Is a long interview a good sign? Pharmacists, what do you think?

Leaving Out Employment Dates From Your Resume

Q:  Should I leave out employment dates from my resume?

A:  I have seen different advice given on this, including those given by resume writers who suggest that a candidate leave dates of employment off a resume if there is a lot of job hopping, or when showcasing the depth of experience in a particular area.  This type of resume is called a “functional” resume, listing responsibilities and achievements under some of your main areas of qualifications.  It is not necessarily chronological.

My advice to you as a pharmacist job market expert who has seen thousands of resumes (not from just writing resumes that work for my private resume makeover pharmacist clients, but from seeing actual resumes that impress hiring managers) is this:  put employment dates on your resume under your Experience section.

Why?  If you leave out dates of employment, it can be a red flag to a pharmacy hiring manager right away.  Even if it does not come across as a red flag, it leaves them to wonder about when you actually worked at a particular place.  And it takes additional time for a hiring manager to find this out from you.  Remember, you have 10 seconds for a hiring manager to glance at your resume and be impressed with it.  If there are 30 other pharmacist job applications, and yours is the only one that requires additional detective work to find the information they are looking for, chances are that the hiring manager will look at the other ones first.

You may incorporate a “functional” resume format into your resume, but when you do so, include the dates of employment so that following the chronological flow of your career path is easy.

The dates of employment may be expressed by the year, or month and year.

Does this mean you should include all dates of employment? The answer to this is situational based.  In general, it is not necessary on a resume, but is recommended on a CV.  Your resume is a place for someone to look for your direct relevant experience to a particular position and does not need to include all of your work history.  Including your most recent experience is also important.

If you are concerned that a pharmacy hiring manager may think you’ve been job hopping recently, there are other ways to get over that objection.  This and other ways to overcome objections about you are taught in my programs for pharmacists wanting to get noticed in this competitive job market, so you get interviews and offers faster.

How to Transition From Retail to Consultant Pharmacist

Q: Chen, I wanted to look into being a consultant pharmacist for nursing homes but I don’t know how to go about doing that or what the requirements are.  It’s been about 2 years since I have graduated and I currently work for CVS and have not done any residency.  Any advice?

A: The best way to approach this would be to first connect with any current contacts with pharmacists in the long-term care setting, or contacts from your rotations, ie: if you did a long-term care rotation during pharmacy school.

Making those connections is going to be instrumental in helping you get into long-term care consulting. What you do with the connections is a longer conversation.  Just knowing people is not enough.  How you approach them and how you convey why you are the best pharmacist for the position is equally as important.  I coach pharmacists on a regular basis on how to approach connections or network beyond current contacts to get the job they want.

Next, we need to look at your skill set & experience. What is your experience with long-term care consulting? If you have only been working for CVS, then chances are you have not done any nursing home consulting.  If you don’t have experience, you can still get into the role, but you would need to overcome hurdles of convincing the pharmacy hiring manager that you are the best pharmacist for the role.

This may mean persuading them that you review charts easily to make interventions, you work closely with geriatric patients and counseling them on their medications, and that you have worked with nursing home providers. This can be tough if you live in a geographic area with other pharmacists you’re competing with in this tight job market who are more experienced than you and who have direct experience in the long-term care setting.

You could also look into getting your Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) certification and be board-certified in geriatrics.    The next testing window is July 1-Aug 31 and the deadline to sign up is June 15:  Here is the review information:

Depending on where you live, you may also need a separate license to practice consultant pharmacy.  Arkansas, for example, requires an “at large consultant pharmacist” permit.  Check into your state license requirements.  FL requires a that you finish a consultant course sponsored by the FL Board of Pharmacy and get a special license.  During your certification process, you will need to have a consultant pharmacist preceptor.  Get to know your preceptor well and who may be able to refer you to a facility if they are impressed with your skill set.

