Pharmacy Job Market Outlook

Published: 15th June 2010
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Is the pharmacist job market getting better?

More job opportunities are opening up for pharmacists, as pharmacies & companies are more interested in hiring, compared to late 2009. Positions are getting filled quickly in areas saturated by pharmacists, especially those that are staff level ones with desired shifts. It is positive to see some pharmacies ready to hire again, and who are quick to make decisions. Pharmacists are having to beat their competition to the punch, because once a coveted position becomes available, pharmacies are being flooded with applicants.

On the flip side, other pharmacies are taking extra care in waiting for the right pharmacist, more so than in the past. I know one hospital that waited 8 months to find the right critical care pharmacist, and another that waited months for the right candidate for a clinical coordinator position. They were waiting for someone who is cream of the crop.

Even staff pharmacist roles are not immune to this type of extra selectivity and hiring managers waiting for the right person. One pharmacy in Northern California has had a staff pharmacist opening for a few months. Despite receiving many qualified applicants, the pharmacy director chose to hold off on hiring until finding someone who is the perfect candidate.

Clinical specialists in high demand include oncology pharmacists. I forsee this continuing to be a trend. Last year's PGY2 oncology residency programs didn't have enough residents for the available spots. Yet companies have a growing need for pharmacists of this specialty. I've had a lot of requests from hospitals for oncology pharmacist positions lately.

Other clinical pharmacy specialists like infectious disease are still in demand, but they may be more limited in terms of geographic areas that you can move into. Last year, for example, there were several infectious disease pharmacist openings in New York City. Now, an infectious disease opening is hard to come by.

Pharmacy directors are also sought after. I suppose not everyone wants to take on the responsibility of this role.

Federal pharmacist jobs such as those with the Indian Health Service and Veteran's Affairs are becoming more popular, as pharmacists look for stability in this uncertain economy.

Pharmaceutical company layoffs seem to have been slowing down, according to MedZilla Report. But continue to expect layoffs. For example, Eli Lily plans to cut 5,500 jobs worldwide by the end of 2011. Two big mergers have called for massive layoffs. Merck & Schering-Plough merger led to plans for 16,000 job cuts. Pfizer & Wyeth's merger called for 20,000 layoffs.

If you are looking for a job right now and are PGY1 residency trained without additional experience, fewer pharmacies (compared to last year) are willing to wait and hire you on before finishing a residency, unless you are already a resident at the facility, have connections, or the position is in a less saturated geographic area. Many pharmacies are preferring to hire a pharmacist on immediately when they have an opening. In high-demand areas with many pharmacist applicants, you may still get interviewed, but when it comes down to it, if they have other pharmacist applicants ready to work with equal or more credentials and a similar fit as you, they would hire that person on instead. If you're not getting offers right now, that may be the reason why.

If you have something special to offer and are PGY1 residency trained, you can still get offers if what you are pursuing is in alignment with your experience during your residency and you market yourself well to show that off in your application process (including the first impression you make with your resume).

Resumes of new pharmacy grads and residents often look similar. Every new grad has done rotations. What is it that's special about your experience from other new grads? As a resident, what is it that makes what you learned during your residency or the accomplishments that you had different from other residents? What is unique about what you bring to the pharmacy and what is your 10-second summary of why you are more deserving than other applicants?

It's all about how you market yourself to stand out, from the beginning of your application process when you make your first impression, send a resume that gets noticed, ace the interview, "close on the job", and negotiate the best offer.

There are things you can do which most pharmacists are not doing, and which can give you better results. Blasting out your resume and "hoping" to hear back is not a strategy working well in this job market. Marketing yourself to get noticed is something that I teach to pharmacists who want to take control back in their job search. It's something that if you put the effort to learning, you will get more interviews & offers.


Chen Yen,PharmD,Pharmacist Job Market Expert is the founder of Pharmacist Job Connection, helping busy pharmacists get in the right jobs for their personality. Learn how to stand out in this tough job market:

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