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Old 27.11.2018, 11:36
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Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

I've been passively applying for finance roles in the Pharma industry such as Novartis, Roche, Lonza, etc for the past 8 years but I constantly get rejected despite having a good match with the job description.

I have the relevant qualification and experience but the only thing I can think of that may be the root cause of rejection is not having a pharmaceutical background, but I don't know why this would be a big deal.

Furthermore, I don't like the fact that these companies insist on registering on their job websites as this will show my historical applications in different parts of finance, which may put them off or base their previous decisions to any future applications.

I would also like to why companies ask if I applied to them in the last 12 months? What possible decisions can they make from this information?
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Old 27.11.2018, 12:17
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

Companies can decide what hiring process they want to set up, even if it doesn´t suit all candidates.

If you have applied before, and your application this time gets further than the automated pick-and-choose process, someone will look into your file why you didn´t get the job last time maybe?
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Old 27.11.2018, 12:23
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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I have the relevant qualification and experience but the only thing I can think of that may be the root cause of rejection is not having a pharmaceutical background, but I don't know why this would be a big deal.
Ridiculous isn't it! I'm an animal surgeon and applied for jobs in the hospital and they keep refusing me based on my lack of experience with operating on humans! I can tell, you when you're cut open with a knife, we all look the same inside (more or less).
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Old 27.11.2018, 12:52
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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I've been passively applying for finance roles in the Pharma industry such as Novartis, Roche, Lonza, etc for the past 8 years but I constantly get rejected despite having a good match with the job description.

I have the relevant qualification and experience but the only thing I can think of that may be the root cause of rejection is not having a pharmaceutical background, but I don't know why this would be a big deal.

Furthermore, I don't like the fact that these companies insist on registering on their job websites as this will show my historical applications in different parts of finance, which may put them off or base their previous decisions to any future applications.

I would also like to why companies ask if I applied to them in the last 12 months? What possible decisions can they make from this information?
If I were you I would try to reach the HR recruiters of these company on Linkedin and ask for a phone feedback. You need to know what they don't like about your application otherwise you will be applying forever.

Last edited by Brianzoeu; 27.11.2018 at 13:04.
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Old 27.11.2018, 13:16
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

What does ‘passively applying’ mean? Do you mean tailoring your CV/cover letter to every role and taking your time with each application, or applying quickly with a few clicks and using almost the same application portfolio everytime?

What kind of finance roles? Job title / level would help. For some roles, pharma experience is crucial.

Have you had your CV critiqued by a professional? If not, consider paying for it.

What is your honest assessment of the typical number of requirements from the advert that you meet fully/partially/not at all?

Be careful about applying too often to the same company for roles that you do not possess a high % of the requirements fully. Every one is logged and too many could result in them considering you as a serial time-waster unfortunately.
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Old 27.11.2018, 14:16
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

In the OP's defence, it seems to me that a lot of companies, maybe here, maybe everywhere, are very reticent to allow opportunities to be opened up unless you have direct experience already - even though skills learned in a previous job may be easily transferable, and learning the specific skills of a new job would not realistically take that long.

Of course experience in a role counts, but I find it a shame and have suffered from it myself as I try to make sideways moves in my career.

Last edited by krlock3; 27.11.2018 at 14:28.
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Old 27.11.2018, 15:26
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

I have faced pretty much the same for a few years as well. I work in Marketing, and at the "early" age of 44 and with 20 years of experience in multinational firms working in either Marketing, I still have a super hard time getting past the screening phase (in the last 5 years I got 3 interviews in total, out of maybe 30 applications). Just 2 weeks ago I became very active again, and it's not going better. A LOT of rejections.

My gut feeling is that it's nothing in particular about me (I have had professionals review my CV, it's professionally designed, I spend around 30min. researching the company before I apply, and anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes tailoring the cover letter). So I'm assuming my screening chance is 1/10. Could vary between Marketing and Finance, and you have an even tougher chance to make it?

