I recently landed an R&D Coordinator position, which started May 24th. It wasn’t the position that I’ve been contracting in since last February (that was filled by someone else), but it’s a position that’s not administrative support and has the potential to move into other roles. It’s also a new position, so I may have a hand in defining it.
Some things I’ve learned on this long journey:
– Expand your targets a bit: I had originally been looking at big pharma companies and wanted to stay in the Bridgewater and surrounding area. This company is a small- to mid-size pharma in Basking Ridge, but it is in an area that was a do-able commute for me when we were in the office.
– Be open: I had been looking for Administrative Assistant roles, but it’s become very clear over the last several years that companies are putting more of that work on their managers and believe AA’s can be replaced by technology (they can’t, as AA’s do more than technology can replace). This is not an Administrative Assistant role.
– Take a chance: I applied for my contract position through the company’s website, which was a direct-hire position at the time. Even though I had no previous HR experience, I figured, “Why not?” and applied. I interviewed and while the role was changed to a contract position, it was an opportunity to get my foot in the door. While in the role, I was able to earn a good reputation and connect with people. When I didn’t get hired for my current position, I saw the R&D Coordinator role, and even though there were boxes in the job description that I couldn’t check, there were some that I could, so again I thought, “Why not?” and applied. Because the recruiter was familiar with me, she was incredibly supportive and helpful in putting my name in front of the hiring manager and above. My manager and the head of my department both also reached out to the hiring manager to recommend me. I took a chance on both positions, and now I have an FTE position!
– The odds may be low that you get hired by applying online, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work: I had to apply online — that’s the only way it’s done here. But I got this new job through applying online and the network I developed while here. Everyone says the best way to land is through networking. That may be true, but it doesn’t hurt to use a variety of methods, including the old-fashioned way of applying online. It might actually get you in the door.
– Don’t give up: I almost blew my chance during my phone screen for my contract position by not giving a date/time that worked for a second interview. I was nervous and trying to be accommodating and asked what worked for them, and the recruiter needed “to check.” Afterwards, I realized I should have just picked one of the dates/times that was offered and called the recruiter back, explaining I was nervous/excited and were any of the dates and times offered still available. Fortunately, a slot was still open and we scheduled the second interview. Then, when it was offered as a contract role, I took it. Later when they hired someone else, I applied for another position and got it. Bottom line: Keep trying.
– Thank you notes: Don’t underestimate the value of thank you notes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but do it. It may help you stand out, and I know one of the interviewers mentioned my “thank you” note to the recruiter.
About the author:
Diane Hooper has been an Administrative Assistant for over 25 years in both the telecommunications and pharmaceutical industry. Her pharma position relocated out of state in February 2015 and she worked contract assignments while being a caregiver for the next several years. She joined PSGCNJ in the fall of 2019 and served as Executive Assistant until she started a contract assignment in February 2020 at a growing, mid-size pharmaceutical company. She recently landed a non-administrative assistant, FTE position in another department.