Author: Claire Jarvis
The collapse of the SVB on March 10, 2023 made national headlines, and prompted fear of a looming financial crisis and a return to government bailouts. For biotech investors and employees, the collapse of the tech-focused bank raises additional concerns about the stability of the biotech sector.
What is the Silicon Valley Bank?
The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was the 16th largest bank in the USA. Founded in 1983, it catered almost exclusively to technology companies by providing the venture capital funds necessary for biotech start-ups to grow. Prior to the events of early March, the bank was worth $212 billion.
Why did it collapse?
In early March 2023 the SVB announced it needed to raise more money, citing rising interest rates and inflation. This announcement caused panic, and customers and investors rushed to withdraw their money, leading to the collapse of the bank’s value. Within 48 hours the damage was done, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took over the emergency operation of the bank.
The FDIC is currently trying to sell SVB as part of its break-up plan.
Is this a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis?
Following the collapse of the SVB, Silvergate Bank and Signature Bank fell in quick succession a few days later. Although the successive liquidation of US banks is alarming, and the overall likelihood of a recession in the next few years has risen, the fallout from the SVB collapse is mostly contained to the biotech sector and other medium-sized banks who cater to a narrow selection of industries (both Silvergate and Signature focused on cryptocurrencies).
Some issues appear unique to SVB’s downfall, such as the role of a chief risk officer being unfilled last year. The bank also stored its money in long-dated Treasury deposits, which give modest returns on investments. When inflation rose, the bonds no longer yielded satisfactory returns.
How does the Silicon Valley Bank affect the biotech industry?
Silicon Valley Bank was seen as the bank of choice for young biotech companies, because they tailored their services to venture-backed start-ups and agile biotechs looking to grow. Unlike commercial banks, most of SVB clients deposited amounts greater than $250,000, which is the maximum amount of savings protected by the FDIC in the event of a financial collapse. It’s estimated that 85% of SVB’s bank deposits were uninsured. It’s therefore not clear how much damage has been wrought on the biotech sector, and it will take a time for companies to disclose any losses. It’s possible the US government will bail out companies who lost uninsured deposits if the crisis deepens, but that’s not happened yet.
In early 2023, biotech start-ups are already struggling thanks to rising interest rates and a hiring slowdown. Established companies have the diversified portfolio necessary to withstand economic shocks better than start-ups with only one or two pipeline products.
However, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank may see a slowdown in the biotech sector as venture capitalists become more cautious about investing in biotechs, or the regulations around life sciences investment increase. What this does for the biotech sector as a whole remains to be seen.
Author: Tess Joosse
Recruiter burnout – ways to enjoy your job and protect your health. The last few years have been hard on recruiters. The COVID-19 pandemic created a hiring whiplash and changed so much about life and work, and as a result, some recruiters have found themselves chronically stretched thin, exhausted, and unproductive: in other words, burned-out.
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome involving feeling depleted or exhausted, feeling distant from or negative about your job, and being less efficient or productive at work. While stress at work is unavoidable, chronic and prolonged stress can do damage to your health, happiness, and ability to be a great recruiter.
There’s some good news: if you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone, and there are ways to beat it. Here, we’ll dive into some ideas for combating and avoiding burnout as a recruiter.
Top Ways to Beat Recruiter Burnout
1. Evaluate your situation and set realistic goals and to-dos.
Think about what’s working about your situation, what isn’t, and what you can change. Do you feel like you can’t leave work at work? Does every day feel the same? Is your physical health suffering? Do you have too much to do each day? By taking stock and taking charge of what you can control, the stresses at work that are truly unavoidable and immovable will pack less of a punch on your wellbeing.
Set a daily work schedule and stick to it. Be candid with yourself and the companies and hiring managers you work with about what is a priority about how much you can fit into the day. Set goals that are specific, time-bound, and measurable. Communicate with your team about your situation and about what roles and projects are a priority.
2. Reduce exposure to stressors and set work boundaries.
Again, some stresses at work are unavoidable. But there are ways to mitigate, manage, and reduce your exposure to them. Consider setting brief breaks throughout the day to get up, walk around, drink a glass of water, and look away from screens for a few minutes at a time (cognitive studies have found that quick breaks like this actually boost focus). If you’re battling Zoom fatigue from endless days of interviews, consider setting a weekly “no meetings” block (for example, not scheduling Zoom calls on Wednesday afternoons).
Outside of the workday, can you set boundaries that help you disconnect? For example, commit to only answering emails between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Set notifications on your devices to not ping you when you’re off the clock. And if you have to work late one day, can you block out an extra hour the next morning for yourself?
Finally, consider taking time off. This might be hard due to the fast-moving demands of recruiting, but even a day or two spent away from work and with friends, family, or just with yourself can help you feel reenergized and refreshed.
