Top tier PhD talent have their pick of jobs. You can’t sit passively by and hope that they come across your job posting. You need to attract them. Here are six ways you can effectively recruit quality PhD-level talent for positions at your company.
- Emphasize Impactful Work – Something like assay design may not sound interesting or impactful, but in the bigger picture, it’s critical! PhDs want to know that what they’re doing is making a difference. Be sure to reference industry, patient, or scientific outcomes in the job description. PhDs don’t like doing the same thing over and over again – offer clear pathways for leadership and skills development. Not only should they be able to do the science, but they should be able to communicate as well. What professional development opportunities do you offer? If your company has different divisions or research areas, encourage the scientists to cross-collaborate to learn new skills and gain a broader perspective of their role in the company. Consider a conveyor belt model where senior scientists train the new scientists, who will later train the next set of scientists. Coupled with skills development opportunities, this will ensure that your company is keeping pace with advances in the field.
- Create and Maintain a Talent Pipeline – Building relationships with programs, schools, labs, or even specific candidates who might be a fit for a role down the line is a great way to get your company recognized as committed to developing qualified talent. Good, niche, recruiters who know the industry will have an advantage in knowing where to find candidates and already have some personal and working relationships to jumpstart the recruiting process. Attract graduate students at job fairs, offer career coaching services, or host networking events at universities so that when a specific position opens, you have a direct pipeline to PhDs who will fit. Consider sponsoring a scholarship or offer internship opportunities so that you can build those relationships early and nurture them down the road. This also ensures that the PhDs will be trained in skills relevant to your company. This allows you and the candidate to form both a personal and professional relationship, which will make you more able to demonstrate your commitment to fostering long-term relationships and will make them better able to tailor their application material to your job posting.
- Personalize the Invitation to Join – Top tier PhD talent likely already have good jobs and are very unlikely to passively come across your job listing. They need to be recruited. Not only that, but they want to be recruited. They want to feel noticed, recognized, and desired. Consider holding virtual job fairs with a core focus (for example, bioinformatics or process development) to create personal connections. Or connect with them through LinkedIn and send a personalized message based on their profile and summary sections. What does your company have to offer that others don’t? Why do you think they would be a good fit? Just as job applicants are expected to do research on companies to tailor their application, do some research on the talent and tailor the invitation to apply. Recruiters can help streamline this process by having a conversation with the hiring manager and matching company values and required skills with PhDs.
- Focus on Company Culture – You want a team player, a leader, and a person who’s all around easy to work with, but also has a sharp eye for science. But does your company culture support this, and is it transparent? PhDs want an environment where they can learn, grow, mentor, and be mentored. They are curious people and want the freedom to explore and generate new ideas, not be micromanaged. Consider polling for sentiment and adapting company values to align with employee values, rather than focusing solely on leadership’s aspirational ideas. Demonstrate your commitment to well-rounded development by encouraging volunteering time to a cause congruent to company values. Allow flexible hours; after all, PhDs have track records of being productive in a flexible working environment. Hold team-building events to create a strong sense of community.
- Recognize Personal Achievements – Nobody wants to feel like a cog in a machine, and PhDs especially need to be recognized. Coming from academia, they are used to publishing papers and getting credit for their work. In industry, there are typically less opportunities to publish – so how are PhDs recognized? Consider regular promotions and/or raises based on a transparent salary scale, or merit acknowledgements for years of employment and other achievements. Generate a company newsletter that highlights what people are doing both in and out of the work environment. Include an employee spotlight section to highlight contributions to projects and other personal achievements. Make them feel unique and valued.
- Offer Compensation Transparency – Being clear about levels and associated salary ranges early in the recruiting process helps both your company and the candidate determine if the role is a fit. Articulate bonus structure, equity, and other non-monetary benefits clearly to help top tier PhDs evaluate their options. Recruiters can help here by having these conversations up front to ensure everyone is on the same page with regards to expectations. After all, there is nothing worse than finding the perfect candidate only to find out after several rounds of interviews that their salary expectations are much higher than what you can offer! Have your Human Resources department perform regular compensation and benefits analysis to make sure you’re offering a competitive and transparent package.
In conclusion, recruiting top tier PhD talent requires you to put thought into your company beyond a mission statement and job listings. Create a company culture that recognizes excellence while offering plenty of room for personal and professional development. Remember, it’s not just about the bottom line – it’s about building a sense of community grounded in professional and personal excellence to attract quality candidates to your company.