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A job seeker's two most used tools are the cover letter and resume.
Interviews are almost always stressful, but before a candidate can begin preparing for a face-to-face meeting, they need to first land the interview itself. A job seeker's two most used tools in doing so are the cover letter and resume.
Two recruiters for the clinical trial industry, Angela Lucas, Senior Clinical Team Lead and Recruiter at ClinForce, and Angela Roberts, Head of Recruiting Operations at craresources, recently shared their resume, cover letter, and interview tips with Applied Clinical Trials.
Lucas recommends looking at resume and cover letters as self-marketing tools you need to use in order to convince the client (AKA company) to buy your product (in this case, you).
A quality cover letter should detail how you fulfill the company's requirements in a way that is not easily reflected in your resume such as a description of your accomplishments, strengths, and how your skills fit the position. Remember to tailor your cover letter to specific positions, use basic fonts and colors, and above all proofread.
Roberts also stresses the importance of detailed resumes.
"Many hiring managers and recruiters use databases which search for resumes by keywords/keyword phrases. Therefore, if your resume doesn't have details (i.e., your therapeutics, your job role functions, etc.), you may not come up in searches and may not be contacted for particular positions," she explained.
And although you are likely applying for a position at an industry related company, do not assume the person reading your resume or cover letter knows industry jargon. Some recruiters and human resources personnel may not know, for instance, what a CRA or CRC does. Similarly, job titles often have different roles and responsibilities from company to company.
Another important tip? Include your location. Roberts warns that recruiters are wary of scammers who often send out fake resumes without an address, and thus may be leery of a resume without any location information. In addition, resumes are often sorted in a database based on zip code.
In order to stand out, be sure to make a point of listing your accomplishments. "Did you drive savings or rescue a project as a Clinical PM? Did you improve enrollment as a CRC? Did you resolve data trend issues as a Data Manager? List those accomplishments and you will stand out," Roberts advised.
Once the interview is secured, job seekers can prepare for the meeting by researching as much as possible. Candidates should review the company's website, and do a general online search particularly looking for news related to the company and product information. Job seekers should also have a general idea of who the company's competitors are.
"I am still amazed at those who just show up to an interview not being aware of the company's size, the company's mission, and how they will personally fit into the company," Roberts said.
Lucas recommends that candidates then do a similar search on the person (or persons) you are going to be speaking with at the interview. For instance, where did they work in the past, and what do they do now? And, of course, it is vital to know the job description, your own resume, and how your experience fits into the desired role.
"Write and outline how your experience relates to the top three to five responsibilities or qualifications listed in the job description," Lucas said. "Typically the first three to five requirements in the position description are the most important to the employer."
For job seekers in the clinical trials industry in particular, Lucas recommends candidates keep a diary or start an Excel spreadsheet of their skills and experiences during their career. This extra information can be presented if asked during an interview that outlines items such as therapeutic and drug indications worked on; number of trials and phase type; number of monitoring visits done yearly; global experience; and instruments and techniques used. Computer skills used when conducting research such as EDC or trial tracking may also be important to mention, depending on the job description. In addition, Roberts suggests including industry specific education, certifications, and association memberships.
"My favorite way to see the therapeutic and phase experience is in a table which shows xx therapeutic in yy phase. This makes it simple, concise, and easy to sell to the hiring manager," Roberts said.
Lastly, remember to close the interview. Be prepared to ask at least five well thought out questions about the position. Before you go, remember to express your interest and summarize your qualifications in order to provide a strong impression.