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.
”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!
If you are planning on switching jobs or starting the job hunt there are different times of the year which represent the best, and worst, times to apply for jobs in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.
The Best time to look for a job
January and February time frame
The beginning of the year represents the strongest hiring period. Many companies have their updated yearly budgets set in January, they know how much money is available for hiring new staff for the year. The amount of employees that take vacations in December also reduces the amount of job hunting activity around this period, therefore increasing the amount in January and February.
Worst time to apply for jobs
November and December time frame
The end of the year can be the worst time to apply for jobs. Many companies are not looking to hire new staff and take on additional salaries to their budgets. They have exhausted all their budgets and are finalizing all financial commitments that have been put in place.They will not begin the pharmaceuticals recruitment process until January when they have their new budgets and plans in place for the year.
Many biotech and pharmaceutical recruiters and job seekers take time off over the holiday season. This can make it more difficult to arrange interviews and there are also less staff in the office so recruitment isn’t as highly prioritized as other tasks take priority for the New Year.
November and December may be the best time to start thinking about what your next career move will be. The holiday season can also be a great time to network and understand what jobs and positions are available.
Top tips for success:
In the meantime, here are three top tips to help you stand out!
1. It may sound obvious but check your CV describes what you have done and what sets you apart from other applicants – rather than just writing a list of previous job descriptions or keywords that may sound good.
2. It’s about you… but it’s also about the company. Do your research, and go to interviews armed with one or two questions for the interviewer so it’s not a one-way conversation. Know who you are interviewing with and make sure to be prepared!
3. Be open to advice, your dream job may be something you haven’t thought of. Be open-minded throughout the entire process.
More talk about the Recruiter Experience?
In pharmaceutical recruitment and biotech excutive placement, there is a lot of emphasis on the overall candidate experience. It’s highly suggested that offering candidates the best possible experience, regardless of the outcome, is key to securing the best talent. But what about the recruiter experience? A successful recruitment process, from sourcing to hiring, depends a lot on a positive experience for recruiters as it is for candidates. There are known challenges for recruiters… and balancing the need to improve the candidate experience and meeting hiring targets just to name a few.
The importance of the recruiter experience?
A good pharmaceutical recruiter experience is dependent on the process of finding the best talent. This needs to be as efficient and structured as possible. Optimizing the working processes and experience of a recruiter leads to a more efficient and successful hiring process. Recruiters can focus on the more important aspects of their job – sourcing and building relationships with top candidates. Also the focus can impact the candidate to have a positive experience, resulting in an improved image and reputation for the brand. To make sure you achieve these goals there are two things that come into play:
One of the most important factors of the recruiter experience is time management. This includes: searching for candidates, reading through numerous applications, and liaising with both candidates and hiring managers can be time consuming. Therefore, the more efficient workflows can be, the better. One way to achieve this is by using Sci.bio Recruiting, which provides numerous options to assist in making the recruiting process seamless and less daunting. Having assistance with candidate sourcing and screening tasks significantly reduces the workload on pharmaceutical recruiters or companies as a whole. The combination of specialist tools and process optimization will free up valuable time and enhance the recruiter experience.
Communication from candidates can significantly impact the pharmaceutical recruiter experience – every recruiter knows how frustrating non-communicative candidates can be. However, there are ways for pharmaceutical recruiters to encourage better communication from candidates. Avoid emailing a candidate over and over… pick up the phone and call the candidate. Also try texting or contacting them through social media. Trying different contact methods when appropriate will help with communication. Using the right communication channel improves responsiveness and can strengthen the relationship with the candidate.
While most can confirm that the candidate experience is crucial from a business perspective, the recruiter experience should never be forgotten in the pharmaceutical industry. The more time and effort that is put into this process to improve the experience of pharmaceutical recruiters, the better the experience will be for candidates. Optimizing both time and communication will be extremely helpful along with providing recruiters with more time to build relationships and identify the best talent. In the end this will benefit everyone: recruiters have more time to dedicate to the very top talent, candidates have a positive experience even if they don’t get the job, and businesses receive top quality hires much faster.