Boston Biotech: It Keeps Getting Better

Boston Biotech: It Keeps Getting Better

If you’re in the biotech industry in Boston, you couldn’t be in a better place. Well, technically the whole state of Massachusetts is the place to be, but we’re a little biased towards the capital. In fact, Massachusetts, and more specifically, the Boston metropolitan area, has surpassed California and is now the top biotech hub in the world by the metric of a total number of people employed in the industry.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation’s (MassBioEd) most recent job trends forecast reported some encouraging statistics for those currently in or thinking of joining the industry.

Explosive Growth Predicted to Continue

According to MassBioEd’s summary, the industry exceeded 70,000 jobs for the first time and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

  • Since 2014, the Massachusetts life sciences industry has grown at approximately double the rate of both the state and U.S. economies.
  • The total amount of job listings exceeded 27,700 in 2017. Of those, over 16,000 were STEM/Technical positions.
  • The Massachusetts biotech sector will add almost 12,000 new jobs by 2023.
  • Eighty-three percent of life sciences companies reported plans to expand their headcount in the next 12 months.

Growing Pains are Unavoidable?

Rapid growth will inevitably pose several challenges to the industry, including:

  • Longer recruitment cycles: 65 percent of organizations surveyed reported that the average time it took to fill an opening was over 10 weeks; compared to the national average, which is only about 30 days.
  • Clinical research was named by 31 percent of companies surveyed as the hardest area to find qualified candidates in, followed by openings in Regulatory Affairs, Quality, and Research & Development roles—which also happen to be the top four areas that life sciences organizations plan to expand. This means that recruiting candidates to fill these roles is going to quickly become even more challenging.
  • Job openings requiring an Associate’s Degree and Ph.D. saw much higher levels of growth in demand compared to supply.
  • Colleges and universities have improved somewhat, but are still struggling to produce a sufficient number of graduates to fill entry-level positions for certain types of roles.
  • Specialization in these positions means that new workers cannot simply be poached from another industry or sector.
  • Twenty-nine percent of companies said that they had formal diversity initiatives—for either gender or race/ethnicity—at the contributor level, 28 percent at the management level and 17 percent at the board level.
  • Sixty percent of companies reported that they had no formal diversity initiatives.

Largest Life Science Companies in Massachusetts

The Boston area is home to almost 1,000 biotech companies, including both pharma giants and small startups. According to the Boston Business Journal, these are the top five largest life science companies in the state of Massachusetts as of August 2018:

Firm Mass. Employees Total Employees Total 2017 Revenue Company’s Main Product/Service Focus
50 Binney St.
Cambridge, MA
4,800 100,000 $41,088,250,000 Specialty care, primary care, vaccines and consumer health care
Shire PLC
300 Shire Way
Lexington, MA
3,059 23,000 15,200,000,000 Therapeutic areas including immunology, hematology, neuroscience, genetic diseases, internal medicine, ophthalmics and oncology
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
40 Landsdowne St.
Cambridge, MA
2,700 30,000 NA Oncology, gastroenterology, CNS and vaccines
225 Binney St.
Cambridge, MA
2,400 7,200 $12,300,000,000 Therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases
181 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
2,337 129,222 $49,100,000,000 Broad range of medicines for a variety of diseases/conditions

The bottom line? Biotech is booming in Boston.

And if you’re a biotech recruiter, don’t be surprised if it takes a little longer to fill all of your vacant positions. is here to help make that process smoother when you decide to outsource your recruiting efforts.

Beware of Counteroffers

Beware of Counteroffers

You aced the interview and landed the job of your dreams! Now comes the part you’ve been dreading: resigning from your current company. You imagined the conversation with your boss a million times and feel confident as you walk into his office.

As you expected, your boss is upset. But then he catches you off guard by presenting a counteroffer: an attempt by your current employer to encourage you to stay.

Career changes are often scary and leave you wrought with anxiety about leaving the familiar comfort of your current position. You may also be nervous about starting over and proving yourself in your new position.

