The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption to the ways we work. Some of the changes wrought will remain in effect well into 2021. Virtual meeting software (Zoom, WebEx, GoTo Meeting and Microsoft Teams to name just a few) is now a significant part of the professional workday. Respondents to a survey by Robert Half reported spending 30% of their workday on camera with business contacts or colleagues. The software isn’t simply being used for scheduled business meetings, but for informal gatherings between professionals, socials and interviews.
While such software allows many of us to maintain a sense of normalcy and connection to our colleagues, ‘Zoom burnout’ is a real problem. Twenty-four percent of people surveyed by Robert Half found “virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting and prefer to communicate via other channels like email or phone.” Many struggled to concentrate after too many meetings.
For job seekers and students in their final year of college, networking is still crucial to landing the right position, and Zoom is an important tool for that purpose. For workers not actively seeking new opportunities, Zoom allows them to stay connected with other colleagues working remotely and make new contacts.
Zoom as a job-seeking tool
Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, people are still graduating college, entering the workforce and planning career changes. Fortunately, the biotech job market remains relatively strong and companies continue to hire. Networking remains an important part of the job seeking process, and many networking events have successfully migrated to a virtual format.
If you’re hunting for a job, look for networking events run by professional science organisations, regional trade associations or interest groups. Happy hours or networking socials are particularly helpful to attend as a way to meet recruiters and people already working in your target industry.
It can be difficult to network online in a large group, so many events either set up breakout rooms attendees can self-select into, or randomize participants to different breakout rooms during the social as a form of “speed networking.”
While networking online, remember it’s harder to read body language and detect social cues when looking at a person through video conference software, so be careful not to monopolize the conversation, and give other people a chance to share their thoughts. Consider sharing links to your LinkedIn profile in the group chat so others can follow up with you after the meeting ends — and copy the information quickly, because you probably won’t get access to the conversation afterwards.
Zoom as a tool to connect with coworkers
Many virtual meeting platforms function equally well for business and personal gatherings. Zoom estimates 89% of its users are using its platform for work and 63% are using it for conversations with friends and family.
If you’re looking for novel but relaxed ways to connect with colleagues or employees, consider running a remote coworking event where participants socialize for the first 30 minutes then focus on their work for a couple of hours. This lets everyone have some company while they work. Another option is to schedule virtual coffee breaks or lunches with your coworkers.
Many workplaces have organized work from home socials where participants are sent the necessary components for an activity — escape room clues, wine or food tasting samples, a simple craft activity — that they can all enjoy together as a shared experience.
Avoiding Zoom fatigue
Burnout from too many online meetings is a real phenomenon, so use the software sparing for maximum benefit. Try to avoid scheduling too many meetings back-to-back, and consider spreading essential meetings out over several days. Of course, the best way to avoid Zoom fatigue is to not use Zoom; consider taking a step back and asking yourself if this virtual meeting could be an old fashioned phone call (or even just an email!).
When you do have to hop on a virtual meeting, try to reduce your number of available distractions and avoid multitasking. Though it can seem productive trying to complete several tasks at once, it will end up increasing your Zoom fatigue and making it harder to focus in the next meeting.
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.
It is easy to become complacent and think you are the expert in your position, especially if you have held your position for some time. It may be tempting to assume that you have all the skills and knowledge you need to continue being successful. But in every field, things are constantly changing—new technology, techniques, and ways to make your field better. If you don’t keep yourself up to date on your field’s new developments, you may find yourself left behind.
Not all companies provide comprehensive professional development to keep their employees up to date on their knowledge of the field, so it is crucial that you seek it out on your own. Here are some reasons to stay up to date on advances in your field.
To remain competitive in your position.
Even if you feel secure in your position at work, you should make sure you remain competitive with new people coming into the company and that you are as knowledgeable about the advances in your field as your coworkers. The goal of any job is to be the best at what you do, and the only way to do that is to be able to master the new skills you will need to continue to be the best. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about the newest advances in your field, you may not be as valuable in your position as you aim to be, which could eventually put your job in jeopardy.
To increase adaptability.
You never know when things at work will change with no warning. Your company may have a new CEO come in, or you may get new team members who bring more to the team. If you are up to date on the advancements in your field, you will be able to adapt to changes that happen rapidly because you will already be aware of the new way of doing things. The new computer program at work? No problem, you did a training recently on the newest technology in your field. Now you can adapt and change your position to fit the new technology you need to use.
To get a promotion.
