Bio-Tech Career Expo Draws Hundreds Of Hopefuls
Saturday, June 18, 2011 • 1:03am
NEW BRUNSWICK –More than 500 professionals seeking work and connections in the Bio-Tech industry gathered at the Rutgers Student Center on College Avenue on Friday, June 17.
Hopefuls lined up at the career expo, resumes in tow, for their chance to impress companies geared for their talents.
Jessie Phillips, a representative for the state Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development, expressed excitement over the high turnout.
“The response has been overwhelming. I think it’s very demonstrative of the economy and the fact that New Jersey is centrally located, being in the center of the pharmaceutical and biotech industry clusters,” she said.
The event drew an array of talent and diversity. Shawn Su of Montgomery heard about the career expo through an online IT group and an entrepreneurs association.
His background is in both computer engineering and electrical power systems, but he hesitated to attend the event because, he said, it is unusual to find job fairs aimed at his experience level and skills.
“At first, I thought it would be just a college job fair for Rutgers students, but then I read about the employers involved and what opportunities were offered. Now I wish I arrived earlier,” he said, after arriving just before noon.
Those in attendance met industry recruiters and head hunters and heard from representatives for the state Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development and a select group of corporate human resources executives who shared advice.
Watson Pharmaceuticals, Intrasphere Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Genzyme, LabCorp, Oncobiologics and other companies saw lines of job seekers head to their tables.
The event's targeted demographic was those with biotech or pharma experience, or recent graduates planning on entering the field soon, but the advice given was practical for any interested party.
Liz Levine of Laureate Biopharmaceutical Services said the biggest mistake job seekers make is that they emphasize their skills over the needs of companies for integrating them into a team.
“They’re not really emphasizing cultural aspect we’re looking for, such as being hardworking and enthusiastic,” she said. “In a smaller company, you will be known by every single employee within one week, so think of the scale you’re going to. We’re looking for a fit – to fit in, lead and add strengths.”
Jim Topor of Celgene spoke about the intricacies involved with professional online profiles which employers research on job candidates. He told attendees they should work on their LinkedIn profile and make sure it can match an employer’s sightlines.
“Think about the job you’re targeting. and make sure it includes keywords that corporate staffing would look for, and also make sure it’s updated,” he said.
Topor recalled a situation where he interviewed a candidate and later saw that his LinkedIn page showed only a bachelor’s degree, excluding his MBA from Columbia University, creating doubt over the person’s stated qualifications.
Also addressed were considerations one must make when going from big firms such as Merck or Bristol-Myers Squibb to smaller biotech companies.
Ross Grossman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said those coming from “big pharma” usually want higher salaries, but noted, “biotech tends to pay competitively but moderately because of the need to save cash.”
Grossman said that instead of high salaries, employee equity and stock options tend to be more profitable.
BioNJ, Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations, and the state Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development partnered to address the needs of job seekers with skills in the sciences and engineering.
Phillips, the state labor department representative, said notice of the event was publicized through emails to professionals registered with the state who had worked in bio-pharma industries before as well as through ads in the state’s One-Stop Career Centers.