Learning to speak well is an important transferable skill for work in academia, pharma, and life in general.
While we know this is important, few understand the need to use this skill in “reinventing” themselves when entertaining a career transition. Last time, I described the need to learn to communicate well with different industry professionals.
First, let’s talk about communication that is important when trying to move into this space. When one is looking to transition into the pharma industry, one should learn to communicate their value in a number of different settings with people in the pharma industry. These include:
- The Elevator talk- 2 to 3 minutes engagement with pharma professionals
- Informal Round Table conversation 15 to 30minutes
- Job interview talk- 30 to 60 minutes
The Elevator Talk – 2 to 3 minutes
The concept of an elevator talk is based on the idea that you have the length of an elevator ride, 2 or 3mins to speak with someone of interest.
In this time, you need to be able to get across who you are and why someone else should care. It is especially important to incorporate why someone should care because many times, people in elevator are passing in transient to someone/somewhere else. They have their mind on something else and so your goal is to generate enough interest so that you can set up interaction with these professional at a later point.
In this way, they have the opportunity to learn more about you and what you have to offer. Your goal is not, however, to get the job on the spot. There are examples of this and it does happen but it should not be your goal. You want to generate interest in yourself and create a visual picture of how you can help them solve their problems. You don’t want them to have to figure out how and why you would be useful to them. It is our responsibility to make sure that we do that.
Informal Round Table conversation – 15 to 30 minutes
This is a situation in which you have an extended period of time with an employer. This can be going out to lunch with pharma representatives, seating at the same dinner table with pharma professionals etc.
Because you have more time, you can go into more detail concerning your skill sets and your value added.
Two additional points here: since you are having a conversation, use your listening skills to learn from them. You can use that information to best describe your skill set in terms of things that this company is doing or interested in.
Pay attention to what aspects of your conversation your listener is reacting to and spend more time with detail in this area. It is not important to tell them everything you have done, because you are most interested in sharing the aspects of your skill set that the employer wants to know or is interested in. Second, if the conversation allows for opportunity, make sure that you find a point of mutual interest outside of work. This will allow the person you are talking to get to know you better.
Job interview talk – 30 to 60 minutes
Congratulations! You have a job interview. Your ability to communicate has landed you an opportunity to describe your skill set with a set of company representatives for an extended period of time.
Most of us know that this will not be a conversation in the same manner that we described for the lunch round table meeting, but it is a conversation none the less. The important thing to remember is that you will be communicating with them in a number of formats. You will be communicating via your dress, your body language, and the way you organize your slides. You will be communicating in the way you answer questions. You will be communicating by the vocabulary that you select when you give your talk.
For example, you can merely describe data in a paper you have published, or you also describe it as a project that you lead, and how you met deadlines and found a way to get things down faster than expected, and for under expected costs. Remember, you are speaking with industry professionals, communicate in their language!
There is a lot more that I could say, but I think this gives you an idea of how specific communication can help your transition to a pharma career.
I hope that you can see that there are different ways and types of communication one can use when speaking with industry professionals. Your communication style should take into consideration the duration of the conversation and setting. You should really work on describing who you are for a 2 minutes, 15 minutes and 60 minutes conversation.
In all cases, you can communicate to the other party by your vocal variation and emphasis during your talk. You can help your listener picture your descriptions by learning to use your body language and hand gestures. Make eye contact with your audience.
Finally you can solidify your listeners understanding by using good analogies in your conversations. People make very quick decisions about who we are in the first moments of interaction so we need to communicate effectively in order to help ease our transition into a pharma career. Good luck.