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Work-Life Balance in Biotech

Work-Life Balance in Biotech

Author: Claire Jarvis

A career in the biotech industry is a dream for many STEM professionals, though it can be a challenging, demanding career. As in all industries, there’s a lot you can do to prevent burnout and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Challenges of work-life balance in biotech

STEM professionals seek biotech careers because they want to make a difference to the lives of patients, and they enjoy working in a stimulating environment. Working at a small biotech start-up, where the long-term success of the company isn’t guaranteed, can be stressful, but agile biotech employment also comes with the possibility of greater responsibility and rewards than at a more established pharma company.

While larger pharmaceutical companies may offer better job security, project deadlines mean that employees are always “on” and expected to be reachable via email. However, in return there is usually good compensation and opportunities for advancement.

Remote and flexible working patterns

COVID-19 has disrupted most of our working patterns, and increased the flexibility of most employers regarding remote work. Even as companies are returning on-site, many still allow employees to work from home several times a week. In return, employees appreciate the reduced commute times, and feel better able to look after family.

The benefits of remote working for improved work-life balance are obvious. The downside of remote working is that it’s important to set boundaries, or else the lines between work and homelife become blurred. For instance, employees who work remotely may find it easier to reply to emails on the weekend or in the evenings.

Negotiate for what you value

To reduce burnout and improve your work-life balance, it’s important to decide what you value and discuss this with recruiters and hiring managers as you consider new biotech roles. Your initial allowance of vacation days can be negotiated for, alongside starting salary. If the job conditions are more competitive, it is important that the number of vacation days, flexible working options and salary compensates.

Struggling with work-life balance? Sci.bio is hosting a work-life balance event on April 28th, 2022!  Registration details here.

How to Reconnect with Previous Candidates

How to Reconnect with Previous Candidates

Author: Claire Jarvis

With the biotech market hungry for candidates, and the average employee changing jobs every few years, recruiters cannot never assume that the end of a job search is the last time they’ll work with a particular applicant. Both recruiters and candidates may worry about the etiquette of reconnecting after an unsuccessful job match or application when another opportunity arises, but the process does not have to be awkward or unproductive. This is how to reconnect with previous candidates.

Laying the Groundwork

These days, biotech recruiters should plan their sourcing and recruitment process with the understanding that they may need to reconnect with screened candidates at a later date. This means personalizing the recruitment process to the candidate, so they are more likely to remember you and respond positively to your future overtures.

To personalize the experience, take extensive notes during initial screening calls that you can keep on file. Record the candidate’s work preferences, career goals and technical skills, even if all of those aren’t relevant to the opening in question.

Be reliable and trustworthy in all your dealings – reach out to the candidate when you said you would, give feedback on the interview performance or application process. As discussed elsewhere [link to Hiring in a Candidate’s market/Meet the Recruiters Meg and Laura], candidates value honesty over hype.

If a particular candidate isn’t a fit for your current opening, thank them for their time and explain you’ll be back in touch if and when other suitable opportunities come up. That way they’ll not be surprised when you reach out several months’ later – in fact they may even check in with you first.

Consider checking in with the most promising candidate a few months after your initial interaction: are they still looking for opportunities, do they have new skills or experiences, are they still looking for the same type of jobs?

The Art of the Email

When another opportunity arises, a tailored email from the recruiter will increase the likelihood of a successful and productive reconnection with the candidate in question. Start your email by reminding the candidate who you are, when and how you connected with them in the past. It might be helpful to add a sentence about the candidate’s skills or preferences you think connects them to this new opening.

After giving a brief overview of the opportunity that’s now available, conclude the message with a call to action that makes it clear how you’d like the candidate to respond (e.g. email, phone call). Suggest the time and method of reconnecting. Of course, not every former candidate will be looking for new opportunities, but with a careful approach you’ve increased the likelihood that they will respond to your email.

Lastly, remember that any information on file about the candidate can turn stale within 6 months. If possible, check LinkedIn to see if the candidate is listing new skills or employment before reaching out.

Meet the Recruiters: Meg and Laura

Meet the Recruiters: Meg and Laura

Author: Claire Jarvis

In the third installment of our ‘Meet the Recruiters’ series, we introduce Meg Wise and Laura Helmick. Meg is a Recruiting Partner and Laura is a Senior Recruiting Partner at Sci.bio.