When you start working at a company, your goal for the future, your goal is most likely to be able to move up in the chain of command and get a promotion over time. The best way to impress your superiors is to keep yourself up to date, learn to adapt to new ways of doing things and stay knowledgeable about the advances in your field. Knowing the latest information and using the newest technology will make you more relevant in your position. You will have a better chance of being noticed and promoted by your boss because you present as the best in your position.
Prepares you for a new position.
Experience is important when applying for a new position, but knowledge is as well. When you apply for a new position, you want to look your best and show how knowledgeable you are about your field. Being up to date on your career training and knowing how to use the most recent technology in your field will show how much of an asset you will be to the new company. Make yourself stand out as the best and most qualified in your field so you can get the position you are looking for.
Knowledge keeps you sharp.
Continuing to learn about the field you are in will not only help you in your position, but it will keep your mind sharp as well. Being complacent with the knowledge you have is not the way to move forward in your field. Staying a “student” and continuing to learn the most recent advances will sharpen your mind because you will be learning and challenging yourself to be better.
It is so important to continue to learn about your field of expertise. You don’t want to be left behind when there are new advances in your field that you have not learned yet. The last thing you will want at work is having a new person hired that can do a better job than you because they know about the most current information and technology in your field. It is as easy as signing up for an online course and devoting a few hours to learning something new every few months. Consider it a part of your job that you can make fun and exciting! Learning new things is often enjoyable and you will be able to put that knowledge to good use at work!
Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.
Looking for a new job can often be tedious. Day after day, applying for the job you think could be it and then getting a rejection (or even no response at all!) can affect your motivation to keep trying. Ultimately, to find a new role, you need to move forward even if you feel like you may never get hired.
So what can you do to get out of that funk and back into your job search with positivity and new focus? Here are our top 5 tips for staying motivated on your job hunt:
1. Surround yourself with positivity
It is crucial to stay positive throughout this process, even if it seems impossible. Surround yourself with the people who believe in you. Negativity can rub off on you easily if you spend too much time around those who don’t have a positive outlook on the situation. The pandemic has affected Americans in more ways than just staying physically healthy; the social, psychological, and financial impacts can’t be ignored. However, constantly hearing “how bad the situation is” and sharing doom and gloom stories will zap your motivation. Consider seeking out friends and colleagues who tell you “to control what you can,” “keep pushing,” and “you will find the right job.”
You can also join online groups for people who are in the same situation. Knowing that there are others in the same boat can be reassuring. You can also network in these social media groups and online forums. Maybe someone knows about a position that was not right for them but maybe the perfect fit for you! Having support from those in a similar situation can be comforting because it reminds you that you are not alone in this search.
Taking a break from the job search and doing positive things for yourself is also important. Set aside some time to meditate or do yoga, go for a walk, or join an exercise class. Maybe do a virtual paint night with your friends or go out to dinner with family (safely, of course.) You have so many options, even with the social limitations we are dealing with, to do positive things for yourself and help your mind stay in a strong, positive, motivated space.
2. Plan your goals and only focus on things you can control
Take the time to set goals for yourself and write them down so you can look at them anytime you feel you need to refocus. Getting stuck on the fact that you did great on an interview and still didn’t get hired or knowing your resume represents you perfectly, but you still haven’t gotten the call back for the job you wanted, will not help you get a job. All it will do is further frustrate you in an already difficult situation.
Decide on the things you can do to help yourself get a job, such as:
- -How much time you will spend on each job site.
- -How many sites you will apply on each day.
- -How you will network to help get yourself out there to hiring companies.
- -When you will take mental health breaks.
- -What are your target companies, or what is your target industry?
Making a list like this will not only keep you organized, but it will help you stay motivated to keep going as well. It is best to focus on what you can do to move forward if you want to motivate yourself to keep going in this difficult situation.
3. Set up a schedule for yourself
The best way to transition from working full-time to job searching full-time is to set up a schedule for yourself. You want to stay productive, but you don’t want to overwork or underwork yourself and waste the day away now that you are scheduling your own day. Set a time to wake up every day and map out when you will be following your list of goals so you can focus on what is important and stay positive about your search.
4. Search smart, not hard, and focus on your career goals
Many people who are searching for a job apply aimlessly online, hoping they will get a call and get hired. The best way to approach your job search is to focus on the companies you want in the industry you want to work in. You can apply online within your schedule, but you should focus your time and energy networking and reaching out to hiring managers who work at the companies you are interested in. Finding the right job may be as “simple” as connecting to a hiring manager that has an unlisted or hidden job opening that you would never have known about if you hadn’t gone the extra mile.
