nonclincial-career-mistakes-doctors-make-_Career-Rx episode 53

If you’re looking for a nonclinical physician career, you’ve likely experienced some very common frustrations. Do you feel you’re underqualified for the nonclinical physician jobs you see? Perhaps you’re not sure how to get a foot in the door. Or, you’ve submitted a bunch of resumes that are immediately rejected or go unanswered entirely. There are some very common nonclinical career search mistakes, and you’re probably making them.

If you’d like to save yourself some frustration by taking note of these 5 common nonclinical job search mistakes doctors make, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • Really common frustrations physicians face when seeking nonclinical jobs in industry
  • What to ask instead of “Do you have any advice for me?”
  • Steps to take before submitting your application to break the cycle of rejection

Today we’re going to be talking about five major mistakes that physicians make when they are searching for nonclinical careers and how these impact your job search. I break down several common frustrations about the nonclinical job search process, and how to stop the cycle.

In this episode I’m going to give you some not-so-last-minute advice that will better prepare you for finding the right job for you, understanding what the company is looking for, and how to excel at your next interview.

“Invest in yourself to really be able to successfully get where you want to go.”- Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[1:30] – My inbox is literally exploding with this question
[2:05] – Do any of these scenarios describe the frustration and pain you feel?
[4:30] – Why getting another degree is almost certainly NOT what you need
[5:35] – Applying to the wrong job, and not applying to the right job
[7:00] – Understanding the description of nonclinical physician jobs in industry
[8:03] – Comparing your skills to the ones required
[9:15] – How many years of prior experience do you need to get hired in pharma?
[10:40] – Applying via online portals – what to know before you do it
[11:55] – Which transferable skills are transferable, and which ones matter most
[13:35] – Do this BEFORE submitting an application
[15:00] – They’re going to look for you on LinkedIn – what will they find?
[16:50] – Start taking these steps now
[18:00] – Fact finding is not the only preparation you need
[19:00] – Check out Industry Insider for the highest yield, streamlined path to get you in the door
[20:05] – You’re not “just a doctor” – I promise!
[21:30] – Only you can fix these frustrations (and it’s easy)

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx – 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 52 – NonClinical Job Search Mistakes Doctors Make

Hey there, welcome to The Career Rx. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff they don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe. And of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

This episode in particular is about five major mistakes that physicians make when they are searching for non clinical careers. So there are some really common frustrations that doctors have about trying to get into industry. And this episode is inspired by a question that I get really, really frequently. It’s so frequently that I cannot even attribute it to a specific person, which I usually do if you listen, you know that I have a specific person with a specific question, kicking off most episodes. And in this case, I get asked this question like multiple times a week, through DMs and other people communicating with me to say, “Hey, I have a, you know, an interview tomorrow, or some other short term time, you know, do you have any advice?” Sometimes that interview is with an HR screener, sometimes it’s with just someone in your network, sometimes it’s with a hiring manager. Sometimes it’s with a recruiter. And very often it is, you know, in a short timeline when people ask me,

So I’m going to get into the answer to that question later in the episode, I’m also going to give a big picture view of what I think is behind that question. And really the mystery behind exactly how to get a foot in the door, in pharma, or in biotech, and those types of non clinical industry, physician jobs, this seems to be what everyone wants to know.

Now, you may not realize if you’re making some of these five mistakes, unless you can recognize the outcome of those mistakes. So because you don’t know what you don’t know, I’m going to show you the outcomes of these mistakes, and then we’ll link back to the mistakes themselves. So you have to kind of ask yourself, if any of these resonate with you, right? This is how you feel so many people who are looking for a non clinical job,

They feel really frustrated, because they feel like they don’t know anybody. And they’ve heard time and again, you know, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and then know how important it is to have a network and they feel like, if they just had a foot in the door, then they could get a job, but they feel frustrated because they don’t know anybody. And because they don’t know anybody, they don’t think they’ll ever be able to get to know anybody. Okay, that’s one.

Another one is feeling unqualified for every single job post. So they’re searching and searching and searching and searching. And even the ones that they understand to be sort of entry level or that they have heard is an easier point of entry into industry. They still look at those job postings, and they think I don’t have any of those qualifications. And that’s starting to feel really frustrating.