Don’t let familiarity cloud your judgment.

Just because the move is scary, doesn’t mean you should accept that counteroffer, which could leave you confused and create buyer’s remorse down the road.

Counteroffers when job huntingIs the new position a positive step toward advancing your career?

Will it be better for you than your current position?

If you answered yes, then pursue the new position.

Why Companies Make Counteroffers

Some companies never make counteroffers, while others do it often. Consider what happens when an employee resigns:

1. Morale will most likely to suffer. Your resignation will probably be viewed as an unfavorable reflection on the company and/or your supervisor and could stall progress on a project, increasing the workloads for your colleagues.

2. It costs the company money. It’s expensive, in terms of time, energy, and money, to replace an employee. Therefore, it may be a cheaper solution to entice you to stay. The counteroffer may include a raise, promotion, change in job title or description, and future promises.

Beware: This “solution” may be a stalling technique that could hurt you in the long run. By convincing you to stay, the company buys itself time to finish a big project, restructure employees or find your replacement.

Companies who have it in their policy to make counteroffers may not be the type you want to work for anyway. They usually have high employee turnover costs and morale problems, so they make counteroffers because they weren’t taking care of their employees like they should have in the first place. Counteroffers cost companies a whole lot less than offering a higher salary, better benefits or more incentives from the beginning.

What Does a Counteroffer Sound Like?

The goal of a counteroffer is to get you to stay, so they are usually filled with praise and adulation, and may sound something like this:

“But you’re in the middle of a big project! You’re much too valuable to the team to desert us now! We were going to wait until next month, but we were just about to give you a raise/promotion to show you how much we appreciate your work. Why don’t we make it effective immediately instead?”


“That’s so surprising! We had no idea you were unhappy here. Let’s discuss this further before you make a final decision. We’ll make it worth your while to stay.”


“We have great plans for you here! Why would you want to throw away all that you’ve accomplished here just to start over at the other company?”

Why Counteroffers Don’t Work

Counteroffers are often very tempting and flattering. Sometimes, you may even detect a threatening undertone—implying that if you turn down the counteroffer, you’re ruining your entire career.

Here are a couple reasons why counteroffers very rarely work:

1. No matter what anyone says, you will always be the person who tried to quit. Trust and acceptance between you and your boss, and among your immediate colleagues will most likely be lost.

2. The reasons you thought about leaving in the first place will still be there. The counteroffer is a band aid that may temporarily cover up the problems that led you to seek out a new job, but those problems will resurface.

Research shows that 80 percent of employees who accept a counteroffer end up leaving within six months and 90 percent leave within 12 months.

Consider the flattery that makes up a counteroffer: is it really about you?

Remember that every company has a budget. If your counteroffer involves an increase in salary, is it just the raise you would’ve received in a couple months?

Job Counteroffers - what do you need to know?Something to Consider When Presented with a Counteroffer

Before you make a decision, consider your current position and the new position as if you were unemployed. Which position holds the most real potential? The answer is most likely the new one, or you probably wouldn’t have accepted it to begin with.

What should you do with a Counter Offer?

Every recruiter out there has dozens of sob stories involving counteroffers. If you’re ready to leave a job, leave. The attractiveness of the counteroffer will not change your feelings about your current position in the long run.

When You Resign

Avoid any misunderstanding by submitting your resignation in writing. Email is usually the preferred method because it serves as a record of what was said.

In your letter of resignation, focus on the positive opportunity you’ve been offered with your new company and do not feel pressured to explain your reasons for resigning if you do not want to discuss them.

Handling your resignation right the first time is imperative for a clean and positive exit. Strive to be professional and courteous at all times during the process and offer to help during the transition time.



In the Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, it takes more than a big salary to attract, and keep, better candidates.

Finding candidates

A successful pharmaceuticals recruiting strategy is essential when it comes to finding more, and better, candidates. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But finding a candidate with the skills that fit current vacancies and who also aligns with corporate culture can be a challenge. Nothing feels better than getting it right. And nothing seems more frustrating when it doesn’t. Unsuccessful placements impact morale and are costly to the company.

