In the ultra-competitive life sciences industry, there is a lot of pressure to avoid making a bad hire. A bad hire is a costly mistake that can slow down the research and damage the ever-important team dynamics. A bad hire also means a missed opportunity with the right candidate, who has likely gone on to another company by the time the bad apple is weeded out. And with the waning life sciences talent pool, companies can’t afford those missed opportunities.
So how do hiring managers, recruiters, and HR teams avoid a bad hire?
Research shows that a multi-pronged recruitment approach is the best way to avoid a bad hire. Instead of just relying on resumes and interviews alone, companies should include other components such as pre-employment testing. The general idea is that these tests can help employers predict how well a candidate will perform in a role and/or if the person is a good fit for the organization. There are quite a few types of pre-employment tests. The most common type is psychometric testing, which can provide information on behavioral traits and personality that are hard to capture from more conventional screening techniques. A skills test measures a candidate’s present level of job knowledge.
In the groundbreaking paper, “The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology,” Frank L. Schmidt and John E. Hunter analyzed decades worth of talent selection data and proved the validity of these tests. The paper was first released in 1998, then updated in 2016. Their research shows the best predictor of job performance is general mental ability, which is measured through testing. Other predictors include work sample tests, personality tests, and structured interviews. Combining several of these methods only increases predictability of job performance. On the other hand, the research shows that a resume is a very low predictor of job success.
According to Joanna Bondin, director of a market research firm in Malta, psychometric testing is “an affordable and effective way for companies to ensure maximum ROI.” Bondin says that studies have also shown that psychometric analysis can improve outcomes by up to 24%. No wonder more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies use some sort of pre-employment assessment. This trend has led to the rise of third-party talent acquisition technology providers, a market that’s estimated to reach $113.9 billion in 2021.
Yet, there is still some concern about using testing in the recruitment process.
In Emma Goldberg’s New York Times article “Personality Tests Are the Astrology of the Office,” Darshana Narayanan, a neuroscientist, explained her skepticism of psychometric testing. “My impression of these kinds of tests is that they don’t work,” Dr. Narayanan said. “Human behavior is multifaceted and complex and dependent on your environment and biological state, whether you’re depressive, manic, caffeinated. I’m skeptical of what you can learn from answering ten questions or observing someone’s behavior for just 30 minutes.” She says this after having worked for a company that designs psychometric tests for human resource purposes.
Goldberg points out that Dr. Narayanan is a scientist, therefore she is trained to draw conclusions only after ample testing has taken place. This is quite the opposite to psychometric testing, in which a onetime test dictates the results. A onetime test that is often not monitored, which leads to another commonly cited pitfall of testing. There’s no way to know if a candidate has cheated if the test is administered ahead of time. Other articles have questioned the fairness of these tests, and whether they favor certain ethnic groups. Not to mention, many of these tests have scaled at rapid pace, leaving little opportunity for reassessment.
This rapid scale has led to what Ithaka S+R researchers call a “wild west” scenario in pre-employment testing, where regulation is minimal and validity and legality are in question. Schmidt and Hunter’s research was grounded in decades of scientific data reported on psychometric testing, but that’s not the case with many of these newer assessment tools. In their paper “Mapping the Wild West of Pre-Hire Assessment: A Landscape View of the Uncharted Technology-Facilitated Ecosystem,” the Ithaka S+R team explains that these new tests “have not yet demonstrated the validity of traditional assessment methods, and, even more problematically, they seem to eschew the grounded theory backing analog tests.” The team goes on to explain that “there is little to no peer-reviewed evidence for the predictive powers of many of these new tools.”
Despite the skeptics and the concerns, the use of pre-employment testing is not going anywhere. As the trend continues, experts will focus on creating and improving guidelines. In the meantime, there’s a few things to remember about pre-employment tests:
1. Use the tests in combination with other evaluation tools. The biggest mistake companies make is using these tests in isolation. Testing alone cannot measure every relevant aspect of a candidate. Schmidt and Hunter’s research proved that the best predictor of employment is a multi-faceted approach, such as using both testing and interviewing. The most important takeaway is that testing should be just one tactic of a comprehensive hiring campaign. The most common use is automating the initial screening process to filter out unsuitable candidates.
