This one-stop overview covers the basics and connects you to the fine points of hiring in biotech
Talent. In biotech, it’s everything. From startups to powerhouses, biotech companies depend on talent to make their mark. Their fortunes rise and fall on the backs of the talent they attract and hire. There’s lot at stake in getting it right.
This broad-strokes overview will help you put the pieces together. It gathers all the key considerations in one place and provides links to deeper dives into specific topics. Approach it as you would a maze or a network of trails, exploring the paths that spark your interest. And any time you need further information or guidance, Sci.bio is here to help.
LAWS OF ATTRACTION
Attracting the right talent
Top-tier PhDs are unlikely to find you via scattershot job posts on LinkedIn. They’re being courted by recruiters. They know they have a lot to offer and expect their value to be recognized. The best and brightest also seek advancement pathways that go beyond cost-of-living increases or flex-time.
To recruit the right PhDs you need to play in their ballpark. A high-quality recruiter can help you differentiate your offering, match candidates with requirements, and develop personalized invitations that bring the best candidates to the interview room. Recruiters specializing in biotech also have the network to jumpstart the hiring process. With an ear to the ground at the right job fairs and networking events, they give you a direct pipeline to the talent that matches your needs.
Company culture & branding
A growing body of research suggests that a healthy company culture boosts profitability and return to shareholders. Not just that, but over 77% of job candidates consider company culture when applying for a position. Defined as the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees, Company culture encompasses such values as agility, diversity, and integrity. Here’s where it gets tricky: executives and employees may have very different perceptions of their workplace culture. A 2020 Accenture report notes that, while 68% of leaders believe they create empowering environments, only 36% of employers agree.
The question then becomes: how do you create a culture that attracts high quality? Part of the answer, as detailed in this company culture series, lies in the people you hire, especially the first 20 to 25 people in your organization. It also helps to put words to the culture you envision, much as you would write out a mission statement. No less importantly, you need to broadcast your company culture to the world. That’s where company branding comes in. Effective branding strategies include tweaking your careers page and profiling your culture on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile, among several others.
Compelling job descriptions
Start with the right lingo: to attract serious professionals, your job description should “speak biotech.” If the terms “CRO” or “post-market surveillance” trip up the person reading the description, she’s not the right candidate. The job description should also align with your organizational culture, giving top biotech candidates a sense of the workplace atmosphere and values. If you value straight talk, for example, use clear everyday language. Does attention to detail top your list? Make sure your grammar goes through a zero-tolerance sieve.
A good job description follows a logical sequence that includes transparent information about roles, responsibilities, and benefits. (Specifics are always your friend.) To generate interest among top-tier candidates, start with the job requirements unique to this group. You’ll find more details on crafting a clear, concise, and attention-getting job description in this piece on attracting biotech talent.
See our post Writing Job Descriptions to Attract Biotech Talent for a deeper dive.
No longer an optional or add-on strategy, social media lies at the heart of contemporary recruiting. Its numerous advantages include low cost (or no cost), ability to convey the face of your brand, and strong potential to attract a good cultural match.
Social media appeals to the fundamental human desire to see and be seen. If those glamour shots could talk, they would all say the same thing: “Look at me.” Just like individuals, businesses use social media to put their best foot forward. Don’t be afraid to show off your accomplishments and employees on social media (though there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it).12
Of course, you need to match the medium to the message. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube—each of these powerhouses has its own rules of engagement. From job search hashtags to visual success stories, platform-specific social media strategies can help you connect with the right people.
Don’t forget to post jobs on your own website, of course. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet, it’s time to change that. The millennials and gen-Z candidates in the talent pool expect nothing less.
The employee referral engine
Employee referrals yield wins on several fronts. The referring employee experiences the pride of growing the company and receives a commission. The employer saves time and money by engaging the existing workforce in the search. The new hire steps into an environment where he already feels connected, increasing the odds he’ll commit to the job and stick around. Better fit, improved engagement… the list goes on.
In terms of ROI, employee referrals top the list of recruitment strategies. They reduce the time to hire and the cost of hiring. All told, they generate more profit for their organizations than people hired through other strategies.15
Some employers create structured employee referral programs, while others prefer to keep things looser. An experienced biotech recruiter can help you set up a program that meets your needs and makes sense for your organization.