The Winding Road To Recruiting

Meg and Laura joined Sci.bio in early 2021, both coming to the world of biotech recruitment after successful careers in other fields. Meg returned to the workforce in 2017 after taking time off to raise her children, starting as a specialist in general accounting and finance. However, the world of biotech held a particular interest for her, and inspired her move to Sci.bio. She currently specializes in director-level accounting and finance recruiting.

Laura’s first job was a data manager for clinical research organizations. She spent 8 years leading her own recruitment agency, then moved into biotech business development. “But I missed recruiting,” she admits. After connecting with the CEO of Sci.bio Eric Celidonio, Laura felt inspired to make her return.

At her own small recruitment agency, Laura felt restricted in the range of solutions she could offer potential clients. She finds working for a more dynamic agency like Sci.bio, with its capacity and resources for business development allows her to better help clients. “Having different options available to present to clients is nice,” she says. At Sci.bio Laura specializes in clinical development and medical affairs recruiting. She credits her prior experience with helping her understand client’s needs. “Having worked at two large CROs, I got to see how all of these different departments and positions worked together, which makes me understand recruitment better..”

The Modern Biotech Recruitment Landscape

Laura sees the current biotech job landscape as a “candidate’s market”: there’s a shortage of people with biotech experience actively looking for work, and many clients are short-staffed. Candidates can be more vocal about their personal preferences for a job such as fully remote options and access to company shares. She encourages her clients to demonstrate the benefit they provide for candidates who could hold competing offers.

Meg also believes jobseekers are more selective and cautious when it comes to considering new jobs right now. She says these candidates appreciate honesty rather than hype when discussing a new biotech company’s prospects with them, and cautions other recruiters and clients not to oversell opportunities they present.

Building Networks

For Meg, her natural curiosity about the biotech industry helped her build a network of contacts and clients. “I enjoy keeping abreast of new companies – it’s not difficult for me,” Meg explains. She recommends other recruiters remain genuine and transparent in their motivations for connecting with people, and understand that recruitment is a long-game.

The other important point about networking as a recruiter, both Laura and Meg agree, is accepting that not every match works out, and remaining on good terms with candidates who decline offers. “There are plenty of jobs out there,” Meg notes.


‘Recruiter’ – A job title with a low bar?

‘Recruiter’ – A job title with a low bar?

Author: Claire Jarvis

For candidates plunging into the job market for the first time, the attention of recruiters on LinkedIn can often feel unwelcome: an undesirable consequence of the job search to be ignored or minimized while you submit job applications. Nearly every STEM jobseeker has stories of a recruiter contacting them about a job they weren’t qualified for or didn’t come close to matching the expertise they clearly articulated on their LinkedIn profile.

Fortunately, many successful job seekers now working in industry can also recall speaking to a recruiter who had read their social media profile with care, and connected them to interesting opportunities that suited their talents.

It may surprise the cynics, but a lot of biotech recruiters are trained scientists themselves: they obtained a STEM degree but moved into recruiting because they enjoyed people-focused jobs and waited to remain in a scientific environment.

The technical expertise necessary for biotech jobs at all levels means biotech companies will only engage with recruiters who demonstrate they understand these technical requirements and can match them to candidates with the necessary skill set. As a consequence, you’ll probably encounter more skilled biotech recruiters than unskilled ones.

Not sure if the recruiter you’re talking to has that scientific expertise? Here are some things to look for when interacting with unfamiliar biotech recruiters:

    1. Does their agency specialize in placing biotech candidates? Some agencies work across a lot of industries, from hospitality to tech. They are more likely to hire recruiters without a background in the field(s) they recruit. A niche recruiting agency who exclusively fills biotech roles is likely to hire recruiters with a science background.
    2. Does their LinkedIn profile list a STEM degree, or the kinds of candidates/companies they work with? The closer the recruiter’s education profile to the candidates they are placing, the higher likelihood they will understand your technical capabilities and how you might fit in to the client’s company.
    3. Does their initial email/phone call demonstrate an understanding of your qualifications and the kinds of job you are looking for? Listen and look for keywords or phrases in those early conversations that indicate the recruiter has read your social media profile and speaks to your strengths. A very generic LinkedIn message might indicate the recruiter is casting a wide net and approaching a lot of potential candidates.
    4. Fill out your LinkedIn profile. The recruiter bears some responsibility if they don’t properly read the Experience and Skills section of your LinkedIn profile. However, you can help good recruiters find you by listing your technical skills and expertise, and stating the kind of opportunities you are open to. Remember, if you need to conduct a discrete job search this section can be kept private so only recruiters can view it.
    5. Update recruiters you’re in contact with. If you have a positive relationship with a recruiter, it’s helpful to update them with major career news (e.g. a key promotion or new job in a different field) during your job search. It’s important to keep good recruiters supplied with the information they’ll need to connect you with the right opportunities, and it helps remind them of your skillset and job preferences in case new positions open up.

At Sci.bio, we believe scientists make the best biotech recruiters. Our team of STEM graduates understand the biotech industry and look forward to connecting you with your dream job. Reach out and schedule a conversation with us today.


Looking for Success as a Recruiter? Develop your Personal Brand

Looking for Success as a Recruiter? Develop your Personal Brand

Developing and promoting your personal brand isn’t only an activity for job seekers. It’s an important tool to distinguish yourself after finding employment: even if you’re happy in your current role, a strong personal brand will help make your job more fulfilling.

As a biotech recruiter, clients and job seekers want to work with someone who understands the biotech job market landscape. Biotech job candidates trust recruiters who are familiar with and appreciate their existing technical skills; biotech clients don’t want to explain what they see as the fundamentals of any technical role to a new recruiter, or have the recruiter bring them ill-suited job candidates. Therefore, a recruiter with a strong personal brand will find it easy to attract the right clients and job seekers, and convince both parties of their ability to close the deal between job candidate and company.

When you start out as a recruiter, you won’t necessarily have a strong or compelling personal brand. It takes several months to figure your personal brand out, and longer to strengthen and promote it to the point where it pays dividends.

Here are some questions for recruiters to think about as they develop their personal brand:
What kind of positions do you most enjoy recruiting for?
What kind of candidates are you most successful in finding and connecting with?
What kind of roles have you accumulated the most experience on?
What kind of projects and subject matters fit best with your education and previous work experience to date?

Ideally, all your answers will overlap – and that’s your recruiter’s personal brand! Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers yet, or if your experience, successes and enjoyment don’t seem to have a common theme. Come back to these questions later, or ask your mentor for guidance.

Once you have the initial outline of your personal brand, hone it into 1–2 sentences that will become your elevator pitch at networking events. For example: “I’m an executive recruiter who specializes in placing mid-level leadership candidates into agile biotech companies.”

Now you have a personal brand, your LinkedIn and other social media posts should tie into your brand. For instance, if you specialize in recruiting Medical Science Liaisons to large pharma, you should state in your posts and bio that you help connect MSLs with jobs, and share the latest news from big pharma companies. This helps establish credibility in your niche, and attracts potential clients.

If you’re worried that a focused personal brand will scare away too many potential clients and job candidates, remember that you’re going to enjoy a higher success rate with the opportunities that do seek you out because they appreciate the specific value that you offer. The people that connect with you already know how you can help them, and if they approach you, it’s because they already see themselves as a good fit for your services.

Are you a scientist looking to get away from the bench? Have you considered becoming a biotech recruiter? We are always looking for great talent! Sci.bio would love to meet you.

Meet the Recruiters.  Sandra and Mike.

Meet the Recruiters. Sandra and Mike.

In the second of our Meet the Recruiter series of blog posts, we’d like to introduce Mike Cordaro and Sandra Tramontozzi, two seasoned Recruiting Partners who have played a large role in building out Sci.bio’s business development and contingency recruiting team.

Mike handles medical affairs recruiting and business development for Sci.bio. Sandra also works on the business development side, and specializes in filling HR and talent acquisition roles for biotech companies.

Journey to Sci.bio

Mike graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Biology, but, though he enjoyed science, he didn’t see himself working in a laboratory. After several years as a recruiter with other staffing agencies, he joined Sci.bio in 2019.

