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An Offer They Can’t Refuse

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Author: Gabrielle Bauer

To attract the best, your offer has to speak to them

You’ve found The One—the candidate who stood out above all others and promises to take your organization to new heights. The only thing left is to get your rockstar to say yes.

The STEM market has a talent shortage, with the best candidates in high demand, so expect your candidate to come to the negotiation table with a wish list. While you don’t have to grant every item on the list, this is not the time to quibble about the wording of the job title or the flexible start time on Wednesdays. Showing good faith keeps the negotiation flowing and brings that “yes” to your corner.

For starters, contact the candidate ASAP—ideally on the same day you’ve decided to hire them. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that another employer will snap them up. Pick up the phone, rather than sending an email: only through a voice exchange can you communicate your excitement and gauge the candidate’s emotional response to the offer.

Put on your candidate’s hat

“The employer-employee relationship doesn’t start the first day on the job. It officially starts with the job offer. Make that moment memorable for the candidate.”-Jeff Haden, contributing editor, Inc. magazine

If your candidate is like most, they’ll prioritize five areas when evaluating an offer: salary, short-term incentives, long-term incentives, benefits and perks—and the job itself. If they’re already working, they’ll likely expect a pay increase of at least 10% to change jobs. But don’t just pick a figure based on salary history or industry standards: tailor your salary offer to your candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience 3 —and let him know how you’ve arrived at the figure. Transparency never hurts.

“Using past salaries to determine a future salary perpetuates the gender pay gap and shows an unwillingness to pay employees their true worth.” 3
-John Feldmann, Insperity

In addition to discussing base salary, explain the benefits, bonus plan (if any), and any other monetary perks in detail, following up with a written summary of what you discussed. By the same token, come clean about your constraints. If you’re a startup and have a limited cash flow, for example, explain that you can’t match a top-dollar salary right now but can make up for it with an attractive equity program.

Don’t stop at monetary benefits: today’s jobseekers place a high value on the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with many people discovering they enjoy working from home. Flexible hours and paid volunteer days can also help attract top candidates looking for employers who value work/life balance.

As for the job itself, bear in mind that science professionals don’t usually seek out Easy Street. As revealed by a Talent in Science survey, they rate the opportunity to do challenging work as a key factor in deciding on a job offer. With this in mind, be sure to highlight the professional challenges and opportunities for growth. Working on a team that successfully commercializes a drug can galvanize a career, so let your candidate know if you have a big one in the pipeline.

When in doubt, ask

No two candidates have the same life circumstances, and a perk that means the world to one candidate may leave another one cold. Instead of guessing, ask outright: “What working conditions or benefits do you value most?” If you can meet these needs, even partway, you’re on your way to a deal.

Even if the candidate doesn’t push back on any of your terms, resist the temptation to ask for a firm commitment right away: giving them the time and space to reflect on the offer signals respect. That said, it may be useful to probe them gently to gauge their interest in moving forward. You can simply ask: “I understand you need time to think about this, but how do you feel about the offer?” If you sense hesitation, you can ask further questions or provide information that could move the needle.

What you don’t want is a lukewarm, half-hearted acceptance. A new hire who starts out with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction won’t give you his best. When you finally seal the deal, you want both parties to be smiling widely.

References

1. How can we attract engineering and science talent to life sciences? LinkedIn, Oct. 21, 2019. 
2. How to make the perfect job offer: 9 tips. Inc. magazine.
3. 10 tips for making job offers to top candidates. Forbes expert panel. 

 

 

 

The Most Important Tool for Landing a Biotech Job? Your Personal Brand

The Most Important Tool for Landing a Biotech Job? Your Personal Brand

Searching for your first biotech job? Much of the career advice for aspiring scientists focuses on creating and polishing tangible documents: CV, cover letters and a LinkedIn profile. Less discussed, but perhaps more important than anything else when it comes to job hunting success, is the creation of your personal brand.

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand is composed of the qualities, values and strengths other people associate with you. It is both the image you actively promote, and the impressions of you people get from your online and in-person presence. The author Cynthia Johnson identifies “personal proof, social proof, recognition, and association” as the four pillars of a personal brand.