When to work with a recruiter
Why would you outsource talent acquisition search to a recruiter when you have an experienced HR department that can handle hiring directly? The short answer: Results. Experienced biotech recruiters know the industry inside out, have a deep talent pool to draw from, and know which hard and soft skills matter most for the positions you seek to fill. They know not just which candidates to approach, but how to approach them, as explained in this post on the recruiting experience. They can also act as advisors, updating you on industry standards for salaries and benefit packages so you don’t miss opportunities to attract the best people. Bottom line: a good recruiter costs money, but saves you more.
A word of caution: while sometimes confused with “recruiter,” the term “headhunter” means something different. A headhunter finds potential candidates for the position(s) that a company is looking to fill and pass the information to the company. That’s it. A recruiter doesn’t just “hunt heads” but gets involved in the hiring process itself, posting job openings and prescreening candidates. Needless to say, these extra services yield an especially high ROI if you plan to hire more than one employee.
The RPO model
What used to be called staffing or recruiting is now called talent acquisition. This shift makes sense when you consider the increasing complexity of specialized recruiting. Confidentiality agreements, diversity requirements, professional development… today’s biotech employers have to juggle all these factors when making a hire.
Faced with this complexity, some companies divvy up functions among several external providers, though this approach carries the risk of service overlap and cost creep. A Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) model—one of the options offered by Sci.bio—sidesteps these risks by consolidating services in a cost-effective package.16 For large or recurring recruitment needs, RPOs can even provide their own employees or HR-management services. Other advantages of the RPO model include multiple candidate channels and an overarching recruitment strategy to fill the Biotech talent void as discussed in our article.
Selecting your recruiter
The same qualities that distinguish top candidates set top recruiters apart – qualities like ability, persistence, and integrity. This means the search for a recruiter requires as much discernment as the biotech hiring process itself. Before anything else, evaluate a recruiter’s expertise in your niche. “Specializing in biotech” on a business card hardly guarantees a good match, so don’t hesitate to ask a recruiter about their recent placements and the depth of their talent pool.
High-quality recruiters use logical methods and can walk you through their processes, while also zeroing in on your individual needs and discarding strategies that don’t serve them. A series of targeted questions can help you select a recruiter who has the muscle to track down the best medical liaison in rare neurologic diseases—and can continue to deliver the goods as new vacancies open up in your organization.
Recruiting technology trends
Technology never sleeps. To attract bright lights in biotech, many of whom belong to the millennial or post-millennial generations, you need to enter the tech world they inhabit. Recent years have seen tablets and smartphones replace computers as the preferred mode of communication for this demographic, so “go mobile or go home.” Once you’ve filled your candidate pool, artificial intelligence (AI) software can help you zero in on suitable candidates more quickly and effectively. It does without saying that the best biotech recruiters don’t rely blindly on such technology. Intuition and experience will never become obsolete.
How to support your recruiters
In an ideal world, recruiters and hiring managers would work harmoniously toward the common goal of hiring the best person for the job. In practice, the relationship can easily get tense. For example, the hiring manager may feel dissatisfied about the shortlist of candidates, while the recruiter may chafe under what feels like unreasonable expectations. Or the two parties may hold different views on strategy.
Delineating roles and responsibilities at the outset can nip such problems in the bud. Establish metrics to gauge the recruiter’s progress and performance, such as the number of people interviewed and reasons for rejecting candidates. During the candidate search and selection process, a policy of regular and transparent communication between HR and the recruiter can help avoid misunderstandings and mutual resentment.
SCREENING AND INTERVIEWING
Using AI screening tools
Over the past decade, AI has come into its own in the talent acquisition field. Defined as the simulation of human intelligence by programmed machines, AI can process large volumes of data and turn it into actionable information. Within a biotech talent search, AI screening tools can help ensure diversity in the applicant pool, facilitate the assessment of applicants in remote locations, and gather meaningful applicant data. Used judiciously, these tools can save time and cut costs. Indeed, two-thirds of recruiters and hiring managers who responded to a 2018 LinkedIn survey reported that AI had saved them time.
On the flip side, AI tools can easily step into gimmicky territory, and critics have argued they can introduce an element of discrimination to the hiring process. Competent biotech recruiters avoid such traps and use AI to zero in on relevant aptitudes and cultural fit. And alarmists can relax: no matter how sophisticated AI becomes, it will never fully replace human perception.
