Today we’re learning a bit more about Janel Fields and Alexis Palazzolo – two Senior Scientific Recruiting Associates at Sci.Bio. They handle a mixture of contingency and RPO recruitment projects.
Alexis and Janel entering biotech recruitment
Although relatively new to Sci.Bio, Janel and Alexis both joined the company with useful industry experience. Alexis spent several years as a physician recruiter. “I liked talking the lingo and having relationships with people out there saving lives every day,” she explains. Reassessing her career priorities after the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexis moved into biotech recruiting.
Janel’s background is in biochemistry, and she worked in a variety of roles within the pharma industry for over a decade. She sought a role that was more flexible than a traditional corporate position. “I wanted to lean on my transferable and soft skills,” Janel says. “I liked connecting the dots for people – so I decided to try recruiting.”
Difference between biotech recruiting
Alexis finds biotech recruiting a positive, smooth experience. She recalls that in her previous physician recruitment role it was often hard to form connections with potential job candidates. “A lot of physicians are really busy,” she notes, and not actively searching for work. In contrast, most biotech recruitment is mostly conducted through LinkedIn, and candidates with profiles there are more willing to talk to recruiters.
In addition to the flexibility afforded by a recruiting career, Janel enjoys the frequent client interactions. “In my previous roles it was me, my Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and my work instructions.” She also appreciates that recruiting allows her to bring more of her personality into the job. “Sometimes conversations with candidates require me to be empathetic if they’ve been laid off due to COVID-19 or company restructuring. People want to know that you care.”
Contingency vs RPO recruiting
Both Alexis and Janel handle contingency and RPO recruitment projects, and see the two as having distinct advantages. “I like the hunt of contingency,” says Alexis. “It’s gratifying because you’re finding the candidate and taking them through the whole process.” On the other hand, Janel likes that in RPO projects she can focus on finding amazing talent if the client already has a list of candidates in mind.
Outside of work
In her home office, Janel has set up her iPad and Chromebook as second and third screens to help manage her work. “I’m a stationary fanatic,” she says. “I need good pens and good notebooks.” On Janel’s main sourcing days, she often spends the day co-working in local coffee shops with her tech friends.
Alexis’ office essential is her noise-canceling headphones. However, she’s found some background noises are helpful for building new connections: “I have a dog, so sometimes if candidates hear my dog on the call we get a stronger interaction going.”
In addition to recruiting, Janel operates as a private chef for clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She sees entrepreneurship and recruitment as two sides of the same coin. “Recruitment is still business: we have to make sure we’re helping people, that we do a good job and we’re closing deals.” Janel says. “And if you’re not promoting your product or service, nobody is going to know who you are.”
Next up in our ‘Meet the Recruiters’ series we have Kendra Hodges and Lacey Paulides. Kendra is a Senior Scientific Recruiting Associate and Lacey is a Biotech Recruiting Associate at Sci.bio.
Introducing Recruiters Kendra and Lacey
Lacey graduated in 2020 with a biology degree. Her journey into healthcare began while still a student, with medical assistant and medical scribe jobs. However, working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the career no longer aligned with her passions, so Lacey sought alternatives to further medical school. “My favorite part of healthcare was interacting with all sorts of different people and trying to make connections,” she explains. This led naturally to her current career in recruitment.
Kendra studied at the University of Vermont, graduating with a degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology. After graduation Kendra worked at a large recruitment agency, before switching to Sci.bio in early 2021.
When Kendra moved from a large to boutique recruitment agency, one of the biggest differences she noticed was the level of client and candidate engagement. “When you’re at a big agency, a lot of it is metric-focused, for example hitting a target of fifty phone calls a day. But you’re not getting as much engagement or depth of developed relationships .” At an agency like Sci.bio, Kendra found her clients more responsive and engaged.
Challenges and highlights
For Lacey “time management is initially the hardest thing” about being a recruiter. Having a visual schedule and blocking off time for sourcing and calling candidates is important to helping her stay on top of work.
Meanwhile, the best part of recruiting is the variety: Lacey finds every biotech client is working on something slightly different. ”It’s also a job where you can stay busy all the time, and I’m a person who loves to stay busy!” She also finds it rewarding to recruit for small start-ups, where a single hire she facilitates can make a huge difference to the company.
