Author: Claire Jarvis
Today we’re learning a bit more about Janel Fields and Alexis Palazzolo – two Senior Scientific Recruiting Associates at Sci.Bio. They handle a mixture of contingency and RPO recruitment projects.
Entering biotech recruitment
Although relatively new to Sci.Bio, Janel and Alexis both joined the company with useful industry experience. Alexis spent several years as a physician recruiter. “I liked talking the lingo and having relationships with people out there saving lives every day,” she explains. Reassessing her career priorities after the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexis moved into biotech recruiting.
Janel’s background is in biochemistry, and she worked in a variety of roles within the pharma industry for over a decade. She sought a role that was more flexible than a traditional corporate position. “I wanted to lean on my transferable and soft skills,” Janel says. “I liked connecting the dots for people – so I decided to try recruiting.”
Difference between biotech recruiting
Alexis finds biotech recruiting a positive, smooth experience. She recalls that in her previous physician recruitment role it was often hard to form connections with potential job candidates. “A lot of physicians are really busy,” she notes, and not actively searching for work. In contrast, most biotech recruitment is mostly conducted through LinkedIn, and candidates with profiles there are more willing to talk to recruiters.
In addition to the flexibility afforded by a recruiting career, Janel enjoys the frequent client interactions. “In my previous roles it was me, my Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and my work instructions.” She also appreciates that recruiting allows her to bring more of her personality into the job. “Sometimes conversations with candidates require me to be empathetic if they’ve been laid off due to COVID-19 or company restructuring. People want to know that you care.”
Contingency vs RPO recruiting
Both Alexis and Janel handle contingency and RPO recruitment projects, and see the two as having distinct advantages. “I like the hunt of contingency,” says Alexis. “It’s gratifying because you’re finding the candidate and taking them through the whole process.” On the other hand, Janel likes that in RPO projects she can focus on finding amazing talent if the client already has a list of candidates in mind.
Outside of work
In her home office, Janel has set up her iPad and Chromebook as second and third screens to help manage her work. “I’m a stationary fanatic,” she says. “I need good pens and good notebooks.” On Janel’s main sourcing days, she often spends the day co-working in local coffee shops with her tech friends.
Alexis’ office essential is her noise-canceling headphones. However, she’s found some background noises are helpful for building new connections: “I have a dog, so sometimes if candidates hear my dog on the call we get a stronger interaction going.”
In addition to recruiting, Janel operates as a private chef for clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She sees entrepreneurship and recruitment as two sides of the same coin. “Recruitment is still business: we have to make sure we’re helping people, that we do a good job and we’re closing deals.” Janel says. “And if you’re not promoting your product or service, nobody is going to know who you are.”
Author: Claire Jarvis
In this installment of our ongoing ‘meet the recruiters’ series, we meet someone new and bring back a familiar face.
Aly Budny is a Senior Marketing and Recruiting Associate. She oversees Sci.bio’s marketing efforts – which include the company’s website, social media, newsletters, webinars – and covers a broad range of contingency and RPO recruiting
Aly obtained a Cell and Molecular Biology degree from Northeastern University. Her interest in her current career stemmed from a marketing-focussed co-op she completed as an undergraduate. “Marketing was what I thought I wanted to do after graduating, but I also wanted to test the waters with something new.” Since she enjoyed another co-op at a biotech firm, Aly knew she wanted to stay in STEM, and so applied to her current role with Sci.bio.
Carla Yacoub was profiled last year shortly after she joined in February 2021. She’s currently a full cycle recruiter for contingency and RPO accounts. In addition to recruitment, Carla oversees Sci.bio’s new ‘Alternative Careers in STEM’ (ACIS) webinar program, and is involved with interviewing and training new hires. “It’s nice to show people who were in a similar space as me who don’t know what they want, but this could be a good fit for them,” Carla explains.
Both Aly and Carla completed a similar training process once they started at Sci.bio. New recruits shadow more senior recruiters, who talk them through their own workflow. Shadowing allows junior recruiters to find a style that works best for them. “Everybody’s process is different,” Carla explains. “New hires can take what is useful for them and turn it into their own unique process.” Carla enjoys building the confidence of new hires who aren’t sure if they can succeed at biotech recruiting, by showing them what’s possible.
Aly found the early exposure to different projects and types of recruitment helpful. “You can’t find a niche at the company until you’ve tried lots of things.”
The ACIS webinar program showcases different career pathways available in biotech companies, such as medical writing, accounting and bench positions. With her background in videography, Carla was especially keen to get involved with the webinar program, which asks “how can we target people with a STEM degree who know they don’t fit into a traditional STEM career path?”