Preparing for the interview
No less important for employers than for job seekers, interview preparation paves the way for a well-run interview that covers the important ground in the allotted time. Before meeting a candidate, take the time to read their resumé so you’ll know what questions to ask and avoid requesting information they’ve already provided. Jot down your interview questions in advance, focusing on open-ended questions that invite meaningful discussion and allow the candidate’s personality to come through. If several people will be interviewing a candidate, assign different roles or angles (e.g. background, presentation skills, problem-solving skills) to each interviewer to avoid duplication of effort.
The interview also offers employers a chance to broadcast their culture without saying a word about it. A caveat: be sure to walk the talk. If you have described your company culture as relaxed, but the interviewers all show up in starched shirts with cufflinks, discerning candidates will perceive the mismatch.
Avoiding common interview mistakes
When evaluating candidates, interviewers often run through a laundry list of job skills, such as writing or public speaking, but this approach could backfire if you look for skills the candidate won’t actually need on the job as we discuss in our article, YOU’RE (PROBABLY) DOING IT ALL WRONG: Identifying and avoiding hiring mistakes in the life sciences. An insistence on career ambition could lead you to bypass the brilliant microbiologist who wants nothing more than to mess around in the lab. The idea is to match the applicant’s skill set to the job requirements, rather than a prefab asset list. The same caveat applies to relying on first impressions, which may reflect our own biases as much as the interviewee’s relevant skillset.
Finally, remember that the conversational interview gives you just one angle on a candidate. To get the full picture, you’ll need to supplement it with other techniques and tools. A recruiter with experience in specialized talent acquisition can offer guidance in this regard.
Behavioral interviewing falls under the umbrella of “structured interview”—an approach designed to home in on relevant skills and minimize interviewer bias. Regarded by many as the most effective interviewing technique, behavioral interviewing focuses on eliciting information about a candidate’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors.
A good behavioral interview question seeks not only to gather information but to gain insight into a candidate’s personality. Here’s an example: “Describe a situation in which you convinced someone to see things your way.” In addition to demonstrating problem-solving skills, the answer to the question can reveal how a candidate balances assertiveness and sensitivity. Such questions have the added advantage of giving candidates a glimpse of the organization’s expectations and working style.
THE SELECTION AND BEYOND
Choosing among qualified candidates
Start by collecting and reviewing the feedback from the people on the interview team. They may well notice red flags that escaped you, such as a hesitation to pitch in on last-minute projects that require a few extra hours.
How much weight to give to job experience? While a good track record counts for a lot, a slavish insistence on job experience could work against you, as detailed in this list of hiring mistakes to avoid. Another natural temptation to resist: offering the job to the candidate who resembles you the most and thus feels safe and familiar. Focus instead on the fit between the candidate and the workplace culture.
Finally, remember that exact matches only happen on computer screens. A candidate who ticks off the important boxes and shows a genuine interest in growing with your organization should jump to the top of your list.
An offer they can’t refuse
Strong candidates have choices: if they don’t like what you’re offering, they’ll take their talent elsewhere. This means your offer needs to match their must-have list. For starters, lose the nine-to-five mindset. Already falling into disuse before Covid-19, the fixed-hours-on-site model lost its remaining luster during the pandemic. Even if a job can’t be moved to the home, you can build flexibility into their workdays—for instance, by allowing them to show up any time before 11 am.
A high salary will never go out of style. That said, when faced with the choice between bottom line and a balanced life, many candidates—especially millennials or gen-Zers—will opt for the latter. Think of work-life balance as the cake and the salary as the icing.
Effective onboarding practices
Onboarding, meaning the process of welcoming and orienting new employees to the workplace, doesn’t just help the new hire: satisfied employees tend to stick around, reducing the costs and frustrations of employee turnover.
The traditional group orientation is just the beginning: effective onboarding extends for weeks or even months after the hire. It includes a mix of training and social activities, with an eye to immersing and including the new employee in the company culture. If you have an internal online portal, for example, giving new hires quick access to this vehicle will help them feel like they belong. Rather than handing a thick policies & procedures manual to a new recruit, spend a few minutes sharing the document’s highlights, such as diversity policies or special health benefits. Check out this article on creative onboarding practices for further ideas.