3. Prioritize self-care.
Depending on who’s talking, the phrase “self-care” can mean anything from training for a marathon to binge-watching hours of TV. But truly taking care of yourself – getting good sleep, eating nutritious and filling meals, making time for activities and hobbies, and enjoying healthy social connections – is the key to staying well and maintaining resilience and energy.
What areas of your non-work life have you been neglecting, and what can you do to address them? It might help to start small and commit to incremental habitual actions, like being in bed at the same time every night, cooking a healthy meal every Sunday, or picking one day a week to go on a bike ride with a friend. Building yourself up on your off hours will help you regain energy for your work.
4. Focus on professional development and building your network.
Does your career feel stagnant, or does it feel like every workday is the same? Fresh new challenges and opportunities for professional growth can help you get back into the groove. Subscribe to industry publications, read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, or take courses to build your skills.
Focus on expanding your network — it will get you in touch with new and interesting people and will make your job easier down the line. And if you have room on your plate, ask your manager for a short “stretch project” that gives you something new to do.
- 5 Ways to Avoid Recruiter Burnout
- Beating Burnout
- Many Recruiters Are on a Path to Burnout
- How Talent Leaders Can Address Recruiter Burnout
- Brief and rare mental “breaks” keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements
- Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases
Author: Claire Jarvis
Is there a Biotech Recruiting Slowdown?
Workforce statistics from the past two years paint a concerning picture of the biotech recruiting sector in 2023. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a boom in hiring and growth, but now that the initial biotech demand is leveling off, many companies are ‘right-sizing’ to pre-COVID-19 levels. Statistics predict the growth of the biotech sector slowing in 2023, in part to rising inflation.
The overall trend means biotech companies are slowing down their hiring. It’s not clear how much growth will slow in 2023, and hiring managers might wonder whether it’s worth adding more workers to the payroll if layoffs are coming. Due to its ability to consolidate and diversify their portfolio, Big Pharma is in a stronger position than agile biotech start-ups, but industry experts still urge caution.
Attracting Biotech Talent in 2023
Despite an economic slowdown, the biotech sector is continuing to grow, and companies are still looking to hire top talent. Here are a few ways biotech recruiting is filling positions and attract candidates.
First, it’s important to understand candidates’ motivation for switching roles, because there are many professionals considering a job switch, even if they’re currently employed. A lot of candidates are seeking appropriate salary increases to combat inflation. Or, perhaps instability at their current company has created a threat of layoffs.
As a recruiter, there are several ways to appeal to these candidates and fill your client’s vacancies.
- Highlight remote, hybrid and flexible working options. Thanks to rising gas prices, commuting is expensive, and many employees don’t like feeling pressured to come into the office. Flexible working remains a high priority for jobseekers as they explore new roles.
- Emphasize supportive work culture for new hires. Work culture is not just about throwing money at employees, but thoughtful initiatives to support new hires and integrate hybrid teams. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many workers feeling adrift from their colleagues, and they want to better integrate into their teams, virtual or not.
- List opportunities for career growth and developmental opportunities within the company. The new hire is more likely to make long-term commitment to the role if they think they can progress in their career without needing to switch companies again.
With over ten years’ experience serving biotech companies in the Boston area, Sci.Bio knows how to guide your company through economic changes. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more.
Author: Tess Joosse
In the last couple of months, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT. Launched in November 2022 by an artificial intelligence company called OpenAI, ChatGPT is a chatbot that answers questions, responds to prompts, and gives suggestions. Its backbone is a natural language processing model that was trained using text from across the internet, and upon its release it quickly drew attention for its conversational skill, creative abilities, and the depth and detail of its responses.
AI isn’t a novelty to recruiters – many have been using AI recruiting software to source or screen candidates for years. But ChatGPT is a different beast, and you might be wondering if it could be used in recruiting. The answer, as with most AI-based tools, is yes – with caveats. As a chatbot, it can’t do everything on a recruiter’s to-do list (and as such, it isn’t equipped to replace recruiters outright). But if you know how to harness it, ChatGPT can help a recruiter brainstorm and generate ideas, fill in gaps in their knowledge, and generally speed up certain processes in recruiting. Read on for some ideas on how to use this chatbot to your advantage, and for some limitations you should keep in mind.
Use ChatGPT to create job descriptions
When creating eye-catching, informative job descriptions, ChatGPT can provide a starting point to build from. For example, I asked ChatGPT to “write a job description for a bioinformatics scientist at a proteomics company.” It gave me a description that was, overall, pretty nondescript and basic. But the description included some important and relevant qualifications like “Strong experience in proteomic data analysis, including the use of mass spectrometry data” and “Experience with bioinformatics software and databases, such as R, Python, and ProteomeXchange,” and it hit all the necessary points of a job description.