Despite being in its early stages, responses to the webinar program so far have been positive. The webinar centers around a panel discussion where participants get their questions answered, and receive career advice tailored to them. To Aly the benefits of such a program are huge: “[STEM degree holders] can read a career advice column but it is generalist advice for everybody: these webinars are a little more personalized and can dive into tougher questions.”
Carla notes that it also gives attendees access to the Sci.bio network of contacts, enabling participants to build new connections in the biotech sector.
Organizing and balancing
When Aly started at Sci.bio her workload was split 50-50 between marketing and recruiting. However, after developing and refining the company’s new marketing process, she’s been able to focus more of her time on recruitment projects. Aly uses Google Calendar as her work planner, and sets their reminders and notifications to keep on track of her tasks. “Every single minute has a purpose,” she says.
Aly also uses Gmail labels to differentiate between clients and Sci.bio emails, and all emails are archived once they’re no longer relevant, so she can focus on the most important messages.
Carla’s philosophy for managing her time is to remember: “Recruiting requires managing many moving parts” and “even though there’s always more to be done, the quality of my work would suffer” if she tried to do everything.
She keeps on top of her workload by making a note of everything the second she receives it, so she won’t forget. She also encourages different groups to contact her through separate channels: Microsoft Teams is reserved for her RPO clients, and everyone at Sci.bio communicates with her via email. Carla finds these separated communication channels help her distinguish between tasks and their priority level.
Author: Claire Jarvis
We’re delighted to introduce Jessica Byrd and Carter Lewis, two senior recruiters at Sci.bio, as part of our ongoing Meet the Recruiters blog series. Both have been at the company just over a year: Jessica focuses on RPO in clinical operations and regulatory affairs; Carter focuses on RPO and contingency recruitment projects in the gene therapy space.
Jessica graduated with a BA and MA in Psychology in 2018. She worked in the field for a couple of years, before returning to school to obtain a Master’s degree in Human Resources. While studying, Jessica looked for opportunities to apply what she was learning in school. “I thought Sci.bio would be a good place to get my toes wet in the HR world,” she explains.
Carter graduated with a BS in Biotechnology. Aware that he didn’t want a career at the bench, Carter joined Sci.bio after graduating: “I was really interested in the biotechnology world. But I realized I didn’t want to be running assays for my career.” He thought a recruiting career would be a great way to remain involved in biotech.
Recruitment as a STEM Career
One of the things Carter enjoys most about working at Sci.bio is “getting to interact with really smart people every day who tell me how their technologies work, while I help them build their company.”
Jessica enjoys the supportive environment at Sci.Bio, where success is about “the quality of results, not number of hires.” Carter agrees: “the inclusive and welcoming culture at Sci.bio is what drew me in.”
Hybrid Work and Life
Both Carter and Jessica work in hybrid roles, commuting to the Sci.bio office in Braintree, MA once or twice a week. Both appreciate the flexibility of hybrid recruiting work. “You learn a lot in the office from hearing other calls and talking with fellow recruiters,” says Carter.
A typical day for Jessica begins with a few hours dedicated to sourcing, then phone screens and interviews scheduled together. After that she reserves time to collect notes, write summaries and talk with hiring managers.
Carter likes to block off several hours for grouped tasks such as sourcing or calls. He explains “it can take you a while to focus if you’re hopping between client calls, meetings, etc.” Carter uses a notebook to keep most of his scheduling information, since the act of physically writing down notes helps them stay in his mind.
Jessica uses the virtual notepad OneNote to keep all her information (such as salaries, phone screening information) centrally located and categorized by client. She also uses Google Keep to track how many hours I’m spending on each client. Jessica’s one office essential? “My Airpods – when you have back-to-back phone calls it’s nice to have your hands free…it made the biggest difference to my neck!”
Outside of work Jessica likes hiking on trails near where she lives. Carter also enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, running, and skiing in the winter.
Advice for Others
Carter’s advice for other STEM graduates is to “keep an open mind” about recruiting as a potential career. “Most recruitment is either done hybrid or remotely, it’s based on your schedule and what you want to do…if you like making connections and networking with people”
For Jessica, the key to success as a recruiter is persistence. “Not everyone will reply to your phone call or email – you can’t let that deter you.”
The Greater Boston Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
“Through compassion and action, together we can End Hunger Here.”
Recently some of the Sci.bio team visited The Greater Boston Food Bank to volunteer!
The team helped with organizing food donations and building out care packages. We are so proud to be involved with one of largest food banks in the nation and enjoyed the opportunity to give back to our community! The Sci.bio team values the opportunity to give back despite all of our busy schedules!