Sandra has been with Sci.bio since 2020, having spent many years in business sales and recruitment at other staffing firms. She has a M.S. in Administrative Studies from Boston College. After taking a career break to focus on her family, she decided to re-enter the workforce during the pandemic as the risk of an economic downturn loomed. Sandra knew Sci.bio founder Eric Celidonio from her previous role, and knew his company was entering the pandemic in a strong position.

Building meaningful and productive client relationships

Mike and Sandra both work in business development, reaching out to and building relationships with potential biotech clients. They stress establishing rapport with clients is vital to their business, even though it’s a process that takes time. Sci.bio has always focused on relationships first, knowing that clients become candidates and candidates become clients, so building connections with people is supported from the top down.

In Sandra’s experience, business relationships are difficult to build by email, so it’s important to get on the phone with clients. “In a pandemic world where we’re not meeting face to face, a Zoom meeting with clients is even more powerful, because they’re also getting a sense of your presence and professional demeanor.”

Mike and Sandra agree that for a client-recruiter relationship to be successful over the long term, there has to be a personal connection. “Not every conversation and not every single message has to be sales focused,” Mike explains. Sandra notes that not every client is comfortable sharing a lot of personal information, so the recruiter should avoid prying or oversharing themselves. However, she cautions, “if you’re strictly transactional with clients — even if you deliver great results — you’re not building a professional friendship with them, you’re just a vendor,” and the partnership is unlikely to last.

Advice from recruiters to their clients

On the other side of the equation, Sandra’s advice for clients looking to build productive relationships with a recruiting partner is to always give the recruiters feedback on the candidates presented, especially when they weren’t quite what the company was looking for. “Even though it must be very time consuming, just sending one line in an email that says, ‘hey, none of these candidates have XYZ,’” can help recruiters refocus their sourcing to better meet client’s needs.

The Sci.bio advantage

Having worked at Sci.bio for several years, Mike and Sandra know clients appreciate working with an agile, specialised biotech recruiting firm. “Sci.bio offers a lot of service at a small scale,” says Sandra. “We can really be a partner and a total staffing solution for our client. And we can scale with them as they grow, which is beautiful.” Many of Sci.bio’s clients are biotech companies in the preclinical or early clinical stage of development and only need a contract recruiter in the beginning. As the company expands, Sci.bio can help them scale their in-house team by sourcing senior and executive hires.

Mike sees Sci.bio’s roster of recruiters with science degrees as crucial to the firm’s success. “The biotech industry is very different from any other industries. Biotech roles require the cream of the crop.” However, many suitable job candidates lack detailed LinkedIn profiles — or aren’t on LinkedIn at all — so it’s harder for recruiters without science backgrounds to find them and identify key technical skills. Sourcing candidates to match the client’s needs requires a good grasp of scientific concepts, something Sci.bio is able to provide that larger, less specialized agencies struggle with. “Maybe I’m not producing 10 resumes 24 hours after receiving a requisition,” says Sandra, “but I’m producing three resumes that are very specifically tailored to the client’s needs. And that’s a better use of his time.”

COVID-19 and the changing biotech recruitment landscape

The pandemic has had an impact on recruitment and hiring patterns within the biotech sector. Some of those changes may shift as COVID-19 abates, others could last longer. For instance, Sandra has noticed candidates balancing family care and homeschooling with remote work are requesting part-time roles at the moment, leading to a lack of candidates for full-time roles.

Mike finds potential candidates becoming more risk-averse and less willing to consider moving out of their current jobs. “I’ve even spoken with a lot of candidates who — when I was in contact with them before — were open to a conversation about new opportunities. Now if they have job security, they’re not letting go of that.”

Although COVID-19 hasn’t stopped hiring in the biotech sector, uncertainties about clinical trial results and future revenue means biotech companies are hiring more contract than permanent staff right now, and leaving in-house HR and talent acquisition roles unfilled. Sandra predicts there will be an uptick in permanent HR and talent acquisition roles available next year when the pandemic recedes and a sense of stability returns. Mike notes that clients are much more open to offering remote positions, and are not just recruiting biotech candidates from within the Boston area.

Despite the changes COVID-19 has wrought on the biotech sector, both Mike and Sandra feel Sci.bio has adapted well to remote and flexible working, and that the future looks bright for biotech recruiters.