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Meet Rachael Jalbuena, a US life sciences recruiter

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Rachael Jalbuena works for Orion Group in Chicago. She specialises in scientific positions for one of our global pharmaceutical clients and a variety of roles for a medical device manufacturer, both Fortune 500 companies.

Discover why recruitment has been the career move that stuck for Rachael - and why working with people at the forefront of medical research inspires her to go the extra mile.

Recruitment is often not a straight-line career

Like many people working in recruitment, Rachael’s path into the industry was unexpected. She studied hospitality at university before joining her family in the banking industry. It was an intense experience that led to burnout, and a decision to change career direction. Having grown up in the Philippines, Rachael was still working in her home country when she took an HR contract: a move that would prove to be pivotal. She’d found her vocation. After working for an Australian company for a corporate recruitment role, she met her husband. Together, they moved to the US in 2017.

Career-wise, Rachael explains that recruitment is the place for her, thanks to the impact that you can have and the relationships you build.

“You not only help one person, you also help their families and their spouses,” she says. “It’s very rewarding to help somebody with their career and make a difference for them.

“You get to speak with somebody on a very personal level. Conversations aren’t just transactional, as they were in banking, so you really get to know people. I'm lucky enough that some of my contractors have become really good friends.”

A day in the life of a life sciences recruiter

Rachael’s workdays are incredibly varied. A typical week features job intake calls with clients and the process of sourcing, screening and qualifying applicants. Then there’s advertising positions, editing resumes, submitting qualified candidates, setting up interviews with hiring managers, and – if it’s a very good day – conducting job offers and onboarding new hires. Some days Rachael will be in back-to-back calls, while her diary is meeting-free on others. As she works from home, she appreciates the flexibility of her job: in quieter moments, she can play with her two-year-old son or walk the family’s Goldendoodle.

The specifics of recruitment appeal to Rachael, too. “I like fixing up people's resumes. I really enjoy writing summaries and showing hiring managers why my candidate is a good fit. I like matchmaking!” she laughs.

Life sciences is the ideal sector for Rachael

Joining Orion and becoming a life sciences specialist has only added to the fulfilment Rachael experiences in her role. She finds it exciting to speak with specialists doing important work in the health arena – financial planners, manufacturing scientists, global product engineers, inventory specialists and many more – and says she feels her own knowledge expanding as a result.

It's so exciting to be speaking with all these brilliant minds, people who are at the forefront of life sciences. We have clients who are doing cancer research, and making instruments for testing for COVID. Another makes medical devices for molecular research. It's so interesting to learn from them,” she says.

One of Rachael’s biggest accomplishments since joining Orion has been growing a key client account from four US workers to fifteen. She’s grateful to Beatriz Olmedo and Victoria Armistead, two colleagues who helped her to get up to speed on the account during her initial weeks with the company.

“I think our track record has been built really well with the work that I've done, and the work that Beatriz and Victoria did as well,” Rachael explains. “We’ve become a respected supplier for this client, and they always speak highly of us at management level.”

A real team effort

The positive relationships that Rachael has with her clients and contractors continue throughout Orion. Despite being a remote-first team that gets together in person every couple of months, Rachael describes her and her Illinois colleagues as being “very well connected.” She credits the team dynamics to her manager, Steve Beechey, the group’s “heart and soul”, whose abundant positivity unites the team.

A big difference Rachael notes about working at Orion, compared to her experiences with other recruitment companies, is the absence of internal competition.

“If we encounter somebody who would be a good fit for somebody else's position, we share the candidate’s details with them. It’s still a win for the team.”


Tips for budding recruiters

Life sciences recruitment has given Rachael a career that works for her on several levels. She has found work/life balance - something that’s important to her given her young family, a job that allows her to build deep relationships and a sector that inspires her to go above and beyond. When asked what she would tell her younger self, she says:

“Don't be afraid to ask questions. Never assume anything, because that only gets you so far. And when things don’t work out, learn to let them go. The best we can do sometimes is to just present people with opportunities.” Something Rachael does brilliantly.

Are you looking for US life sciences support? We’d love to help. Get in touch with Rachael or find out more about our services.