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YOU’RE (PROBABLY) DOING IT ALL WRONG: Identifying and avoiding hiring mistakes in the life sciences

YOU’RE (PROBABLY) DOING IT ALL WRONG: Identifying and avoiding hiring mistakes in the life sciences

Hiring science talent is not for the faint of heart. All too often, that rare bird you rescued from the candidate slush pile turns out to be a common pigeon—or flies the coop well before your investment pays off. If you’re having trouble bringing in and holding onto the best people, these common hiring mistakes could be standing in your way.

Getting mired in generalities:

If you registered with a dating service and requested a “sincere person who likes long walks, good food, and travel,” you wouldn’t get very far. It’s too broad a filter to sort the wheat from the chaff. Similarly, terms such as “dynamic,” “hard-working,” and “flexible” won’t help you find the medical science liaison of your dreams. Specifics are your ally.

Prioritizing qualities that don’t matter:

Is a typo in a resume a good reason to disqualify a candidate? If you’re hiring a science writer, it may well be. If you need someone who knows her way around Petri dishes, however, insisting on a flawless resume could lead you to miss the perfect hire. Asking all interviewees to prepare presentations falls in the same category: not all positions call for this skill. The same goes for the much-valued skill of performing well in front of an audience—a common interview filter that, according to a new study by the University of South Carolina, could end up eliminating many well-qualified candidates.1

Relying on surface impressions:

Who doesn’t love a smiling candidate with a relaxed posture? The interview process tends to tilt the scales toward people who make a good impression, rather than those best suited to the job. It pays to remember that first impressions reflect not only an interviewee’s qualities but our own biases.1 Besides, a warm personality won’t help a biochemist develop a killer assay.

Overvaluing ambition:

The appetite to “move up in an organization” may seem an obvious asset, but an ambitious person may well decide to move away from the organization when greener pastures beckon. The scientist with an undivided passion for the lab bench, meanwhile, may offer a far greater ROI for your organization. As noted in a Science Magazine article about hiring PhDs, “hiring managers should appreciate that obsessing over a single topic can be a hugely positive quality, especially if you can hire the [candidate] to obsess over your company’s topic.”2

Making the interviewee feel uncomfortable:

Interviewers often seek to catch candidates off-guard with “gotcha” questions such as “Can you describe a situation you didn’t handle perfectly?” Or an employer may adopt a stiff and distant tone to send the message that “we’re interested in working hard around here, not in making friends.” Here’s the problem: the best candidates—meaning those you want to hire—tend to have options. If you make your organization sound like a distasteful place to work, a top-notch candidate may run with a competitor’s offer.

Relying on tired and inefficient interview formats:

The conversational interview remains a staple of hiring, but science hasn’t found much evidence for its effectiveness.3 To identify the best person for a job, you need to observe candidates through various lenses. Depending on the position you seek to fill, strategies could include behavioral interviews, psychometrics, or direct demonstrations of skills. Along similar lines, subjecting a candidate to a barrage of serial interviews, each covering the same ground, wastes valuable staff time without much additional yield. Sequential interviews with independent themes—overcoming challenges, teamwork, and long-term goals, for example—generate a much better ROI. By the same token, there’s no reason to include every member of a department in the interview team.

Arguably your most important hiring decision is your choice of recruiting partner.  According to a Harvard Business Review article on outsourcing, about 40% of US companies rely on “recruitment process outsourcers” for their hiring needs.4 These intermediaries often subcontract people from distant countries to sift through candidates using key words—a blunt and impersonal instrument that can let superstars slip through the cracks. It’s exactly to avoid this outcome that Sci.bio hires recruiters with a scientific background, giving them a leg up in identifying the brightest lights. As the saying goes, “it takes one to know one.”

While neither your gut nor a software program will guarantee the best science hire, a systematic, multifaceted approach will work to your advantage. With a deep understanding of the science, psychology, and strategy of hiring, Sci.bio offers the layered intelligence that leads to outstanding hires. As Louis Pasteur once noted about science itself, fortune favors the well prepared.

References

The Key to Recruiting Success: Social Media 

The Key to Recruiting Success: Social Media 

Social recruiting is no longer a novelty—it’s the cornerstone of a successful recruiting strategy and is an essential tool for businesses looking to market themselves online. Utilizing your social pages and profiles to advertise open positions will help you reduce recruiting costs compared to more traditional methods and is more likely to result in a good cultural match for your company.

Attracting Employees via Social Media

Sharing job openings on social media is a great first step, but you can use these tips to take your company’s social recruitment to the next level.

Spotlight Company Culture

Your business becomes infinitely more relatable when you discuss company culture online. This not only attracts customers and clients, but potential job candidates as well. If someone is already a follower of your company’s social media, there’s a pretty good chance that they connect with you on a personal level and that their values align with your brand. This eliminates the need to ask candidates what they know about your company because they’re already well informed.

Show Off Your Employees

Everyone wants to feel valued. Use your company’s social media to show off your employees and their accomplishments. These images will also show potential candidates what their colleagues would be like and gives them a feel on whether or not they think they could fit into the dynamic. Check out Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter page. He is a great example of showing off and praising employees on a regular basis.

Publish Valuable Content

Potential employees and customers need a reason to follow you. Publishing valuable content is a great way to convince them. The easiest way to expand your reach and then keep those followers is posting at least once per weekday. Share original content or relevant posts from an external source that you believe will benefit your audience.

Use a Social Media Management Platform

Don’t let social media and the need to post on multiple platforms scare you. Programs like Buffer, HootSuite, HubSpot, MeetEdgar, TweetDeck, Sprout Social, etc. brings all of your accounts into one convenient place for you to manage.

