Answers to a common employment question 

I have been in Project Management and Operations for many years. However, I have never worked in the biotech industry. How can I move into thissector?

Randy Block

Staffing Consultant & Executive Coach

Randy Block brings years of expertise in executive search as well as a certified career and retirement coach.

My first question would be "Why the biotech industry?" It is an exciting field. In most cases you would use your transferable skills to transition from one industry to the next. Your past accomplishments are prime examples of applying your transferable skills. However, in biotech, most jobs require a degree in the life sciences. Even in positions such as sales and human resources! With your background in project management and operations, it’s a long shot to move into biotech unless you go back to school and get a four year degree say in biology or another life science.

Rosanna Ortisi

Your ability to articulate your transferable skills is the first step. You will need to be able to connect the dots not only on your resume but as you speak to individuals as to how the core skill sets may apply. Identify which functional areas within the biotechnology organization you are targeting. A likely point of entry may be in information technology or process improvement. Another route to consider would be to consider consulting versus a direct hire approach. There are consulting services firms that are contracted by companies. Due to the demand of project management skills in the biotech/life sciences industry, many structured courses are now offered for project management professionals in the biotech industry (such as UC Berkeley Extension).

Richard Stiller

OD/HR Consultant

Rich Stiller has held executive management positions for a variety of high tech companies, from startups to multinationalorganizations such as Sun Microsystems, Electronic Arts.

Project manager skills are very transferable between industries. The most important thing is to network with people who work in that industry and especially with folks who are doing the job you have targeted. Between that and what research you can do on the web, you should be able to develop a strategy that shows potential employees that your skills are transferable. You already have the skills. It is the understanding of the new industry that will win you the job.

Ron Visconti

Managing Partner, Peninsula Employment Group, LLC.

Ron Visconti has assisted jobs seekers and career changers through recruitment events, career transition projects, career counseling, and workshops. Founded and ran non-profit career center.

You have the related functional experience. It is a matter of convincing decision makers in the biotech industry that you can make the transition. Every industry has a set of standards, and ways that they operate. Get to know the language and terminology, take classes to update you about hot areas in biotech, join targeted associations that will allow you to network with professionals in the field, go to biotech events and ask how to make the transition, and finally, consider staffing services that cater to the biotech market.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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