How to play it and win. If you are looking for a change or have to change, and have identified some places that are “looking for a few good people,” what it comes down to is finding out who in the company are doing the looking, getting their attention, and then convincing them that they need you. It’s something that recruiters do to place people. Two post grad interns on our team at the biopharma company I worked in played the name game to get their first full-time job in the industry.
You may have done this already when you found the grad school you wanted to go to and started to email the mentor you had in mind. Maybe it worked because something about their research interested you and, aside from being qualified, you had some abilities that were of interest to the “department.” The thing is, it’s more about solving problems than selling techniques.
Visit company internet sites, Biocareers.com, Sciencemag.org, and pick up some company names, lab names, wherever it looks like it might be interesting to work. There will be a “contact us” email to send your cover note and CV or resume too, but it helps to get closer to the people who are really looking for your skills–the person who has the head count, your future boss. Or maybe even better, someone else who works or has worked, for your potential boss.
Company directories aren’t usually public, but sometimes you can find the name of a senior director or VP on their Internet site who might be your boss or the department head. Contact them and ask to have your name passed along. It’s likely to be more promising than being in the middle of pile of responses on a desk in human resources. And don’t forget press releases when you’re looking for names.
Next stop? LinkedIn.com. It’s the biggest free compendium of friends and friends of friends, and there aren’t many competitive sites. There’s a good chance you’ll find the names of future colleagues and others with some voice in the hiring process for the available position. All levels of contact names are listed there.
When doing a people search, you can use the advanced search function or the find people function on your profile page. Use the company name and a keyword related to the position you are interested in, like “medical affairs,” “Bioassay,” “R&D,” “manufacturing,” “medical writing,” etc. The search will give you a list of people who do that work within that company. Then you can do Google and PubMed searches on those names, and you’ll find all kinds of interesting information about a lot of these prospective networking contacts. Find out as much as you can about them. It will serve as a good “basis for discussion.” Remember, people hire people, not just qualifications, background, and experience.
So what’s in a name? More about that in the next installment. But I’ll give you a hint – A friend of mine is fond of saying, “people are everything.”
Cheers for now,
Clement Weinberger, PhD
Stylus Edits Medical Communication