I'll let you know. I applied for a position in Novartis early today, and I'm nearing my 10th rejection in the last 2 weeks, so maybe they're up ?
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Old 27.11.2018, 15:52
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

The pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical marketing/finance is very specific and experience in the regulatory environment and working within a healthcare environment very important.
The more senior the role, the more the necessity for this experience, so unless you have that a move from another industry is very difficult.
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:13
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

From an accounting perspective, an Asset, Liability, Expense and Income double entry is pretty much same regardless of which industry you work for. The only difference I can think of is if one were to apply for “External Reporting”, but even then the classification is pretty much the same.

I’ve also done some research on LinkedIn and it seems that the people who are currently working there at my level have been there on average for 10-15 years, so they are firmly put and going nowhere, except the ones being made redundant.

Another phenomenon I’ve come across recently is that companies are becoming very nosey and wants to know your previous salary, which is none of their business but they are not willing to disclose the salary for the role or even the range. I guess they can get away with it as it’s an employers market at the moment. However, I don’t like the trend where the balance of power seems to be favouring the employers with the popularity of zero hour contracts, international outsourcing, salary disclosures. Perhaps Universal Basic Income (UBI) or Outsourcing Tariff can reverse the trend and the balance of power?
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:24
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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Ridiculous isn't it! I'm an animal surgeon and applied for jobs in the hospital and they keep refusing me based on my lack of experience with operating on humans! I can tell, you when you're cut open with a knife, we all look the same inside (more or less).
Not a smart comment. A finance position in a pharma company is similar to one in a food or manufacturing company.
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:25
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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Not a smart comment. A finance position in a pharma company is very similar to one in a food or manufacturing company.
That's exactly my point!!! Just like operating on animals is the same as a human. In fact, a human IS AN ANIMAL!!!
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:39
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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From an accounting perspective, an Asset, Liability, Expense and Income double entry is pretty much same regardless of which industry you work for. The only difference I can think of is if one were to apply for “External Reporting”, but even then the classification is pretty much the same.
Indeed, from a surgical perspective, cutting, suturing and cauterizing is pretty much the same regardless of which animal you work on. The only difference I can think of is if one were to apply cosmetic surgery, but even then the techniques are pretty much the same.
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:51
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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Indeed, from a surgical perspective, cutting, suturing and cauterizing is pretty much the same regardless of which animal you work on. The only difference I can think of is if one were to apply cosmetic surgery, but even then the techniques are pretty much the same.
OK the competition isn't fierce but I had you down as one of the smartest posters on EF.
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Old 27.11.2018, 16:58
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

At the moment, you probably won’t have any luck applying at Roche & Novartis as they are undergoing massive restructuring/layoffs. They need to place a lot of employees in other jobs. By law, they have to post jobs that are available...but often they already have an internal employee hired for it.

I got lucky and got a call after applying for two solid years, I nailed the interview and am now an experienced pharma employee.

Here are my two best tips on getting into pharma:

1) Connections - do you know anyone working in the industry? This is how many get their foot in the door.

2) Consider taking a contracted job through an agency. Sure the job security isn’t there, but the hiring manager is less likely to be as strict as when hiring a permanent employee. It allows you to get in, prove yourself and make connections. Try getting in touch with any of the big agencies and personally introduce yourself.

Good luck!
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Old 27.11.2018, 17:59
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

No prescreening done anywhere local anymore, so you're falling through the grid because your CV is lacking some stupid buzzword.

In most Finance jobs, a pharmaceutical background literally doesn't matter the slightest, so that's not it.

Particularly Novartis is restructuring about four hundred times a year, so that's not the issue either. They're also constantly adding new jobs even through times of layoffs elsewhere.

Best way in is to know someone who can connect you to the hiring/line manager of current openings.
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Old 27.11.2018, 18:31
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

Novartis is going through a bit more than the usual mate...

