Longtime pharmacy industry professional shares wisdom on how to get a job, gain career success

Tim Bonino spoke to student pharmacists in Spokane on April 9 about how to acquire a job and the skills that employers are looking for. Bonino was the final speaker of the 2015 Preparing for Your Career in Pharmacy seminar series coordinated by the Washington State University College of Pharmacy. The college hosts the seminar series to expose future pharmacists to a variety of career opportunities in the industry and organizational leaders within those fields.

photo of tim bonino

Bonino has worked in about nine different areas in the pharmacy profession including sales representative, business analytics, marketing liaison, field screener and field trainer. He has also worked for many large pharmacy companies including: Eli Lilly & Company, Parke-Davis & Company, Pfizer, and Genentech USA. His vast experience has equipped him with a lot of knowledge of the industry and how to transition from one career to the next.

“How many of you expect to have a hard time finding a job?” Bonino asked the crowd. “Just because you have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree does not entitle you to a job.” He continued to enlighten students with advice on how to impress an employer during the recruitment and interview process. Here are the five main insights Bonino shared with student pharmacists to get a job and then achieve career success:

1. Develop your ‘personal brand’

A ‘personal brand’ is the cumulative perceptions others have of your traits, behaviors, and actions. Basically it’s your street credit. Your brand makes you unique, memorable and a valued asset to an organization. It also frames people’s perceptions of your role and effectiveness.

Take strength tests and ask fellow students and colleagues to describe what your strengths are. By doing this students are able to identify what they are truly good at and they can start developing their brand from this feedback. Your brand should communicate your beliefs, values, knowledge, passion, and what you stand for.

2. Over-prepare

You have 8-12 seconds to catch their interest. For each job, interview candidates should dissect the job posting and over prepare for the questions they will be asked.

3. Listen to your mentor, then follow up

First, if you don’t have a mentor—find one. Having a great mentor will not only teach you great job experience, they can also help you network and meet other leaders in the pharmacy profession. When it comes to your mentor you do not want a “yes-man,” it is terribly important that they be honest with you. On the other side as a mentee, it is also important that you follow-up and engage with your mentor, otherwise the mentorship will not be any good.

4. Life-long learning

Never use the term “weakness” in an interview, but to instead mention things that you are “working on” or “learning more about.” Advancing in any position requires life-long learning. Employers are going to train their new employees. A job candidate does not need to know it all they just need to be trainable and willing to learn.

5. Monitor your social media accounts (it counts for more than you know!)

First of all you need to get on LinkedIn, it’s one of the first places we go to find a new employee. When it comes to your social media accounts, make sure the content is accurate and appropriate. You cannot control what your friends post so make sure you check your privacy settings frequently and know what people can see on your profile.

The WSU pharmacy seminars are funded through the Dean’s Fund for Excellence and our community partner, the Spokane Teachers Credit Union. For information on participating in the career seminar series, or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence to help expose WSU student pharmacists to thought-leaders and industry innovators, contact the College of Pharmacy advancement office at gocougs@pharmacy.wsu.edu or 509-358-7651.