2. Do your research. There are thousands of tests out there, so it’s important to do your research before implementing any pre-employment testing. Decide what you’re looking for and consider how a test might help you achieve your goals. And, make sure you understand what the results mean. Human resources professionals are not usually trained in statistics and data analytics, which poses a challenge for optimizing the use of predictive and psychometric methods. Before pulling the trigger it’s important to make sure you know why you’re using the tests and how the data will help your business.
3. Track your success and adjust accordingly. As you use these tests in your hiring process, you should also evaluate how well they are working. When you are assessing job performance, consider how well that performance matches your predictions. Use that information to determine the effectiveness of the testing and decide what improvements could be made.
4. Leverage the data. Psychometric tests are commonly used for employee training and development purposes, yet there is much debate around this application of the test. Experts question if some of these loosely scientific tests should really be used to understand individuals. They also raise concerns about unintended consequences such as alienating or typecasting employees. However, the data could be useful when used in conjunction with other training and development measures.
In the fast-paced, highly volatile life sciences industry, there’s no time for bad hires. Pre-employment, predictive, and psychometric testing can be an efficient and effective way to alleviate such concerns. However, it’s important to remember that they do raise a host of their own concerns. So, know the limitations of these tools, but don’t let those scare you from implementation because pre-employment testing can be a worthwhile investment.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve been hired or done the hiring at some point over the last decade. So, you’ve probably noticed that the field of Human Resources is constantly changing and developing. For example, what was once simply staffing or recruiting is now called Talent Acquisition—a suite of services and processes intended to attract, source and hire new talent into an organization. There’s also been a major shift in employee benefits—ones that were nice to have are now expected. Factors that were once an afterthought—confidentiality agreements, diversity and inclusion programs, professional development—are now front and center of most HR teams. Because of all these changes, another shift has been the outsourcing of many HR functions that were once exclusively done in-house.
While some companies wholly outsource HR to a single outside firm, it’s a more common practice to divvy up functions to a range of outside providers. This approach is a common occurrence in fast-paced industries like biotech and high-tech, but the trouble is using multiple vendors negates volume discounting and leads to a lack of synergy.
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 the recruiting function can feel intimidating. This is understandable. There are many benefits, but there are also some risks both financially and legally.
However, the real risk is not mobilizing quick enough with the requisite support to bring in top talent.
RPO is often a better means for companies to effectively and quickly scale their recruiting needs based on demand and complexity. It allows companies to focus on their core business operations and provides service through a defined set of processes and activities as outlined by the client company.
RPO providers usually include back-end resources that regular full-time or contact recruiters can’t offer. In addition, RPO providers can more easily bolt-on services such as additional recruiting support, job marketing support, sourcing, scheduling, etc. An added benefit is that these services are oft included at a nominal price or as part of their service provision, resulting in a lower cost-per-hire and the ability to scale quicker.
The types of RPO include:
- Enterprise RPO: a company-wide outsourcing of most or all of the sourcing and recruiting processes to an RPO provide
- Project Based RPO: relegated to a smaller, contained effort, generally a specific scope of time and/or number of positions.
- 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.
Advantages of RPO:
- Strategic Approach: RPOs utilize a team-based approach and an economy of scale to offer process improvements and better execute specialized tasks such as sourcing and on-boarding.
- Industry Expertise: Knowing where talent is found, how it is evolving, and common industry challenges is critical to the success of recruiting efforts. RPO providers have the experience, bandwidth, and resources to provide and utilize industry insight to build effective recruiting strategies.
- Attract More Talent: RPOs recognize that attracting great candidates is about effectively communicating an organizations goals, mission, values and the positive things that make it a great place to work.
- Multiple Applicant Channels: A Contract Recruiter is only one channel – themselves, whereas an RPO can manage and measure different channels, such as job boards, job events, referral, or the corporate website.
- Loyalty: An RPO provider is loyal to its client and is positioned to aid the success of the entire recruiting strategy. The contacts made during the recruitment process are assets of the company, not the recruiter, like with a contractor. They genuinely want to make sure a potential employee has the best hiring and onboarding experience.
- Scalable: RPOs can scale to increased demands for talent, and they can do it quickly. Most RPO providers offer tiered services with a ‘pay for what you need’ model as well as the flexibility for onsite, remote, or blended approach.
With the benefits and flexibility provided by RPO, it’s easy to see why the market is growing quickly. Market Watch predicts RPO growth of over 20% by 2022.