An easier way to get into a consultant pharmacist position without prior experience is to get your foot in the door first. Get a position as a staff pharmacist servicing nursing homes and get to understand the inner workings of a nursing home pharmacy . Impress your boss working in that role, get clear about the requirements they look for in order for you to become a consultant pharmacist at the pharmacy, and then create a plan for moving into that role down the road.

For more guidance on how to transition into a consultant pharmacist job in this job market, stay tuned for expert interviews of pharmacists who are already in these positions and advice from them about how to get into the positions.  You will get the scoop on getting access to these live interviews if you are a part of our community.  To become a part of our community & stay connected on events offered first to our community, click here to get access to unadvertised jobs.  To book your free 20-minute “Get the Job” Strategy Session, click on the link.

If you have experience transitioning into a long-term care consulting position from another practice setting, share your experience below.

Should I Write a CV or Resume?

Q:  Chen, should I write a CV or a resume?

A:   It depends on several factors unique to you, your work history, and the position you are applying for.  To answer the question, let me explain the difference between a CV and a resume.  A CV includes a full history of your experience.    A CV may include your a summary of publications, research, presentations, but a resume doesn’t.  A resume is often a 2-3 page summary of your experience, highlighting the most relevant experience to the position that you are applying for.

Typically, a resume would highlight recent experience.  It is concise, and a perfect way to market yourself for many pharmacist positions.  Look at your resume as a “marketing piece” and a first introduction of yourself to a potential employer.  A pharmacy hiring manager often doesn’t have a lot of time to look at an initial application.  When you express your direct relevant experience to the position you are interested in, it can be more powerful than having a lengthy CV that may end up showing a lot of irrelevant experience.  This may be the case especially when you’ve had varied experience throughout your pharmacy career and it’s hard to scan to find the relevant experience.

However, a CV can be useful also.  It is appropriate when applying for pharmacy residencies, as well as for opportunities in research and academia.  If you have extensive experience and it has primarily been in one practice setting of pharmacy, writing a CV can do the job.  It can also do the job when it shows your breadth of experience well.

I must say that these are general guidelines.  Choosing between a CV or a resume is a case-by-case decision, depending on your breadth of experience, the type of position you’re applying for, how much you’ve transitioned positions (is it frequent that you’ve left positions, or do you typically stay in positions?), when you had your relevant experience to the position, and more.  This is something that you can get advice on from an individual basis if you’re a member of the  “Get the Job” Membership Program for pharmacists, new pharmacy grads, and residents.  You can use your membership benefit to gain direct ongoing access to a pharmacist job market expert for advice and training until you find the right job.

How Should I Apply for 2 Job Openings at the Same Pharmacy?

Q:  Chen, I want to apply for 2 jobs at a hospital–one is an inpatient position & the other is an outpatient position.  What should I do with the application?

A:  My advice to you is to decide on one job to apply for & put your full effort there. I know, you may have extreme resistance to my answer because you (…fill in the blank with your reasoning…).  Let me ask you this–why do you want to apply for 2 positions with the same pharmacy/hospital?  I have seen pharmacists come to me with this dilemma, and usually they tell me they want to apply for both jobs because they want to make sure that if they don’t get one job, they get the other.

Here’s the truth you don’t want to hear:  You dilute the strength of your application by coming across that 1) you don’t really know what you want, 2) even if you truly know what you want, it’s harder to point out everything about you that aligns with the position are applying for, when you have to do it for two separate pharmacist positions.  You don’t want to hear this, because you want to believe the illusion that more is better.  Two applications for two separate positions equals two chances at a job, right?  Wrong.  1+1 doesn’t equal 2 here.

If you don’t wish to listen to my advice & want to apply for 2 jobs anyway, I suggest you apply for one job first, then if you don’t get a response or get rejected for it, apply for the second job.  And in that second job application, re-write your resume and definitely include a cover letter that explains why you also have an interest in this other role, along with why you would be good for that particular role, citing specific highlights that support it.

If you want some help with this, there are 3 options you can choose from:
1) Find out how to do stand out from your competition by doing it yourself, with access to secrets of what works & what doesn’t,
2) Get your resume done professionally by a marketing expert so that it gets noticed in this competitive job market
3) Do it yourself without having the edge over your competition.