And while there isn’t a secret formula that can guarantee every placement will be a success, you can stack the odds in your favor. Enjoy successful placements with these tips for finding more, and better, candidates.

A Better Job Description for A Better Candidate

When you need to find better candidates, you need to start with the job description; it’s critical to your success. By taking the time to craft a detailed, attention-grabbing job description you’ll see more, and better, candidates send in their applications come across your desk. And a job description that contains relevant job-specific terminology and speaks the language of biotech and pharmaceutical job seekers will help attract top professionals.

Painless Application Process

One-touch applications, from a mobile device, is one convenience that you can’t afford to overlook. Want top technical talent? Then you’ll need to advertise you’re relevant and up-to-date with technology as well, and nothing says that better – or easier – than a mobile application process. When the biopharma recruiting process is mobile-friendly, you’ll not only let job seekers know you’re on trend, but you’ll attract more and better millennial candidates.

Good on The Job? Or Just Good During the Interview?

There’s a big difference between acing the interview and excelling on the job. Did a candidate sail through the initial screening with ease and get top marks in the interview? That’s great, but it doesn’t always mean that will translate into job success. Taking a little extra effort to evaluate technical skills and abilities will help you differentiate between candidates who not only stood out during the interview process but who will also be top performers in the role.

Social Media

If you’re not using social media as a regular part of your pharmaceutical recruiting process, you’re missing out on talent. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all outstanding resources when it comes to finding better candidates. With social media, you can

  • promote current and upcoming vacancies,
  • reach passive candidates who might not be actively searching for new jobs,
  • reach a wider audience than just posting on your company’s job board,
  • gain insight into whether a candidate will align with a company’s corporate culture.

And best of all, social media is free for both recruiters and job seekers to use.

With a little attention to these tips, you’ll be attracting more, and better, pharmaceuticals and biotech candidates than you ever expected.

15 Reasons Why You Aced Your Interview But  Didn’t Get The Job

15 Reasons Why You Aced Your Interview But Didn’t Get The Job

High Impact Recruiting for Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Companies

Have you ever left an interview for a pharmaceuticals or biotech job position feeling that things went fantastic only to be later informed that you “aren’t a fit.”  Worse yet, maybe you were never informed or you heard through the grapevine that a lesser qualified candidate got the position.

qualified candidate

…but everything went great!?

Everything seemed to go well.  You “connected” with the interviewers, you knew you were well qualified, you followed up with personalized thank you emails.

What happened? What went wrong?

For starters, let’s start by facing the simple fact that life isn’t fair. Nowhere is this more true than in employment and hiring.

The truth is that, the best people don’t always get the job and in general, job interviews are a flawed process of assessing and projecting talent. Most pharmaceutical and biotech interviewers aren’t trained on how to gauge talent. Even if they are, most will spend less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume before interviewing the candidate. This pittance of time is often followed by an emotional rather than logical assessment of a candidate.

qualified candidate

get used to it

If it were solely about qualifications and competency, most companies would have workforces that look markedly different. Bestselling author and popular speaker Scott Berkun indicates that most interviewers make instinctive judgments based on biases they’re not aware of. They use back-filling, logic to support an intuitive response they’re in denial about. This lack of self-awareness is not universal but it is pervasive. He feels most job interviews are deeply flawed and unfair experiences.

It isn’t JUST about the interview and just as importantly, not all jobs are created equal. There are behind-the-scene dynamics that determine who will fill the position.

These unadvertised aspects can ultimately determine your odds of success in landing the position.