These results can provide a great framework for you to edit and add to depending on the specifics of the position at hand. But you don’t have to stop there. When I asked ChatGPT to “rewrite that job description requiring 5 years of postdoctoral experience and experience with Matlab,” it added those qualifications seamlessly into the description. When I asked ChatGPT to “rewrite that job description to be more exciting and compelling,” the chatbot threw in some adjectives like “dynamic” and “innovative” and verbs like “revolutionize” and “harness.”
Use ChatGPT to develop interview questions
Just as the chatbot can provide the framework of a job description to work from, it can do the same for interview questions. For the example position above, I asked ChatGPT to “create a list of interview questions for a bioinformatician at a proteomics company. Be sure to ask about leadership, problem solving, and past industry experience.” The response gave me ten questions. Some were way too vague and awkward, like “How do you approach problem solving and troubleshooting in bioinformatics?” But others seemed like they could provide fruitful insight into a candidate, like “Can you give an example of a time when you had to present complex bioinformatics data to non-experts and how you effectively communicated the findings?” and “Can you describe a project you have worked on in industry and how it differed from your academic experience?”
Use ChatGPT to create emails, social media posts, and other text communications
Other tasks that require writing text, like creating emails and social media posts, could benefit from ChatGPT. For the hypothetical “bioinformatics scientist at a proteomics company,” I asked ChatGPT to “write a compelling summary of that job description to post on LinkedIn.” It gave me a paragraph that started with “Are you a Proteomics Bioinformatics Expert looking to take your career to the next level? Join our cutting-edge team at XYZ Proteomics and be a key player in revolutionizing the field of mass spectrometry-based proteomics,” then gave some details about the requirements and responsibilities. The response was a little wooden – it definitely read like a fill-in-the-blank imitation of what a post like this “should” look like – but it hit all the important points and could be good to go with a little tweaking.
Use ChatGPT to learn about roles
As a recruiter working in the biotech industry, you might find yourself dealing with roles that are highly specific or require certain obscure skills. Recruiters in this situation might typically turn to Google to ask “what are bioconjugated nanoparticles?” or “what skills does a surface chemistry scientist need?” But since ChatGPT combs the internet to create its response, it can sometimes provide a more direct and specific answer than Google.
Drawbacks and takeaways
Models like ChatGPT are only as good as the information they run on and the patterns they are trained to recognize. For this reason, it’s important to closely pay attention to what content you’re using from ChatGPT to make sure no discriminatory language or inaccuracies sneak into your responses. I’ve seen some recruiters say that you should treat ChatGPT like a “spunky intern” whose work you check over closely. I think of it more as a springboard tool that can save you time, help you brainstorm ideas, and fill in some gaps in your knowledge. Though ChatGPT and other chatbots have their limitations (and can’t approximate everything the human mind can do), most experts agree that this technology is here to stay — and is only going to improve with time.
- Revolutionizing Recruiting: How Recruiting with ChatGPT Transforms Talent Acquisition
- How to Use ChatGPT in Recruitment: Why It Won’t Replace Recruiters
- What is ChatGPT? How Recruiters & HR Professionals Can Leverage It for Hiring
Where can you access top talent other than LinkedIn, a site where candidates are inundated with recruiter messages and your own email risks getting lost in their inbox? There are a few underexplored avenues to find biotech jobseekers, and with a bit of creativity you can expand your candidate pool.
Leverage Existing Connections
The most efficient way to find fresh job candidates is to ask your existing clients for referrals. Your clients will know who in their network is looking for new opportunities, or who is dissatisfied with their current job and could be persuaded to change companies.
Another source of talent is through auditing former candidates you worked with in the past: check in on those previously considered for roles to see if they’re looking for new opportunities. After all, just because they weren’t a suitable match for your previous vacancies, it doesn’t mean they won’t be a good fit for your current openings.
Broadening your recruitment sphere
After you’ve tapped your current network, you can broaden your reach through local opportunities. Get involved with regional biotech organizations: attend their networking or professional development events to meet other attendees who may be considering a career change. Reach out to conference presenters or hosts at these types of events – the people who participate in panels, conferences and high-profile volunteer roles are often looking to strengthen their resumes with an eye to new roles. Even if that’s not the case, conference presenters are usually well-connected and may be willing to refer candidates to you.
Make sure you’re not limiting your search to graduates of the local biggest universities, and recruit from historically black universities and colleges (HBCUs), small liberal arts colleges (SLACs) and local community colleges. At these smaller colleges you may find candidates with less conventional resumes, but who have acquired a valuable set of skills through different routes into the job market.
College faculty like having recruiters come to speak to their students about career paths, which allows you to connect with STEM graduates in-person before they start applying to entry level positions.
