If you’re new to the biotech job market you may hold the following common misconceptions about recruiters (put your hand up if you’ve believed either of these things): recruiters are indiscriminate in who they reach out to, and they only care about meeting hiring quota.
In reality, biotech recruiters are often very familiar with the industry, because they have long standing relationships with pharma clients, and are trained as scientists themselves. Many recruiters are STEM graduates like yourself, and love talking about science with jobseekers and clients.
If you’re overwhelmed by the post-graduation hunt for a job, working with a boutique biotech recruiter will make your life easier. But if you’ve not worked with specialized recruiters before, you might not know how to build a relationship with one, or let them know you’re job-hunting.
If a biotech recruiter hasn’t reached out to you, here are proactive ways to reach out:
Attend mixers or networking events at events in your field (e.g. a Working in Biotech career panel, a young professionals mixer) – it’s likely you’ll find one or two recruiters among the attendees
After introducing yourself: your current role, when you expect to graduate or begin job-hunting, and the job positions you’re interested in – the recruiter will likely ask for an opportunity to chat with you on the phone to learn more.
What to expect in initial phone conversations with recruiters:
Don’t be shy – recruiters speak to a lot of people like yourself, and are familiar with conducting these types of conversations and putting you at ease.
Practice a brief couple of sentences’ introduction. E.g. I’m an Immunology PhD candidate at X university. Give the other person space to ask follow-up questions.
Think about when you are looking for a job and what skills you have. What analytical instruments do you work with? What laboratory techniques do you regularly perform (e.g. PCR, western blot)? Decide what you are looking for in a role, and if you don’t know, think broadly: do you want to work with people, are you interested in being a bench scientist? Would you like to work in a fast-paced start-up, or a more traditional large pharmaceutical company? These answers will help the recruiter decide which roles to put your name towards.
After your initial phone call and emails, don’t be afraid to follow up if you haven’t heard back within an agreed upon timeframe. Recruiters are busy, and clients can experience delays in their hiring process, so recruiters are unlikely to be ignoring you! Checking in regularly demonstrates your continued interest in the roles discussed, as well as your good organization skills.
At Sci.Bio, we’ve helped hundreds of STEM graduates get into their first biotech job. Get in touch to schedule a chat with one of our friendly, knowledgeable recruiters today.
How can you avoid candidate ghosting? First we need to define ghosting. The term “ghosting” – when one person drops all contact without warning and no longer replies to your messages – is something you may have heard about in the context of romantic relationships or friendships, but it is becoming a professional phenomenon too.
A recent survey of jobseekers found that 84% of candidates admit to ghosting an employer or potential employer during the past 18 months. As a recruiter, it is frustrating when a candidate stops responding to your calls and does not tell you why. Aside from accepting it’s not a personal reflection on you, here are some ways to reduce the likelihood of candidate ghosting.
Why Candidates Ghost
Unfortunately, the reality of the current workforce and hiring trends means that ghosting is easier – and more tempting than ever.
With the biotech sector still growing fast and struggling to fill their positions – and the rising cost of living prompting many STEM workers to seek better opportunities – recruiters need job candidates slightly more than candidates need them. As a result, jobseekers often move faster than recruiters when applying for jobs and accepting or rejecting offers. They are also frequently working with multiple recruiters or applying to jobs directly. This leads to a situation where candidates are more likely to ghost one recruiter because they’ve accepted another job offer, or they are balancing too many job applications and decide to let some opportunities go.
In the survey mentioned above, 29% of job candidates said the reason they ghosted an employer was because the salary offered was too low. The second most common reason given was the candidate received a better job offer (28%).
How Recruiters Can Avoid Candidate Ghosting
The best way to avoid jobseeker ghosting is to remain approachable and proactive. Keep candidates apprised of delays with their applications (e.g. if the hiring manager is away on vacation until next week), and check in with the candidates regularly. These check-ins should continue even after a job offer is made: if the candidate isn’t receiving updates from their new employer, it may make them nervous and more likely to continue their job search. It is uncommon for a candidate to ghost the company after making a job offer…but it’s not unheard of.
When filling biotech roles, make sure you know what the candidate’s preferred salary range is early in the process, and whether the position you’re trying to fill meets their expectations.
Assume that the candidate is pursuing multiple opportunities simultaneously, and act accordingly. Try to accommodate the candidate’s other applications – if they expect to attend a final stage interview next week, make sure they do not have to wait long to find out the status of the interviews you’ve facilitated.
Lastly, emphasize that you’re supportive of the candidate pursuing other opportunities and accepting competing offers. Some candidates ghost recruiters because they fear an awkward conversation when they admit they’ve accepted another offer. If you want your candidates to tell you when they’ve stopped their job search, it’s best to be understanding.