“I really like the client relationship aspect of recruiting,” Kendra says. “As well as when I’m able to match a candidate with a career they’re really passionate about.” She notes enticing candidates into roles where the start-up may still be in stealth mode, or a potential candidate isn’t committed to changing roles, can be challenging at times, though ultimately rewarding.
Over the next couple of years, Kendra hopes to reach Recruiting Partner level, developing the autonomy to choose specialties and which clients to work with. For Lacey, who joined Sci.bio at the end of 2021, her immediate priority is developing her own workflow and best practices, and developing long-term connections with candidates.
When not at work, Kendra likes to play guitar and collect vinyl. Her most valued vinyl is a copy of Abbey Road by the Beatles.
Lacey recently started her own fashion brand. “The theme is being authentic to yourself and not comparing yourself to others,” she explains, something that is reflected in her recruiting career. In her spare time she also loves biking and surfing.
In this installment of our ongoing ‘meet the recruiters’ series, we meet someone new and bring back a familiar face.
Aly Budny is a Senior Marketing and Recruiting Associate. She oversees Sci.bio’s marketing efforts – which include the company’s website, social media, newsletters, webinars – and covers a broad range of contingency and RPO recruiting
Aly obtained a Cell and Molecular Biology degree from Northeastern University. Her interest in her current career stemmed from a marketing-focussed co-op she completed as an undergraduate. “Marketing was what I thought I wanted to do after graduating, but I also wanted to test the waters with something new.” Since she enjoyed another co-op at a biotech firm, Aly knew she wanted to stay in STEM, and so applied to her current role with Sci.bio.
Carla Yacoub was profiled last year shortly after she joined in February 2021. She’s currently a full cycle recruiter for contingency and RPO accounts. In addition to recruitment, Carla oversees Sci.bio’s new ‘Alternative Careers in STEM’ (ACIS) webinar program, and is involved with interviewing and training new hires. “It’s nice to show people who were in a similar space as me who don’t know what they want, but this could be a good fit for them,” Carla explains.
Both Aly and Carla completed a similar training process once they started at Sci.bio. New recruits shadow more senior recruiters, who talk them through their own workflow. Shadowing allows junior recruiters to find a style that works best for them. “Everybody’s process is different,” Carla explains. “New hires can take what is useful for them and turn it into their own unique process.” Carla enjoys building the confidence of new hires who aren’t sure if they can succeed at biotech recruiting, by showing them what’s possible.
Aly found the early exposure to different projects and types of recruitment helpful. “You can’t find a niche at the company until you’ve tried lots of things.”
The ACIS webinar program showcases different career pathways available in biotech companies, such as medical writing, accounting and bench positions. With her background in videography, Carla was especially keen to get involved with the webinar program, which asks “how can we target people with a STEM degree who know they don’t fit into a traditional STEM career path?”
Despite being in its early stages, responses to the webinar program so far have been positive. The webinar centers around a panel discussion where participants get their questions answered, and receive career advice tailored to them. To Aly the benefits of such a program are huge: “[STEM degree holders] can read a career advice column but it is generalist advice for everybody: these webinars are a little more personalized and can dive into tougher questions.”
Carla notes that it also gives attendees access to the Sci.bio network of contacts, enabling participants to build new connections in the biotech sector.
Organizing and balancing
When Aly started at Sci.bio her workload was split 50-50 between marketing and recruiting. However, after developing and refining the company’s new marketing process, she’s been able to focus more of her time on recruitment projects. Aly uses Google Calendar as her work planner, and sets their reminders and notifications to keep on track of her tasks. “Every single minute has a purpose,” she says.
Aly also uses Gmail labels to differentiate between clients and Sci.bio emails, and all emails are archived once they’re no longer relevant, so she can focus on the most important messages.
Carla’s philosophy for managing her time is to remember: “Recruiting requires managing many moving parts” and “even though there’s always more to be done, the quality of my work would suffer” if she tried to do everything.
She keeps on top of her workload by making a note of everything the second she receives it, so she won’t forget. She also encourages different groups to contact her through separate channels: Microsoft Teams is reserved for her RPO clients, and everyone at Sci.bio communicates with her via email. Carla finds these separated communication channels help her distinguish between tasks and their priority level.