors, QPs and managers within GCP and GMP.
Take some business cards with you to the conferences but ensure that you use them sparingly. Talk to different delegates and learn about their job role and what responsibilities they have. Only hand out your card if you feel that the individual could benefit your career.
Some of the best contacts to speak to are those who work at life sciences recruitment agencies. These events will be attended by various recruitment consultants, including representatives from ProClinical. Even if you are not looking for a job right now, getting your name on a recruiter’s database can allow you to be one of the first to be called should a suitable opportunity arise in the future.
Both you and your new contacts will have met many people over the course of the event, so be sure to invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn as soon as possible afterwards. Doing so will reduce the likelyhood that they will forget you and will ensure that you have a way to contact each other in the future should either of you move on to a new company.
Networking is a time consuming yet essential task. Take any opportunity you that have to create a new contact within the industry, whether that be with a potential employer or a recruitment consultant who works with life sciences jobs. Identifying key influencers and interacting with them to demonstrate your skills, personality and commitment over the long term will have a positive effect in advancing your pharmaceutical career.