Below is some of the inside information you probably weren’t privy to:

  1. The biopharma job was meant for a company insider or a referral but was advertised for good show- you never really had a shot from the beginning. Don’t feel bad, according to interview strategist Lou Adler, 85% of All Jobs are Filled Via Networking confirming that the ol’ boy network is alive and well.
  2. The biopharma hiring manager wanted a woman or a man and you are of opposite gender.
  3. The pharmaceutical hiring manager felt threatened by your capability and felt you may outdo him or her. Hiring manager insecurity is an unfortunate yet  common problem
  4. You weren’t subservient enough  The hiring manager wants a “yes” man or woman, not an objective thinker.
  5. Your race your gender your religion your  politics your hobbies. If you happen to wear these things on your sleeve you run the risk of not being selected by an individual who may be opposed or prejudiced.
  6. You were too salesy or self promotional and you may not even realize it. No one likes a blowhard even if they are good at their job.
  7. superficial reasons: you were late your suit was not up-to-par, your body spray was too strong your hairstyle, your laugh. Some managers can’t get past the little things. These shortsighted people often make poor decisions so no loss here.
  8. Your social media profiles revealed another side of you that maybe is less palatable in a corporate setting. A deep search can often yield a different you. Make sure you know what is out there.
  9. There was a budget cut and this position was eliminated. But no one bothered to tell you. Thus it went unfilled.
  10. Your Salary was too high. If confronted with the salary question, try not to answer . In some states, salary inquiries can’t be asked legally. If you are confronted, it is best to try not to answer directly, perhaps give a  range.
  11. The hiring manager was demoted or there was a re-org and  the position went away and no one told you.. Companies and people within them get moved around a lot.
  12. The position was never real to begin with it is intended for another individual who is in a Green Card Application process ..
  13. Talent Pipelining. Sometimes jobs are advertised for the sole purpose of attracting future talent and the job is not ready to be filled. In this case you were simply a practice interview.
  14. Informational purposes. Want to learn how to do something? Watch a Youtube video or better yet invite that person in for an interview and milk him or her for information. This happens more often than most are aware. Some hiring managers will use this disingenuous trick to learn a new skill set or gain additional insights.
  15. Someone else (perhaps better qualified) demonstrated the requisite passion, and competency with the right blend of ‘Sell’ and humility and you were beat you out.

These are just some of the reasons you didn’t get the job despite a good performance.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an odds of success indicator BEFORE you went in for an interview? I mean if you knew your odds of success were 1 in 100 you might want to save your time. In a few of these instances your odds could very well be close to zero and the job simply isn’t real.

Alas, there are some things you can do to improve your odds:

Sometimes the job is a mirage

  1. Do your homework upfront with your phone screen

In many instances you can get a sense of how “real” a job is by asking pointed questions  before you head into the interview..

How long has the position been open?

If it’s been open a long time, more than a few months, then there is likely some kind of issue and you should be a bit suspicious.

How many candidates have interviewed so far for the biopharma position?

If you are the first interview, expect that there will be a wait involved as seldom is a hire made after only one interview. If there have been numerous interviews find out what the candidates have been lacking. Do you have the special sauce that they don’t?

Have any candidates turned the position down?

If yes, Find out why. Although it is unlikely that you will get a genuine answer, sometimes a hint may emerge. Perhaps they aren’t paying market rate or they have unusually high expectations.

Keep in mind that  company may have a history of advertising and not filling positions. If you can  try to connect with the hiring manager or an individual from the hiring team before the interview to create some rapport and to get additional info you won’t get from HR.  Do as much internet sleuthing about the company as you can but keep in mind that  nothing beats first hand information from someone who works there.

2) Don’t be too smart or confident for your own good

In some cases your interview failure can be solely attributed to your style and you may not even be aware of it.. You may have an inflated view of self or you come across as arrogant or boastful.  

You may also be sending the wrong signals during your interview. In: his piece, Why Smart People Don’t Get Hired , Maurice Ewing comments on smart people being  subject to (cognitive) “bias blindspots”. In other words, they don’t see their mental hangups and, in many instances, are even more subject to bad judgment than others that aren’t nearly as smart or qualified. This could explain why intelligent  job seekers may not be making allowance for the cognitive biases that turn employers off and reduce their chances for landing suitable roles.

