Moving on from your first real job

Career Manager By Kristin Showen, PharmD, MS

You are finally ready to start your first real pharmacist job! But, most likely, your first job isn’t the one you will be in for the rest of your career. Once you have worked a year or two, you may realize it’s time to move on. What’s the best way to do this? I have recently gone through this process, and outlined a few tips.

How to say good-bye
Deciding to leave a job isn’t an easy decision or something that happens overnight. It all depends on the reasons for leaving, your relationship with your supervisor, and your position.

Most likely, your new employer will want a reference from your current employer. The new employer typically won’t contact your current employer until they are ready to make, or have made, a job offer. So you want to continue working hard at your current job, and even after you’ve secured a new one.

If you work for a larger company or one that has multiple pharmacists in your same or similar role, a notice of 2 weeks is probably sufficient. Employers prefer a notice of 4 weeks, but that’s not always possible. It’s time-consuming to post a description of the open position and find qualified candidates, select which ones to interview, and decide when to make an offer. Except in saturated markets, employers would be hard pressed to complete this process in 2 weeks, leaving them without a pharmacist.

Make sure to negotiate the start date with the new employer. It is acceptable to let your new employer know that you would like to give your current employer longer notice, so that you can wrap up any lingering responsibilities. This signals to the new employer that you are dependable, and makes a good first impression. After all, you may give notice to your new employer someday.

It is always best to resign in person. Your supervisor may request a written notice as well, but it is still professional courtesy to have the conversation face to face. Company policy may require an exit interview with your supervisor or human resources, as well. If you are a contract employee, be sure you know the terms of your contract. This will dictate the length of notice required to terminate the contract. Additionally, be cognizant of non-compete clauses and other contractual provisions that could hinder your move to another company.

Talking points are a must for the “I’m moving on” conversation with your supervisor. Explain your reasons for leaving to your employer in a tactful, professional way. Most supervisors appreciate constructive feedback on how to improve and retain future pharmacists.

My experience
I learned 2 months in advance that my pharmacy would be closing. I had to make a decision whether to stay with the company and work at a different location, or search for a new position. If I stayed, I would no longer be in a formal leadership position. I contemplated my career goals, and I decided it was time to move on. I began my new job search, and I found a few positions that fit my goals. I applied to several positions and landed a couple interviews, one of which resulted in a great offer with a new company.

In my case, I was able to be open with my supervisor. I was comfortable in our working relationship, so I could tell him that I preferred to find a new job. I kept him informed as I interviewed with other companies. I notified him immediately once I accepted a position elsewhere—approximately 3 weeks before my pharmacy was scheduled to close. I continued to perform my responsibilities up to my last day with my former employer.

While change can be stressful and overwhelming, keep in mind the reason behind your job change. You must do what is best for you and your career goals.

Good luck in your new job search!