Author: Tara Smylie
It’s not the easiest time to be a biotech recruiter: As you may know, biotech companies have been experiencing a surge in layoffs in recent months, and nobody knows for sure when this trend will ease up.
While an industry-wide dip in hiring may concern you, it also creates an opportunity to step back and take a look at your clients, your stats, and your marketing strategies. Here, we’ve compiled some ways to stay busy and hone your craft while you find yourself with a little more time on your hands.
Strengthen candidate relationships
If your stream of new talent is running thin, don’t despair – you can still reach out to your existing candidate pool and get to know them better. Find out how they’re doing, what they’re working on, and what their goals are. As you chat, be honest about what’s going on – and explain the action plan you’ll implement once the industry picks up.
At the same time, don’t limit your outreach to existing candidates. If you haven’t already, test out new talent engagement pipelines such as email, social media ads, and sourcing software. Experiment with different strategies and see which ones promise the best return on investment.
Review your process
Now that you have fewer day-to-day details to worry about, take a step back to look at the big picture. How is your overall strategy working for you? Any weak spots that could use some tweaking? Take inventory of four key metrics: average cost of hire, average time to hire, typical sources of hire, and employment acceptance rates. Are these stats where you want them to be? If not, use this time to make adjustments to your recruitment process.
You can also change or expand your strategy for attracting new clients. Assess your engagement rates, conversion rates, and the profitability of your advertising channels. Does your branding convey a cohesive message? All your social media should work synergistically and let prospective clients know exactly what you’re about.
Start planning now
When the hiring freeze ends, which may be sooner than you expect, you want to be ready to get back in the game immediately. To get into position, look at your databases of both candidates and employers. Take advantage of this time to reach out to new potential candidates and explain your services.
As you prepare for the next hiring surge, stay on top of hiring trends. When the economy booms again, demand for both traditional and non-traditional science roles will surge. A keen eye for upcoming trends, from health informatics to rare oncology, will give you an edge. Find out what’s hot and tailor your strategy to that.
Remember, you’re still in business
Companies rarely stop hiring entirely – even during a hiring freeze, you can reach out and ask what kind of roles potential clients are looking to fill. In uncertain times, businesses often place special emphasis on the quality of their new hires, while trying to cut down on the quantity. You’ll earn employers’ gratitude and loyalty if you can deliver top talent in trying times, so spend some extra time and energy finding hand-in-glove matches for clients who are hiring. By the same token, don’t forget about your existing candidate roster. In a frigid job market, candidates will need all the support they can get.
\When you’re a recruiter and there’s little recruitment to be done, it’s easy to get bored or restless. On the other hand, if you stay busy by investing in long-term relationships and business strategy, this hiring freeze may turn out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise. Before you know it, work will pick up – and you’ll be grateful you took this time to stay relevant and connected.
- Fierce Biotech Layoff Tracker
- Why Social Media Is Now So Important For Recruitment
- Qualified job candidates per hire: recruiting metrics that matter
- Hiring and Recruitment Trends To Expect In 2022
- The Hiring Freeze – What Is Happening? And What Can We Do?
- What is a Hiring Freeze? 7 Smart Things That a Recruiter Must Do During One
- How Recruiters Should Spend Their Time During a Hiring Freeze
- Biotech Layoffs: What’s Really Happening in the Industry and What’s its Market Outlook?
Author: Claire Jarvis
Next up in our ‘Meet the Recruiters’ series we have Kendra Hodges and Lacey Paulides. Kendra is a Senior Scientific Recruiting Associate and Lacey is a Biotech Recruiting Associate at Sci.bio.
Lacey graduated in 2020 with a biology degree. Her journey into healthcare began while still a student, with medical assistant and medical scribe jobs. However, working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the career no longer aligned with her passions, so Lacey sought alternatives to further medical school. “My favorite part of healthcare was interacting with all sorts of different people and trying to make connections,” she explains. This led naturally to her current career in recruitment.
Kendra studied at the University of Vermont, graduating with a degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology. After graduation Kendra worked at a large recruitment agency, before switching to Sci.bio in early 2021.
When Kendra moved from a large to boutique recruitment agency, one of the biggest differences she noticed was the level of client and candidate engagement. “When you’re at a big agency, a lot of it is metric-focused, for example hitting a target of fifty phone calls a day. But you’re not getting as much engagement or depth of developed relationships .” At an agency like Sci.bio, Kendra found her clients more responsive and engaged.
Challenges and highlights
For Lacey “time management is initially the hardest thing” about being a recruiter. Having a visual schedule and blocking off time for sourcing and calling candidates is important to helping her stay on top of work.
Meanwhile, the best part of recruiting is the variety: Lacey finds every biotech client is working on something slightly different. ”It’s also a job where you can stay busy all the time, and I’m a person who loves to stay busy!” She also finds it rewarding to recruit for small start-ups, where a single hire she facilitates can make a huge difference to the company.
“I really like the client relationship aspect of recruiting,” Kendra says. “As well as when I’m able to match a candidate with a career they’re really passionate about.” She notes enticing candidates into roles where the start-up may still be in stealth mode, or a potential candidate isn’t committed to changing roles, can be challenging at times, though ultimately rewarding.
Over the next couple of years, Kendra hopes to reach Recruiting Partner level, developing the autonomy to choose specialties and which clients to work with. For Lacey, who joined Sci.bio at the end of 2021, her immediate priority is developing her own workflow and best practices, and developing long-term connections with candidates.
When not at work, Kendra likes to play guitar and collect vinyl. Her most valued vinyl is a copy of Abbey Road by the Beatles.
Lacey recently started her own fashion brand. “The theme is being authentic to yourself and not comparing yourself to others,” she explains, something that is reflected in her recruiting career. In her spare time she also loves biking and surfing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.