Protecting your company
Most job seekers operate in good faith, and there is no reason to run your business through a lens of suspicion. That said, corporate espionage does exist, and awareness of the remote possibility can help you lower the risk still further.
Which employees are most likely to reveal company secrets to a competitor? You guessed it: unhappy ones. To avoid this outcome, ensure employees feel valued both during and after the onboarding period. Demonstrating employee appreciation can be as simple as praising them for a job well done, focusing on specific accomplishments. When you consider that 65% of respondents to a Harris poll received no recognition for good work in the past year, supervisors would do well to remember that a sincere “thanks” goes a long way toward employee satisfaction.
Of course, legitimate grievances can arise even at the best workplaces. Straightforward and non-punitive grievance policies can prevent the grievances from turning into resentment—and disloyalty.
The Covid-conscious workplace
The cultural changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic will likely persist long after the pandemic itself winds down. Having discovered the possibilities of working from home, many organizations will continue to offer this as an option whenever possible. Laboratory-based scientists will not have this luxury, of course. In such cases, you can put new hires at ease by making Covid safety a priority.
Start with the basics: a thorough cleaning and disinfecting routine, coupled with education on hygienic practices. Inform employees about CDC updates or internal policy changes. Consider creating a Covid safety committee, with members culled from different departments. See this article on protecting your workplace from coronavirus for further detail.
Hiring science talent is not for the faint of heart. All too often, that rare bird you rescued from the candidate slush pile turns out to be a common pigeon—or flies the coop well before your investment pays off. If you’re having trouble bringing in and holding onto the best people, these common hiring mistakes could be standing in your way.
Getting mired in generalities:
If you registered with a dating service and requested a “sincere person who likes long walks, good food, and travel,” you wouldn’t get very far. It’s too broad a filter to sort the wheat from the chaff. Similarly, terms such as “dynamic,” “hard-working,” and “flexible” won’t help you find the medical science liaison of your dreams. Specifics are your ally.
Prioritizing qualities that don’t matter:
Is a typo in a resume a good reason to disqualify a candidate? If you’re hiring a science writer, it may well be. If you need someone who knows her way around Petri dishes, however, insisting on a flawless resume could lead you to miss the perfect hire. Asking all interviewees to prepare presentations falls in the same category: not all positions call for this skill. The same goes for the much-valued skill of performing well in front of an audience—a common interview filter that, according to a new study by the University of South Carolina, could end up eliminating many well-qualified candidates.1
Relying on surface impressions:
Who doesn’t love a smiling candidate with a relaxed posture? The interview process tends to tilt the scales toward people who make a good impression, rather than those best suited to the job. It pays to remember that first impressions reflect not only an interviewee’s qualities but our own biases.1 Besides, a warm personality won’t help a biochemist develop a killer assay.
The appetite to “move up in an organization” may seem an obvious asset, but an ambitious person may well decide to move away from the organization when greener pastures beckon. The scientist with an undivided passion for the lab bench, meanwhile, may offer a far greater ROI for your organization. As noted in a Science Magazine article about hiring PhDs, “hiring managers should appreciate that obsessing over a single topic can be a hugely positive quality, especially if you can hire the [candidate] to obsess over your company’s topic.”2
Making the interviewee feel uncomfortable:
Interviewers often seek to catch candidates off-guard with “gotcha” questions such as “Can you describe a situation you didn’t handle perfectly?” Or an employer may adopt a stiff and distant tone to send the message that “we’re interested in working hard around here, not in making friends.” Here’s the problem: the best candidates—meaning those you want to hire—tend to have options. If you make your organization sound like a distasteful place to work, a top-notch candidate may run with a competitor’s offer.
Relying on tired and inefficient interview formats:
The conversational interview remains a staple of hiring, but science hasn’t found much evidence for its effectiveness.3 To identify the best person for a job, you need to observe candidates through various lenses. Depending on the position you seek to fill, strategies could include behavioral interviews, psychometrics, or direct demonstrations of skills. Along similar lines, subjecting a candidate to a barrage of serial interviews, each covering the same ground, wastes valuable staff time without much additional yield. Sequential interviews with independent themes—overcoming challenges, teamwork, and long-term goals, for example—generate a much better ROI. By the same token, there’s no reason to include every member of a department in the interview team.
