Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Client Meeting Today

Today I had my first meeting with a client, the person who supplies the money that pays the firm to pay me to do research. I tried not to think about it at all, so my nerves wouldn't get to the point where I couldn't handle the meeting. After all, I'm just a lowly free-lancer, trying to learn a new trade. The client didn't know that (a good thing), but still, I need to come off like the consummate professional in this field I hope to be someday.

Before the meeting, I felt like this:

I let nothing show, and left it to the director for scientific strategy to lead the meeting. I initially thought I'd have nothing to say. Pretty soon I realized I really do know a lot about the project I've worked on since August, and that I could help the client figure out what to do with their new drug.

Back in the Dark Ages, when I worked for pharmaceutical companies, we had folks in the company who figured out what should be done with the drugs the scientists (like yours truly) kept discovering. Every so often my manager would let us peons know what was going on with this or that drug. Our job was to keep on discovering new drugs. Their job, the reason they got paid the big bucks, was to figure out what to do with the drugs. Now it seems that pharmaceutical companies outsource everything they can. Do they discover drugs? No, they buy them from little start-up companies and develop them. Do they figure out what to do with the drugs they've bought? No, they hire firms like The Firm to figure it out for them. I'm not complaining; I find it faintly amusing in fact. If I become an expert opinion that drug companies listen to regarding their future cancer drugs, so much the better for The Firm and for me.

After the meeting, my frame of mind was much better.

I do believe I did a good job. Now of course I can get nervous all over again, since I learned that I'll be conducting interviews with physicians to find out what makes them decide on one anti-cancer drug over another. And in January, I think I have to do a big presentation to a roomful of clients. I was never nervous giving presentations to roomfuls of scientists; somehow the thought of giving one to pharmaceutical executives is, well, different. Good thing I have time to prepare.

While I was at this client meeting, I missed tow phone calls from people about jobs. I was happy to return those calls; until I'm employed permanently and full-time, I'm still on the market, as it were. The first call was from a recruiter, one I spoke with a few times over the summer. This fellow makes me wonder sometimes about what it takes to be a recruiter. I'd sent him my resume several times before, but fine, I sent it again today. My resume states clearly what I've done. If it's not on my resume, I haven't done it.

Recruiter: "So you have a lot of experience as a bull wrangler."
Me: "No, just a little bit of experience, not a lot."
Recruiter: "My client will only look at folks with a lot of experience."

Dude, you called me! Should I be lying to the recruiter? Should I be hastily modifying my resume as I speak to him before emailing it?

Wait, it gets better.

The second phone call was from a local firm needing an oncology expert for their medical communications needs. That's exactly what I'm doing. They want someone for part-time. All right, two part-time gigs equals one pretty decent amount of money. Here's that conversation:

Firm: "So you have loads of experience in medical advertising."
Me: "Not advertising but medical communications. I believe some aspects are related however."
Firm: "We really need you. Can you come in tomorrow for a chat?"
Me: "Yes I can."
Firm: "And you have loads of experience in cancer of the esophagus."
Me: "I have some. I have loads of experience in cancer of the prostate, pancreas, and other areas." Remember- all of my experience is spelled out on my resume.
Firm (tone of voice changing from excitement to polite disinterest): "Well then fine, we'll get back to you."

Should I be lying or what?


Donna Lee said...

Job hunting is one of the most frustrating things. It doesn't matter how explicitn your resume is, I don't think anyone really reads it. They make assumptions and ask you to live up to them.

Experimental Knitter said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Donna Lee.
This morning on LikedIn I saw this note:
Try & quantify something in every line of your CV. We know you did it. What we really want to know is how much of what for how long in what capacity.
Really? Who has a CV or resume that DOESN'T give a position name, description, and dates?