Transition from Business Manager to a Pharma Manager Job

Demographic changes in the United States mean pharma manager jobs will continue to grow in pay and prestige. More members of the “Baby Boomer” generation are retiring and finding themselves challenged by medical costs and expenses. The pharmaceutical industry must adapt to a growing market that is filled with increased competition from generic brands and smaller biotech firms. Professionals with a strong sales background will be well-positioned to transition into healthcare jobs, but must show they can adapt to the unique demands of the industry. Preparing for healthcare or biotechnology jobs from another field also means strengthening one’s healthcare credentials.

Although pharma manager jobs require a working knowledge of healthcare products — from one’s own firm, their competitors, and from cutting edge research labs — they often rely on core business management skills for the ability to get things done. Most senior pharmaceutical managers do not deal with direct, front line sales. While they may be the “responsibility owners” for certain major accounts, they spend much of their time working on top level market analysis and strategy. To leverage a sales or business administration background into a healthcare jobs transition, build and emphasize these skills:

Project Management: Project leadership is a huge part of pharmaceutical management roles and is an area traditionally associated with business. If you demonstrate the ability to lead and coordinate multiple teams, you can easily contribute to the kind of multi-faceted projects that are common in the pharmaceutical industry — such as new product launches, rebranding, and multinational strategic shifts in response to competitors.

International Leadership: Although we think of healthcare jobs as a domestic industry, pharma manager jobs are distinctly international. The legal status of any medical product is constantly in flux across dozens of emerging and developing markets. Likewise, consumers in different jurisdictions react differently to marketing and sales initiatives. Prior expertise juggling multinational expectations is enormously valuable.

Government and “B2B” Experience: Although face-to-face sales experience isn’t always necessary, business-to-business sales skills translate easily into the strategic planning and lobbying you’ll have to do when dealing with a variety of regulatory bodies and influential stakeholders. Fundraising experience can also help — since it involves a similar sort of relationship management.

Versatile business leaders can penetrate pharmaceutical management in a variety of ways. Neither direct sales experience nor a thorough medical background is indispensable. Core business skills are the backbone of a career switch.

What Are the Different Kinds of Healthcare Sales Representatives?

In most industries, a sales representative is a sales representative is a sales representative. If you understand the basic principles of what a successful sales professional does in auto sales, for example, you understand what others will be doing in that industry the majority of the time. It may come as a surprise, then, that sales representatives in the medical and biotech fields have the capacity to become a completely different kind of strategic partner for the clients they work with. Set aside any mental image you might have of stereotypical door-to-door salesmen or Heather Locklear’s character on Scrubs!

The first thing to realize is there’s a great diversity of positions for sales representatives throughout the healthcare and biotech industries. The different areas of sales are distinct enough that they require their own strategies and a mature understanding of the market segment the sales professional works in.

Some representatives specialize in one area and can develop a rich and satisfying career that way. However, with increasing competition in the medical space comes a growing expectation that professionals will have knowledge in multiple areas.

Here are a few of the areas in the medical industry that require sales expertise:

Capital Sales:

Capital sales represent large investments that align with the long-term strategy of a given hospital or other medical facility. For example, a new MRI machine would fall under this heading.

Sales representatives focused on these “big ticket” items have a unique challenge. On one hand, organizations wish to demonstrate to patients and employees that they provide the latest technology. On the other, replacing existing capital equipment before the end of its useful life is a challenging proposition.

As a result, a sales professional will have to be aware not only of the product catalog that he or she services, but also of the existing equipment stock, long-term needs, and overall advertising strategy of every major client.


Disposable items are things like surgical gloves and scrubs that must be used on a daily basis and thrown out when their work is done. Although they fall into the least expensive class of purchase that an institution makes, they are a necessity that cannot be allowed to run low.