Why does my personal brand matter?

The biotech job market is competitive. A biotech company may receive hundreds of applications for every entry level scientist position advertised. Not only will a clear personal brand help your job application stand out, but it will give time-pressed hiring managers and recruiters an immediate sense of who you are as a candidate and what you can bring to the role.

How do I cultivate and market my personal brand?

 

1. Be authentic

Although it might take time to discover your personal brand, you should never pretend to be something you’re not, or misrepresent your accomplishments. A ‘strong’ personal brand is not a reflection of how impressive your accomplishments are, it’s about the consistency of your messaging, and whether the broad strokes of the brand you promote matches the evidence showcased in your CV, website, etc.

2. Identify your strengths and accomplishments

When starting their career, scientists are often taught to be modest about their achievements and present work experience in a ‘neutral’ fashion. In the world of personal branding, you are allowed to brag a little! Your wins and your talents should take center-stage on LinkedIn and your other professional websites and social media accounts. If you win a research award…post about it online. If you’re great at working in cross-functional teams…point that out in your job application.

Once you’ve written down your technical and personal strengths, it’s easy to translate the former into your area of expertise. Recruiters and hiring managers definitely want to see your achievements, but even more important is a demonstration of cohesive expertise in your research field. That expertise is what will get you an industry job.

3. Focus your brand

There are two meanings of the phrase ‘focused personal brand’ – and both are important. You want your personal brand to be concise: it should boil down to a couple of sentences and adjectives. An example might be “Creative microbiologist who specializes in E. Coli.” It shouldn’t take you five minutes to explain to a recruiter who you are and what you do.

In the other sense, your personal brand should be focused into a sub specialty, with a defined target audience. While it’s understandable that you don’t want to narrow your career opportunities down to nothing, your personal brand can’t be so broad that nothing about you stands out to recruiters and hiring managers. For instance, saying you’re “a medicinal chemist” may be true…but it’s less helpful than saying you’re “a medicinal chemist who specializes in oncology drug development and has experience using solid NMR.” Now you’ll attract the attention of recruiters seeking to fill oncology and solid NMR-based medicinal chemistry roles.

4. Build an online and in-person presence

Once you’ve decided upon your brand, it’s time to market yourself. Update your professional website, job application materials and LinkedIn profile to highlight your core skills, values and career objectives. When you aren’t posting about yourself on your professional social media profiles, you should be sharing and interacting with content that reflects your personal brand (e.g. breakthroughs in your area of expertise, news from the kinds of companies you wish to work for). You don’t have to produce a lot of content or be active on LinkedIn 24/7: but you should make a commitment to posting or sharing content on a regular basis, be it once a week or once a day.

Of course, you can also publicize your personal brand through in-person and virtual networking [insert link to networking blog]. When networking with recruiters and peers within your field, your elevator pitch should encapsulate the strengths and expertise already outlined in your personal brand. Once developed, consider engaging in professional activities that reinforce and publicize your personal brand, such as presenting at conferences or taking on leadership roles in professional societies.

When looking for your first industry role, the biotech job market can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Fortunately, the experienced specialist recruiters at Sci.Bio are here to help. Get in touch with us to discuss your career goals today.

Networking Tips and Tricks for Scientists

Networking Tips and Tricks for Scientists

As the number of COVID-19 cases drop and social distancing measurements relax, in-person networking events will start returning. For many scientists and science students, their understanding of ‘networking’ is at best a foreign concept with no applicability to their career path, and at worst they think there’s something almost underhanded about schmoozing your way into a job.

Unfortunately for those scientists, networking is critical to securing jobs inside and outside academia. For STEM students and postdocs who are uncertain about their future career path, networking can provide opportunities and insight that academic mentors are unavailable to provide. But the good news is networking doesn’t have to be awkward or embarrassing. In fact, it can be informative and fun.

Here are some tips and tricks that any scientist – or introverted person – can use to help network more effectively.

What is networking?

