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.
In the first of our Meet the Recruiters series of blog posts, we’d like to introduce Kay Chow, Madison Giunta, and Carla Yacoub. They are all recent science graduates who joined Sci.bio within the past year as Scientific Recruiting Associates.
Madison is a contingency recruiter and focuses on business development. Kay handles RPO roles and ad hoc recruiting projects. As the most recent addition, Carla is completing her training and jumping in on various sourcing and recruiting projects as she hones her skills.
The Pathway Into Recruitment
All three had a passion for science and valued their STEM education, but realized more traditional STEM career pathways — academia, research, working in a lab — weren’t for them.
Madison graduated in 2020 with a BS in Nutrition Science from Merrimack College. Although she was passionate about the subject, she didn’t want to stay in school to pursue professional qualification. As part of her job search, she shadowed at a recruitment agency and fell in love with the career.
Kay graduated in 2020 with a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University. She joined a research lab as an undergraduate, but realized “spending five plus years of my life on one thing was really not enticing to me.” However, she found she really enjoyed recruiting volunteers for her lab’s clinical studies, and decided to look for STEM recruiting jobs.
Carla graduated in 2019 with a BS in Environmental Biology from Smith College. She didn’t like academia and wasn’t interested in research careers, but knew she liked working with people and doing scientific outreach. “I really liked bringing new forms of education to communities that may not have been included in that previously,” she explains.
STEM recruitment wasn’t a career they’d considered before graduating, but after applying to Sci.bio and going through the interview process, they all saw how scientific recruitment would be a good fit for their personal strengths and career needs.
Working as a Recruiter at Sci.bio
Although recruiting scientific professionals is a non-traditional STEM career, Carla, Kay and Madison enjoy learning about new areas of research through conversations with clients. Madison finds her STEM background helps her quickly understand new concepts and terminology.
At Sci Bio the first few months as a recruiter are spent in training, before they transition to their own projects. Most of their time is spent sourcing candidates and building relationships with their clients. Carla, who joined Sci.bio the most recently, enjoys working among a group of people who share the same values as her.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the working patterns of many people, including Sci Bio recruiters, who currently spend most of their time working from home, and go into the office once or twice per week. Madison enjoys the flexibility of remote working and structuring her day how she chooses.
On the flip side, Carla, Kay, and Madison found it easier to get distracted when working from home, or end up spending too much time on work at the detriment to their personal life. Kay has a “commute” to help her focus: she takes time after waking up to make herself a mocha latte and go for a short walk before starting work. These are the details we like to share in Meet the Recruiters.
Combatting Stereotypes and Growing as a Biotech Recruiter
All three enjoy recruitment, but encountered pushback from acquaintances who held negative or uninformed stereotypes about recruiters and alternate STEM careers. Some of Kay’s friends and family wondered, “Why did you get a degree in neuroscience if you’re just going to be talking to people all day?” not appreciating that her degree informs a lot of what she does.
Since Carla’s mother worked as a life insurance recruiter, she thought she knew what recruiting agencies and recruiters did, but she realized many of those preconceptions didn’t apply to Sci.bio: “It’s not about meeting goals, or sending a certain number of emails each day — it’s more like match-making.”
All three look forward to developing as recruiters and finding their niches, becoming the ‘go to’ sourcing expert for their specialty. Madison intends “make my brand” as a recruiter. Kay hopes to gain insight into international recruitment.
Fun Facts: Hobbies Outside of Sci.bio
Madison was a competitive cheerleader in college, and recently resumed competitive cheerleading in the post-collegiate leagues. She also coaches her high school team. In her free time, Carla does environmental videography and candid photography. She also enjoys coding and video games. Kay likes taking dancing classes.
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.