As a result, hospitals will tend to have an ongoing agreement with a supplier for these vital items. Sales representatives who focus on disposable items will often find themselves in competition with a more established supplier. Since the features of most disposable items are nearly identical, sellers will have to aggressively negotiate agreements that best satisfy the client’s desired price point.

Medical Devices

Medical devices make up one of the broadest categories in medical sales. Everything from the stint that may be used in a patient’s heart to a completely artificial heart itself is considered a medical device.

Sales representatives in medical devices are often said to have the most challenging jobs. They must interact with the client on the deep level required in capital sales, but still do their best to negotiate on both features and price. Likewise, the competition among medical device manufacturers who have similar offerings is fierce, due to the extreme bottom line value and enduring nature of medical device contracts. In medical device sales, one must be aware of the complete regulatory landscape and use it to achieve advantage.

The differences in these three areas should provide some clues as to the related sales skill sets that one could cultivate to transition into a healthcare sales role. All healthcare sales representatives should expect to have certain traits in common: The most important may be the ability to keep track of medical developments and changing market conditions. This is complemented by an ability to do the necessary research, in cooperation with a client, in order to truly understand their needs.

Once these basic skills have been acquired and honed, the path diverges a bit depending on one’s area of expertise.

Sales representatives can transition easily into capital sales from any background where they were responsible for large contracts — especially contracts of a technical nature that required working with experts in a field. Winning respect from medical professionals by demonstrating knowledge of the problems they face is key, and provides the negotiating power needed to make major sales.

Sales professionals with a logistics background — those who are knowledgeable about the importance of “continuous improvement” in areas like material cost — are well suited to focus attention on disposables. Such professionals should also be prepared to evangelize their service record or other features in comparison to the competition.

Finally, sales representatives who have transitioned from a medical background are in the best position to explore medical device sales. These sales often hinge on the salesperson’s ability to perceive a client institution’s needs and discuss them in precise medical detail.

Medical Device Sales Insider News

From our good friends at Becker’s Hospital Review:

The medical device industry may be in an interesting era of both more innovation and regulation. With the upholding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, manufacturers will face a 2.3 percent excise tax on all devices they produce. This has some in the industry nervous about what will happen; others, including Bob Kinsella, president of Kinsella Group, think it could spur innovation.

6 Great Biotech Careers

The field of science and biotechnology is continually changing as new discoveries are made. Biotechnology is the scientific field which focuses on life sciences and its applications in various products and services. Careers in biotechnology and science can lead in many different directions from new applications for environmental protection to the development of life-saving drugs. In the right careers, this is a very lucrative industry. If you’re interested in a career in biotechnology and science, there are the six highest-paying options

Biotechnology Sales Representative

Sales representatives in the field of biotechnology learn about the most recent developments before they even hit the market. It is then the job of the sales representative to determine the best way to market and sell each new product, generating the necessary revenue to support further developments in this field. To land a job as a sales representative in the biotechnology field, applicants are usually required to have a degree in some type of life sciences. This equips the sales representative to easily research and understand each new product. The annual salary for these sales representatives ranges from $70,000 to $118,000, including commission.

Biotech Research Scientist

Biotech research scientists are at the forefront of new trends and discoveries in all areas of biotechnology. Careers in this area can be very diverse, focusing on anything from new medical developments to the way various organisms affect our food supply. Individuals who enjoy employing the scientist method, doing in-depth research, and making new discoveries are well-suited to this field. A degree in life sciences is required for a career as a biotech research scientist. This career was ranked 76 in CNN Money’s list of the 100 Best Jobs in America. The median salary for a biotech research scientist is $90,000 with top earnings as high as $136,000.

Biotech Manufacturing Engineer

Biotech manufacturing engineers work on the developmental side of new advancements in this field. While research scientists develop the products and sales representatives sell them, manufacturing engineers are the vital connection that ensures each new product is safely and effectively manufactured. While a background in life sciences is still important to this field, a biotech manufacturing engineer will most likely need a degree in engineering. The salary for a biotech manufacturing engineer ranges from $50,000 to $100,000 on average.

Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers have an important job to do. Individuals with careers in this area must analyze current systems and develop new improvements to keep the population as a whole safe from various diseases and accidents. Both science and engineering are crucial to this field. Education for this field should include courses on physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, environmental safety, and industrial hygiene. The median annual wage for health and safety engineers is $75,430. Those with earnings in the top ten percent made over $114,470 each year. Government positions are typically associated with the highest salaries for this field.

Clinical Research Associate

Clinical research associates are responsible for the testing processes and procedures that ensure new medical technologies are safe and effective. A variety of studies are conducted with volunteers before any new medication is put on the market. Long before a sales representative can sell the product, a clinical research associate must oversee various studies, collect data, and evaluate test results. These tests typically take place in hospital or laboratory settings. These careers may require long hours, weekend shifts, and round-the-clock observation for some cases. The salary for a clinical research associate ranges from $51,637 to $63,531.

Forensic DNA Analyst

The job of a forensic DNA analyst is relatively new. DNA testing is a powerful innovation that gives law enforcement professionals a new tactic for investigating crimes. Though DNA testing appears quick and simple on television programs, this career actually requires a great deal of knowledge and experience in the field of biotechnology. Attention to detail is essential for a forensic DNA analyst. The test results that are obtained by these professionals can lead to a criminal conviction and absolutely must be accurate. These analysts are responsible for testing DNA, working with police and investigators, and even giving testimony in court. The salary for this position can range from $28,118 to $68,510.

Careers in biotechnology are diverse. From the researcher who develops new products to the sales representative who sells them to distributors and makes them available to the public, every position in this field is important. Biotechnology is continually growing as new advancements are made in this field. If you enjoy scientific analysis, read about new research and developments in your free time, and find life sciences and engineering to be fascinating areas, then many of these careers in biotechnology and science are ideally suited to you. Not only will you make a real difference with a career in this area, you can also make a comfortable living.

Biotech Career Confidential

We recently spoke with an anonymous member of the Biotechnology Community, and they agreed to give the scoop on several aspects of a Biotechnology Career:

What are the profit margins like in general, R&D included?

The profit margins are not that great on RX drugs, in fact the majority of the time we lose money on prescription drugs. Not in the traditional sense of recouping material costs, but in the form of we could be making alot more money making OTC drugs.

Can you describe the supply chain of ingredients your company used?

The supply chain in our industry is rather unique. The majority of our materials exist in some form on the standard market, but are unusable as we have an internalized testing lab that has higher specs than 99% of the stuff out there. So we have unofficial contracts to cherry pick the best stuff or have it made for us. Another thing is the FDA requires extremely qualified vendors, meaning we are stuck with single sourced materials even if they misbehave and ship us a bad batch or ship late.

Do you think your company, and the industry in general, provides adequate insurance-agnostic financial aid to people in need? (for RX drugs)*

Everyone at our plant gets 10 free OTC products a week and can apply for pet prescriptions. I was a contractor so I can’t say much else about benefits.

How many hours a week do you work? I got the impression that the reason why the BMS campus was so rad was so that they could keep their employees there for insane hours. (Esp. With the built in hair salon, bank, and convenience store)

During cough cold buildup I worked 60 hours a week. The only facility was a cafeteria that served subsidized meals. I was hourly so it was not that bad.

Once a new drug is released to the general public, new adverse reactions that couldn’t be found in human testing will emerge. The FDA mandates that drug companies keep doctors apprised of these new side effects. However, it’s well known that many doctors don’t pay attention to these updates. This means that drug companies can follow the law and notify doctors, while still successfully encouraging doctors to over-prescribe the medication. And that’s a pretty big problem. Any ideas about how this problem could be fixed, or at least mitigated? Or is that not the kind of thing you dealt with in your job?