A common misconception about networking is that it’s all about trying to get a job. Networking is a conversation. It’s about forming a mutually-beneficial professional connection. When defined like that, you can see networking takes place all the time on a large and small scale. A 5 minute conversation with a visiting lecturer is networking, but a 5 minute conversation at a family BBQ can be networking, too! Presenting a poster at an international conference is definitely a networking situation. Research collaborators and colleagues within your department are network contacts, but any people you meet and interact with have the potential to be network contacts as well–you never know who other people know.

Networking rarely yields immediate results: it can take months (or years) for the benefits of networking efforts to show. Recruiters at the mixer you attend may not know of suitable job openings right then, but several weeks later when a job opportunity arises they may – if you networked successfully – remember your name.

Because of this, it’s helpful to begin networking 6-12 months before you finish your PhD or postdoc, the earlier the better. It takes time to build connections and become comfortable networking with others.

Getting the most out of networking events

While a lot of networking can happen organically, dedicated networking events are a great opportunity to meet new people you wouldn’t otherwise encounter within an academic research setting. These events might take place in conjunction with symposia and conferences, or be organized by professional societies.

Before arriving at a networking event, think about your career goals and how other attendees could help you. Are you actively looking for a job? Or still trying to figure out what you want to do? Distill your objectives into a couple of sentences and get comfortable explaining them.

“During my first networking event at a career fair, I was nervous and not quite sure what to expect or talk about. After a few interactions I realized that all I had to do was introduce myself, have a candid conversation, exchange contacts, and then I had a networking connection.” Carter Lewis, Sci.bio Recruiting Associate

Despite the fact you need a game plan, it helps to go into networking events with an open mind. Everyone in the room has the potential to help you meet your career goals, or introduce you to new opportunities you hadn’t considered. Show the same level of interest and courtesy to everyone you meet, and find out what you can about their job. What do they enjoy about their work? How did they get into the field? What advice would they give to someone looking to break into the field? While you may not be interested in biotech consultancy, perhaps a labmate is considering such roles and would benefit from any insights you can relay.

As scientists, we tend to be very detail-orientated and thorough when talking about our work. In networking situations, people may not be familiar with your field and could be pressed for time, meaning you must be concise. Develop a ‘high-level’ elevator pitch that describes your work quickly in broad strokes. If the other person wants to learn more, they’ll ask follow-up questions.

When talking to someone new, avoid monopolizing the conversation. Pause and ask questions. It doesn’t sound like much, but simply seeming interested in other people is one of the best ways to leave a good impression. Don’t forget to think about what YOU may be able to offer THEM; networking and building connections goes both ways.

The great thing about networking events is that everybody who attends wants to have a conversation with you! Even if you’re naturally more reserved, there are many people in the room, such as recruiters, who enjoy meeting new people and are experienced at navigating these kinds of social interactions.

Business card and follow-up

“Thanks, it’s been great talking to you – here’s my contact information.” You don’t have to devote a lot of time to any one person at the networking event. If it seems like you don’t have much to say to each other, it’s fine to politely bow out of the conversation and look for someone else to talk to. Be sure to collect the other person’s contact information and share yours. Business cards are the traditional hallmark of networking, but some people generate QR codes that link to their LinkedIn profile or online CV. At virtual events all you need to do is drop your contact info in the chat. Most people who attend networking events are open to connecting electronically afterwards. You can also send a short email the next day thanking them again for their time and re-emphasizing how much you enjoyed talking to them.

“Even if [recruiters or my new connections] didn’t have an immediate job opportunity for me, I still had someone that I could reach out to in the future.” Carter Lewis, Sci.bio Recruiting Associate

As mentioned above, networking doesn’t immediately bear fruit. You want to cultivate your network over several months; interacting with new connections on LinkedIn (e.g. commenting on their posts) and keeping your name fresh in their minds without becoming a nuisance or spamming them. Maybe this new contact knows one of their contacts has a job vacancy, or perhaps they can help you with something unrelated to your job search? Either way, you won’t know until you’ve made the connection!

Networking can appear daunting, but recruiters at Sci.bio are happy to help you expand your circle of contacts and take your career to the next level. Get in touch with us today.