Novartis to cut 2,200 Swiss jobs by 2020
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society...-2020/44423572
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Old 27.11.2018, 20:47
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

Hi couple comments - first I think applying to company websites is in general a waste of time. Serious waste of time. 2 recommedations - some one already mentioned, connections. Try to network, even it is through LinkedIn. Second, recruiters. Try to identify a recruiter - and go through them.


Yes, I have applied to company websites and yes I have secured screening and interviews, but seriously, Novartis and Roche get so many applications, that such interview milestones are not predictive of a job - just alot of competition out there to mention i find hiring managers today have too much fear (they have too much pressure today), so they looking for the perfect perfect perfect fit - any hint of rough edges no matter how minute can result in a no go. And this is not just N and R, this is across industry. So..another issue on its own.


Regarding Novartis and Roche, why spend effort there? Yes they have big names and yes, they do exciting stuff, but bringin it down to the individual level, in today's pharmaceutical market there are plenty of smaller to mid-sized players out there that offer more compeitive packages (higher pay than N and R) and interesting work-environments (face-paced, opportunistic, not bogged down by beaurcracy and process). I've spent nearly all of my career in the mid to small sized pharma - and yes i've looked at Novaritis and Roche but today, they are not appealing to me - at this point - unless desperate, not worth my time now for a job opportunity. There talent scouts, at least with N, are quiet useless and unresponsive even when they are the ones contacting you.


I was in Marketing and left that ..there are too many Marketing people out there competing for a very limited number of jobs so I was happy to leave that function and went back to another where there more jobs (but not without difficulties to obtain).


I did apply to one job in CH via a website and got it - but i was a match for the role and boss and i just hit it off during the interview. I don't have positive aspirations for the future at 43 years old i am very very very aware of the limited time I have being in pharma - so I have entrepreneural thoughts.
Perhaps you can start a business? There are alot of nay sayers on starting your own business and many will try to bring you down, i.e. say they won't pay or you have no market..., but them nay sayers in general are losers who have never started their own business - would fail if they tried or would know where to start - both mindset and courage..Corporate has a nice way of eroding that. ...Keep it real, keep positive, be open minded and stop with the website applications..waste of time. Maybe signals pointing to you going it on your own.


And for the record...CH 10 years now. 6 different companies, save for 1 contract role which was a mistake (i quit in 2 months), the rest were all full-time permaant FTE roles with increasing titles save for one lateral shift, (so i'm pretty good at all that application and interview stuff - been there done that - website appications a waste).
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Old 27.11.2018, 21:04
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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From an accounting perspective, an Asset, Liability, Expense and Income double entry is pretty much same regardless of which industry you work for.
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I’ve also done some research on LinkedIn and it seems that the people who are currently working there at my level have been there on average for 10-15 years, so they are firmly put and going nowhere, except the ones being made redundant.
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Not a smart comment. A finance position in a pharma company is similar to one in a food or manufacturing company.
Only junior accounting positions are similar across industries. If you are going for a position where people have 10 - 15 years experience, then you are expected to bring a lot more to the table than basic accounting, in particular analysis and experience. Which is probably why you are not getting to the interview stage.

Way back in the day when I worked in insolvency and we had to go in and run a company for a few months as a going concern, the first thing we did with the finance department was to identify the people with industry experience. Those we held on to, the other generalists we let go - we could easily replace them with our staff if needed, but we could not replace the guys with the industry knowledge.
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Old 28.11.2018, 10:09
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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Have you had your CV critiqued by a professional? If not, consider paying for it.
Does anybody have recommendations for persons/companies doing CV appraisal/critique? Should one get a local to do it? Or does the advice you get hold up for different countries/places?
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Old 28.11.2018, 10:15
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Re: Mission Impossible: Getting Interview @ Novartis & Roche

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Particularly Novartis is restructuring about four hundred times a year, so that's not the issue either. They're also constantly adding new jobs even through times of layoffs elsewhere.
They may be adding jobs, but in Finance, they're not adding them in Switzerland. The long-term strategy is to place as many of the back-office jobs as possible in low-cost locations.
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