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20 June 2017

Five questions to ask before you graduate as a pharmacist

All set to graduate from your pharmacy degree? Congratulations! Now it’s time to think about your next move.

If your days as a pharmacy student are coming to an end, it’s time to think about your next step: getting on the career ladder. While there are lots of jobs out there, it can be difficult to know where to begin your career path. It’s a highly competitive landscape, so making sure you stand out from the rest is vital. Here are our six questions to ask yourself when conducting your job search:

1.      What do you want from your career?

The pharmaceutical industry is huge. In fact, recent data from the ONS shows that it’s leading the UK’s industrial growth. It comes as no surprise, then, that the number of roles available in the pharmaceuticals industry is almost limitless, and they don’t all revolve around working in a pharmacy or a lab!

Typically jobs are split between core-pharmaceutical roles – which consist of research & development, manufacturing, patenting, quality control and more – and non-core pharmaceutical roles – such as sales & marketing, HR and consulting. In addition, there are clinical pharmacy roles, which can be held at local community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies.

With so many career paths to take, it’s a good idea to think about what you want from your career. Do you want to interact with the public? Would a commission-based role motivate you? Or do you like getting your head down to research? By exploring these questions, you’ll be able to match your preferences and determine which career path is best for you.

Five questions to ask before you graduate as a pharmacist

Image: Adobe Stock1. What skills do you want to develop?

2.      What skills do you want to develop?

It’s important to think about the skills you need. While a pharmaceutical degree will arm you with the technical know-how required, many roles require a number of soft skills, such as communication, people, and time-management skills.

The best way to gain these skills is to take relevant work experience in the particular field you want to enter. Even if it’s just for a week, work-experience and internship placements will present you with real-life situations that will force you to think pragmatically and put your skills to the test. In turn, you’ll be able to relay anecdotal evidence of your aptitude for the role in an interview situation, putting you ahead of other applicants.

3.    What company would best suit you?

Within every industry, companies come in all shapes and sizes, and all have different working cultures. It’s important that you think about what type of company suits you best.

  • Where is it based? You need to think about whether you want to stay in your university digs, head back home to your family, or whether you’re ready to up-sticks entirely and move to a whole new city.
  • Are you willing to commute? If so, how far? You’ll need to factor these costs in with the other living costs incurred now you’ve kissed your student discount card goodbye, and said hello to paying off your student loan.
  • What’s the company culture? If team socials are important to you, try to look for companies that offer graduate schemes. This will give you a team of colleagues that are going through the same experiences as you – which might mean a drink or two along the way!

4.    Who can help you with the process?

It can be difficult, negotiating the job application process, so it’s often useful to have a friend, mentor or family member to help you out.

If you have any family members or friends that work in the industry, talk to them as much as you can to gain further insight on what the industry is like, what experience you should include on your CV, and what you can expect in the interview process.

Likewise, if there are any mentors from university or previous work experience placements that you can reach out to, ask them for advice, and even a reference. The more you speak to people in the industry, the better prepared you’ll be for the job hunt.

5.    Is your CV up-to-date?

The CV is invariably a part of the job application process, and if you want to get your foot on to the pharmacy career ladder, it needs to be top notch.

Make sure it includes a snappy personal statement that ticks all the boxes, include the relevant work experience placements you’ve carried out, and highlight your degree.

You can read our advice on what a CV should include here, and what it definitely shouldn’t include here.

Now it’s time to start your search! While the job application process can be daunting, there’s no better way to get on the career ladder than to persist. If you’ve got a clear idea of where you’re heading, click here to find your dream pharmaceuticals job today.

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