Arguably your most important hiring decision is your choice of recruiting partner. According to a Harvard Business Review article on outsourcing, about 40% of US companies rely on “recruitment process outsourcers” for their hiring needs.4 These intermediaries often subcontract people from distant countries to sift through candidates using key words—a blunt and impersonal instrument that can let superstars slip through the cracks. It’s exactly to avoid this outcome that Sci.bio hires recruiters with a scientific background, giving them a leg up in identifying the brightest lights. As the saying goes, “it takes one to know one.”
While neither your gut nor a software program will guarantee the best science hire, a systematic, multifaceted approach will work to your advantage. With a deep understanding of the science, psychology, and strategy of hiring, Sci.bio offers the layered intelligence that leads to outstanding hires. As Louis Pasteur once noted about science itself, fortune favors the well prepared.
When it comes to company morale, it is crucial to consider how management affects your companies overall work environment. If a manager shirks their responsibilities or micro-manages everything your employees do, it will lower office morale and often cause a rise in turnover. On the flip side, if a manager encourages collaboration and a fair workload, employees will feel more valued and produce a better work product. Take a look at some key factors that contribute to healthy work environments and strong teams.
How do your employees work with your manager?
Do they feel they can approach him or her with ideas and questions? It is essential to see how your staff work as a team with their supervisor. If the manager is approachable, your team will work together well, and things will run smoothly for the most part. When your employees feel their ideas are heard and that their manager has their back when dealing with a tough situation, the office community will be stronger and employees are empowered to take appropriate risks that drive results farther. Everyone will be more motivated to do better work. If your manager is unapproachable, overly rigid, or micromanages your staff, you will find the team doesn’t work as efficiently, and it will often affect their work ethic as well. They may try to find employment in a more supportive work environment. The old saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, can be very true in this case.
Does your manager have clear roles and expectations for each employee?
When your employees know their role in the company, it is easier for them to excel in their position. They will come in, knowing exactly what they need to do and how it is expected to be done. They will know which responsibilities are theirs, and which are their colleagues. Without this clarity from management, positions can become chaotic, confusing, and frustrating. Projects can be started and re-started as different employees struggle to carve out their own niche, and inadvertently step on each others’ toes. Constantly changing expectations can cause uncertainty for employees and will affect their work performance in many cases. If there are clear, consistent expectations set for everyone, it is easier for them to become experts in their position and focus on their projects, which will lead to increased morale and productivity.
How your manager treats your employees as a whole.
The politics involved in managing your staff can be precarious. You need to make sure your manager treats all of your staff equally and doesn’t show favoritism towards anyone or group in particular. Everyone in the office should feel secure that they don’t need to try to “brown nose,” the manager to be treated with respect as an equal. Your employees will appreciate your manager more if they know they are respected for their hard work and dedication to the company. Not because they made “friends” with the boss and became a “favorite.” It is imperative that all employees feel respected by and confident in the management.
It is crucial your manager makes sure the whole staff is doing their job.
Unfortunately, those team members who work the hardest or fastest are often leaned on more than those who don’t may not consistently put in the time and energy. If someone is not pulling their weight, it needs to be addressed, and it shouldn’t be assumed that those who always work hard are the ones who should bear the brunt of making up for their coworkers’ laziness. Your manager should make sure to address the issues with anyone who is not contributing as expected and provide backup support to those who are doing more than their own jobs. It can be very easy for the manager to keep going to the people he or she knows will always show up, and will never say “no” when asked to do extra work. Still, the best way to keep your hardworking employees working for you is to make sure everyone is doing their fair share, and all employees have adequate time to step away from work and rest.
Business owners and managers need to make sure employees have safe working conditions.
Providing a safe, clean environment has become more important than ever. Now that Covid-19 has become a part of everyday life, following the CDC guidelines and regulations to keep everyone safe has become a management responsibility. Managers need to make sure employees are completing a health screening and have all of the PPE they need to stay healthy. If someone in the office does come down with Covid-19, your manager needs to follow protocol and make sure testing and tracing are in place with the state. All employees also need to be notified along with any customers who may have had contact with the person who was infected. Additionally, managers should be sensitive to the added stress and uncertainty that all employees are juggling outside of work. We are living through a “new normal,” and unless everyone feels physically safe and emotionally supported, your work environment will suffer. You want to keep the morale up in your office. It will promote employee well-being, which in turn allows employees to work better for your company.