There is a reason there is a complaints number on your bottle. According to FDA mandate every complaint is logged. Reactions go to R&D and manufacturing go to the plant. I did not deal with drug development just manufacturing, so I can’t speak to their level of detail but a complaint as small as one or two broken pills causes such a stir it can mean production redesign or formulation changes. The only R&D I worked with was for over coming production issues.

Are there opportunities for molecular biology within the field? I’ve been trying to find a better job for a while, but haven’t considered Big Pharma much. How’d you get started in a Biotechnology Career?

I got hired out of school, but you need to be willing to relocate a lot. Two words for you: Animal Health. Pfizer has a huge biological division just for AH and it prints money. It’s least likely to be hit by any legislation and the margins are 10x what people drugs are.

How do you feel about marketing drugs directly to people via television  commercials?

I don’t like it, but I think a lot more responsibility should fall on the doctor to explain why it’s the right/wrong choice.

Side-effect updates are supposed to make doctors more cautious about prescribing medications. However, there are two problems that tend to prevent this outcome. The first is that doctors tend not to pay attention to side-effect updates. Secondly, drug companies are good at obeying the letter of the law while still encouraging doctors to over-prescribe medication. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on how the FDA could mitigate each of these problems.

It’s a tough question, anything you do via the FDA is just going drive cost increases and thus pass it onto the patient.

Has your experience in the industry affected your daily life in that, “Once you’ve seen how sausage is made…” kind of way?

If anything it makes me more comfortable as I know how much quality goes into things.
And I don’t care about drug expirations any more.

About drug expirations, could you elaborate a bit on what the criteria are for setting the expiry date for a drug?*

Basically it boils down to a labelling law. Over time things break down and loose potency, our label says one thing yet the actual content is different. That’s where the bulk of the issues come from. Sure there are cases where things can go bad like a sugar based syrup but those are all subjected to microbial purification and testing before they are released. All the plastic we used as been tested under every condition you can think of over periods three times the shelf life of the product, so no contamination from container break down can occur either.

Also, this is a more generic (and possibly better question), but how do the big boys’ production lines look? At the pill factory, we had individual presses isolated in there own little cubicles. They had fifty some-odd dies that spun around, pressing the powder into tablets. Is that what y’all do as well? Or do y’all have cool assembly lines?

Our facility houses 25 packaging lines each doing multiple brands (that’s every size and variation of each brand night time, extra strength, with calcium,etc) and 3 manufacturing areas for the actual pills. Some tablet presses are small like the ones you described and others can be as big as 2 minivans stacked on top of each other. It’s a game of scale as not everything needs a thousand tablet a minute press, due to the setup costs and cleaning times. And to give another sense of the tech involved, we sell a 10g powder packet. The line it is packaged on fills sealed packets that it prints the label with the exp date on at a rate of 1500 packets a minute.

Also know that scene in Portal 2 when you land in old aperture science with all the crazy pipes everywhere? That’s exactly how out liquids mfg area looks.

If pharma didn’t advertise, and demand in America was regulated by insurer/government price-fixing instead of the price mechanism, would that mend the opinion of everyone here of pharma? If not, why not?

It would be the end of R&D for everything except high dollar drugs. It takes years for an OTC product to recoup its developmental costs and those have a fraction of the costs of a full RX drug.

Passing the CCRP Exam for a Biotech Career

To get a great career in Biotechnology, you’ll need certifications. One of the most important is the CCRP exam, given by SoCRA. Biotech Insider has a great collection of tips and tricks to help you do great on the exam.