Other people feel really frustrated because they’ve submitted a lot of applications. And those applications have seemingly disappeared into some kind of a black hole. They’re either putting it on the company, website, portal, or maybe through Glassdoor or LinkedIn and they’re applying through these online portals. And they’re either getting an immediate rejection, right, sometimes, like 15 minutes or an hour. And very often, literally no answer at all. It’s extremely frustrating.

Speaking of being on LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, a lot of people spend hours on those websites just staring at these job descriptions. And they still have basically no idea whether or not they’re right for those jobs, or whether those jobs would be even of interest to them. Because it’s such a different language, that they really can’t even figure out what the job is all about.

I have two more on this list. Right? Some people are very frustrated because they can’t find a job that they think won’t require a pay cut. Right? That’s a big, legitimate concern. Right? How much do these jobs pay? And will you be able to maintain your financial obligations, and especially compared to your clinical income? And many people are worried about this. They feel like they can’t find any job that would pay you know what they would they feel they need to earn. But very often this is because the listed salaries on the Google searches on LinkedIn benchmarks, or Glassdoor, they seem really, really low. And they are low. They’re they’re misleadingly low. And then the final reason that I think a lot of people feel very, very frustrated is they kind of can’t get started because they’re stuck in this contemplation mode, about going back to school for another degree. So to be an MBA, should it be MHA, MPH, or worse, people actually do go back for those degrees. And don’t get me wrong. I’m all for education. But I do think it’s important to you know, have the right order of business, which is to know what you want to do with that degree specifically, rather than just going back to school and hoping that that degree is going to get you a job because very often doesn’t. And these are the major frustrations.

So if these themes are resonating with you, this is sort of what I feel like people are feeling and they don’t understand The mistakes that they’re making behind it, which is leading them there. So once you know what they are, you will not have to repeat them. And that’s good because this is really worth listening to all the way through the end. And I will offer you of course, my suggestion for learning how to navigate all of this much more painlessly.

Alrighty, so the first mistake that I think many, many physicians make that lead to some of those frustrations, is applying for the wrong job. And this, I think, is the result of not understanding the job description, like we already talked about. There’s a couple of things here, if you don’t understand the job description, then there’s no way for you to really make the case for yourself in either your resume or your cover letter, or a screening call or, or say you do get that big interview day, right? If you don’t understand the job, then you will not be able to make a strong case for yourself. So you are either you know, applying for the wrong job or you’re not understanding the job. More importantly, you don’t have any idea for knowing if you will like the job. And I realize, you know, that you may get into a role and you might like the role, but not the company, or you might like the company and not the role. Sometimes we don’t know what we really like until we’re there doing it. But you want to get there to get to do it. That’s the first step. And if you have no idea what the job description is about, you really don’t have a basis for understanding how you will fit. Even if you don’t think you’ll know how you fit until you get to do it, you still have to convince the people to hire you that you’ll be a good fit. So it’s important.

And then the other part that falls under there is if you don’t understand that job description, then you may be applying for jobs that truly are not appropriate for you. And in, you know, many physicians, especially physicians, mid to late career feel like they want to apply for a CMO job or, you know, VP medical job, not really understanding the work in industry. And if you don’t understand the work in industry, then when you apply for a job that’s really out there, you know, it will be clear that you don’t understand the industry, because you will be so far out of your depth. And that will just give you that will give it sort of like a double bad, right? Not only are you not the right candidate, but you’re sending a very strong message that you just don’t get it, which is important. You may want to apply for things that feel like a stretch goal to you. And I don’t want to discourage anybody from doing that. But you’ve got to understand sort of the terminology that’s used to describe the entry level, or entry levels, that might be a realistic point of entry for you in industry. So that’s number one, not understanding the job descriptions, you’re applying for the wrong job.

Okay, number two, not applying for the right job. This is not understanding what the company really wants, and what they desire and the skills that you actually have, but don’t realize it. So way too many people will show me job descriptions and say, you know, someone sent me this, but I don’t have those skills. Someone sent me this, but I only have two of the things on that list, or I found this. But I don’t have all of that stuff. Do not be dissuaded by that. Do not be put off because you don’t have all this stuff on the list.