As a life sciences professional, interviewing candidates is an important final step in what may have been a long hiring process. Getting the right hire can mean the difference between building a “good” team vs. having a “great” one.
However, at many companies, HR leaders and team managers haven’t updated their hiring procedures or taken the time to customize the recruitment process. In the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” guise, many organizations go through the same basic routine they’ve done for years and fail to make the changes that would result in more effective interviewing and, therefore, stronger teams with less turnover.
While it’s not necessary to completely start from scratch when it comes to your interviewing techniques, it’s important to understand that markets shift, applicants change, and, especially during COVID-19, systems for interviewing and onboarding have become more flexible.
The following are three danger signs to watch out for – with suggestions on how to remedy your processes:
1. Your Interviews are Too Short and you’re all asking the same questions
A short interview – of 20 minutes or less – is not only insufficient to learn all of the necessary information about a candidate, it’s also disrespectful. Candidates spend weeks researching organizations, filling out applications, and doing their due diligence. To arrive at an interview only to walk out of the door less than half an hour later is anticlimactic at best, and harms your company’s reputation at worst. Adding to the insult of a short interview, interview teams are often not assigned to focus on areas of competence or skill and default to redundant, predictable, questions that fail to uncover a candidate’s true capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Solution: Try not to rush things. Learn a little bit about them and their interest in the role before you dive into prepared questions. Candidates should have time to ask questions throughout the interview, not just as it’s wrapping up, and you should ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of their background and skills. You’ll learn more about the candidate and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Develop a Behavioral Based Interview format where interviewers are assigned competencies and values that resonate with the role. This will allow useful assessments that can be benchmarked against other candidates.
2. The Interview is Your Only Hiring Tool
Interviews should not be the sole basis of a hiring decision. An interview shows managers how candidates behave in a professional setting, but they provide little evidence of what each individual brings to the table. Some people may interview well and be a great fit on paper, but they may not fit in with the team culture. Others may interview poorly, but have great technical skills that your team needs. This is especially true for highly skilled positions in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences industries.
The entire application and interaction process from first interaction through references should be used as an opportunity for evaluation of candidates. Attention to detail, timeliness can be assessed through email interactions as an example. Carefully worded reference questions can reveal weaknesses that may have not been apparent: ”Is there any additional training or development that candidate name could benefit from in his/her development?” or “Why do you think candidate name wasn’t promoted, or left?” both allow opportunities for the reference to supply details you may not have uncovered yourself during the interview process.
Solution: Once you’ve narrowed down your selections to a handful of qualified individuals, you should find multiple ways to assess their skills and experience. For example, if you’re hiring a life sciences writer, it doesn’t make sense to judge them purely on their personality or conversational skills. Examining each candidate’s portfolio of work or asking them to do a brief writing example would demonstrate if they’re right for the job. Similarly, if you are hiring a lead Scientist who will need to present data, ask them to prepare a short presentation and Q&A session. Assess written follow up emails for both timeliness and attention to detail. Don’t ask cookie cutter reference questions that “check the box.” Instead ask questions that probe at the heart of candidate competency.
3. Only HR Personnel Conduct Interviews
Counting on only the HR department to interview and recommend the final candidate could lead to a poor hire. As capable as they may be, HR won’t know as much about the job as someone who has hands-on experience.
Solution: While HR can do the initial screening, hiring managers should conduct the follow-up interviews since they have the best understanding of the position’s requirements and the current team’s strengths and weaknesses. Most human resources professionals recommend that at least three company stakeholders become part of the interview process, including the position’s direct manager, the manager’s boss, and the team’s relevant members.
Not every interview technique and process works for every company. No two job applicants are the same, and no role is identical because a company’s needs change over time and so do roles and responsibilities. By being willing to look at your systemic flaws and adapting to what works and what doesn’t will help you attract and hire the best employees.
Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries. To learn more, visit our website today!
If you’re a candidate looking for a career in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and Life Sciences industries, recruiters can help you locate and land the position you’re looking for. They can match you with employers and roles that are perfect for your skills, interests, and values. They also have access to open positions that you won’t find on job boards and can help prepare you for the interview process.
