Having recently joined the job seeker pool I was buoyed by a number of really positive articles talking about how this year is going to see an increase in recruitment as well as a skills gap and employees having more choice and higher negotiation powers. Awesome says I!
There is then fact that I am an expert in social media in pharma, an area that is also growing and where there is a blatant need for more talent. Many pharma companies still have no social media presence, strategy or even dedicated headcount and very few are approaching this main stream communication channel as strategically or as seriously as they should be. This is after all now one of the main communication channels for a large chunk of healthcare stakeholders, from doctors through to patients. This is where people turn to for health information and news and yet many pharma companies are still conspicuously absent from this space.
I was therefore very positive when I left ZS that I would soon be picking from an array of opportunities. However things are not always as they seem! Firstly given many pharma company’s lack of strategic approach to using this channel most of the jobs are at a very junior level – more focused on content management rather than being a strategic leader, relationship builder or internal change manager. Secondly the very fact that many pharma still have this unfounded fear of social media they are also not looking to employ in this area.
This brings me onto my second road block – being “too experienced”. Given the wealth, depth and uniqueness of my experience I am often too skilled, or more to the point too expensive, for the roles available. People always ask what my current salary is and then tend to go very silent and end the conversation. No matter how much I explain that passion for my work and work life balance are more important than salary it seems to be a discussion closer (before the discussion has even begun). That said I recently had a discussion for what sounded like a perfect role for me … until they mentioned the salary which was half my current salary, and less than I was earning over 5 years ago – I am flexible but not going to sell my experience short either.
Things are not always what they seem then. This also goes for other areas in life and in fact is something I have also been mulling over recently. The other day I was walking down Bahnhoffstrasse here in Zurich and saw a very anorexic looking woman on the street. The same day I saw some photos online of some obese women. Prior to my own diagnosis with a thyroid condition I would always automatically have thought the anorexic women “needed to see someone about her mental problems” or that the obese person “should lay off the hamburgers”. However things are not always what they seem. I now appreciate that either of those groups could in fact be dealing with health issues which are having a significant impact on their weight. As a result of my thyroid I put on close to 15kg – and I was a physically active, salad eating slim woman.
I also now know all too well that that friendly, smiling person may in fact be feeling desperately ill, depressed and miserable. Many autoimmune patients, for example, struggle daily with the effects of their disease but put on a brave, happy face for the outside world. They do not want to burden people with their misery or they feel people will not understand and they will lose their friends and will feel even more alone.
So I always remember now that things are not always as they seem. That dream job may take a bit longer to find, no matter how great the market or your skills are. That seemingly happy, or weight-challenged person may in fact be suffering from a horrible disease and may be feeling desperately alone, miserable and in pain. This is why I try these days not to make assumptions and I always try to smile at people. I may be going through a bad day but that person may be going through far worse. My smile may not mean much but I hope it helps make things seem a little bit sunnier to that person.