Are you wondering what to expect at your biotech job interview? Before we get to that, congratulations on getting this far! Whether you are applying to your first STEM job after graduation, or re-entering the job market after a long time, the biotech interview process can appear intimidating. Fortunately, the recruitment process is fairly standard across the industry – with a few exceptions described below – and with a little bit of preparation you can shine every step of the way.
General Structure of Biotech Job Interview Process
The first step of the recruitment process is usually an HR screening call. The recruiter or HR representative will tell you about the company and the role in more general terms, and assess your basic suitability for the role: whether you have the right qualifications and experience. The next stage is a call with the hiring manager, followed by technical or panel interviews. Panel interviews will usually involve senior employers across a variety of functions who will interact with you in their line of work. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a bench position, you may be interviewed by your potential line manager, the head of your department, and someone from finance or operations.
These interviews will delve deeper into your experience, competencies, and what the role involves. Depending on the technical role you’re applying for you might be asked to present on a scientific topic (e.g. your thesis project), or complete a timed/take-home assessment.
A biotech job interview will often be via video conference (Microsoft Teams, WebEx or Zoom), though you may be invited for an in-person interview at the final stage if you live nearby.
If you found this job through a recruiter, expect them to follow-up with you after each stage to get your feedback. The recruiter will often do the majority of the interview scheduling, and talk to the hiring team on your behalf.
It’s a good idea to prepare for the interview by gathering basic information about the company you wish to work for. Look at the company website, its LinkedIn pages and read through recent press releases or news articles about the company.
You want to get a general idea about the structure of the company (how many employees it has, where are its offices, etc), and if it’s expanding or changing its business focus. During the interviews you could be asked “what do you know about the company?” and you want to be able to give a brief but accurate answer. Were there any big approvals or results from clinical trials? Most interviewers are prepared to talk about the company, and answer your questions, so don’t feel shy about admitting you don’t know something.
For the later interviews (e.g. with the hiring manager, technical, panel) think about scenarios in previous jobs – or during school – when you had to deal/work with a difficult person, work in a team to solve a problem, deal with multiple challenging deadlines at once, etc. You’ll often be asked basic competency questions to see how you communicate and work with others, in addition to assessing the technical skills you bring to the role.
The best way to demonstrate interest in the role is to ask questions and maintain a dialogue with the interviewers. In the last few minutes of the call, ask a couple of questions about the state of industry, any changes in the industry or company the hiring managers are excited about; or why they enjoy working for the company. It reflects well on you if you have thoughtful questions to ask.
Different Companies Have Different Hiring Procedures
This interview process varies depending on the size of the company hiring. At a small biotech start-up there are usually fewer interview steps. You’re more likely to interview with company higher-ups such as the CEO sooner.
At larger biotechs of pharmaceutical companies the recruitment process is more formal, with more interview steps, and a greater number of people involved in each interview. It therefore might take longer to move through the interview process, since there are more people to schedule around, more candidates, and more internal bureaucracy prior to approving a new hire.
Overall, though the biotech interview process can feel exhausting and repetitive, exposure to multiple people will give you a good sense of the company culture, and allow you plenty of opportunities to get your questions answered.
Nervous about applying for a new STEM job? The friendly recruiters at Sci.Bio will be with you every step of the process to help you prepare. Connect with us to discuss your needs today.
Science MBA Combo? The short answer: yes! The long answer: yes, because career opportunities in the STEM business space are more abundant than ever, and it’s never been more useful to bring a wide range of skills to a position. An MBA can be the perfect complement to a science degree, supplementing a technical grounding in science with some highly sought-after business skills.
A solid foundation
Science degree holders are often already well-versed in many of the skills required to succeed in business. These can include research skills, data analysis skills, and the ability to communicate high-level concepts. With a little bit of instruction, these skills can easily be applied in a new context. In addition to applying them to lab work and problem-solving on a chemical level, a science-and-business expert knows how to apply them within the context of a whole company.
STEM Science MBA
Some highly specific MBA programs offer tracks for STEM, healthcare, and other fields. This is in response to the ever-growing need for specialized business experts. If you’re thinking about doing an MBA, consider applying to a specialty program that will not only teach you the standard content of this classic degree, but how to apply these lessons to your chosen field.
If you do find yourself shopping around for STEM MBA programs, make sure you have your screening process down pat. Prioritize programs whose curricula offer a direct pathway into the role you’d like to land afterwards. And should you be called in for an interview, be sure to clarify what companies recruit from the program, and the kinds of positions that are up for grabs.
