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The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Dave Walker » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:04 am

Will S. wrote:I resent a little bit if the comment about disgruntled "pseudonymous posters" is directed towards me. On the contrary!


Hi Will, sorry about the misunderstanding, I was actually replying to Dave Jensen's original post. I for one am glad you're here sharing great information -- I've got "Ask A Manager" open in the background to look at today if I get some free time!

I totally understand the need for a job hunter to vent -- I think all of us humans do this regularly, not just disgruntledocs :) I would even go so far to say that, in my opinion, venting is necessary in everyday life.

But this is a forum for sharing and discussion, and venting does not always bring interesting information for others. You can probably spot an unhelpful post if you stay a while or browse the archives -- they tend to be long-winded and very complex, but always asking for a simple yes/no answer. Sometimes a brave forum member will try to help, and for my part I sometimes fear I make things worse. This is especially sad for me, since these posts often are the most desperate.

In that respect, resilience might be the best answer to those questions.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Steven Z. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:24 am

It's almost as if they get their PhD and expect that people will be lining up to offer them positions.


Believe it or not there are fields where if you get the prerequisite credentials people will line up to offer you positions and recruiters will be phoning, emailing, In-mailing, sending carrier pigeons etc.

If you are having a real bear even getting an interview and employers are not showing much excitement about hiring you it may mean you are simply in a field that does not have much demand. The market is sending a lot of signals that frankly science majors at almost all levels are not valued in the economy. The torrent of horror stores from PhD's conducting job searches, the high numbers of them in Post-Doc Purgatory, the explosion of use of temp agencies to hire bench scientists, and the shockingly bad offers I frequently see, and the tsunami of layoffs from pharma are all supporting data.

So the big question is why are we advising our best and brightest to go into science when the labor market is in no uncertain terms screaming at them not to?
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Dick Woodward » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:45 am

t's almost as if they get their PhD and expect that people will be lining up to offer them positions.


Actually, I have run into people that believe that. In a prior position, I was looking for salespeople - preferably PhDs, since the subject matter was biosafety testing and it was easier to teach PhDs to sell than it was to teach advanced virology to salespeople. I received a letter and resume from a newly-minted PhD telling me that he was a perfect candidate and that he felt that the degree entitled him to an outrageous salary (won't mention what it was, but we were rolling around laughing) as well as a company car and a "generous expense account". Oddly, we did not even respond to him...

Dick

PS - If one of the readers is actually that fellow, I hope that you have since revised your job search methods.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Will S. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:55 am

Dave Walker wrote:Hi Will, sorry about the misunderstanding, I was actually replying to Dave Jensen's original post. I for one am glad you're here sharing great information -- I've got "Ask A Manager" open in the background to look at today if I get some free time!

I totally understand the need for a job hunter to vent -- I think all of us humans do this regularly, not just disgruntledocs :) I would even go so far to say that, in my opinion, venting is necessary in everyday life.

But this is a forum for sharing and discussion, and venting does not always bring interesting information for others. You can probably spot an unhelpful post if you stay a while or browse the archives -- they tend to be long-winded and very complex, but always asking for a simple yes/no answer. Sometimes a brave forum member will try to help, and for my part I sometimes fear I make things worse. This is especially sad for me, since these posts often are the most desperate.

In that respect, resilience might be the best answer to those questions.


I think those venting posts don't require an answer, their existence itself is very helpful for the person venting and for readers on a similar position. You're familiar with the cliche "men want to solve problems, woman want to talk about it", right? Well sometimes just talking about, not solve it.

These threads here viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7930, viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10096 touch on personal nightmares that I was going through. I was very close to dropping everything in my life to move in with my parents because my depression was telling me I was the worst person ever! Knowing that I'm not the only one was enough to keep my sanity and build resilience.

People definitely need to build resilience. But the problem of telling them they need to be resilient is that it doesn't give them something they can concretely work on. With friends going through the job search blues, what I tell them is "don't take it personally" or try to debug what could've gone wrong in the interview with them. I have a sense that if I tell a buddy to "treat a job search like they treat a research problem and be resilient" they'll begin to cry.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:56 am

Steven Z. wrote:So the big question is why are we advising our best and brightest to go into science when the labor market is in no uncertain terms screaming at them not to?