Try to gain some self-awareness by practicing with friends or family. Make adjustments through this practice and try to imbue the general qualities of employer attraction into your interview.

perceptions can be different from reality

3) Tilt the odds in your favor

Now that you learned whether the job is “real” or not and you know your bias blind spots it’s time to learn how to subtly sell yourself. In her succinct piece How to Convince an Employer to Take a Chance on You, Katie Douthwaite Wolf explains that you need to showcase what sets you apart and to refrain from drawing attention to your lack of skill or experience. While this may seem obvious this needs to be done in the cross section of humility and confidence. Another nuance: You often interview best when you have nothing to lose as in you are comfortable in your current role and aren’t actively considering a change. People want what they can’t have so for this reason alone you will be more attractive as a candidate.


Luck will alway play into the equation but you can make your own luck by being a discerning and self-improving  interviewer. When faced with rejection, don’t let negativity take over. and don’t give up. Move forward and look up, and consider that some jobs were never meant to be!


Is Outsourcing Talent Acquisition Right for your Company?

Is Outsourcing Talent Acquisition Right for your Company?

Eric Celidonio, Founder, Recruiting

Talent Acquisition has evolved over the years in a rather dramatic fashion. What used to be merely recruiting or staffing is now often called talent acquisition which consists  a suite of services and processes intended to attract, source and hire new talent into an organization. These processes vary from organization to organization but here is a general example of a typical small to mid sized company scope of services:

The outsourcing of Human Resources. has accelerated in recent years and will continue to increase because it makes good  sense from cost and efficiency standpoint. While some companies wholly outsource to a single outside firm, It’s a more common practice to divvy up functions to a range of outside providers.

Talent Acquisition is a core HR function and often has a deep reliance on third-party vendor partnership. Recruitment firms and staffing agencies usually make up the bulk of these vendors and having multiple vendors can negate any volume discounting for work performed and thus there is a propensity to overpay because of the lack of volume discounting and team synergy among other things. This “catch-as-catch-can approach is a common occurrence in fast paced industries like Biotech and High tech where it is just too difficult to keep up..

Utilizing a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)Model is an ideal way of consolidating vendors for cost reduction, however, for many hiring managers and staffers, the thought of outsourcing their recruiting function can be feel intimidating. This is understandable as while there are many benefits, there are also some risks both financially and legally. Yet the real risk for HR teams is not mobilizing quick enough and with the requisite support to provide their business with the talent they require. Implementation can be wide in scope covering all aspects of TA or narrower such as taking on a group of hires or expanding a part of the business. There can be segments that can be taken ala carte such as ATS or Background checking and all of these things can affect pricing.the major categories are

  1. Enterprise RPO- a company-wide outsourcing of most or all of the sourcing and recruiting processes to an RPO provide
  2. Project Based RPO- relegated to a smaller, contained effort, generally a specific scope of time and/or number of positions.
  3. Specific Service RPO-outsourcing of specific parts of the recruiting process to increase for example, the quality of candidates, the efficiency of the process and/or other parts of the process.

It’s important for organizations to build a strong high functioning core in talent acquisition but maintaining and supporting a large team that is not part of central business focus is expensive and inefficient. Talent acquisition as a function should by design be flexible and modular and hiring contractors to fill gaps has variable quality and often high cost. A good RPO partner at a minimum can leverage focus and economy of scale in its operation. A great RPO partner can leverage expertise in search selection, technology and process efficiencies to truly elevate hiring operations and overall success.

When IS the right time for your organization to consider partnering with an RPO Firm?

Consider these items before deciding:

  • Cost: Cost per Hire ($) = [Total External Costs] + [Total Internal Costs] / Total Number of Hires.  Bersin by Deloitte estimates the national average cost per hire, regardless of talent acquisition maturity, is around $4,000 When you factor in all the costs,such as advertising job postings, conducting background screenings, and investing in recruiting and applicant tracking software. In partnering with an RPO vendor, all these expenses are rolled into one cost that’s often lower than what you pay if you paid for these service individually.
  • Time: Is your team is working well beyond a 40 hour work week and yet, just never seems to have enough time to get everything done. Before choosing a contractor to fill the gab. Consider an RPO approach. It can be far less expensive and can offer similar flexibility.
  • Process Quality: Are you cutting corners in your hiring process? This can be due to limitations in time and resources but it can also be due to an approach that lacks consistency, focus and follow through. Work with an RPO partner that understands your industry, has a proven track record and can augment or improve your current the process. This will further  allow your internal TA team to focus on bigger, more central priorities
  • Candidate Quality: Are you organically attracting the best talent for your organization? Are you using a full array of tools and measures to source, attract and vet manage candidate flow and advance your employer brand? Let your internal TA team do the strategic and consider an RPO partner for the tactical elements.
  • Vertical Expertise: Although many RPO partners are industry agnostic, there is a growing array of RPO firms that that are industry specific. This can offer major advantages over general vendors in the space. Knowing the competitive landscape,  job types, compensation ranges will among other things provide a better foundation for service and provide more sophistication that will be appreciate by hiring managers and candidates alike.


This is probably the most asked question and there are a few good pieces on the subject. This is a  major driver in the decision process and while cost, vis a vis a regular, full-time scenario is almost always less, it is important to ask what the long term benefits are versus just investing further in an internal team. Demand transparency, it is vital to get a clear outline of what is covered in the partnership and what items the RPO partner/sponsor company is responsible for.

Before entering into a partnership ask the following key questions:

-What differentiates your firm from others?

-What is  the scope of your services? What resources do you offer?

-Can you provide specific cost itemization so we can compare your approach versus others?

-What measures will you take to ensure that we meet our goals and timelines in hiring? Ask for noncompete or nonsolicitation specifics, and whether they are working with direct competitors or companies that pose conflict(IE strategic partners and embargoed companies)

-How scalable is your service if we need to ramp up? conversely, What level of flexibility do you offer(contractually)? What  if things don’t work out or If business conditions change, etc.

-Can you provide client references and insight on previous projects with other clients?

-How will partnering with your firm strengthen our talent brand in the long run?

With these questions answered, here are some specific pricing models, courtesy of Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association:(A great resource for additional information on the subject)

  • Management Fee Model (monthly, weekly or Hourly) – A fee is paid to the RPO provider for working on an agreed-upon number of positions. The fee may change depending on the agreement, or may have escalation factors if the number of hires increases over a period of time. The cost model is associated with enterprise RPO services and some emerging RPO services, such as white label RPO.
  • Cost Per Hire Model – A fee is paid for each candidate who is successfully brought through the program and hired (or other action such as offered a position) by the customer. The cost per hire model may be used for short-term project RPO, where the solution is based on accomplishing certain results or the solution is only needed for a few months. This model is also a good fit for point-of-service RPO, where a specific recruiting function (like filling the candidate pipeline) is outsourced to the provider.
  • Management Fee Plus Cost Per Hire – This is a combination of the above two. This combines the consistent recruiting effort under the management fee, with payments for the success (hires) of the program. This is another cost model that’s appropriate for enterprise RPO and point-of-service RPO.
  • Cost Per Slate – This is a sourcing model where the RPO provider charges a fee for a set number of sourced, screened and qualified candidates for each open position. From there, the candidates are provided to the internal recruiters for continuation of the recruiting and hiring processes. Cost per slate is another cost model that’s well-suited for short-term project RPO solutions and point-of-service RPO.
  • Cost Per Transaction – A fee is charged for a specific process to be completed by the RPO provider, such as initial screening or reference checks. Buyers opting for on-demand RPO services or even consulting RPO services may be charged per transaction, whether it’s an hourly rate or for each process or successful candidate.


An RPO partnership can be an effective means of improving the quality, speed and cost for hiring for many organizations but as with any strategic partnership, there needs to be specific goal outlines. The options aren’t binary and an existing TA team can pair nicely with an RPO partnership. As new RPO players emerge, pricing should decline and service options should increase. Technology has leveled the playing field so that smaller firms can offer and RPO partnership is a viable option to consider for large and small organizations alike.