Interested in volunteering? Check out their website at www.gbfb.org/
Volunteers at The Greater Boston Food Bank play a critical role in helping to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts, and their role is even more critical now given the increased need for food as a result of the pandemic. GBFB is committed to keeping their network in operation and getting food to neighbors in need but they can’t do that without you. Through the compassion and commitment of supporters, staff, partners, and volunteers, The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) takes a bold, innovative and multi-pronged approach to achieve their mission.
The Goal: Three Meals a Day
The map below features GBFB’s town-by-town progress toward their goal of distributing enough food to provide three meals per day for each food-insecure individual in Eastern Massachusetts.
In the second of our Meet the Recruiter series of blog posts, we’d like to introduce Mike Cordaro and Sandra Tramontozzi, two seasoned Recruiting Partners who have played a large role in building out Sci.bio’s business development and contingency recruiting team.
Mike handles medical affairs recruiting and business development for Sci.bio. Sandra also works on the business development side, and specializes in filling HR and talent acquisition roles for biotech companies.
Journey to Sci.bio
Mike graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Biology, but, though he enjoyed science, he didn’t see himself working in a laboratory. After several years as a recruiter with other staffing agencies, he joined Sci.bio in 2019.
Sandra has been with Sci.bio since 2020, having spent many years in business sales and recruitment at other staffing firms. She has a M.S. in Administrative Studies from Boston College. After taking a career break to focus on her family, she decided to re-enter the workforce during the pandemic as the risk of an economic downturn loomed. Sandra knew Sci.bio founder Eric Celidonio from her previous role, and knew his company was entering the pandemic in a strong position.
Building meaningful and productive client relationships
Mike and Sandra both work in business development, reaching out to and building relationships with potential biotech clients. They stress establishing rapport with clients is vital to their business, even though it’s a process that takes time. Sci.bio has always focused on relationships first, knowing that clients become candidates and candidates become clients, so building connections with people is supported from the top down.
In Sandra’s experience, business relationships are difficult to build by email, so it’s important to get on the phone with clients. “In a pandemic world where we’re not meeting face to face, a Zoom meeting with clients is even more powerful, because they’re also getting a sense of your presence and professional demeanor.”
Mike and Sandra agree that for a client-recruiter relationship to be successful over the long term, there has to be a personal connection. “Not every conversation and not every single message has to be sales focused,” Mike explains. Sandra notes that not every client is comfortable sharing a lot of personal information, so the recruiter should avoid prying or oversharing themselves. However, she cautions, “if you’re strictly transactional with clients — even if you deliver great results — you’re not building a professional friendship with them, you’re just a vendor,” and the partnership is unlikely to last.
Advice from recruiters to their clients
On the other side of the equation, Sandra’s advice for clients looking to build productive relationships with a recruiting partner is to always give the recruiters feedback on the candidates presented, especially when they weren’t quite what the company was looking for. “Even though it must be very time consuming, just sending one line in an email that says, ‘hey, none of these candidates have XYZ,’” can help recruiters refocus their sourcing to better meet client’s needs.
The Sci.bio advantage
Having worked at Sci.bio for several years, Mike and Sandra know clients appreciate working with an agile, specialised biotech recruiting firm. “Sci.bio offers a lot of service at a small scale,” says Sandra. “We can really be a partner and a total staffing solution for our client. And we can scale with them as they grow, which is beautiful.” Many of Sci.bio’s clients are biotech companies in the preclinical or early clinical stage of development and only need a contract recruiter in the beginning. As the company expands, Sci.bio can help them scale their in-house team by sourcing senior and executive hires.
Mike sees Sci.bio’s roster of recruiters with science degrees as crucial to the firm’s success. “The biotech industry is very different from any other industries. Biotech roles require the cream of the crop.” However, many suitable job candidates lack detailed LinkedIn profiles — or aren’t on LinkedIn at all — so it’s harder for recruiters without science backgrounds to find them and identify key technical skills. Sourcing candidates to match the client’s needs requires a good grasp of scientific concepts, something Sci.bio is able to provide that larger, less specialized agencies struggle with. “Maybe I’m not producing 10 resumes 24 hours after receiving a requisition,” says Sandra, “but I’m producing three resumes that are very specifically tailored to the client’s needs. And that’s a better use of his time.”
COVID-19 and the changing biotech recruitment landscape
The pandemic has had an impact on recruitment and hiring patterns within the biotech sector. Some of those changes may shift as COVID-19 abates, others could last longer. For instance, Sandra has noticed candidates balancing family care and homeschooling with remote work are requesting part-time roles at the moment, leading to a lack of candidates for full-time roles.