What to think about when considering an RPO:
- Cost: Cost per Hire ($) = [Total External Costs] + [Total Internal Costs] / Total Number of Hires. Costs of hiring factors in 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 services 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- Vertical Expertise: Does your recruiter really know the industry? RPOs that know the competitive landscape, job types, compensation ranges will provide a better foundation for service and provide more sophistication.
What to ask an RPO:
- 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?
- Do you have any noncompete or non-solicitation specifics?
- Are you working with direct competitors or companies that pose conflict, i.e. strategic partners and embargoed companies?
- How scalable is your service if we need to ramp up? What level of flexibility do you offer if things don’t work out or if business conditions change?
- 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?
RPO Pricing Models:
- Management fee (monthly, weekly or hourly): Fee for agreed-upon number of positions.
- Cost per hire: Fee charged per each hire.
- Management plus cost per hire: Combination of the above two.
- Cost per slate: Fee for a set number of sourced, screened and qualified candidates for each open position.
- Cost per transaction: A fee is charged for a specific process, such as initial screening or reference checks.
By partnering with the an RPO provider, organizations can offboard the entire application process from sourcing, brand promotion, the management of applicant channels, ancillary paperwork and pre-employment screening or simply one part of that process. The options aren’t binary, and an existing talent acquisition team can pair nicely with an RPO partnership. As with any strategic partnership, there needs to be specific goal outlined.
A good RPO partner 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.
Whenever you ask someone how to best present yourself in a job application or interview they will often respond with ideas such as “dress for the job you want” or “perfect your elevator speech.” While these are important aspects of the job hunt, there are additional parts of this process that you should be aware of. Based on personal experience and advice directly from hiring managers, here are a few points to keep in mind during your job search.
With the rise of social media, it is very easy to do a quick Google search to find out more about a candidate’s background — professional and personal. Make sure there is no inappropriate content associated with your profiles before inviting hiring teams to delve into your digital life. You need to establish and grow your personal brand as much as possible to accurately reflect who you are and why employers should be interested in you. Hiring managers do not want to see a candidate who frequently posts offensive or vulgar content. Always make sure to put your best foot forward — on and offline.
Remember to always be as polite as possible and practice the rules of good etiquette when you are at a potential employer’s office. This might sound like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by how many people show up for in-person interviews and act cocky and disrespectful. While it is crucial to have confidence in yourself and your work, an inflated ego is a major deterrent for many employers.
Anyone you talk to at the company is a potential reference for you — good or bad. If you come into the office and are rude to the front desk, they will pass that information along to the hiring team. Also, people underestimate the importance of your behavior towards recruiters; but it is a recruiter’s job to be well connected. If you leave a negative impression, you will not only lose their interest, but you are also effectively burning bridges to all the people in that recruiter’s network.
When you find a job that looks like a good fit, try and track down someone on LinkedIn who you know from that company or someone who might be able to introduce you to a current team member. In doing so, you have the potential to receive an internal referral for the position as well as establish a rapport with the team.
Reaching out to current employees shows initiative and that you are willing to go the extra mile to get the job. That being said, do not email every single person from the company and do not email them too frequently. You want to maintain a healthy balance of correspondence, meaning that if you talked with someone on a Monday afternoon, don’t call them back Tuesday morning to see if there are any updates. Additionally, you don’t want to turn into a ‘stalker’ candidate. If you call the front desk, the hiring manager, and the recruiters every day about the same position, they probably won’t want to work with you in the future.
Passion and attitude can really sell hiring managers on a candidate. It is very evident when someone is truly excited about a position or the research a company is doing. If an interviewee comes in with a lukewarm attitude, that will be reflected in how the hiring team sees your potential at the company. At the end of the day, anyone can accomplish a task, but it takes a passionate person to become an integral part of a company.
Looking for more tips to help you find the perfect job faster? Check out the Sci.bio blog now!
Researching salary trends can give you a better understanding of the right number to shoot for when you are accepting a new job, as well as what increases you might expect as you’re advancing in your career. There are a handful of websites that can help you do your homework on your respective field. Many of these are free for job-seekers, including Salary.com, PayScale, CareerOneStop, Indeed, and Glassdoor. PayScale is a great resource for compensation information based on career field, industry and geographic location. Both hiring managers and job seekers can use it to better align their offers and expectations with others in the industry. Today, I’ve decided to dive into the salary data for research scientists in biotechnology and explore what it reveals about the current state of employment in this field.