I have told the story and maybe I’ll even post together with this episode, a screenshot of me emailing my husband after I applied for the role that I eventually did get that helped me to, you know, that I transitioned into into pharma with and I I had sent him you know, this message that said, I just I just applied I just sent it in, I have literally none of the qualifications, I probably look like an idiot, you know something to that effect. And a lot of you probably feel that way. But I want you to understand, you’re likely wrong about what you have and don’t have.

First of all, most of the things that are listed on the job description are aspirational on behalf of the company, they would love to have it, but they’re not going to find it. Most people aren’t going to have that. One particular, specific example is this whole you know, minimum five years experience in pharma. If you are applying for an associate medical director or a medical director role, that is generally entry level. You don’t need five years in pharma. You may need zero years and you may need almost no experience at all. But they put that on there because they’d love to have that. I’m telling you from the inside. If you have five years in pharma, you are quite likely no longer an associate medical director or even just a medical director, you are likely a senior, you have probably moved up it. So they are listing things that they would love to have the thesis or not requirements. And so I want you to understand that very much. Also a lot of the things that are on that list, I know they’re written in sort of industry code, and you don’t know what they mean. But if you didn’t know what they mean, you would also know that you have the transferable skills to portray yourself as a competent candidate, because you are, but you don’t recognize that in yourself. So that is a big mistake that a lot of people make, they neglect to, or they shy away from applying for a job that they could have, right? The right job, because they don’t understand what is actually required, what isn’t what the company really wants in what they bring to the table. So important.

Okay, third mistake, not getting your application in front of an actual decision maker. So this speaks to the frustration people have applying for jobs that they put in through the, through the company or the LinkedIn websites. And they don’t understand what happens after that. So you know, obviously, that’s a longer conversation than this podcast episode. But in brief, you know, it’s going in there and it’s going to be screened, it’s going to be screened by maybe a computer, maybe an HR professional, maybe both, but definitely not, the person who’s going to hire you definitely not your future boss, that is not where it’s going. It’s going to go through the screening process first, generally speaking, it’s going to be screened by someone who ordered the computer, right, the computer is obviously not able to do any high level thinking about things. And the HR screener also is really not the person to be able to look at your particular experiences and job history and make the connection that you know, they have this history and experience and that would probably suit them well in this role with this function that we need, they aren’t going to connect those dots, that’s your job as the applicant, you have to do the dot connecting there to be really, really explicit about, you know, here’s the stuff that’s on your resume, or, frankly, your CV, right, or whatever you have. And here is how that skill that underlies it right, don’t get into the weeds or the details of what it is that you’re doing clinically or in hospital, you know, the admin or, you know, your national committees, what are the skills that you have there that meet the skill needs of the, you know, listed requirements.

So, you’ve got to get your application in front of an actual decision maker. And that will not happen, unless, number one, you know, and decision maker to put it in front of, but more likely, you know, if it’s going to go through some other mechanism, whether it’s a computer screen and HR screen, or even a recruiter, right, an external recruiter, you have to be the person who connects the dots on your transferable skills, because the computer cannot do it for you, the HR person is not going to do it, and your eventual boss might be able to do it. Still, that’s your job as the applicant and a lot of people are just not doing that at all, or they aren’t doing it very effectively. So, you know, recruiters and HR professionals are in a position to sell you to the hiring manager, but they aren’t going to be able to do it effectively without your help. And this kind of brings us back to number one and number two, which is, you know, if you don’t understand the job description, and you don’t understand your own skills, then you won’t be able to sell yourself. And if you can’t do that no one else is going to be able to do it for you either. So really, really important to get very, very clear on what you bring to the table. Right? That’s, that’s absolutely critical.

