At the top of December, thousands of pharmacy students will be heading to Las Vegas for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition in hopes of landing a residency or fellowship after graduation.
‘Tis the season! In early December, thousands of pharmacy students will be heading to Las Vegas for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition in hopes of landing a residency or fellowship after graduation.
The good news is that there are hundreds of potential residency and fellowship programs on display at Midyear. The bad news is that thousands of budding and early-career-stage pharmacists attend this event seeking a postgraduate gig, and not all of them are ultimately successful. How can you maximize Midyear, stand out to residency and fellowship directors, and be the ideal candidate for the positions at this meeting? Here are a few humble suggestions to consider as you plot your strategy.
1. Live la Vida LinkedIn
When was the last time you took a look at your LinkedIn profile and perked it up with your projects, rotation experiences, skills, and education? Take the social networking service seriously—the rest of us do. Recruiters now claim they review LinkedIn profiles over resumes and CVs when screening potential employers for the first time.
When you think you’ve got your LinkedIn profile polished up and ready, try turning it into a resume. To do so, click the My Profile link in the upper left of the LinkedIn homepage, then click the tiny drop-down arrow to the right of the View Profile As button and choose Save To PDF. This version should be tested against your REAL CV or resume to make sure you’re capturing everything in both places; make sure they match, or match at least with the important items!
Consider integrating Slideshare into your profile to show off presentations, or nearly any URL links to your work online, and if you really want to get fancy, you can try uploading your LinkedIn profile PDF to a portal like Resumonk.com.
2. Consider the Infographic Resume
Although Midyear is the first time many students are exposed to residency or fellowship directors, you have very little time to make a solid first impression with a director when floating through Residency Showcase. Ask yourself what you would rather look at in a sea of white papers and resumes: another white boring piece of paper that looks like all the others, or something with color, projects to pinpoint about a candidate, and an interesting layout?
Did you pick the infographic yet? If you’re cruising the Showcase and get to meet one-on-one with a director in 60 seconds or less, would you pick the infographic then? While I don’t think an infographic resume could replace a CV quite yet in pharmacy for a formal interview, I do think Midyear’s Residency Showcase is one of the best places to try it out.
You could certainly go overboard with pictures and text, but if you’re unsure of what direction to take with your infographic resume, try searching for ideas on Google or Pinterest. Note that color and a pretty layout do not excuse poor grammar or misspelled words; your handouts must be perfect. To be safe, have several friends and family members read whatever it is you’re handing out.
3. Bring on the Business Cards
If you’ve never had a business card, now is the time to get one. These little gems are one of the lowest cost, highest return on investment ways for you to differentiate yourself from the herd. You can probably grab them from your university with their logo, but there are many cool options online that can help you stand out.
Avoid using a normal size and shape business card, as it will never stand out in a pile of business cards. My favorite custom business card portal with interesting shaped business cards right now is Uprinting.com, which offers affordable custom business cards with plenty of interesting shapes.
4. Collect and Capture Contacts
When you hit Residency Showcase, wear a jacket with pockets (actual working pockets, ladies). In one pocket, ask for and keep all the residency directors’ business cards; in the other, keep a stack of your cards, so that when you ask for a directors’ card, you trade it with yours. This way, you can head home having left behind your card (and maybe even your 1-page infographic resume), and you have a stack of residency and fellowship directors’ business cards and contact information.
5. Post Meeting Postcard
99.9% of the residents and fellow candidates aren’t going to do what I’m about to suggest to you, but I can guess that the 0.1% that does ends up in their first choice of residency or fellowship. I want you to send a brief thank-you postcard to every director or business card contact you collected at Showcase after the meeting.
Postcard postage costs a little less than first class snail mail, and it’s another opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and leave a positive impression with the person making the hiring decision. Here, you can custom create postcards that match you, your business card, and your infographic resume. The postcard should be handwritten, personal, and legible; additionally, be sure to include your contact information, and try to get them into the mail in a timely fashion. Sometimes, I take a stack of cards with me on a trip where I met a lot of people/traded business cards, and then address my thank you post cards to them on the plane ride home.
I ask recruiters all the time about hand written thank-you notes and very few people actually still send them, but the ones who do, get hired.
These are my 5 best tips for those who want to Maximize Midyear next month. If you follow these tips, you may not immediately get a gig in Vegas, but you will get noticed!
Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD, PAHM, is a health outcomes pharmacist and pharmacy fellowship director for Myers and Stauffer, LC, a co-host of The Pharmacy Podcast, writer, entrepreneur, attorney, preceptor, career coach, and STEM advocate. More on her at her blog, www.erinalbert.com.