General information about the main types of the companies in the pharma and biotech industry is already provided here. Below there are a few concrete examples from each category. Further below you will find advice on the job application process and interview.
Brand-Name pharmas; Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, Merck, CSL Behring
More names can be found here
The above listed are big players in the industry and as such are globally present and are more suitable for graduates because they open new positions more frequently, including the positions at the junior / entry level. Corporate environment can be overwhelming at first, however, it is a fast-track for your professional education, so important in first years. They sometimes open special programs for graduates or joint postgraduate education with academic institutions, which is a good way how to enter the area, get education and a working opportunity at the same time. Disadvantage of the pharma companies versus CROs is they tend to outsource functions rather than keep their own employees. Further, they sometimes lay off people when some development or authorization program finishes. Their departments are a bit less stable than in the CROs or CMOs.
Examples of big Generic Drugs companies could be Teva and Sandoz
Apart from the big corporations there are also plenty of mid-sized and small firms. However, small companies are far less suitable for inexperienced job seekers. They usually need seasoned experts. There you would also have less people to learn from. Small business is very frequently merged or acquired by some larger competitors or investors. It can be completely transformed or terminated if some research turns out to be a dead end.
As for the CROs examples, the largest Contract Research companies are; IQVIA, Parexel, Icon, Syneos Health, Covance, PRA
and more more
In this business new junior positions are opened continuously and you just need to watch out for updates. The chance to be successful is much higher than with the pharmas.
Here we go some examples of CMOs - Contract Manufacturing; Fisher Manufacturing Services, Almac Group, Vetter Pharma-Fertigung, Lonza
While some people simply check the internet, apply and get invited for an interview for many it is not that straightforward. Some of you may already know how it is frustrating spend days and nights by sending your CVs and motivation letters at all directions getting no positive answer, if an answer at all. Phone or personal visit attempts are usually not fruitful either as no HR officer has time for these unscheduled exercises. I am going to give you four recipes how this barrier can be overcome.
This is probably the most important and useful piece of advice you can get. Do not lose your time with job agencies that are too generic and handling tons of applications and requests from both sites. Try several small and big recruitment companies clearly focused on the pharma business alone or on just a few business areas, including the pharma. They are strongly profiled and experienced in the sector and can sell you more effectively. Their consultants often deeply understand nature of the free positions and also can make your expectations as well as requirements realistic. You could be given important hints for your CV, letter and interview. The Resume should always be tweaked specifically for the position you are going to apply for. Some companies organize courses for graduates and you can be invited to an interview upon completion of the course. It substantially raises your chances.
Examples; Hydrogen Group, Hays, NonStop Pharma, Talentmark
Similarly to what is stated in the above paragraph, specialized webs (also like this one BTW) can bring you closer to the matter. Some of them are purely or mainly focused on advertising pharma and biotech jobs. Apart from the positions clearly advertised as Junior it can take you some time before you effectively recognize what is really a senior position and what could actually be suitable also for a smart graduate. Register yourself for email updates and check your inbox daily. Do not set the criteria too narrow because sometimes the job descriptions or requirements are not correctly categorized. If there is an option to upload your CV, do it!
Examples; PharmiWeb, SRG
Even though this gets more important the more seasoned professional you are, also for fresh graduates this is extremely helpful tool. If you already have a profile, you may need to consider switching it from an academic design, if you are a PhD or MS, to something more industry oriented. It does not mean you should neglect your academic record showcase as it is very important part of your portfolio and a strong selling point for certain positions. You just need to show you also have an interest and some business acumen. This can be supported by courses you took or internships. You should highlight in your main profile tab you are currently open to new opportunities.
Last but not least, manage your salary expectations. Not that you should go obviously too low, that is not good. You should have a sound idea what the normal ranges are for the positions you are going to apply for. The internet offers lots of bench-marking data and almost any position can be found, sometimes also reflecting seniority levels. Good overview can be downloaded from Hays for example. If you want to be on the safe side, you can target at the middle incomes of the respective junior position. Or if you want to roll a dice, you can target at the upper limit. But it is not recommendable to go too high up to the ranges of the skilled positions as it can significantly reduce your chances. Another strategy is to be self-confident, sell your abilities as much as you can and then insist you will not share any expectations and will await an offer. This part can be tactically very difficult but don't forget the most important goal - to get in. That is what you want first. As soon as you are there and with at least 6 months experience, your situation will change remarkably. Companies usually don't want to have too big spreads per position and salary as it is risky (people always talk). Moreover, with some experience you will be getting more offers from the industry competitors and you can ask for what you think you should have for that work. Further, do not underestimate yourself based on what you read in job descriptions. They are often over-inflated, full of awkward expert terms without a concrete meaning. The important thing is whether you would be able to learn quickly new things. During the probational period, usually a couple of months, you will have time to learn and settle in. Therefore, don't be too scared and try to be realistic. Always offer a bit more and ask for less.
The most difficult part. Since this is not just up to you but also depending on who your counterparts will be. Internet is full of general tips on how to perform well in an interview, so let's briefly mention some specifics for the area of the pharma industry. Firstly, you need to demonstrate your interest and ownership of competencies an HR specialist from a pharma company is likely to seek. Which are those?
- relevant academic record; not for all positions though
- any previous practical experience; internships, courses (even from online providers like Coursera https://www.coursera.org/) or part-time jobs
- practical computer literacy; you don't need to be an expert level but you need to be comfortable with learning new IT skills
- time flexibility and /or relocation flexibility
- foreign languages; English is No.1, no question about that. But any other language may rank you higher. Especially if you speak the language when the company has an affiliate, headquarters or important clients
- soft skills; ability to communicate well and appropriately and to adapt to multicultural environment is of utmost importance for all companies from the pharma and biotech industry. This is true not only for purely business or administrative functions but also for IT experts or scientists. Bear this in mind during your interview.
- you should already know something about the work you are trying to get and have some idea what will be your daily routine and responsibilities. Search this web to find out more about individual company types, departments and positions
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