March 4, 2016

The Age Factor: Why It Doesn’t Have To Be A Factor At All

I have a call set with an executive. We are talking about a Medical Director opportunity.  My 3 months of job experience compared to their 20+ years in the pharmaceutical industry seems like two cousins that were forced to sit together at Thanksgiving, despite the fact that they painfully have nothing in common. 

Starting off in executive recruiting right after college is certainly a challenge.  Not only am I speaking to professionals about serious career opportunities, I’m also representing them to clients who have high expectations.

Determined that this will not hold me back from success, I’ve found several ways to overcome the age factor:

Speak with confidence

Candidates and clients can read a lot through the tone of your voice. When I go into a call I try to set my tone to positive confidence, leaving them thinking, “Hey,  she knows her stuff.”  The easiest way to ensure confidence is preparation.  On my first couple profile calls, preparation meant writing out a script for myself on how to describe the role, client company, and why it was an exciting opportunity.  While this has evolved, and I can now articulate confidently without a script, I still follow these principals and make sure I go into each call prepared. Preparation = confidence.

Know your stuff (and your candidates)

One of the hardest things about being the newbie is that there is a lot I don’t know about the life science and healthcare industries. However, one thing I do know is my candidates.  We spend several conversations together and following #powerofpersonal fashion, I get to know them pretty well.  This might sound obvious but I’ve learned (the hard way) that clients don’t like to hear “fluff”.  They want to know why the candidate is a good fit for the role, not only based on their ability to perform the job, but also if they can adjust to the client’s particular culture.  Knowing my candidates is a great starting point, and as I continue to grow I am able to sprinkle more industry knowledge into the conversation and Voila - I instantly add years to my credibility.

Be transparent and build a relationship

I try to be human with my candidates because I think this shows a level of maturity that they may not get with other recruiters my age.  I do this by asking them questions when I’m unsure of a requirement for a role, and also by not being afraid to deviate at times and ask them about their personal interests and motivations. I’m not just a resume reader, I care about the person and what their career aspirations and passions are outside of work.

Set expectations and push back

Setting clear expectations with candidates lets them know that you are driving the process and in turn, increases the respect they have for you.   On the flip side, with clients, I have learned that it is okay to push back and challenge them when they screen out a candidate.  By doing this you not only show that you are confident in the candidates you present, but it also provides a chance to show off your market knowledge.


Whether this means alerting a candidate that they are not moving forward, or getting back to clients and candidates with answers you didn’t have previously in a timely fashion, diligent follow up demonstrates that you can handle the work at hand and organize yourself so that nothing (or no one) falls through the cracks.  

While I still have a long way to go as a recruiter in this complex industry, it has been fun and challenging to embrace every “baby” step along the way, as I continue to gain credibility with candidates and clients alike.

Tags: executive & professional search, #powerofpersonal, recruiting, pharma / biotech

Brittany Menning

Brittany joined the Executive and Professional search team at TSP within her first year of graduating from Denison University. She primarily works on roles in the Contract Manufacturing space and with mid-sized biotechnology clients. In her free time she enjoys exploring the Columbus arts including the vibrant culinary, live music, and comedy scenes.

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