The data is based on a survey of 2,349 scientists working in the field. While that sample size is not huge, it is large enough to be significant and revealing.
The median salary of the respondents was $83,341, with the lowest reported salary coming in at $52,000 and the highest at $114,000. Many of these scientists also received some sort of bonus, profit sharing, or commission, however, these did not have a huge impact on total compensation.
PayScale estimates that Cambridge, MA and San Francisco, CA are the highest paying cities in the United States. They offer average salaries 18% (Cambridge) and 21% (SF) higher than the national average.
The Payscale data also revealed some interesting and unexpected insights about the career trajectory for research scientists in the biotech industry.
For instance, the average salary for entry-level professionals with less than five years of experience was $80,000 (just slightly less than the national median) but for late career professionals with 20+ years of experience it rose to only $94,000. The number of respondents from each of the two groups also reveals a significant disparity. The data would suggest that most of these professionals move into other positions with different titles, and that companies aren’t always willing to pay a premium salary in exchange for years of experience.
That seems to also be the case when we look at salary data for related professions. Research scientists from inside and outside of biotechnology, and in both entry-level and senior-level positions, all have a similar salary range. It’s only when these professionals make the leap to director that salaries really climb to the next level.
Following the most common career path is also revealing. We already pointed out that few professionals remain in this role for more than a decade. A significant majority move into some kind of project management position, essentially trading in research for leadership responsibilities.
Based on this data, it would appear that research scientists in the biotech industry face a similar dilemma as many scientists in the broader field of science: Turning the skills that brought you into the field into the skills that will earn you more money and responsibility as your career progresses.
To make that difficult evolution takes careful and proactive career planning. If you are looking for your first job, a new job, or a promotion, there are resources that can help you accomplish your goals faster. Contact our team at Sci.bio Recruiting and learn how to take control of your future.
Your LinkedIn profile is often the first thing recruiters will look at to learn more about you and your experience. So polishing up your profile can make all the difference when trying to establish lasting impressions.
Much like resume preparation, you want your profile to pop! Recruiters and hiring managers go through droves of applicants each day. You need to ensure you do not get passed over because of a sloppy LinkedIn profile.
Here are some key aspects for enhancing your LinkedIn profile:
1. Quality Headshots
Your profile picture should be indicative of how you present yourself in the workplace. This doesn’t mean you have to run out and get professional headshots taken. Instead, you want to make sure you are using a photo with a purposeful setting. Position yourself in such a way that you have complementary lighting as well as a simple backdrop. Try to avoid grainy group pictures that need to be awkwardly cropped to include only you.
“Statistics show that LinkedIn members with a photo receive far more engagement: 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests.” – LinkedIn.com
2. Brief yet Informative
Again, recruiters go through tons of profiles. Make sure to include key points at each position and leave it at that. You want to present the cliff notes of your background and not an autobiography. If your highlighted skills are of interest, they will reach out and ask for more in-depth information on your background.
3. Creative Summary
Your summary statement is at the very top of your profile and you can use this to quickly grab people’s attention. Do not only say things like “Research Scientist – Cell Biology.” This is uninformative, broad, and lacks personality. Viewers want to not only see your professional experience, but they are also looking to get to know you as a person.
“You get 2,000 characters total for your summary, but only the first three lines display by default. That means you either need to pack the most essential information in up front, or you need to create suspense This encourages profile viewers to click the Show more link… Customizing your headline also gets you to All-Star status (assuming you’ve completed all of the steps listed in the last section), which, according to LinkedIn, makes your profile 27 times more likely to appear in recruiter searches.” – Zapier.com
4. Banner Image
Most people do not change the banner portion of their profile. While the default LinkedIn banner image is appropriate, spicing it up is a great way to stand out from other profiles. You could include cover art from a paper you were on or your favorite fluorescent image of cells you work with. The key is to keep it professional.
5. Joining Societies and Groups
There are thousands of society and group pages on LinkedIn. Join pages that are applicable to your work, such as the American Chemical Society or local groups for networking. You’ll be surprised at how many connections you can make online through common groups.
“There are around 2 million groups on LinkedIn and nearly 90% of users are a member of at least one group. It’s like a field ready to harvest when you join groups where your perfect market is and with a small amount of engagement and adding value you can start generating clicks through to your profile. Don’t make groups all about you and what you’re currently doing but add value to its members and they will want to check you out!” – Linkedin.com
6. Link to Other Digital Work
You worked hard for your publications! They should be showcased. You can include publications and patents on your LinkedIn profile. You can also add in a link to your Google Scholar profile or e-portfolio. Make sure to cross-pollinate as much as possible so that it is very easy for viewers to find your publications.