The fourth mistake that people make when they are looking for a non clinical job or they’re trying to pivot is that they are applying before they’ve done their homework and before they’ve laid the groundwork. I really strongly encourage you to consider getting certain assets in place before you submit an application. The reason is, things move quickly. In industry, you know, clinical medicine, if you apply for a job, it’s gonna be like four months, five months, you know, because you have to get credentialed, it’s sort of far away. And that translates all across you know, the interviews are often weeks or months out, the decision process is slower, but industry is fast. They post a roll and they want to fill it and they want to fill it within a couple of weeks. And so if your application happens to get in front of somebody who thinks that they may want to be in touch with you, then the next step is they’re going to call you up. And then you’re going to be in that position of saying, I have an interview tomorrow, you know, any advice? Or I have, you know, a recruiter asked me to send my resume, but I, you know, I still have my academic CV, like, what do I do?

You don’t want to be doing those things at the very last second, you want those things in place first, not only because I think the process of doing that will help you in number of what’s one, two and three, right, it will help you apply for the right job, it will help you communicate your skills better, it’ll help you get in front of a decision maker. But you want to have these things at the ready. When you get the opportunity, right? This has to be ready to go. So if you do get discussed, you know, a recruiter reaches out to you, you’ve got to be able to send them your resume. If, even better, somebody from the company reaches out to you, you’ve got to be able to send them your resume, and they will come to LinkedIn to look for you. Industry is obsessed with LinkedIn, they will Google you yes, but they will come to look for you on LinkedIn. And probably that’s how they find you. But if they haven’t, I gotta come look for you. And if you don’t have a professional looking profile, not just a professional looking profile, but ideally one that really speaks to your skills and speaks to you being a strong industry candidate, they are going to be turned off, right? That might prevent you from moving forward.

Also, some people, definitely people who reach out to me on LinkedIn, don’t have their profiles, even at a baseline “up to snuff”, you’ve got to have a professional picture in there, you’ve got to it’s you cannot have the blank head and expect to get a job. When you have a you know, no head or or any headshot, that’s not your head, basically anything that’s not your face, that puts up a wall that prevents people from having trust, they are not going to be interested in pursuing you. Similarly, you’ve got to have, you know, a summary filled out, you’ve got to have work experience filled out, you’ve got to work into that your transferable skills that we’ve been talking about, so that anybody who comes to kind of check you out before your interview, or during your screen or whatever, can again, see that you’ve already connected those dots for them. And that yeah, this could be a good candidate for us, even though they don’t have any official, prior experience. Really important.

So that I guess is the time when I say when someone says, “Hey, I have an interview tomorrow. Do you have any advice?” I mean, I do, but the thing is you don’t have time to operationalize the advice I’m going to give you, I do have plenty of advice. I’ve talked about it here, and I’ve written about it in prior posts, and I have additional podcast episodes about it. I’ve got it all in Industry Insider the course. But you don’t have time to operationalize it between the time that you ask and the next day or even that week, because it’s all going to be about identifying those important transferable skills, and not just in general, right, but the ones that actually matter specifically to that company. So you got to understand the company and you got to understand the job, got to understand your own skills, you have to have done all that deep thinking already, got to have that elevator pitch sort of ready to go. You’ve got to have your competency based interview questions ready, right? These are behavioral interviews. It’s a totally different style interview. And they’re going to be asking you for stories that demonstrate the competencies that they want in their job position. And if you don’t know like that, you can’t just come up with that overnight, generally speaking. So the short answer, do I have any advices? Yes, I do. And you’re probably not having time to implement it, or implement it well.

And the fifth mistake that I think many physicians make when they’re trying to pivot to non clinical careers or new leadership roles, right? That is different from what they’re doing now, is they mistake fact finding for preparation.

And don’t get me wrong, asking questions is super important. Ask questions of anybody and everybody Google search up, down and all around, look for a variety of different sources to tell you things, right. That’s obviously part of preparation. And you do want to learn as much as you can about the roles that you’re thinking about, and about the companies that you are pursuing. But as you probably have experienced, you know, if you asked a bunch of people or you look at a bunch of different resources, you’re going to get a lot of different answers and they won’t all align. And the trouble there is that you may end up feeling overwhelmed and a little bit unsure about how to operationalize This, right? So if you ask a question of 10 different people who are in industry and you get 10 different answers, then you know, what do you do next? some people end up feeling just more overwhelmed, then informed, or they feel highly informed, but just not sure, like what to do next, right. And being unable to really understand which elements of other people’s experiences are most applicable to your situation, or how you can apply them to your own job aspirations, right? We’re all unique.