5. Learn to accept rejection and grow from it
When you are searching for a job, it is hard not to take it personally when you are rejected for a position you feel is right for you. Unfortunately, it is impossible to control when and where you will get hired, and there are many other factors at play besides how well you interviewed or how perfect you think you are for the role. The best way to deal with this difficult situation is to learn from any feedback offered, hold your head high, and keep moving forward. If you let the rejection get to you, it will affect your motivation and only make it harder to get the job you are looking for.
Keep in mind, it is ok to stumble sometimes. This is not an easy process, but you can find that perfect job if you keep yourself in a positive frame of mind and keep pushing forward. It may not happen right away, but if you let yourself get into a negative mindset it will only take longer! So take a deep breath, dig in and find the job you have been searching for.
Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.
As a life sciences professional, interviewing candidates is an important final step in what may have been a long hiring process. Getting the right hire can mean the difference between building a “good” team vs. having a “great” one.
However, at many companies, HR leaders and team managers haven’t updated their hiring procedures or taken the time to customize the recruitment process. In the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” guise, many organizations go through the same basic routine they’ve done for years and fail to make the changes that would result in more effective interviewing and, therefore, stronger teams with less turnover.
While it’s not necessary to completely start from scratch when it comes to your interviewing techniques, it’s important to understand that markets shift, applicants change, and, especially during COVID-19, systems for interviewing and onboarding have become more flexible.
The following are three danger signs to watch out for – with suggestions on how to remedy your processes:
1. Your Interviews are Too Short and you’re all asking the same questions
A short interview – of 20 minutes or less – is not only insufficient to learn all of the necessary information about a candidate, it’s also disrespectful. Candidates spend weeks researching organizations, filling out applications, and doing their due diligence. To arrive at an interview only to walk out of the door less than half an hour later is anticlimactic at best, and harms your company’s reputation at worst. Adding to the insult of a short interview, interview teams are often not assigned to focus on areas of competence or skill and default to redundant, predictable, questions that fail to uncover a candidate’s true capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Solution: Try not to rush things. Learn a little bit about them and their interest in the role before you dive into prepared questions. Candidates should have time to ask questions throughout the interview, not just as it’s wrapping up, and you should ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of their background and skills. You’ll learn more about the candidate and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Develop a Behavioral Based Interview format where interviewers are assigned competencies and values that resonate with the role. This will allow useful assessments that can be benchmarked against other candidates.
2. The Interview is Your Only Hiring Tool
Interviews should not be the sole basis of a hiring decision. An interview shows managers how candidates behave in a professional setting, but they provide little evidence of what each individual brings to the table. Some people may interview well and be a great fit on paper, but they may not fit in with the team culture. Others may interview poorly, but have great technical skills that your team needs. This is especially true for highly skilled positions in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences industries.
The entire application and interaction process from first interaction through references should be used as an opportunity for evaluation of candidates. Attention to detail, timeliness can be assessed through email interactions as an example. Carefully worded reference questions can reveal weaknesses that may have not been apparent: ”Is there any additional training or development that candidate name could benefit from in his/her development?” or “Why do you think candidate name wasn’t promoted, or left?” both allow opportunities for the reference to supply details you may not have uncovered yourself during the interview process.
Solution: Once you’ve narrowed down your selections to a handful of qualified individuals, you should find multiple ways to assess their skills and experience. For example, if you’re hiring a life sciences writer, it doesn’t make sense to judge them purely on their personality or conversational skills. Examining each candidate’s portfolio of work or asking them to do a brief writing example would demonstrate if they’re right for the job. Similarly, if you are hiring a lead Scientist who will need to present data, ask them to prepare a short presentation and Q&A session. Assess written follow up emails for both timeliness and attention to detail. Don’t ask cookie cutter reference questions that “check the box.” Instead ask questions that probe at the heart of candidate competency.
3. Only HR Personnel Conduct Interviews
Counting on only the HR department to interview and recommend the final candidate could lead to a poor hire. As capable as they may be, HR won’t know as much about the job as someone who has hands-on experience.
Solution: While HR can do the initial screening, hiring managers should conduct the follow-up interviews since they have the best understanding of the position’s requirements and the current team’s strengths and weaknesses. Most human resources professionals recommend that at least three company stakeholders become part of the interview process, including the position’s direct manager, the manager’s boss, and the team’s relevant members.
Not every interview technique and process works for every company. No two job applicants are the same, and no role is identical because a company’s needs change over time and so do roles and responsibilities. By being willing to look at your systemic flaws and adapting to what works and what doesn’t will help you attract and hire the best employees.
Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries. To learn more, visit our website today!