The pharmacist job market is saturated with competition for the desired positions right now. I am seeing perfectly qualified pharmacists being headstrong about doing what they’ve always done before with applying for jobs.  They apply on their own without getting advice or access to the inside secrets of what hiring managers are looking for, and then they come to me when the damage is already done.  When they don’t hear back from the employer, or they hear “sorry, we filled the position already”, it’s too late.  They blew it.  Don’t be the one who blows it.  You have one chance to stand out–all you have to do is do it right the first time.

Are Pharmacist Salaries Going Down?

Q:  Chen, are pharmacist salaries going down?

A:  In any kind of job market, salaries are based on the value you provide and the market supply/demand.  Because the economy has led to a tighter pharmacist job market, it is a reality that 1) companies are experiencing budget cuts, 2) pharmacist layoffs lead to increased supply of pharmacists.

I have been waiting to respond to this question because I wanted to observe for a longer period what the pharmacist job market is experiencing and give you my first-hand perspective.  I have noticed that pharmacies may be less generous with relocation or sign-on bonuses, but I haven’t necessarily seen salaries decrease significantly.  There are hospitals that aren’t paying for pharmacists to travel to interview, because they are on smaller budgets than before.

Pharmacist salaries are stabilizing and don’t seem to be increasing as in previous years.  Don’t expect that you have as much negotiating room for salaries as previous years, because the competition is tough out there and there may be someone equally as qualified who will work for a salary that you may think it’s not enough.  I know an inpatient pharmacist who took a hiatus in her work for almost a year & is wanting to get back into hospital or home infusion.  She had an opportunity that she could get back into but she was out of touch with how the pharmacist job market has shifted, and felt that the salary was not competitive enough.  She is still out of a job months later because of this.

If you are a relief pharmacist, you may have noticed that temporary staffing needs have decreased in certain areas (partly because they are being filled by full-time pharmacists more readily in this job market).  The pharmacist staffing companies are experiencing a cut in what pharmacies are paying and I have seen some agencies decrease the amount they are paying pharmacists because expenses of the services & costs of doing business of an agency don’t decrease just because it’s a tighter job market.

Comment below (you can keep it anonymous if you wish) about what you’ve seen with salaries at your workplace.

I’ve included the National Results from the 2010 Spring Edition Pharmacist Salary Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting.  *Keep in mind that there are absolutely variations geographically & you may be compensated differently due to the depth of role that you have.

2010 Pharmacy Compensation Survey – Spring Edition

National Results

Pos Code(s) Pos Title(s) # Orgs # Obs $ Hourly Base Pay Wgtd Mean $ Annualized Base Pay Wgtd Mean*
100 Pharmacy Team Mgr 99 27,079 60.20 125.2
200 Staff Pharmacist – Retail 28 52,730 54.59 113.6
205 Staff Pharmacist – Hospital 99 3,919 53.73 111.7
210 Staff Pharmacist (Healthcare Retail/Satellite) 17 448 51.66 107.4
220 Staff Pharmacist (Mail-order/Online) 9 2,336 52.55 109.3
250 Clinical Pharmacist 71 1,194 54.55 113.4
270 Nuclear Pharmacist 2 226 —— ——
Staff Pharmacist – Retail, Staff Pharmacist – Hospital, Staff Pharmacist (Healthcare Retail/Satellite), Staff Pharmacist (Mail-order/Online), Clinical Pharmacist, Nuclear Pharmacist 147 60,853 54.07 112.5
300 Lead Pharmacy Tech 83 24,742 17.39 36.2
310 Pharmacy Tech 113 98,140 15.44 32.1
Lead Pharmacy Tech, Pharmacy Tech 144 122,882 15.81 32.9

*Annualized Weighted Mean reported in thousands.
“This data provides reasonable estimates of market rates in the Pharmacy industry. However, many factors contribute to the final determination of pay rates, including company philosophy and the influences of each individual incumbent. For that reason, Mercer, Pharmacy OneSource, and PharmacyWeek suggest that you use multiple resources in the development of a total compensation program.”