7. Keep your Information Up to Date
This point cannot be stressed enough! If you have a new position, location, certification, etc., you need to update your profile with this information. Including all your updated information makes it much easier for recruiters to identify jobs that fit you best. It also makes it easy for them to contact you. Make sure things such as your email and phone number are updated so that you aren’t getting job listings sent to an email you never open anymore.
The Reward of Enhancing Your LinkedIn Profile:
Your online presence is a critical component to initial sourcing for positions. Setting up a professional LinkedIn profile with key information and easy-to-access links to your portfolio is imperative. Having a sloppy profile can give recruiters and employers the wrong first impression. Shoot for a blend of essential information and personality. This way viewers see you and your experience. Try and customize your profile as much as possible! Your goal is to entice viewers with your skills and expertise in such a way that you are memorable.
We’ve all heard variations of Thumper’s Rule, courtesy of Disney’s Bambi, from family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all.”
Meant to caution against unsolicited incivility, the ‘moral’ principle has been accepted as a societal norm for not just personal relationships but professional ones, as well. We’ve even given the act a catchy name: ghosting. Rather than being direct, one party opts to just not say anything at all via any form of communication to the other person.
The transition from ambiguity to radio silence is meant to serve as a formal rejection. Therefore, the burden of discontinuing the personal or professional relationship falls not on the person who is providing the rejection, but rather on the person receiving it.
Why We Ghost
In 2013, CareerBuilder released the results of a nationwide survey concluding that 75 percent of job applicants did not receive responses regarding their candidacies from employers. Ironically, Randstad US released a 2019 report stating that 66 percent of managers have had workers either accept an offer and fail to show up or disappear without notice before their start date. Simply put, ghosting occurs because someone in the process feels that the other party is not a good technical and/or culture fit.
If an employer wants you as their final candidate, you have a lot more leniency: you do not need to send a thank you note, follow up regularly, or worry about being lost in a pile of resumes. It does, however, serve well to ask the Human Resources or Hiring Manager for a timeline. If they tell you to hang tight and wait two weeks, set a reminder to follow-up in three weeks with a courteous email. Even though it may not be common, a poor application (including small typos on your resume), passive or overzealous behavior, disengagement with follow-ups, and red flag responses to interview questions can streamline you into the “ghosted” category.
That’s not to say that ghosting is predetermined by application weakness, though this is a strong contributor. Candidates and hiring managers alike can exacerbate relationships and situations, turning a potential ‘yes’ into a certain ‘no.’
Employers’ reasons for ghosting hover around the following fears: telling someone that they are underqualified, getting sued for providing honest feedback, or losing a possible back-up candidate while moving their top candidate through the hiring process. Sometimes, employers accidentally ghost when their hiring process is littered with process or information gaps (for example, when they do not have an organized applicant tracking system, ATS).
On the other hand, candidates ghost mainly due to a poor pre-onboarding process (no communication between date of hire and start date) or fear of missing out when more enticing opportunities arise. Candidates not only have the power to choose due to the record low unemployment rate, but they can also take advantage of their plentiful opportunities, given the job market’s crucial emphasis on previous relevant experience.
What We Can Do About It
With that being said, it seems inevitable that ghosting is the new norm. But just because applicants and employers both engage in this practice does not mean that it’s acceptable. Ghosting deteriorates reputations.
Candidates develop opinions on a company from the minute they view a job posting, and they can share those perspectives with other potential hires.
Employers hold a network of other managers who value their take on a potential hire – sometimes more so than what the interview process reveals about that person.
In an age where branding strongly impacts candidate flow, social media strength, candidate or company competitiveness, and perception of culture or personality, it is ever so more pertinent to not derail a well-built personal or corporate persona.
As Bambi’s Owl wisely pointed out, “It could happen to anybody. So you’d better be careful. It can happen to you.” Today’s applicant can be tomorrow’s manager and today’s manager may be tomorrow’s applicant. If you would rather hear direct, honest feedback – as most polls indicate people would, personally and professionally – then, also consider being that change you want to see. At the end of the day, ghosting may be the easiest choice, but it’s not the one we want for ourselves.