  • The exam asks basic information and give you a case to look for mistakes – like “the consent form was not signed before a study intervention.” There are some multiple choice questions like ___ number of members for an IRB, or True/false – one member of an IRB must be a lay person. It is a very basic exam, if you have been monitoring for a year or took any research courses you should do fine.
  • The examiners allow a calculator, so be sure to take one for drug compliance.
  • Become a member of SOCRA so that you will start receiving their magazine SOCRA Source. SOCRA Souce is very well written and has a large volume of useful information. Within SOCRA Source is the Self Study section that always contains 10 questions with an answer key in the back. While preparing to take my certification I found these questions to be more helpful than any other guide.
  • Study every single chance you get. Read the FDA Information Sheets, ICH Guidelines, GCP, Declaration of Helzinki, etc. You should also the NIH’s online certfiication/exam for human research subject protections. Any additional information helps. Read the definitions of key terms a million times. The test requires you to apply your knowledge and a lot of questions are tricky.
  • Abstracting Information from Medical Records: what you need to know how to do is to look at a patient’s medical history, cross the t’s, dot the i’s, make connections. Which medication was prescribed for which indication? When? Why? Do the scans, lab results, etc match diagnoses? It is important that the patient underwent cosmetic surgery to remove a lump on the thigh, or was the lamonectomy important and if so, why? What was wrong with the patient that required the procedure? Is that diagnosis in the chart?
  • Give yourself time to prepare so that you don’t have to cram everything last minute. Most of the questions are from the SoCRA study guide. Do read the section on FDA Information sheets, many questions were from that. Also if you have access to RAN Flash cards, they help to re-enforce your concepts.

By following these steps, you should be able to do well on this test and be on your way to a Biotechnology Career!


How to Break In to the Biotech Industry

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry that is redefining the boundaries of science. When it comes time to land a job, certain steps can be taken to increase your chances of breaking into the biotech industry and becoming a sales representative.

Prior to seeking employment in the biotech industry or as a sales representative, you first need to determine which of the three broad classes you are interested in. Those broad classes are medical, agricultural, or industrial biotechnology. The type of field you select will guide you in planning your future so that you can prepare yourself for getting the very best education that you can.

Stand Out From the Basic Education
Your education is the one of, if not the most important factor in finding employment after you have finished school. Knowing what type and field of study you will pursue when entering in to the study of biotechnology will clarify which prerequisites are required, as well as what deeper learning will be essential to your career. Medical, agricultural and industrial technology each have specialized knowledge and skill sets that are needed and having a solid background in these specialized areas is vital. Sales skills are a necessary attribute for a sales representative.

In addition to specialized education, you will need a firm grounding in basic biology. You will also need to have an understanding of recombinant DNA technologies, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry as well as other common sciences.

Once you are clear about the course of study you will pursue you will have a good idea on just how long your education will take. A rough estimate is, 4-6 years for a senior research scientist in a university to obtain a PH.D. This is then followed by a few years for a post-doctorate. Another route is 3-4 years for an associate technician with a Bachelor’s and then an additional 2-3 years for a master’s degree.

Be in High Demand for a Great Job
In addition to your all-around education, you will want to add some additional skills to make you an irresistible catch for a sales representative position in the biotech industry. Adding these to your list of accomplishments will likely ensure that you will be get noticed and considered for a job. You will want to show an aptitude for mathematics, possess certain computer skills, and have some management skills and marketing skills as well.

Membership in Professional Organizations
When it comes to seeking a new job, who you know is always the best policy. Join professional organizations so that you can meet other group members and leaders among the industry. Aim to develop a respectful relationship with targeted members in the organization and seek out leaders to mentor you and give you job seeking advice. The organization most likely will issue a newsletter where jobs may be advertised, available grants disclosed, workshops listed and industry
conferences and updates announced. It should also contain the name of a sales representative that you could contact for more information. The main reason for joining is that this will greatly help you with networking since you can meet other fellow members by attending the meetings and conferences that are arranged by the organization. Having an extensive contact list is always a plus.

Attend all available conferences that are in your nearby area, this will help expand your list of contacts so you will quickly develop more professional relationships. Having a sales representative as an ally is also a smart move. At the conferences, there will be many biotech companies and associated employers that you will be able to communicate with and learn more about the company and what they expect of their potential employees. This is an excellent opportunity to speak to someone inside the company and develop rapport. The companies are usually hiring and this
gives you the opportunity to meet the employers face to face and possibly get considered for the job. You should collect contact information from all companies you may be interested in working with and plan out a strategy to stay in touch so that the employer will remember you when a job does become available.