Mike finds potential candidates becoming more risk-averse and less willing to consider moving out of their current jobs. “I’ve even spoken with a lot of candidates who — when I was in contact with them before — were open to a conversation about new opportunities. Now if they have job security, they’re not letting go of that.”
Although COVID-19 hasn’t stopped hiring in the biotech sector, uncertainties about clinical trial results and future revenue means biotech companies are hiring more contract than permanent staff right now, and leaving in-house HR and talent acquisition roles unfilled. Sandra predicts there will be an uptick in permanent HR and talent acquisition roles available next year when the pandemic recedes and a sense of stability returns. Mike notes that clients are much more open to offering remote positions, and are not just recruiting biotech candidates from within the Boston area.
Despite the changes COVID-19 has wrought on the biotech sector, both Mike and Sandra feel Sci.bio has adapted well to remote and flexible working, and that the future looks bright for biotech recruiters.
In the first of our Meet the Recruiters series of blog posts, we’d like to introduce Kay Chow, Madison Giunta, and Carla Yacoub. They are all recent science graduates who joined Sci.bio within the past year as Scientific Recruiting Associates.
Madison is a contingency recruiter and focuses on business development. Kay handles RPO roles and ad hoc recruiting projects. As the most recent addition, Carla is completing her training and jumping in on various sourcing and recruiting projects as she hones her skills.
The Pathway Into Recruitment
All three had a passion for science and valued their STEM education, but realized more traditional STEM career pathways — academia, research, working in a lab — weren’t for them.
Madison graduated in 2020 with a BS in Nutrition Science from Merrimack College. Although she was passionate about the subject, she didn’t want to stay in school to pursue professional qualification. As part of her job search, she shadowed at a recruitment agency and fell in love with the career.
Kay graduated in 2020 with a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University. She joined a research lab as an undergraduate, but realized “spending five plus years of my life on one thing was really not enticing to me.” However, she found she really enjoyed recruiting volunteers for her lab’s clinical studies, and decided to look for STEM recruiting jobs.
Carla graduated in 2019 with a BS in Environmental Biology from Smith College. She didn’t like academia and wasn’t interested in research careers, but knew she liked working with people and doing scientific outreach. “I really liked bringing new forms of education to communities that may not have been included in that previously,” she explains.
STEM recruitment wasn’t a career they’d considered before graduating, but after applying to Sci.bio and going through the interview process, they all saw how scientific recruitment would be a good fit for their personal strengths and career needs.
Working as a Recruiter at Sci.bio
Although recruiting scientific professionals is a non-traditional STEM career, Carla, Kay and Madison enjoy learning about new areas of research through conversations with clients. Madison finds her STEM background helps her quickly understand new concepts and terminology.
At Sci Bio the first few months as a recruiter are spent in training, before they transition to their own projects. Most of their time is spent sourcing candidates and building relationships with their clients. Carla, who joined Sci.bio the most recently, enjoys working among a group of people who share the same values as her.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the working patterns of many people, including Sci Bio recruiters, who currently spend most of their time working from home, and go into the office once or twice per week. Madison enjoys the flexibility of remote working and structuring her day how she chooses.
On the flip side, Carla, Kay, and Madison found it easier to get distracted when working from home, or end up spending too much time on work at the detriment to their personal life. Kay has a “commute” to help her focus: she takes time after waking up to make herself a mocha latte and go for a short walk before starting work. These are the details we like to share in Meet the Recruiters.
Combatting Stereotypes and Growing as a Biotech Recruiter
All three enjoy recruitment, but encountered pushback from acquaintances who held negative or uninformed stereotypes about recruiters and alternate STEM careers. Some of Kay’s friends and family wondered, “Why did you get a degree in neuroscience if you’re just going to be talking to people all day?” not appreciating that her degree informs a lot of what she does.
Since Carla’s mother worked as a life insurance recruiter, she thought she knew what recruiting agencies and recruiters did, but she realized many of those preconceptions didn’t apply to Sci.bio: “It’s not about meeting goals, or sending a certain number of emails each day — it’s more like match-making.”
All three look forward to developing as recruiters and finding their niches, becoming the ‘go to’ sourcing expert for their specialty. Madison intends “make my brand” as a recruiter. Kay hopes to gain insight into international recruitment.
Fun Facts: Hobbies Outside of Sci.bio
Madison was a competitive cheerleader in college, and recently resumed competitive cheerleading in the post-collegiate leagues. She also coaches her high school team. In her free time, Carla does environmental videography and candid photography. She also enjoys coding and video games. Kay likes taking dancing classes.