Written by 1:33 am Pharmacy Careers

The Job Search Survey – Part 1

While working with pharmacy students for many years as a clinical preceptor, one common topic of discussion (when we weren’t talking drug metabolism or warfarin interactions) was the pharmacy job market.  No surprise, as these students were sinking 150K or more into their education!  Since then the profession has gotten even more challenging, especially if you are out of work and over the age of 40.  Recently I conducted a survey intending to gather data about finding a job in the current market and got some surprising results.  Allow me to tell you about it.


The survey I created asked just 1 question:  How did you get your present job?  Well, actually I worded it a bit more precisely.  I said “In YOUR opinion, what MOST helped you obtain your PRESENT job (or your LAST job if currently unemployed)?”

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What I was aiming for were the things MOST influential in getting hired.  Granted, the survey was subjective.  All such surveys are.  Even if I were to sit down with a hiring manager and ask him or her WHY they hired someone…their answer is only, at best, why they THINK they hired them or what they will admit were the real factors.  Hence, my survey was just an opinion survey.  But opinions do matter.


I wanted respondents to have plenty of options to choose from, but not so many that they simply quit and didn’t bother.  I went with 12 potential replies.  You could only pick 1, but you could additionally select “other” to add more clarification if needed or to indicate an entirely different reason for getting hired.


  • Experience matched and/or exceeded job description requirements
  • Exceptional interview experience
  • I’m uncertain why I was offered my present job
  • Making follow-up phone calls and/or emails
  • My flexibility and willingness to work any hours
  • Personal friend, family OR close contact within the company
  • Professionally prepared resume
  • Proven results during contract period
  • Pursuing the company even though NO job was yet posted
  • Social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) connections with the company and/or Hiring Manager
  • Timeliness (Being among the FIRST responders to the opening)
  • Other



I tweeted the survey to my nearly 12,000 twitter followers for about a week.  Thanks to the nifty tools available at Survey Monkey, I was able to accurately determine (for the purposes of this survey at least) the reasons that were most likely to lead to being hired.

Two things shocked me.

First, I was surprised that only TWO ANSWERS got a response of greater than 9%.  These two were:

  • Experience matched and/or exceeded job description requirements
  • Personal friend, family OR close contact within the company

I didn’t expect that.  I expected a slightly more even distribution.  However, only these 2 played a major role for the majority (about 65%) of respondents.

Second, I fully expected that “Personal friend/family/contact” would have been the #1 reason.  It wasn’t.  It was #2 behind “Experience.”

Here are the actual numbers:




I learned a couple things here that, I believe, are valuable to job-seekers.

FIRST – Experience matters.  So if you are looking for a job, be sure to HIGHLIGHT any relevant experience related to that position on your resume, in your interview and in every other way possible.  Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to it’s old dimensions.”  Experience is the best teacher.  Employers know this.  I was talking with a pharmacist recently who was interviewing for a hospital position.  He had never worked in a hospital.  The interviewer asked him “So, have you ever even SHADOWED another pharmacist in a hospital job?”  You see what was happening?  The potential employer was stretching to find some level of experience in this candidate that would help qualify him.  Unfortunately for the candidate, his honest answer was “no.”  He didn’t get the job.

If you are currently employed, think about the importance of broadening your experience and diversifying your skills.  This is especially crucial in our current nearly-saturated profession.  Could you shadow someone on your day off in another field?  Could you take an online course that would bolster up your knowledge of another professional avenue?  Don’t be stuck in the rut of your current job description.  This is something I have blogged about before in my series on OWNING YOUR CAREER.


SECOND – Get involved in networking…now.  Nearly 1/3 of respondents indicated it was some type of “connection” that ended up getting them their present job.  I’ve written before about Networking for pharmacists.  I always told my students, and continue to encourage my fellow pharmacists, to actively participate in social media networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Having a blog can be helpful, as you receive all sorts of comments and emails which help grow your network.  Last week I was contacted by WebMD, asking me about doing some video tutorials.  These sorts of things would never have happened without blogging.  Hardly a week goes by when I don’t meet someone new and interesting somewhere online.  Granted, just “having” a list of contacts doesn’t automatically get you a job anywhere.  But since I’m told upwards of 90% of all jobs are never even posted, but filled through networking both inside and outside the company, it pays to develop a useful team of professional friends.

So, how is your job search process going?  I hope this information was helpful.  There is much more involved in a successful job search, but these things are a few good pointers to start.  In the next part I’ll try to outline a simple plan for job searching that should help get you off and running.

©Jason Poquette and The Honest Apothecary.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jason Poquette and The Honest Apothecary with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Last modified: April 17, 2023