Because it's screaming at you, and not necessarily everyone else. People get into science because they are passionate about it -- and that passion shows in the process of looking for work. Similarly the other "side of the coin" shows up just as easily.

There are thousands of growth companies, in many sectors, that hire scientists. You have a particular experience in the large-company Pharma business. And yet others go to those companies, and get jobs.

No one is saying that science careers are easy. There are far more people investing in PhD's than can be absorbed by industry, government, and academia. That's a problem. But I think those job shoppers who carry a bitterness around with them are self-inflicting much of the damage.

Dave
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Nate W. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:46 pm

Dave said in his article:

"In academia, you follow the rules outlined in an advertisement. “Submit a CV and three letters of reference.” That’s expected, and there’s a fair amount of history that says this is the way to approach academia: You must do what they request. But in industry, recruiters or hiring managers have no problem with you approaching their jobs in a completely different way; you might call this the unwritten rulebook."

Resiliency certainly is an essential key to the job search. There will be highs and there will lows. There will be naysayers. There will unqualified non-scientists judging your qualifications. There will be jealous people in your network who don't want to provide a referral because they fear that you'll take their job. There will administrative assistants acting as a gatekeeper because they are having a bad day. Get over it and move on.

I highlighted this quote for a reason. If academia has taught young scientists to be docile servants of their PIs and to respect the unwritten traditions of academic hiring (i.e. "follow the rules"), why then should we expect them to exhibit the qualities of resilience and perseverance needed for non-traditional job seekers. This seems to contradict the qualities of an excellent scientist. Why then can't academic scientists apply the quality of perseverance to their job search?

My hypothesis is the culture of the academy has taught them to be too servile. This mindset is actually hurting their job search and can create an entitled mindset (which only escalates the downward frustration) . Frankly, it is your career and who cares what anyone else thinks. If you are polite and reasonable in your job search, be assertive and blow your own horn. Ignore the naysayers.

Of note, I don't agree with the notion that you have to respect the rules when inquiring about positions in academia either. I have landed several positions in academia by networking with colleagues. One of my former PIs helped a former post-doc get an interview at Penn State after the postdoc wrote to the department head about a tenure track position. Today, he is a tenured associate professor at Penn State.

How do these foolish myths get started? This is like people believing the police are going to show-up if you tear off the mattress tag.
Last edited by Nate W. on Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Nate W. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:05 pm

Steven Z. wrote:
It's almost as if they get their PhD and expect that people will be lining up to offer them positions.


Believe it or not there are fields where if you get the prerequisite credentials people will line up to offer you positions and recruiters will be phoning, emailing, In-mailing, sending carrier pigeons etc.

If you are having a real bear even getting an interview and employers are not showing much excitement about hiring you it may mean you are simply in a field that does not have much demand. The market is sending a lot of signals that frankly science majors at almost all levels are not valued in the economy. The torrent of horror stores from PhD's conducting job searches, the high numbers of them in Post-Doc Purgatory, the explosion of use of temp agencies to hire bench scientists, and the shockingly bad offers I frequently see, and the tsunami of layoffs from pharma are all supporting data.

So the big question is why are we advising our best and brightest to go into science when the labor market is in no uncertain terms screaming at them not to?


Steven Z,

The biotechs in the IBB ETF have yielded 12.5% per year for the last five years. So, there are many biotechs making money and hiring. How can you reconcile this with your comments?
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Will S. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:12 pm

Nate W. wrote:Dave said in his article:

"In academia, you follow the rules outlined in an advertisement. “Submit a CV and three letters of reference.” That’s expected, and there’s a fair amount of history that says this is the way to approach academia: You must do what they request. But in industry, recruiters or hiring managers have no problem with you approaching their jobs in a completely different way; you might call this the unwritten rulebook."

Resiliency certainly is an essential key to the job search. There will be highs and there will lows. There will be naysayers. There will unqualified non-scientists judging your qualifications. There will be jealous people in your network who don't want to provide a referral because they fear that you'll take their job. There will administrative assistants acting as a gatekeeper because they are having a bad day. Get over it and move on.

I highlighted this quote for a reason. If academia has taught young scientists to be docile servants of their PIs and to respect the unwritten traditions of academic hiring (i.e. "follow the rules"), why then should we expect them to exhibit the qualities of resilience and perseverance needed for non-traditional job seekers. This seems to contradict the qualities of an excellent scientist. Why then can't academic scientists apply the quality of perseverance to their job search?

