”I want to be a recruiter when I grow up!”
Okay, chances are you never uttered those words as a child. As Allison Ellsworth, Sr. Recruiting Partner and Director HR at Sci.bio, says “The vast majority of people don’t go to school to become a recruiter. You kind of fall into it through different choices you make on your career path, as you follow and develop your skill set.”
So let’s assume that over the years as you either considered options for starting your career or have contemplated a career shift, you decided that recruiting might just be the job for you. After all, you like interacting with people and think you’re a good judge of them; you can see yourself enjoying the prospect of conducting interviews on a daily basis and think you might even be pretty good at it.
But there’s more to being a great recruiter than just an affinity for talking to talk to people. Of course, that’s a necessary trait; if you don’t like interacting with people recruiting is likely not the job for you. But there’s also much more involved than the interview alone; a number of different types of skills and attributes are necessary to truly stand apart as a great recruiter.
3 Types of Skills/Attributes
The skills and attributes required can be grouped into three categories: Interpersonal Skills, Personal Attributes, and Business Skills. Let’s take a look at what falls into each of these categories.
Interpersonal skills could be considered the ante just to get into the game; any great recruiter has mastered them. When your job centers around interacting with and assessing people on a daily basis, things like communication skills and the ability to build and develop relationships are a must.
Great Communication Skills
The ability to verbally articulate is certainly important, but good communication skills go beyond speaking, or even writing. The ability to read body language to ascertain the real meanings, feelings, and emotions behind the words a candidate is saying, as well as the ability to use your own body language to put others at ease are just as important. And being able to actively listen to the nuances of what a candidate says – again, going beyond the simple words – can go a long way in making a thorough and accurate assessment.
Some may say that recruiting truly is an art of relationship building. And this means not only building and nurturing relationships with current and potential candidates, but also doing the same with hiring managers and even fellow recruiters. Finding and placing that perfect candidate in the perfect role is a team sport and requires trust, reliability, and a strong connection with all parties involved.
If interpersonal skills are the ante, certain personal attributes are the things that refine your ability to be a great recruiter even further. The tricky thing here is that some of these attributes tend to be inherent in a person and might be tough to learn if you don’t already have them. That’s not to say that can’t be learned, but if they come naturally to you, it may make being a great recruiter a little easier for you to attain. Some of the most important include:
Resilience/ Adaptability – when you’re dealing with various people, numerous variables can come into play, some that can even be beyond your control. People can be unpredictable, schedules can change last minute, and priorities and needs of both people and organizations can shift without much warning. When things don’t go as planned, the ability to bounce back and/or change your approach is key.
Patience/ Professional Persistence – sometimes it might take multiple tries to find and recruit the perfect candidate; the ability to play the “long game” and not give up after a first seemingly failed attempt can serve you well.
Results driven – recruiting can be a competitive profession, especially in industries that are in high growth mode where demand for talent may outpace supply. The best recruiters know how to set goals, keep focused on those goals, and work tirelessly towards them until they’re achieved.
Integrity – having a reputation for operating ethically and with honesty, and with the best interests of all involved always front and center can really set you apart from those who might use more questionable tactics to achieve their goals.
In a profession that is hyper-focused on people skills and relationship building, this final group of skills can sometimes be overlooked, but can truly level you up and make you stand apart from the rest.
Industry/Job Knowledge – having strong working knowledge of both the industry in which you are recruiting and the specific jobs you are trying to fill will make you more effective in assessing a candidate’s fit for an opportunity. Knowing the job intimately isn’t necessarily required, but having a working understanding of some of the key responsibilities and skills/experience needed to accomplish them will help you dig a little deeper in your interviews. Additionally, different industries often have their own unique attributes, needs, and nuances, and having a solid understanding of those will make finding the right talent that much easier.
Sales/Marketing skills – part of your job as a recruiter is to “sell” your ability to fill the role to the hiring manager, then “sell” the opportunity to potential candidates and the candidates’ abilities back to the hiring manager. Having natural sales abilities or being able to develop them can take your recruiting skills to the next level.
Problem solving & technical skills – some roles can be much harder to fill than others; roles that are highly competitive or require difficult to find skill sets may require out of the box thinking to successfully find and recruit candidates. In addition, knowing not only which technologies are available, but how to use them to find those hard to come by candidates can set you apart as well.
