9 ways to gain experience in the pharmaceutical industry

Although entry-level roles don’t require you to have the full set of skills and experiences needed to do a particular job, having a very limited skill set can make it harder to stand out from your peers. . To land your first role in the pharmaceutical industry, proactively developing your transferable skills while building valuable professional relationships can really help strengthen your applications and build your knowledge about working in the industry.

In this article we describe 9 things you can do to help you gain experience in the pharmaceutical industry; to keep abreast of industry developments, find a mentor and seek out shadowing opportunities.

Immerse yourself in the industry

In your applications and interviews, you will need to demonstrate an interest in the industry as well as the companies you are applying to. To make your applications stand out, you need to be aware of current developments, opportunities and challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the realities of working in your field. You can immerse yourself in the industry by:

  • Participation in events
  • Join social media groups for news and networking
  • Proactively grow your network
  • Stay up to date with the latest news through blogs and newsletters
  • Identify a few target companies to follow

It’s impossible to keep up with every development, so try to focus on the areas that will have the most impact on your target businesses.

Build on your qualifications

If you are entering the pharmaceutical industry for the first time, you will not be expected to be fully qualified or experienced. However, having some of the industry’s most essential qualifications on your CV can help your application stand out, as it will highlight your genuine interest in the industry, your willingness to learn and a proactive approach. of learning and development.

It’s not about the number of qualifications you can get, but rather the quality and relevance of those qualifications. For example, if you want to become a pharmaceutical representative, you can take the required ABPI exam at your own pace.

Identify your transferable skills

Especially for entry-level and post-graduate positions, transferable skills such as soft skills are extremely important. Some of the most essential soft skills for jobs within the pharmaceutical industry include:

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Organization and project management

Go through your resume and highlight areas that can be used to showcase your transferable skills, making sure you have specific examples to add weight to your applications and interviews. Doing a soft skills assessment can also help you identify areas that need improvement and can work on in your spare time.

Develop your digital skills

Digital skills are in high demand in industry, so developing them in your spare time can help strengthen your candidacy, even if you haven’t applied those skills to a pharmaceutical role yet. You can take a look at some of the most in-demand digital skills in this report published by ABPI.

Expand your network

Proactively grow your network on platforms like LinkedIn, but focus on building lasting professional relationships rather than growing your connection numbers. Once you’ve established a connection, start a conversation, engage with their content, and think about how you engage them as well. One of the worst things you can do is make 100 connections and not talk to any of them until you ask them for something, whether it’s a job or advice.

  • To engage your new audience, you can:
  • Create a relevant and insightful LinkedIn newsletter to follow
  • Share with them articles or other valuable resources that you think they might be interested in
  • Interact with their content and share it with your audience
  • Invite them to industry events you attend, both online and offline

You don’t want to spam your new connections, but you want to make your name one that they will remember. You can find more tips for growing your LinkedIn network here.

Conduct informative interviews

Informational interviews often take the form of informal meetings with professionals with industry experience and are conducted for the purpose of learning more about working within a specific company or discipline. They allow you to gain deeper knowledge about the types of companies and positions you are applying for through first-hand accounts that you cannot find in job postings and job descriptions.

They can also be great networking opportunities, as long as you treat them as a chance to build lasting professional relationships, rather than one-off meetings where you’re the only person to benefit from what’s shared.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor is also something that informational interviews can help with. Having a mentor who works or has worked in the pharmaceutical industry can benefit you in many ways, including:

  • Get advice on applications, interviews, etc.
  • Be introduced to others in the industry and have more networking opportunities
  • Gain a deeper insight into what working in the industry/specific role realistically entails

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has its own mentoring platform for members who wish to develop their careers. Using a platform like this where people who want to be a mentor themselves have already signed up can be more effective than trying to reach many different people on platforms like LinkedIn.

Look for viewing opportunities

Shadowing opportunities aren’t always advertised, so it won’t hurt to contact some of your target companies to see if shadowing is something they offer. It may be a good idea to start with some of your small target companies, as larger companies may lean more towards internships, internships and graduate programs rather than observing opportunities as they arise.

As well as gaining experience in a particular area, shadowing can help build your confidence for interviews and even when starting a role and has the added benefit of helping you connect with people working already in the roles you want.

Search for volunteer opportunities

If you don’t have a lot of work experience in an industry, look for volunteer opportunities that could help you develop some of the most essential transferable skills. If you can, try to find an opportunity that allows you to work in an administrative role where you can work on your computer skills, as digital skills as mentioned are increasingly in demand.

Additional Resources

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