Other places to find hidden jobseekers
In addition to using LinkedIn, check expat forums and Facebook groups for professionals. Members of those groups may be receptive to new opportunities that are tailored to them, rather than being cold-called on LinkedIn about jobs that don’t match their skillsets.
The final way to expand your talent pool on LinkedIn is to note who is interacting with your job posts through likes, comments or shares. This kind of online engagement is often a sign of someone considering a career move or preparing to apply to new roles, even if they aren’t advertising the fact on their profiles. Reach out to those posters and offer to chat with them about their career goals.
As a recruiter you often go to the candidates, but it’s also possible to encourage candidates to come to you. Hold a recruitment agency Open House – make the event worthwhile for local job seekers to visit your recruitment agency, meet the recruiters, and learn about the companies you partner with.
Looking to hire diverse biotech talent? Get in touch with Sci.bio today to learn more about our sourcing and recruitment services.
Author: Tara Smylie
Motivated recruiting. Let’s face it – it’s hard for any of us to do our best work when we’re not feeling motivated. Sure, the work can still get done, but it won’t have that magical touch that comes naturally when we’re inspired to complete the project at hand.
Maybe you’re recruiting for a highly specialized lab position without many qualified candidates. Or maybe you’re trying to fill a key role at a biotech startup. Recruiting can be challenging – but when your team feels driven to succeed, they’ll be more likely to round up a roster of exceptional candidates. As their leader, knowing how to keep motivation high is essential.
Empower your team: Motivated Recruiting
An empowered employee is a motivated one. Employees feel empowered in their roles when they feel that their contribution is important to the success of their team, and that they have the power to make meaningful decisions in their jobs.
One tangible way to empower your employees is to offer training where possible. A little extra learning will help your employees feel competent and qualified in their roles. And of course, it’s an opportunity to give them new skills that they can use to level up their performance.
That said, in the present day, workplace empowerment extends beyond the office. Millennial employees particularly appreciate flexibility, which often means hybrid workplace models and customizable schedules. When your employees feel that they have control over their work-life balance, they will come to work happier and more motivated to shine in their roles.
Don’t skimp on communication
When you experience a setback – tell your team. When the scope or nature of a project changes – tell your team, and make sure you’re all on the same page moving forward. To that end, if you, as manager or boss, make a mistake… don’t be afraid to own up to it! If you’re willing to admit you missed something, your employees will likely follow suit when they make an error themselves.
And remember, good communication doesn’t just mean explaining what’s going on with a project – it means thanking your employees when they’ve been exceptionally helpful or professional in their roles. Acknowledgement of a job well done goes a long way!
Communication, good or bad, forms a huge part of a company’s overall culture. Consider this: a whole 47 percent of jobseekers cite poor company culture as their reason for wanting to leave their last role. It’s worth making sure yours is a good one.
Lively workplace, lively team
Whether your employees are remote or in-person, creating a lively workplace often comes down to the design of the work environment. Ask yourself: is your office furniture comfortable? Does your setup lend itself to easy communication between employees? Are your spaces and interfaces appealing and cheerful? These little details go a long way in livening up the work experience, which will make your team happier and more motivated.
Another way to liven up the workplace is to encourage friendships between your employees. According to research by workplace software company OfficeVibe, seventy percent of employees say that having friendships at work improves the quality of their workplace experience. And according to other data they compiled, work friendships actually boost productivity. That’s a win for everyone!
To encourage friendships between your employees, consider buying large tables for communal lunches, assigning groups for collaborative work, and/or organizing retreats.
Invest in the right tech
In the field of recruiting, the right hardware, online tools, and software subscriptions can all make a difference. Nowadays, AI and software solutions have a greater and greater role to play in recruitment – so don’t be shy! Letting the tech take care of the small stuff frees up time for your team to focus on the bigger picture.
Consider getting your team a subscription to a recruitment service like Linkedin’s Recruiter Lite subscription plan, and investing in a project management software like Asana or Monday.com to make team communication and strategizing as seamless as possible.
The secret formula
Growing a standout recruiting team is not just about assembling the group with the best credentials. It’s about consistently motivating your team so that they naturally become a powerhouse of superstar recruiters.
The takeaway is this: strive to listen to your recruiting team, and treat them like the valuable employees they are. As a result, they will be happier, more motivated, and better able to aid you in the search for ideal candidates.
- How to Recruit for Biotech Startups
- Top 8 Ways to Keep Your Recruiting Team Motivated
- Millennial Employees Want Flexibility & Benefits. Can They Have It All?
- How to Motivate Your Recruiting Team
- How to Motivate a Recruiting Team – 7 Proven Methods
- Workplace Happiness and Employee Motivation