BPS - Bio Pharmaceutical Solutions

Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Entry Level Roles

Industry Idol - So you think you can work in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industry!

Whether you're a contestant on the latest reality television program or looking to secure your first role in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industry it can be a difficult task! It is not just simply a matter of turning up and auditioning or interviewing, it's all about the preparation!
Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies, like record labels, want quality experienced talent. At Bio Pharmaceutical Solutions (BPS) we take on average 8-10 enquiries per week from people interested in securing their first role in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industry. The enquiries cover a range of roles in the industry including:
  • Clinical Research
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Drug Safety
  • Medical Affairs/Information
  • Health Outcomes
One of the most commonly asked questions asked is "How can I get experience when no one will give me an interview, let alone a role?" Competition for entry level roles, that do not require industry experience, is high and they are very rarely advertised. Companies often employ candidates with sufficient experience in the targeted area and who are able to operate independently. It takes both time and money for companies to train entry level staff and more often than not, companies don't have either.
The Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry have been experiencing a skills shortage for a number of years, which is good once you have some experience but, bad if you don't. Don't lose hope, as a potential candidate you can utilise several strategies that BPS recommends to assist you on your Industry Idol journey.

Strategies to assist you securing your first role in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology Industry

Entry Level Roles
1.       Industry training
There are a numerous providers offering training solutions for candidates that may assist with securing your first role. Use the internet as a tool to identify the course you wish to target and contact them to determine the content, length of time and costs etc. The course should provide you with sufficient detail to understand the role and enable you to draw parallels from your own experience that can relate to the tasks in the target role. 
At BPS we recommend the following links:
2.       Networking
You need to look to professional associations such as the Australian Institute of Regulatory and Clinical Scientists (ARCs), Drug Information Association (DIA) or others local to you. Establish when they have events or social gatherings. It will give you an opportunity to meet people who are currently working in the area you want to. Take the opportunity to ask them lots of questions like:
  • What company do you work for?
  • How did you break into the role?
  • Who is your manager?
  • How big is your team?
  • Do you know if they are looking to expand?
  • Who should I contact if I wanted to do some work experience?
This information will enable you to start to build up a greater understanding of the industry, who the key people are and what roles exist.
Another cost and time effective way of networking is to use internet tools such as Face book or Linked In.
3.       Industry Contacts
If you already know someone in the industry you should contact them. They can act as a great resource to increase your understanding of the type of roles available and what you would be required to do on a daily basis. 
4.       Work Experience
Don't be afraid to use your networks or industry contacts to find some short term work experience. For example, a couple of days of assisting a Clinical Research Associate or working in a Regulatory Department will provide you with some hands on experience and will stand out on your Curriculum Vitae (CV), differentiating you from all those other applicants. You never know, you may actually get offered a job with that company! 
5.       Curriculum Vitae
Your CV is a vital tool in progressing your application along the path to employment. There are a host of online tools available for you to use to assist with the layout, but it is the content that is important to the prospective employer. In general, it should be 3-4 pages in length with all your contact details, a summary of your key capabilities, work history (include your short term industry work experience), education (accredited or non accredited) and any relevant memberships with associations. Have a friend review it or ask your industry contact to critique your CV and offer some suggestions.
We recommend that you adjust the content of you CV for the area you are targeting. You need to demonstrate that you understand the role you are applying for and if you do not have extensive experience to draw up then you need to clearly show the reader how your skills could be applied to the tasks required. This is where the training, networking and work experience can be invaluable in mapping the skills required for the role to your current set. 
6.       Interview Preparation
Thorough interview preparation is vital once you have progressed to this stage. Check out our BPS interview tips  "The Interview - Basic Tips", "Behavioural Based Interviewing Strategies" and "Examples of Behavioural-based Interview Questions"  for succeeding in interviews.
Overall there is no defined path ensuring you secure a job in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industry and there are always exceptions. However, with a more comprehensive and structured approach to securing the role it just may give that competitive edge and the judge's approval.
Good luck with launching your career in the Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology industry!