Bob Jeffers, founder of recruiting firm Allen-Jeffers Associates, explains what qualities medtech job candidates should have and how to go about the job search.
Bob Jeffers founded Allen-Jeffers Associates, a medical device and pharmaceutical industry recruitment company in Irvine, CA, in 1978, after working his way up the ladder to become a technical superintendent of manufacturing for American Hospital Supply Corp. in Glendale, CA, and serving as a plant manager at C.R. Bard. He’s helped companies including Edwards (before it was Edwards Lifesciences), GE, and Philips, as well as numerous start-ups, find medtech employees to suit their needs.
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Jeffers recently spoke with with MD+DI about which medtech jobs are in demand, which areas of the country offer the most opportunity for job seekers, start-ups vs. established firms, and which positions are paying well.
MD+DI: Are there any general qualities that a good medtech candidate should have?
Jeffers: If I were to pull down one, aside from the obvious technical competence in their field, I would say just communications skills. You’ve got to be able to write reports; you’ve got to be able to give reports. You have to be able to make a presentation, particularly in medtech because FDA requires that you communicate well. You’ve got SOPs, you’ve got all the documentation, you’ve got the standards that have to be met that FDA has promulgated. And there are those that the individual manufacturers have that are probably even more stringent than FDA’s.
When you’re talking about some of the technical product here, you definitely have to have communication skills. That goes all the way down to even the individual that’s sitting on the line assembling these things. They’ve got to understand how to put these things together or whatever it is that they’re doing.
MD+DI: Does social media help or a hinder a medtech job search?
Jeffers: Social media is a good thing, but it shouldn’t be overestimated as to what it can do for an individual—or a company for that matter. In the olden days, you used to have newspapers, and I subscribed to a whole lot of them. You’d look in the business section, the Wall Street Journal, you’d see all these classified ads, you’d say, “Hey, I know somebody over there, I should call that person and see if I can get the job.” You can do that now. You can put a Web site together, and you get people calling you. That’s never really changed; it’s just that you have more avenues now.
MD+DI: Can you walk us through how you work with applicants to match them with a medtech employer?
Jeffers: It starts long before we have a job description. Because you have to get to know the client—and by the client I mean not just who they are and what they make, but what kind of personality the company itself has, and what kind the department has, and what they’re looking for [with] the soft skills. And then you work back from there. You look for the individuals who have the technical capability, and then you start asking the questions [to see] if they have the personality that would match. That’s really what it comes down to.
MD+DI: Other than working with a recruiter, what advice can you offer to medtech candidates looking for a suitable position, even to start?
Jeffers: That hasn’t changed in 40 years, probably even longer than that. Network with your people. People you know, who you deal with. [Work] your contacts, whether they’re coworkers or people in school if you’re getting an MBA. Definitely get to know people, and don’t lose that contact, because they are invaluable. That’s how we work, frankly. We network all the time.
John Conroy is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[image courtesy of STOCKIMAGES/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]