The life science industry has not been immune to the global economic downturn, with pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Roche, and AMAG Pharmaceuticals recently announcing layoffs. Similarly, medical device companies such as Stryker, Medtronic, and Smith & Nephew have announced job cuts. So, is there such a thing as job security anymore?
Paula Rutledge, president and founder of Legacy MEDSearch, a recruitment firm exclusively serving the medical device and healthcare industry, noted the overall unemployment rate in the United States (7.9 percent in November 2012 versus 8.9 percent the previous year) and was generally upbeat about the job picture.
"Not all is gloom and doom in the medical device space, especially in the job segments related to QA areas, which directly affect patient safety, product development, and compliance," said Rutledge, whose firm has over 25 years of experience in the industry.
In 2012, Legacy MEDSearch saw the largest growth of search assignment in the areas of quality assurance/regulatory affairs and R&D. "Large and small manufacturers of devices are looking for both full-time and contract assistance in dealing with recalls, corrective actions, and other issues affecting the performance of the device," said Rutledge. "Part of the challenge facing medical device companies is the additional quality and regulatory mandates that are being necessitated by the way hospitals and devices communicate with electronic medical records."
Rutledge said such regulatory requirements require highly specialized skills. "Finding well-trained, high quality QA professionals with technology skill set is becoming increasingly difficult for medical device companies," she added.
As the global economy recovers slowly, keeping the status quo on the job front is paramount. For most quality professionals, keeping their jobs is foremost in their minds.
Kevin Marcus, a senior product manager at MasterControl Inc., pointed out that to improve your job security, you must increase your value to the company. "Quality professionals should strive to maintain a well-balanced, up-to-date skill set and knowledge base in their respective industry. This not only strengthens your flexibility within your organization, but it also improves your marketability within your field," he said.
Patricia Santos-Serrao, a senior product manager at MasterControl Inc., emphasized the importance of professional networking, saying: "As companies are forced to do more with less in today's economy, the importance of hiring experienced, high quality personnel who can hit the ground running is essential in order to minimize down time and learning curves, which makes networking in the quality space more important than ever."
When you do get a job interview, Rutledge said "translate" your professional credentials and qualifications at a level that the interviewer can comprehend. "If you're talking to a fellow quality professional, make sure that you use the nomenclature relevant to the industry. But should you be talking to a potential team member or recruiter whose professional expertise is not in the area of quality, have examples ready that are relatable to the interviewer."
Rutledge's second piece of advice: "Make sure that your résumé is keyword rich and easily searchable to a potential employer."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that total employment in the country is expected to increase by 14 percent from 2010 to 2020. Total employment in the life, physical, and social science field is projected to grow 16 percent for the same period. "Employment in life science occupations will grow by 58,300, driven largely by the need for medical scientists to conduct research and to create new medical technologies, treatments, and pharmaceuticals," according to a BLS report in March 2012.
In the field of medical device, Rutledge anticipates rapid job growth in the next two years for the areas below, and she explains why:
Some companies have reached out to the quality sector during this time of uncertainty on the job front. MasterControl Inc., a leading provider of quality and compliance software services for regulated companies worldwide, recently announced its Placement Assistance Program for MasterControl system administrators who have lost their jobs and are looking to use their MasterControl skills to get new positions. Under the program, they may post their résumés on MasterControl's website.
For more information about Legacy MEDSearch, visit: www.legacymedsearch.com. For tips on submitting a keyword-rich résumé read Rutledge's article: http://www.legacymedsearch.com/refresh/templates/candidate_resources.php?id=47
Cindy Fazzi, a copywriter at MasterControl Inc., writes about the life science industry and other regulated environments. Her two decades of experience as a news reporter, writer, and editor includes working for the Associated Press in Ohio and New York. She has a master's degree in journalism from Ohio State University.Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his/her employer, GxP Lifeline, its editor or MasterControl, Inc.