Time Management/Multitasking – this may go without saying, but being a recruiter means juggling multiple schedules, interviews, and job requisitions at the same time. Without strong organizational/time management skills and the ability to multitask, there’s no way you’ll be able to stay on top of everything you need to manage.
Want to hear what actual recruiters have to say? Stay tuned for an interview series with some of Sci.bio’s recruiters: learn what makes them tick, what it takes to be successful, and discover if recruiting is a career path that is a good fit for you!
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.
Teacher, nurse, nutritionist, psychologist, driver, security officer, event planner, waitress, referee, entertainer, comforter or in other words, mom. Moms naturally perform a balancing act. Adding work to the intricacies of motherhood further fuels the complexity of family life.
The pandemic has brought many unforeseen challenges to women of the household.
“Study after study finds that women shoulder more of the child care, more of the housework in families… men are doing more around the house than a generation ago, but the Labor Department has found mothers still spend almost twice as much time on child care and chores. So you add to that virtual school, and women are just saying this is too much.”¹
It is too much. What are the options in this scenario? According to a recent article, 2.2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began² most likely feeling that they had no other choice. A supportive work environment is crucial to keeping parents in the workplace and SciBio is a company that understands this.
Founder & Managing Partner, Eric Celidonio’s goal is to create a flexible environment that values performance, recognize contributions and provides meaning. Eric says “We love the fact that we have a lot of working moms on the team. We have a need for flexibility and so do they.” How do moms on the team feel? We surveyed our moms and here’s what they have to say.
- 90% of them say flexibility is provided by SciBio which is so instrumental to parenthood
- 90% of moms who have worked in other companies agree that SciBio is a supportive environment for working parents
- 100% of moms say the ability to work from home and create their own schedule has greatly benefitted them
Hear from some of our working moms:
Kerry C: “Sci.Bio is a flexible environment where having kids doesn’t mean putting your career on hold. Management prioritizes family and never makes you feel like your work should come before your family…I feel lucky to be here, working for this company that supports me and allows me flexibility.”
“Sci.Bio is a more supportive environment for working moms than other places I’ve worked in the past. It definitely alleviates some of the stress that invariably all working moms feel when doing the daily juggle”
Sandra T: “Working moms need flexibility and understanding. Sci.Bio does more than just permit you to make your own schedule and/or look the other way when an urgent family matter takes center stage; Sci.Bio encourages us to seek balance in ways that fulfill and restore us.”
“In previous companies, it seemed there was a divide between working parents and child-free employees who could dedicate 10 hours/day…Our leadership understands that we’ll get caught up as soon as possible, and they see the results we produce. It’s a much more nourishing environment.”
Allison E: “The majority of my colleagues are also working moms or parents, so they get it. It’s a relief to be able to juggle kids and work and not feel that I have to hide any part of my life. At Sci.Bio, we have always had flexible schedules and the ability to work independently, so I have always been able to work during the times in my day that the kids don’t need me (hooray for nap time!).”
“Without this flexibility, I wouldn’t be working. I would be another statistic, another mom who drops out of the workforce because it simply doesn’t support parents, and mothers in particular. I was never willing to sacrifice time with my children just to be in an office for 10 hours a day–it’s unnecessary. Losing women in the workforce negatively impacts all of us, and it’s past time to make changes to allow people a life outside of the office. The flexibility we have at Sci.Bio has allowed me to retain other parts of my identity besides being a mom, which so many women aren’t able to do–and maintaining those other aspects of who we are makes us better moms AND better workers”
Shereen D: “At Sci Bio the flexibility is an amazing benefit, I never feel pressure or guilt when I need to focus on my family.”
“I always considered myself to be very organized but being a mom has intensified this skill. Being a first time mom is challenging and actually remembering that you need to stay organized is key! Working at SciBio has helped me balance life as a doting mother and a dedicated employee.”
Between cuddles and conference calls, reading picture books and reading emails, working moms have a life filled with laser focus and optimal efficiency. Looking at these daily experiences, we celebrate the unsung heroes in the workforce, and look forward to continuing to meet their needs in a work environment.
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.
A career in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries can be very rewarding and fulfilling. But it often means working long, stressful hours.
Professionals in these industries are often mission-oriented, and aware that what they’re working to create, or manufacture can change lives. But what happens when there’s a significant amount of work that consumes everything else you do with no end in sight?
