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Life-Science Multipotentialite

Have you ever experienced anxiety when a hiring manager asks you the classic question: what is your biggest strength? For some of us this answer might be fairly straightforward…and then there’s those of us who will just start rambling for half an hour. Why is it hard for some of us to give a clear answer?

You might discover that the real “problem” is that you are good at many different things. You don’t just have one main strength- you may have 5 unrelated talents! When you look back, you didn’t just excel in one type of career in the life-sciences industry – you were exceptional in a variety of roles. Maybe you’re a “multipotentialite”….

What is a “Multipotentialite”?

In her inspiring TED talk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling,” Emilie Wapnick explains that it’s okay to be what she calls a “multipotentialite.” You’ll find multipotentialites, otherwise known as a “Jack of all trades,” present in every organization and in fact, being a multipotentialite in the discovery-driven life-sciences industry is an advantage.

A multipotentialite is someone who has different interests and (here is the important distinction) creative pursuits in life. They thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. They bring disparate ideas together in creative ways.

Do you know someone with the uncanny ability to move between roles, for example, from being an R&D technician to a Clinical Research Associate to Business Developer to Outsourcing Specialist? They don’t just fit into one biosciences role, their multiple skills allow them to fit and excel into multiple roles.

“I’m a Multipotentialite!! Now What?” 

If this describes you, then you can rest assured that having a tough time pinpointing “your special talent” or your one strength – or even a singular career – is not a bad thing. Being a multipotentialite allows you to excel quickly as you learn from various parts of the organization, and you are naturally curious, constantly seeking out new knowledge. Your curiosity takes them to try new roles and novel projects. Your exploration leads to expanding their current careers and bring together different elements. Nothing goes to waste! You don’t have a single calling- you have many!

The life-sciences industry is always changing and many jobs have many different interesting facets as part of the requirements. As career matchmakers in the life-sciences industry, we see that many of our positions often call for divergent talents and skills. Most importantly, the pharma, biotech and CRO world is constantly innovating and multipotentialites are the harbingers of innovation, because having disparate passions and creativity allows for the fusion of different concepts and creation of new ideas.

Multipotentialites perform best with jobs and companies that really encourage open exploration and value the ability to quickly acquire diverse skills. If you’re a hiring manager, in the pharma-recruitment industry or any other, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone fits in a nice little box. Often when you find someone who can’t seem to color within their job role’s lines, you are actually packed with potential. We need to look at the whole package and look deeper into so-called “job-hoppers” and those who have explored multiple careers and interests.

So if you are a multipotentialite, what does this mean for you? Embrace the fact that you have multiple interests that don’t seem to quite “fit”. You are not a specialist in just one area and that’s okay. Potentiate your many strengths. Explore the ever-evolving and expanding life-sciences industry. Discover different careers and/or careers with many different components contained within it. Your career path will not be linear, but that’s what will make it interesting, unique, valuable and transformative.  And when someone asks you the question: what are your strengths, you can proudly name them all and in addition you can proudly say that you are a multipotentialite.

Written by Pauline Thijssen, a multitalented multipotentialite pharma and biotech recruiter at Seuss Recruitment.