No matter the industry, searching for a job during a global pandemic is no easy feat. The advent of working from home has shifted most interviews online and those who land a job are likely to start remotely. These factors, along with the standard job-searching anxiety, can be discouraging. But rather than looking at these circumstances as barriers, job seekers should keep an open mind and rest assured that there are a wide range of jobs in the life sciences fields, like the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
Given the scope of these industries, the demand for skilled professionals in the following job areas is growing:
- Manufacturing and supply
- Quality control
- Drug regulatory affairs
- Intellectual rights
- Technology transfers
- Research and development (R&D)
- Formulation and development
- Analytical labs
- Clinical research
- Sales and marketing
To explore and apply for hundreds of jobs in the life sciences and medical device industries, visit Xtalks Job Search.
As an experienced industry professional will discuss in this article, one’s career path in these fields doesn’t have to be linear. Whether you’re a recent graduate or simply looking for something new, there is likely a career for you. The keys to finding it include narrowing down your interests and passions — while realizing that they might change over time — and being willing to adapt to different work environments, whether they be in-person or remote positions.
Xtalks spoke a professional in these fields to hear about the trajectory of his career path, the importance of education coupled with experience and specific advice for landing a job in the life sciences during the pandemic.
The Importance of Education and Experience
“Education is incredibly important. It does not need to be, though, in the healthcare field,” says Tej Patel, president and co-founder of Fluxergy, a California-based medical device manufacturer. “One of the things that has helped Fluxergy dramatically is that we have brought on to our team many people [who are] not from the healthcare industry.”
Patel said his team includes individuals with backgrounds in the semiconductor, aerospace and automotive industries. By bringing these various mindsets, the company can approach problems from a different perspective. For job seekers, it is important to understand that just because you are formally educated in a certain field, does not mean you are limited to careers solely in that field. In the life sciences, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, employing individuals with training outside of those areas is the only way to disrupt the status quo.
“People formally trained in the healthcare industry only approach problems from one specific way, and if you have an education in an industry outside of healthcare it will arm you with an approach that no one else in the industry has,” Patel adds.
Outside of formal education, another factor to consider when searching for a job in the life sciences is past experience. After targeting a few companies, the first step is updating your resumé and writing a cover letter. At this stage, it is essential to indicate all of your experiences that highlight your qualifications for the job. Even if that experience was in a different sector, there are likely ways it can be linked to the job you’re applying for.
Not everyone has an extensive list of valuable work experience. Recent graduates often have fewer accomplishments to discuss when compared with someone who has been in the workforce for several years. But luckily, all experience — including volunteer work and internships — counts and nothing should be overlooked.
Another important factor to consider are your interests. For Patel, he has always enjoyed solving problems, an interest that originally led him to engineering. “My career has always focused on systems, and as an aerospace engineer, many of the challenges you have to overcome deal with complex systems.”
While his interest in problem-solving initially led him to the aerospace industry, that interest followed him along his career in the medical device industry. “I actually only got into healthcare because I wanted to start doing something which had a more direct impact on people than what I was doing in the aerospace industry,” Patel says.
Patel, and other industry professionals like him, are proof that skills can always be transferable between fields and experience is just as important as education.
How the Pandemic has Changed the Job Market
“The pandemic has created many more opportunities in the healthcare industry and many exciting ways to disrupt it,” Patel says. “We have seen an incredible need for healthcare practitioners, but also when you see the role technology can help to play in the healthcare industry, we can see many new opportunities arising for all sorts of different skill sets.”
While many industries have felt the harsh impacts of the pandemic, the life sciences, pharmaceutical and medical device industries have doubled down during this time. Rather than reducing investments, many companies in these industries poured more resources into R&D, which led to the development of vaccines, as well as new distribution and tracking innovations.
Job seekers should remember that the innovations brought on by the pandemic will continue well after the public health crisis is behind us. Life sciences companies, for example, have completely changed the way vaccines are created, approved and administered. There has also been significant advancements in manufacturing, testing, logistics, virtual clinical trials and digital supply chains. The knowledge that these industries have accumulated over the course of the pandemic will likely create a foundation for advances that will unfold over the months, years, and decades ahead.
Not to mention, with many already accustomed to working from home, recruiters have reevaluated their strategies for finding employees. Location has become less of a barrier to recruiting the right people, which is encouraging as a job seeker. The ability to do a job in the life sciences virtually, even those that are vastly complex, could help improve the access companies have to the most qualified job seekers.
When it comes to finding a job, Patel’s advice is two-fold: “Always be creative and solve problems by looking at the problem from different perspectives, and [be] ready to fight the uphill battle and persevere. Looking at problems in a new way doesn’t make friends, but it sure does come up with way better solutions.”
When applying for jobs and interviewing online, Patel also recommends adding a cover letter that shows the applicant took the time to learn about the position and the company. “New job posting platforms make it very easy to just upload a resume and mass click ‘apply for job.’ This means many employers just get job applications that are nonsense and from people who do not really care. Make sure you take time to show that you really care for the job and emphasize in the cover letter why you are the right candidate.”
Considerations for Job Seekers
While searching for a job during the pandemic may be daunting, it is crucial to keep a few things in mind:
- Accept that things have changed, but use that to your advantage by proving your adaptability
- Don’t give up after a few unsuccessful applications or interviews since the situation is rapidly evolving and new positions are always becoming available
- Be patient during the application process and understand that the hiring process may take longer than usual
- Follow up with a company after applying to re-communicate your interest in the position
- Use your online network to make professional connections for career opportunities
- Prepare for video interviews
To make your next career move, check out Xtalks’ Job Search feature here.