My hypothesis is the culture of the academy has taught them to be too servile. This mindset is actually hurting their job search and can create an entitled mindset (which only escalates the downward frustration) . Frankly, it is your career and who cares what anyone else thinks. If you are polite and reasonable in your job search, be assertive and blow your own horn. Ignore the naysayers.

Of note, I don't agree with the notion that you have to respect the rules when inquiring about positions in academia either. I have landed several positions in academia by networking with colleagues. One of my former PIs helped a former post-doc get an interview at Penn State after the postdoc wrote to the department head about a tenure track position. Today, he is a tenured associate professor at Penn State.

How do these foolish myths get started? This is like people believing the police are going to show-up if you tear off the mattress tag.


You nailed it. I had to go through a giant mindset change. Through my networking efforts and job search I kept telling myself "Do you want this? Because you're acting like you don't!" when I wasn't cold calling or writing follow ups or one of the several things you need to do constantly.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Nate W. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:25 pm

Dick Woodward wrote:
t's almost as if they get their PhD and expect that people will be lining up to offer them positions.


Actually, I have run into people that believe that. In a prior position, I was looking for salespeople - preferably PhDs, since the subject matter was biosafety testing and it was easier to teach PhDs to sell than it was to teach advanced virology to salespeople.


Dick,

I agree with you. It easier to teach a scientist to be a salesman than teach a salesman science. However, there are hiring managers out there that take the contrary viewpoint on this. In their opinion, sales experience outweighs scientific knowledge and that sales is an art form that can be applied in any industry. So how does an experienced salesman w/o the technical expertise effectively sell to scientists or in other words how can they understand the needs of their customers?

How would you address this objective if it was raised by a VP of Sales with a traditional pharma sales background (not a scientist)?

I am interviewing for a MSL position (note: this is not a pharma company and they don't have a medical affairs department) and have been asked to met with the VP of Sales.
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Re: The one issue running through the "job search difficulties" Forum posts

Postby Dick Woodward » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:15 pm

Nate:

Great question. The short answer is that it depends upon the complexity of the item being sold and the relative familiarity of the client/buyer/customer with the subject matter. Pharmaceutical detailers are not, in my opinion, truly salespeople. Not that they are bad people (the few that I've spoken to are very nice) but they are legally constrained by the FDA as to what they are allowed to tell the MDs - thus, they tend to be more scripted than one would expect of a true salesperson. They are basically promoters, sample dispensers and order takers. MSLs exist because their interaction with a physician is considered to be more of a peer-to-peer interactions, and they can discuss drugs and issues such as side effects at a much deeper level than a detailer.

In fact, the potential for detailers to overstep their bounds is so great that I have heard that some companies are backing off the detail force and moving primarily to MSLs.

In the case of the biosafety testing company, many of our tests involved a custom component, and our contacts at the client company were typically heads of QA/QC or high-level R&D/product development executives. The sales process often involved educating the client on the latest FDA regulations (they were in flux at that time) and helping to develop a suite of testing protocols that met the client's needs. (Of course, this often meant helping the client identify what those needs were.) This process required the salespeople to understand exactly what the client was doing and why. Because of the intensely technical nature of the sale, our HR department was instructed not to bother me with resumes of pharmaceutical detailers - the vast majority of them just did not have the technical background to be successful.

When you meet with the VP of Sales, a topic of discussion will almost certainly be how you can help the sales force. Please beware of the "off-label" trap. To the best of my knowledge, MSLs are not allowed to discuss off-label uses, although there are certain ways in which both the MSLs and detailers can distribute peer-reviewed articles discussing off-label uses. Check out these two articles:

http://www.pharmexec.com/marketing-professionals-msls-label-promotion

http://site.blueskybroadcast.com/Client/RAPS/0308/pdf/Monitoring%20the%20Practice%20of%20Medicine%20and%20Off-%20Label%20Uses.pdf

There are probably a host of others that are more recent than these.

Looking at the first article, it is clear that many executives believe that MSLs can promote off-label uses and discuss them with the MDs; this does not appear to be the case, and you would be well advised to understand what MSLs can and cannot do prior to the interview, as this is likely to come up.

Hope this is useful to you. Good luck on the interview.

Dick
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