In 2000, the US Department of Health and Human Services predicted a shortage of pharmacists.
In a study titled, The Pharmacist Workforce: A Study of the Supply and Demand for Pharmacists, HHS pointed to an “unprecedented demand for pharmacists,” and an “increased use of prescription medications,” to justify its claims.
Now, in 2018, we find that the complete opposite is true, instead.
We are in such a pharmacy job crisis that finding a pharmacy job has become one of the greatest challenges for new graduates. Those lucky enough to have a job feel stuck and unable to find something better, or more fulfilling.
So what is a pharmacist or new graduate to do?
I’ve seen both sides of the equation, as an unhappy pharmacist and as a coach who helps pharmacists find fulfilling work. I’ve worked with dozens of pharmacists who weren’t happy in their careers, and I’ve learned a lot from the experience.
Following is a six-step plan to help you find the job you want using the skills you currently have. I also invite you to check out my masterclass, How Pharmacists Can Escape Burnout, Get Job Offers Regularly, and Take Control of their Careers for more detailed information. I also offer a class about the three fundamental shifts that pharmacists can make to find a job they love, one that won’t lead to burnout.
Define the target job.
Competition is fierce for pharmacy jobs. Some positions draw hundreds of applications for a single position.
Pharmacists are applying to 50, 60 even 100 jobs, but many of the jobs offer nothing special. They are just jobs that trapped pharmacists often feel compelled to take. Although they have no real interest or passion for the position, they simply need work.
Taking the shotgun approach by applying to jobs you know nothing about, or ones you aren’t even sure you want takes minimal effort. Any pharmacist can send a duplicate resume to multiple companies in hopes of landing a job.
Realistically, though, your resume has about 30 seconds to convince the hiring manager that you’re a good candidate for interview. A generic resume will never accomplish that.
The resume used to apply for a retail job, for example, should not be the same one that you use when applying to a hospital job. The positions are different, and the requirements are different, so your resume should reflect those differences.
Perhaps more importantly, that minimal effort – that generic template of a cover letter or that one-size-fits-all resume – transfers onto your application. The application will look and sound like all the others. In a crowded field of candidates, you’ll be lost in the shuffle.
Instead, think about what kind of job you want and make that your target. Apply only to those kinds of jobs so the effect of your resume and cover letter is maximized.
Customize your resume and your cover letter with the unique skills and qualifications that you have that make you the very best person for the job.
Create advocates and network.
Knowing the right people will make all the difference in the world for your entire career.
Without the right connections, it is hard to find new opportunities, especially in a saturated market. Companies rarely need to advertise open positions anymore and they can afford to be much more selective.
The best way to find those opportunities is to expand who you know. Reconnect with alumni and old friends, but more importantly, connect with the right people. Make it a point each week to connect with someone in the industry, even if over a cup of coffee.
I recently turned a years-old connection into a trip to Scotland for the International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress, which provided an opportunity for me to connect with pharmacists from all parts of the world.
Recognize the value of connections and build relationships with the people around you. Those people provide a valuable network of information that can help you find new opportunities.
Review your career.
Update your resume, or if you’ve already accomplished a lot in your career, consider a CV – a longer, more detailed version of a resume.
Customize that cover letter. This is your chance to tell your story. Let them know why you are interested in the position and why you are the best person for the job. Let them know what you can offer.
Review your social media presence, on Linkedin, for example. This is especially important because a 2017 survey found that 95 percent of recruiters and managers use Linkedin when evaluating potential candidates.
Once you’ve updated your LinkedIn, use it. I have over 3,000 connections on mine and while I’ll never be able to know them all on a personal level, it is a huge asset. Someone among those contacts, even if I had 100 connections, would surely know of a job opening should I be looking for one.
If you’ve created advocates and a bustling network by building trust and nurturing relationships, they can work for you when you’re ready to seek new opportunities.
Submit that job application.
This seems so obvious, but some people just don’t take the risk, often because of Imposter Complex.
Imposter Complex is the internal feeling that we’re unworthy of an opportunity or a job, and everyone experiences it from time to time, including high-achievers. It affects our job search because it can prevent us from applying for jobs that we’re capable of succeeding in.
Statistics have shown, for example, that women often apply for jobs when they are 100 percent qualified while men will apply when they are 60 percent qualified for the position.
Get your name out there, and after you’ve applied, follow up with a phone call to the manager. A real phone call – not an email.
Better yet, find a way to talk to people in person, maybe on the job site, or by attending their continuing education courses or events. If you can find a way to connect outside of the workplace, even better.
Prepare for the interview.
Interviews are like resumes in that you often have only one chance to make your case. Unlike resumes, though, interviews involve emotion and unscripted interactions, which means more opportunity for mistakes.
Know your answers to the difficult questions and be prepared to demonstrate that you are the one they want. Prepare convincing arguments, stories, and reasons as to why you are special.
Research the company extensively before the interview so you’ll be prepared for the questions the interviewer will likely ask.
Don’t waste the chance that an interview affords because there are people lining up to take it from you. You need to get the job, so do what it takes to get it.
Adopt these six steps and turn them into six, career-advancing habits.
Make connections and create opportunities for yourself.
Be persistent. Get curious. Build your skill set by volunteering. Know the influencers in your area and meet them. Don’t waste opportunities.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.