How applications are handled within a company

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Re: How applications are handled within a company

Postby Nate W. » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:35 am

Susan, welcome to the real world; job hunting process is not always objective. The sooner you realize that soft skills and fit are just as important as competencies, the better off you will be in your job search. Why not take advantage of this situation and try some informational interviews? Make a plan about what you want in the next several years in terms of positions and go around talking with people who hold those positions. Focus on talking shop and learning about the field. Use those same scientific skills honed in lab data sessions to investigate an area of research or field that you are considering. Throw out ideas when appropriate and ask well reasoned questions during the process in these interviews of prospective supervisors. Always be polite and well dressed; if there is a fit synergy between personalities, ask for a referral. Target managers in the field of interest and that have the ability to hire (~about two levels above where you should be hired). Ditch most of the online job applications, unless a perfect match, and try this approach. The advantage of this approach is that it eliminates most of the competition and it streamlines the hiring process by helping you avoid the HR gatekeepers (or at least minimize the their input about your candidacy). I promise you will find a better position doing this than applying online and thinking the world should come to you because it is a meritocracy (and you are the best qualified attitude). Lastly, most managers don't want to sort through resumes, schedule interviews, and conduct them because they are busy. So, the managers need someone now; who is productive; and can be trusted. This is why managers often ignore resumes submitted online and only hire from their own personal network. However, if some bright well educated and polite young scientist comes to them on their own initiative and is eager to work on the manager's project (and is well informed on the topic or area of research), the manager is probably going to be interested in hiring this person (maybe on the spot; this happened to me twice) and probably skip the myopic HR lunacy of screening resumes (by keywords and not context; obtuse?).

I know a Principal Partner at a VC firm who has a database of trusted colleagues that work in different areas of drug discovery and who only considers these candidates when starting a new biotech company. Try getting a job at one of his biotech startups w/o knowing him personally; it is NOT going to happen. Who says networking doesn't pay off?

"the squeaky wheel gets the grease!" Come Susan just try it.

Happy Hunting!
Nate W.
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:48 pm

Re: How applications are handled within a company

Postby Susan H. » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:39 pm

Thank you very much for your answers. I am not living in the beautiful ideal world were the suitable/competent (e.g. shown by CV/pubs/experience) and good (e.g. shown as a former colleague, networking) person gets the job; this would indeed be the real thing also in my opinion. Too often have I seen that vacancies were filled for political reasons, e.g. to return a favour among "manager" peers (e.g. to keep the good relationship between a PI/university and a person in industry in charge of this relationship), and that hires out of a particular group at a university accumulate, rather independent of competence of the candidates; and no, they were not all coincidentally great. So no, I am not ok with that, I think that this is not the right strategy to fill a position. But of course reality proves me wrong, and I will need to see how to reconcile this dilemma. Thanks again.
Last edited by Susan H. on Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Susan H.
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:41 pm

Re: How applications are handled within a company

Postby D.X. » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:36 pm

Hi Susan H,

In my opnion, the idea that you can reconcile what you have described is futile.

It sounds like you are still early in career if you are talking about hires from universities in your work sphere.

Im in bit more advanced in my career i assume, I've been in quite a few pharma companies with my career growth trajectory in more commercial roles. Politics is rampant on my side of the industry and with my tenure in the industry I've seen alot. For example, what can happen is that the political powers that happen to have influence will bring in former associates they once knew at former companies. A Novartian (Novartis) senior leader comes in, you can bet new hire vacacies will be filled by thier fellow Novartians. And not too put one company on the spot, same would happen say if an Amgenite (Amgen) or a Takedaian (Takada) senior management team comes in. In my tenure, ive been through a number of these restructurings and change managements and have see the politics, when it hits you and you are no longer "protected" by your political circle or sphere then of course that brings about fustration etc.

And companys are changing management much more faster than in the fast, so the nepetism can run high. Note to edit: but a part of this is natural and ok, sometimes you want to be surrounded by those you trust right? yes you can get fustrated but put yourself in the management's shoes, sometimes they want someone they can trust and/or they want to tip the balance in ways that will favor thier stake in the venture. Natural human behavior.

There are ways to handle it which goes out of scope of this conversation (in my last company i benefited from being part of a political circle until a
"regime" change, and the company before that).

The point is, it happens and this talks to the importance of forming strong professional relationships early and during your career, that network is what you will fall back on as well as your experience should you find yourself in such situations. I can tell you the people that can get mobilzing in my network are the ones that i met in my first few jobs in industry, the newer ones less so...early networks can be very long lasting and the best. Just my experience.

However, to readers of this forum, in transition to non academic careers, this does NOT concern you. You at at a point in your carrer where you have ZERO control of politics and other issues of hiring, and thus you should not contemplate politics described any further beyond this post. Do your informational interviews, network, tool up and pursue your job interest.

As you are aware of politics, then no worries, you will learn this crap in the future. Keep to the high road, be merit focused and develop yourself. Dont worry about politics of hiring, politics will find you later in other circumstances, and dont worry too much, find your network, find your mentors and "rabbi" and you'll navigate.

You know i've made it from academia into a role where I was a candidate against internal and far more experienced candidates, i've bern hired in one role against the political will of a CEO a well established small but fast growing (super double digit and an investor favorite) company with a Global foot-print, so dont let politics distract you. You can't control it - best you can do is stand on your merit, network and be professional...always. Be like me just keep going! Dont let this distract you and dont dwell in day, you will have your own circle.

Note to edit: It is natural to have your own "network" circle both for your personal professional actitivities and for your in-the-job professional activities as you grown - being able to navigate and work with politics with diplomacy and building trusting and fruitful relationships for work purposes/and professional personal gain is a sign of good diplomatic competencies. Trust me as you grow in career - good diplomacy is appreciated, its aligns to trust and crediblity and good communication and ability to get things done.

Back to Susan H, as you wont be able to reconsile it, cause yiu will find it more and more as you advance and certainly more intense, then it comes back to self management. Do you want to stay where you are? Ok then deal with it and manage it..i can tell you alot if it is self management. Once you are in a good spot mentally then game on. You are then ready...either stay in the samme company, change company or change job sector/path. There is a great book, "who stole my cheese" - great advise for me re: read the handwritting on the wall. If you stay where you are i bet you can find your rabbi, ideally should be your boss but should be one who has favorable engagement with your boss abd has positive advocacy for you.

All the best and sorry for being a bit blunt but im being real-world.

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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: How applications are handled within a company

Postby Susan H. » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:01 am

Thanks, DX, all your answers are very much appreciated. I am ca. 12 years into my career in the pharma industry, and university and group etc. seem to remain relevant.

Once you are in a good spot mentally then game on.

Well I am not; I am still trying to find out how to get there.
Susan H.
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:41 pm


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