Are cover letters good for online applying?

Q:  Chen, are cover letters good for online applying?

A:  Even if the online site just asks for your resume, if you are able effectively to capture a pharmacy hiring manager’s attention with a cover letter, by all means write one.  Just make sure that the formatting will come thru properly with your resume underneath it.

Cover letters are good for online & offline applying only if they are truly targeted towards the specific job you are applying for, and ties in nicely to highlight your experience that makes you different from any other pharmacist.  It is an introduction to you and is essentially a compelling statement marketing yourself and why you should be considered.  It is also an opportunity for your personality to shine through that cannot necessarily be captured in a resume.

If it doesn’t convey anything special or extra from what you put in a resume, then it is a waste of space.  This is a common mistake pharmacists make.  I frequently see generic cover letters and it is such a turnoff to pharmacy employers.  It may be interpreted that you don’t really care about the opportunity enough to put attention to it. Read more

What is Considered Job Hopping in Pharmacy?

Question:  Chen, what is considered job hopping in the pharmacy profession?  Does it really matter if I leave a job within a year?

Answer:  In our parents’ generation, it was common for people to stay in their jobs until they retired.  In this generation, people move around jobs more frequently.  However, if you leave jobs within 2 years, it is typically considered job hopping, unless you are a relief pharmacist.

Leaving positions frequently before sticking it out for at least 2 years is what you need to be concerned about.  This says to a pharmacy employer that you may not be a good investment to them, even if you are great at what you do.  It takes time, money, and resources to train someone fully, not to mention the costs of screening & hiring a pharmacist.

What is considered unacceptable? Read more

Did Not Get Official Job Offer After Receiving Offer Verbally. What Can I Do Differently?

Chen, What can I do differently?  I did not get the job offer after what was supposed to be the last interview and was assured verbally that an offer will be coming.  Happened three times at different interviews.

Answer:   There are a few possibilities that you can evaluate, especially if you are well qualified for the position.

1) They did not offer you the opportunity officially because of reasons you cannot control.   Maybe they changed their mind on what they had originally decided was important to them.  Or maybe they decided that instead of hiring someone, they would just maintain their current staff.  Or, perhaps they decided to fill the position internally.

2) You did not “close the job offer” during and after the interview.  This is something that pharmacists are not used to doing.  It may not come naturally to you, but it is an important step to convincing a potential employer that you are the one for the job.   I will share with you a couple of tips.

One tip you can use during the interview: Finish the conversation by sharing  how interested you are in the position, why it is a good fit (mention the benefits to them), & that you are looking forward to receiving the offer letter.  Ask them what the next step is (including the process they need to go thru before the offer letter is written) and when you will expect to receive the official offer letter.  There are additional things that you can do during the interview to “ask for the job” or “close the job offer”.  This will make you stand out from the rest of your competition. Read more

I Had Management Experience 5 yrs Ago- How to Convey Experience to Get an Interview?

Chen, Should a resume have an objective or just start with job experience? A recruiter told me that employers scan resumes, looking mostly at the past 5 years experience.  I have had management experience about 5 years ago, but purposely stepped down to a staff position to accomodate school work.  Now that I have my PharmD degree, I would like a management position, but the last 2 jobs do not reflect management experience…what is the best way to convey this information so I can at least get an initial interview?  Thank you.

A:  Definitely have an objective in your resume.  It is a place where you can boldy express that you want to get back into management.  Example, “Seeking to re-engage in a management role in XXX setting after completing my external PharmD cum laude.”  This can be refined more, depending on your specific talents & skill sets, but this is a start.

Also, convey your management experience in the body of your resume, even though it was over 5 yrs ago.  It is useful to have a concise resume; at the same time, in your specific situation, I would recommend that you include the management experience you had 5 years ago in your resume and to elaborate on it.