But did you know there are many types of recruiters – and recruitment firms – out there? Knowing the right one to engage with can be confusing, and understanding their roles can go a long way toward ensuring a successful and timely job search. One thing to keep in mind: you should work with a recruiter that understands and is experienced in the type of position you’re looking for.
Here are four types of recruiters to consider depending upon your specific need:
When a job candidate gets hired, the recruiter gets paid. That’s how it works for contingency recruiters. Their fee is “contingent” upon one of their candidates being successfully hired. So if a contingency recruiter finds you a job, he or she is paid either a flat fee or a percentage of your first year’s salary by the company that hired you. Normally, you don’t have to pay a fee.
Remember, recruiters are NOT working for you – they work for the client with the job opening. However, if you’re the right fit for the position, they’ll work hard to get you in the door.
A retained recruiter has an exclusive relationship with an employer. They are hired for a specific period of time to find a candidate for a job, generally for senior-level positions in a company or for positions that are difficult to fill. They are paid expenses, plus a percentage of the employee’s salary, regardless of whether the candidate is hired. As a job seeker, you don’t have to pay a fee. Retained recruiters work very closely with the client to find the best person for the job with exactly the right skillset and experience.
Corporate Recruiters work in-house for a company’s HR department and are paid a salary and benefits just like any other employee. They often have titles such as HR Manager or Hiring Manager. Their job is to find new employees for the company they work for – usually large companies with many hiring needs.
- Temporary / Contract Staffing Agency
Temporary (temp) agencies find employees to fill temporary jobs for their clients. Temps are often hired when companies have a rush, short-term projects, or to cover vacations or illnesses. When a temp agency places you in a position, they pay your wages, taxes, insurance, and benefits and charge the employer an hourly rate for your time. Many temp agencies are set up so that if an employer wants to ultimately hire a temporary worker full-time, the agency can handle that as well.
Summing it Up
Working with the right recruiter, who’s experienced working with job seekers in pharma/biotech, can help take the stress out of your job search. By understanding your skills and experience – while also having a firm grasp of the job market, industry, and open positions – a skilled recruiter could be exactly what you need to further your career.
A career in Biotech can be very rewarding. It’s an industry that develops cleaner energy sources, furthers medicine and cures, and develops higher-yielding crops to feed the world’s growing population.
Whether you’ve spent the past few years working on a Ph.D. or are about to finish your first degree, entering the biotech industry is an alternative to the more conventional life-science paths that lead through medical school or end in academia.
But it can be tough to know where to begin. And with the uncertainties caused by COVID-19, it can be hard to identify current job opportunities. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin your new career:
With any job, it’s important that candidates do proper research – not just about the job they’re applying for, but about the company they’re hoping to work for. Target companies you’re interested in reaching out to and check out their websites. See if you know anyone who may work at the companies and reach out. Get an understanding of what the organization does, their corporate culture, the leadership group, etc.
Whether it’s a professor or an established professional in the field, a mentor can go a long way toward helping new grads get their feet in the industry door. Identify one or two potential mentors that you feel you can build and nurture long-term relationships with. Mentors can be advantageous in advancing your career, providing sage advice and guidance based on their experience and expertise.
Just like doing good science takes collaboration, so does building your career. Build a strong network for both career growth and increased learning. A network of peers can be a valuable group to brainstorm with, glean best practices from and learn about new technologies.
- Be Aggressive but Be Patient
It may be difficult for new grads to do, but not jumping at the first job offer can be the key to finding a great job. Students with STEM degrees are in the driver’s seat in the current economy and don’t need to settle for an immediate job offer. Pharma/biotech companies aren’t always the first on campus, so be patient and use due diligence to find the right role. When you arrive at the interview, ask questions about the job expectations and responsibilities to get a good feel for the position.
As a newly minted grad, what you’ve done (work experience) is often more important than what you know (degrees, awards, etc.). An internship that allows you to work in your chosen field will enable you to gain a practical understanding of what it’s like in the real world. It can also provide opportunities to build relationships and show potential employers that you have work experience – giving you a head start vs. the competition. Lastly, some companies hire interns once their term has been completed.
A Final Thought
If you know a biotech career is right for you but aren’t sure what type of position would be best, it’s important to reach out to the industry professionals. Creating a network of working professionals can help you decide on your career path. Also, working with an experienced biotechnology recruiter will remove a lot of the time and stress in finding your first job – and the right one.