So this is the reason that I created the Industry Insider course in the first place, because it’s very much going beyond just information delivery, into, you know, high yield plan, there’s a lot you could learn. But there’s a handful of things, some of which I’ve alluded to, in this episode, that are the most important sort of the highest yield streamlined path to get you in the door. And that’s really, really important, because you’ve got your whole life ahead of you to continue learning, right, you can always learn more, but people will say, you know, that they haven’t taken time to, to, you know, fill certain skill gaps when they haven’t taken time to apply or something else, because they’re just too busy in their current job. But yet, they really, really want to transition. And to those of you I want to just say it is not going to just happen, it’s just not. The job is not going to come out of the sky and just land in your lap, and you’re going to just, you know, apply for it, get it and like skedaddle on out of the situation that you’re in right now, that’s just extremely unlikely to happen.

You’ve got to dedicate some time, set aside some time to make a plan. And part of the plan is fact finding, right? But part of the plan is that introspective work that I was talking about earlier, understanding your experience and your skills. And I know many of you your initial sort of what comes out of your mouth is I don’t have those skills. I don’t know how to do anything else. I’ve just been a doctor this whole time. And that’s just such an undersell of what you have so that I think it’s so important to do that work in a way where you have some trusted guides who can help you understand what you bring to the table and understand what is at the table and what’s there so that you know what they want, and you know how to deliver it.

If you are interested in Industry Insider, I am doing a live one this year. It’s going to be an opportunity for you, sort of like this to be able to ask questions in real time while we go over the information. And also ask questions in advance if you can’t attend the live episode or the live session. So that I can answer specific questions and address your personal situations. It is more than informative. That’s what makes this a different course, it is a plan. So you’ll learn and you’ll also get resources to learn more, but what you’ll get is an action plan. And if you pop on over to, or you could probably Google Search “Industry Insider” along with my name, you can see testimonials from other physicians, like you, who have taken the course and found it to be really key in their transitions. People who’ve been trying for quite a while and then successfully did get those industry jobs that they wanted. There’s really no time like the present, I hope if this is of interest to you, you’ll come on over before we fill. But before we start, I would love to have you please don’t put it off anymore.

You know, sitting there, focused in your own job that’s keeping you so busy, but you feel like it’s holding you back. Only you are going to ever break away from that cycle. You’ve got to do it. And when you do, I think you’ll find that all of these frustrations are actually pretty easy to fix. It’s pretty easy to fix. Let me go back and look at these frustrations again, right; not knowing anybody? Super easy to fix. Feeling unqualified? Totally easy to fix. Not getting any answers back? Easy to fix. Understanding LinkedIn, understanding recruiters? Easy, easy, easy fix. Understanding the compensation? Easy fix. You do not have to take a pay cut and probably will earn more. And you do not need to go back for a degree. I’ll just give you the quick answer to that one.

Don’t put this off. I think it’s so important, you know, to not let another year and then a year after that, and year after that go by with you in the role that you’re in, but not the role that you want.

But then not doing the thing, right, the investment in yourself to really be able to successfully get where you want to go.

Industry jobs, by the way, are getting more and more and more competitive than they ever have been in the past. Why? Because a lot of people want to leave clinical medicine. I would never suggest that you run away from your job. It’s important to know like what you want in life, what fills you with passion and what do you want to do? But having said that a lot of people are running away and people who are able to get in the door snatching up those jobs. So it’s really important to understand, these are just like a limited number of these right? And they’re in very high demand, but they are not impossible to get I believe in you, I know you can get them just need somebody to help you connect the dots and then get those connected dots that that very, you know, put together story of your value proposition in front of a decision maker who can see your potential, right? And could take that chance to say I’m going to hire this person, because they can do the job and then you will. So that is what we’re going to do an Industry Insider. That’s what I hope you will be doing this year. Keep your motivation strong. And please don’t be discouraged from all of those very, very common frustrations that physicians feel when they’re trying, trying, and trying to break into industry. So that’s a wrap for this episode. I do hope to see you on the inside and bye for now.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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