Career opportunities for a winning combo
For those who’ve graduated with a STEM degree and go on to pursue a Science MBA combo, career prospects abound. Many positions require a blend of technical science acumen and more hands-on, management-focused business skills. If you can bring both to the table, you’ll be a piping hot candidate.
Financial analyst: a financial analyst in the life science space can choose to work for a company, or to work as a freelance consultant. In either case, your primary role will be to offer financial and business advice to biotech and pharma companies.
Quality control specialist: this position involves overseeing research processes to make sure they comply with all applicable regulations. That might sound dull, but there can be an element of creativity, too: this job can also involve making recommendations to improve the efficiency of the research process.
Sales account manager: A sales account manager for a life science company may indeed find that they can work in a scientific field they’re passionate about, while receiving no shortage of opportunities to schmooze with customers. For the right person, managing a sales account in a field they love can bring the best of two worlds to the work experience.
Product manager: an employee in this role oversees the development of new products in the life science and biopharma space. This could involve monitoring lab work, advising a marketing team about current project specs, or advising businesses on what products to develop next.
Advantages of a diverse skill set
Biotech businesses are some of the hottest on the market right now, and at present the industry is only growing. As a result, life science employers are more in need than ever of employees who understand their businesses on both a micro and macro level. Surprise surprise: the science MBA combo lends itself beautifully to just that.
Another benefit of getting an MBA post-life science undergrad: more interactive career opportunities. After years of highly detail-oriented and isolated lab work, some scientists hunger for more interactive, people-facing employment. If you can relate, take note: an MBA will bolster your chances of finding a socially dynamic position that still calls upon your years of rigorous scientific study.
The perfect position for your background
Clearly, the science-MBA combo has never been timelier. Employers nowadays are looking for a blend of soft skills and hard skills, and the moment they see that winning duo of specialties on your resume, they’ll know without any further investigation that you possess plenty of both. If you’re looking for an interdisciplinary position that incorporates the full range of your skills, Sci.bio’s recruitment services can help you find it.
Jobseekers and biotech hiring managers are in agreement: virtual interviews are here to stay. From the company perspective, virtual interviews are a cheaper and more efficient way of screening candidates than in-person interviews. They widen the available talent pool by making interviews accessible to remote/hybrid candidates further afield, and are quick to schedule. Job candidates also prefer virtual interviews because it gives them more control over interview scheduling, and causes less disruption to their day if they’re currently employed.
However, many hiring managers feel in-person interviews offer them a better view of the candidate, providing more helpful insights into the candidate’s suitability. To combat the drawbacks, here are a few best practices to ensure you hire the best candidates and get the most insights from the virtual hiring process.
Deliver all information to the candidate in advance
To minimize delays, email the log-in information to the candidate ahead of time. Provide an email or phone number for the candidate to use if they experience any last-minute technical issues. This reduces confusion and last-minute delays because the candidate needs to download unfamiliar meeting software, for instance. It also reduces the stress to candidates and interviewers alike, enabling everyone to begin the interview in a calm state of mind.
Plan your interview time and structure in advance
The hiring team should prepare a list of topics to cover in order, or questions to ask, with time allocated for each point on the list. Make sure everyone on the interview panel has access to the proposed interview structure/workflow ahead of time. This will ensure the interview flows smoothly, without running too long.
Give candidates enough time to answer your questions during the interview itself, accounting for connectivity lags or difficulty reading body cues.
Remember that candidate recruitment experience is an important factor in their decision making process, and perceived disorganization during the interview may present your company in an unfavorable light.
Give candidates a taste of company culture
One notable disadvantage of virtual interviews is that the candidate gets less insight into company culture and work environment than if they were invited on-site. A way to work around this issue is to arrange a less structured informational interview with existing employees, which will give the candidate an overview of the company from someone at their job level. Hiring managers can also offer videos or virtual tours of the company office or campus during the interview process. These extra steps can help job candidates visualize themselves working for your company, giving them a clearer idea of the benefits of joining your company and their suitability for the role.
Invest in software for online recruitment
Since virtual interviews will remain an important recruitment tool in the years to come, consider investing in dedicated recruitment software or upgrading your existing programs. For instance, analytics and AI tools can assess candidate suitability and sort through job applications. Chatbots on your company’s career homepage can address any basic questions jobseekers have and free up hiring team resources. Consider incorporating online aptitude or personality tests into the hiring software or portals to provide another level of insight into potential candidates.
Whether you’re hiring for remote, in-person or hybrid biotech roles, Sci.bio talent experts are here to help. Reach out and schedule a conversation with us today.