When You Suddenly Lose Your Pharmacy Job

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Julius Caesar once said “No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.” I think that’s true. And maybe the most disturbing and unexpected thing to happen in our career is the sudden loss of a job.

What should you do if you suddenly, and unexpectedly, find yourself without a pharmacy job? Once the initial shock wears off, that is the question we usually ask ourselves. What should I do? If that is your situation, I hope the following will be of some help.

There are many reasons that a pharmacist or pharmacy technician may find themselves out of work. Sometimes a company reorganizes and eliminates certain positions. There are mergers and acquisitions which may result in the closing of certain locations. Maybe you were targeted for termination unjustly. Sometimes it is the result of personal issues which you just couldn’t control at the time. Maybe you saw the handwriting on the wall, but hoped it wouldn’t ever really happen. Whatever the reason, the shock is almost always the same. What should you do?

The first thing I tell pharmacists who have suddenly lost a job is to not think of themselves as unemployed. They have a job, a new job, and it is called “finding a job.” This new step in their career will take every bit as much work, energy and commitment as you put into your previous position. You should think about your new work day. What time will you start your new job? What time will you punch out? The point is that you need to plan on putting a full day of work, every day, into the process of finding the next step in your pharmacy career.

Think about where you will do your work from. Working from your home to find a job may be the easiest option, but for some people there may be too many distractions to actually focus on your work. A lot of your job search can be done online and through email, but you will need to be able to make phone calls and do phone interviews and physically go and visit locations where you might want to work. Wherever you decide to do your daily work of searching for a job, you need to communicate to your friends and family that you are STILL working. You, and those around you, need to respect the focus you are going to have to give to this process.

You may wonder if this is this an opportunity for you to shift your career focus altogether. In my opinion: not always. A lot will depend on your financial situation and how long you can reasonably expect to be without a source of income. While it is nice if this sudden job loss becomes the catalyst for you to take a new direction that you have always wanted, you must be sensitive to the fact that you may need to stay in your field in order to expedite finding something new. The fact is that the fastest route to your next job is probably by staying on the road you were already on. That is where your skill set is. That is where you generally bring the most value to your next employer.

The next thing to immediately think about is the low hanging fruit. In other words, is there another job you could quickly and easily transition into for the time being? I hate to sound cliché, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If you are offered something or know of an immediately available opportunity, consider taking it for now. Many pharmacists will testify that they have found finding a new job, while you already have a job, to be somewhat easier that finding one while unemployed.

Next you should focus on your resume. I typically recommend a simple 2-page summary of your career and objectives. This shouldn’t take weeks. Read a few articles (I’ve written some!) on resumes and just crank it out. If you are comfortable using Word you can look at examples of resumes and create your own from a template. If you decide to use a resume service just be sure they can turn it around quickly. The resume should look sharp, be easy to read, lean toward bullets rather than long paragraphs, and be filled with words that describe the type of job you want to get.

Finally, create a networking and communication plan. Reach out to respected pharmacy staffing and career development resources like Pharmaceutical Strategies. Develop a list of search engines for pharmacy jobs and register for daily updates of new positions. Reach out to any and all of your past contacts in pharmacy and keep them updated on your job search and availability. Word of mouth will often be your best resource for information.

It is easy to say “don’t panic.” But even the bravest soul will find themselves, as Julius Caesar pointed out, disturbed by an unexpected situation. But disturbed doesn’t have to become discouraged. Develop a plan and stay focused, and you may find that a sudden job loss becomes the most important step in building a great career.  

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