Internship/Summer Jobs
If you are currently a college student, you should find out if your university offers internships or summer jobs available. Take action on finding out this information early as these positions are in high demand and the positions can be filled very quickly. You might not receive pay for these jobs but you will gain valuable experience, and experience is what the employers are looking for. Reach out to your professors and speak with your school adviser or Dean to see if they know where you could possibly be hired as an intern. There are also some biotech companies that offer short term project work during the summer and most likely will pay a small stipend.

Modern Technology
Believe it or not, the Google search engine can be conducted to locate many available jobs. The internet is a very resourceful tool that you can use to find work to start your career in biotechnology. For those in nursing jobs, healthcare jobs, science jobs, as well as pharmacy will generally find themselves in a good position to pursue a career in biotechnology. A sales representative may also discover that biotechnology is a good fit as well.

How to Get Employed in the Biotechnology Industry

In a world where more and more people are looking for jobs, it’s important to think of the industries that are booming. Biotechnology is an up and coming science where biology, physics, chemistry, information technology and engineering come together to make significant strides in the way that we live our lives. When you’re looking for biotechnology jobs, you’re able to do so easier than ever before.

The number of biotechnology companies is increasing exponentially. While many other industries are struggling, this area of science is flourishing around the country. This means that there are more opportunities to be employed as a sales representative, a scientist, an analyst and various other positions within these companies. The interesting thing about biotechnology is that it’s not just scientists in white lab coats. The number of positions employed throughout the biotechnology industry is significant. The companies are looking for well-rounded individuals who have a specialty in such things as:

  • Farming
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biofuels
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Nursing

Every company in the biotech industry is trying to achieve a different goal. Some are working on cloning while others are working on better crops, new medical treatments and alternative fuels.

The better way to get employed with healthcare jobs and Pharma Manager jobs in the industry is to be connected to others who are in the industry. Those who are already working in the science jobs are able to bring others in much easier. This means that you want to consider setting up a professional profile for yourself on LinkedIn and Twitter. Connecting with industry professionals will be one of the best moves for you. Whether you’ve been in the industry for a while and are currently unemployed or you’re trying to get into a position for the first time, it will help to connect with others in the field that you want to specialize in. The more well-rounded you are, the better it will be. Once you figure out what your specialty is, stay educated. This industry is constantly evolving. If you’re not up on the latest breakthroughs, it will be hard to prove to an employer that you have what it takes. Attend the seminars and workshops around the country.

Whether you’re looking to be a sales representative or a scientist, remember that you have to make applications. Do you homework on the various biotech companies out there and send off your resume. Most importantly, show that you understand the company by talking about their current projects.

Network Your Way to a Biotech Career

TERMINATION. The word itself has different meanings depending on the context. In the situation where it is used to describe the end of one’s employment, there is but one interpretation; he or she will be unemployed and finding a new job will not be easy. With a larger percentage of corporations in America undergoing reorganization or “downsizing”, a greater number of employees, including biotechnology engineers and scientists, will see themselves in this unfortunate position. Once the initial shock of “termination” wears off, it is often replaced with a feeling of panic; ‘How do I find a new Biotech job?’ Relax. There is a very effective method that can be used to conduct a successful job search. It is known as NETWORKING. If used effectively, networking can be a rewarding experience which will often result in a better position in terms of job satisfaction and salary.

Where does one begin? First and foremost, it is important to understand what networking is all about. For many people in the biotechnology community it involves an entirely new or different philosophy for conducting a job search. It means researching a company to determine if that firm would have interest in your background. It means contacting a knowledgeable person who may be aware of biotech career opportunities, and finally, it involves speaking to that person with the primary intention of obtaining advice. This is one of the key points pertaining to networking; you are contacting a prospective employer not for a job, but for advice. By writing that person, you are telling him or her that you value their opinion and you are requesting their advice in seeking companies which may have interest in your background.