When your Job Becomes your Life
While it’s admirable and sometimes necessary to work whatever hours it takes to complete a project, it can be increasingly easy to forget to take time for yourself. As a life science professional, doing anything but work can seem like laziness or self-indulgence.
However, burnout is real, and if you’re not operating at full capacity because you’re exhausted, your work and personal life will suffer.
- Try Keeping One Day Meeting-Free
Often, meetings take time from being productive. Try establishing one day a week (or two afternoons) as “meeting-free.” Setting aside a day to get work done will do wonders for your productivity. You’ll get more accomplished during the day and take home less work (and stress) at night.
- Don’t Always Be the First Person in or the Last Person Out
Punctuality and a good work ethic are important. But professionals who spend ridiculously long hours at work may only be demonstrating poor time management. Make an effort to prioritize tasks and leave on time at least three nights a week. One tactic is to put an appointment on your calendar for the end of the day, so you have a reason to leave.
- Learn to Say “No”
Every time you say “yes” to another task, you’re increasing your work time, and decreasing your “me” time. Set a list of priorities and make decisions accordingly. Obviously, there will be times when “no” is not the right answer, but in those cases, ask which project is more important and set your priorities.
- Protect your Time Away from Work
If you have to take work home, make sure you set time limits for yourself, so it doesn’t eat up all of your personal time. Triage the important stuff. Respond only to the most critical emails, then leave the rest for when you’re back at your desk.
- Make Family a Priority
The people you love and who love you aren’t expendable – and your job should be built around that. If family emergencies happen, show up. Consistently make time to be there for the people that you love and count on you.
- Take a Vacation (or Staycation)
Remember: Vacation and personal time exist for a reason. Take the day’s you’ve accrued. You’re supposed to use these days, and you (and your manager) will ultimately be glad you did. Let your coworkers know you’ll be offline until you return. Your work and attitude will improve after taking a break.
As a life science professional, your work is important. But it’s also important to recognize that you can operate much more effectively if you regularly take some time for yourself. No one can survive for long – or perform at their best – by running at 100 miles an hour all the time!
As a hiring manager or recruiter working with a life sciences company, an employee referral program is an excellent source for locating talented candidates.
Employee referrals are a way of leveraging the existing employees in an organization to help identify and recruit quality talent. For many reasons, employee referrals have proven to be one of the best ways of sourcing.
Many life sciences companies have implemented employee referrals in their organizations – some using methods such as a referral program, and some are keeping it less organized. No matter how it’s set up, what matters most is to actively engage your staff through employee referrals.
Listed below are five benefits to implementing an employee referral program, and why it could be your best way to hire the most qualified talent:
1. Saves Time and Money
Sourcing candidates requires a lot of effort, which means it can cost a company both time and money. It was found in one study that referred candidates are faster to hire. An advantage of employee referrals is that your current team member makes the connection and saves the recruiter the initial time of sourcing the candidate. Further, the candidate could be a better match compared to others who apply externally. This can help expedite the process and cut back on the need to find alternative options.
2. Receive Qualified Candidates
Employees often want to work with someone who they know can do the job. With a referral, you can have much more confidence in the candidate’s ability to perform the necessary tasks, since they are “pre-sold.” In addition, a personal recommendation that is already within the company can instill confidence that the reference is in fact, valid and reputable.
3. Higher Retention Rate
Studies have shown that finding and retaining life sciences professionals is an ongoing challenge. The good news is employee referrals tend to stay around longer, perhaps because they are personally connected to their peers. That’s not to mention that the referrer themselves may feel more respected and valued after the company takes their recommendation. And when an employee feels respected and valued, they can become more dedicated in the long run. You may also want to give an employee referrer a bonus to show your appreciation!
4. Better Cultural Fit
A referred new hire will help alleviate the concern that a candidate may or may not be a good cultural fit. A successful employee referral program can help achieve this goal. Your employees are in the best position to understand the suitability of a referral to fit within your business.
5. Improved Employee Engagement
Encouraging qualified referrals can be the best way to engage your employees in more meaningful ways. When a company asks staff members to find the next great hire in their organization, they feel more empowered. At the same time, it’s a feeling of accomplishment for them by helping their friends achieve their next career move.
When it comes to finding candidates with specific life sciences skills, employee referrals have proven effective time and time again. Referrals are a great way for recruiters and hiring managers to fill positions with “pre-recommended” talent that possess the critical skills and cultural fit you’re looking 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. To learn more, visit our website today!