In the last few years I have had the opportunity to speak with many people who work in biotech. In most cases, when asked how they planned to undertake their job search, the response I received often sounded something like this: “check the newspapers, respond to ads and contact recruiters”. Six months later, when their job search was stalled and a feeling of hopelessness had set in, they realized that something was drastically wrong.

A recent study conducted by the American Society for Metals (ASM) revealed that the majority of biotechnology jobs are placed through referrals. Networking is your best opportunity for finding a job in Biotechnology, and by relying on the most common methods, you can expect minimal results. Perhaps the following will offer further clarification. Assume you see an advertisement in your local Sunday paper for a position which you consider to be applicable to your expertise and interests. You respond with a cover letter and attach a copy of your resume.

Consider the following scenario at the company which placed the ad. The person responsible for opening the resumes may be a secretary or receptionist. Assume this person has been given guidelines and instructed to make three piles; yes, no, and maybe. The following profile describes the number of resumes received on a particular day:

        Day 1 – 15 resumes
        Day 2 – 25 resumes
        Day 3 – 50 resumes
        Day 4 – 35 resumes
        Day 5 – 25 resumes

On the subject of recruiters there is a range of possibilities. In most cases they will not be interested in you unless they have a “job order” for which you could be a candidate. A recruiter I know who specializes in civil engineers told me he receives 100 or more unsolicited resumes a week. Most firms consist of a couple of people with minimum staff support. Therefore, they rarely have the time to review every resume that comes across their desk.

Chances are that you have been contacted by a recruiter in the past. Why? Recruiters are networking experts. When they receive a “job order”, they contact people who they know within the biotech industry to obtain new leads. If you had contact with a recruiter in the past, he may have called you about a particular job he had in mind. If you were not interested, chances are he asked you if could “suggest” someone he could contact. This is networking.

Before you begin your job search, you will obviously need a resume. In addition, you will need to develop letter writing skills that match your personality and style. The primary purpose of a networking letter is to convey a message that you value that person’s opinion, and hence perhaps he or she could assist you as you conduct your job search. Keep in mind that you are not asking your contact for a job; you are requesting their help in locating names of individuals or companies which may have interest in someone with your background. Who should you choose to write to within a particular firm? That depends on many factors; the size of the firm , the “accessibility” of your contact, the nature of their business, etc. If you feel more comfortable approaching the VP of Biotechnology rather than a Biotechnology Supervisor, write to the former. Try and contact the person responsible for hiring someone with your expertise.

Once you have mailed your letter, wait a week or two before following up. It typically takes a few phone calls to finally contact the person. It is critical that you do not give up; the leads that person gives you could be considerable. The worst that can happen is that the person tells you your letter was received, but they cannot offer any advice. Thank him for his time and go on to the next contact. In the event he or she can suggest leads, make sure you carefully note the information provided, and act upon the suggestions or leads. In other words, the process starts over again. Finally, if the person has been considerate and taken the time to assist you, I strongly recommend you write and thank them. Not only do you appreciate their help, you show them what type of person you are!

As you repeat the networking process over and over again, you realize several things. To begin with you are progressing in your job search every day. You are controlling where your resume is circulated, and you have a “hands-on” approach to contacting potential employers. Note how this compares to answering advertisements or using recruiters. Sooner or later you begin to speak with people who are interested in your qualifications, and will want to meet with you to discuss employment.

Networking can be a very rewarding experience and for those who have found new positions via this technique, no other method compares. It takes time to develop your letter writing skills, to feel comfortable telephoning the person you have written, and following up on the suggestions given. Networking is a full time job – yet the rewards may very possibly offer more Biotechnology opportunities than you had at your previous position.