Strive for Rich Media

Text-only posts are boring and won’t stand out. In fact, posts on LinkedIn that include images receive 98 percent more comments compared to those that don’t. Adding videos to your posts is another great way to include rich media.

Encourage Employee Participation

Employees [LINK TO IT TAKES A VILLAGE ARTICLE THAT I WROTE] are the face of your brand and encouraging them to share workplace culture will only benefit your recruitment efforts. Follow employees with your company’s accounts and share their posts about work in order to add authenticity to your pages.

social media platforms for job recruiting

Social Platforms

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most professional social networking site and boasts over 560 million users. With over 40 million students and recent college graduates on the site, it is a great place to recruit new talent entering the workforce.

The first step to recruiting on LinkedIn is setting up a company page. LinkedIn provides you with the template, so all you have to do is fill in the details. Once your page is set up, it is important to add followers in order to expand your company’s reach.

LinkedIn Recruiter

LinkedIn Recruiter is a platform within the social network created to help recruiters find, connect with and manage candidates. This tool also allows you to connect to your applicant tracking system (ATS) in order to collaborate with others more efficiently, save time, and ensure accuracy across systems.

Groups

Use LinkedIn Groups to connect with other professionals in your field, kind of like a virtual professional association. Posting job openings in those groups will allow you to target the specific candidates you are looking for.

Ads

Use targeted ads to attract potential candidates to your job openings. LinkedIn allows you to hone in on specific people by several factors, including job function, seniority, company name, geography, industry, skills, field of study and more.

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social network with more than 1.5 billion members. The site was originally intended to connect friends, family and coworkers, but has expanded to include organizations, businesses and interests.

Job Openings Tab

Create a custom job openings tab on your Facebook page for current openings. This way, you can attract applicants out of the pool of followers you already have and potentially increase the number of qualified applicants to your open positions.

Ads

Like LinkedIn, Facebook offers targeted ads, which you could use to promote job openings. Facebook Core Audiences helps you select the right recipients for your ad based on several factors such as location, demographics, behavior, connections and interests.

Twitter

According to research, 85 percent of followers feel more connected with a small business after following them on Twitter and 42 percent of Twitter users use the site to learn more about products and services.

Hashtags

Using hashtags will expand your audience by allowing people to find tweets that interest them. The first step is to come up with a hashtag that will be used with all recruitment-related posts. It should be simple, unique and relevant. Starbucks uses #sbuxjobstalk and Disney uses #LifeAtDisney.

It is also wise to use existing broad hashtags so that more people will see your posts. Terms like #jobs, #jobsearch, #jobhunt, #careers and #jobopening will help people find you.

Instagram

Instagram is now the king of social engagement, according to a report by Forrester, so if you want to attract high quality candidates via social media, a business account is a must-have.

Keep it real

Instagram is very visual, so take real photos and video of your products and employees to give potential candidates a sneak peek into what it’s like to work at your company—the work, the play and everything in between. Take Novartis’ lead and share stories from patients who have benefited from using your products.

YouTube

Half of all Internet users (about 1.9 billion users) visit YouTube every month and they watch billions of hours of video. That means that there is a huge untapped pool of potential candidates waiting for you on the social network.

Utilize Video Marketing

Creating a short, fun video about what it’s like to work at your company and why candidates should apply for a job opening is a great way to use video marketing to your advantage.

Your Website or Blog

Don’t forget to create a permanent Careers page on your website to post job listings. This is a great place to link back to from social posts so that candidates can easily find out more information on your company.

Managers: Preparing for the Year Ahead

Managers: Preparing for the Year Ahead

For managers, the new year is typically a mix of emotions. On the one hand, it’s an exciting time as people feel more energized after the holiday break and are enthusiastic about the year ahead. It can even bring a sense of relief–the prior year is rearview and there’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

On the other hand, the new year can be daunting with new initiatives and budgets, and the pressure to make it all happen quickly. On top of that, there’s the stress of reviews and hiring that typically come this time of year. In general, the new year brings a renewed sense of pressure to keep everyone above and below happy.

With some preparation, the New Year doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. You can harness that New Year optimism by making resolutions that will allow you to start on the right foot and stay there. Let us help you get started. We suggested a few resolutions for managers and pulled helpful links.

Give effective feedback during performance reviews. In 2020, think of ways you can give your employees more effective feedback on their performance. If there is something your employee needs to work on, remember to focus on changeable behaviors rather than personality traits and work together to brainstorm a clear action plan for improvement. Even if your review is positive, try to be as specific as possible so that the compliments feel genuine and personalized.

Show your team you appreciate their hard work. Research shows that people do more for people who appreciate them. Everybody gets busy with the fast pace of biotech, so try setting a monthly calendar reminder to bring in a treat for the team or add a final to-do list item after a presentation to thank the team members who contributed.

Update your job descriptions. In 2020, try adding a sentence or two to your job descriptions that give it some flair. Most job descriptions are fairly generic and don’t highlight much of what sets your company apart or give job seekers an idea of the company culture.

Plan the recruitment cycle for the year. Don’t get caught scrambling to fill a role during the busy season. Start the recruitment cycle ahead of time so you can give some thought to who you are looking to add to your team. You will be able to find better candidates by thinking about things like cultural fit ahead of time.

Make time to review the accomplishments and the goals of the department. In the fast-paced world of biotech, it can be easy to get caught in maintenance mode where you are constantly executing. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on all that your team has done, and plan for the year ahead.

Do any of these resolutions resonate with you more than others? If so, why?

Good luck!

Selecting Your Recruiter: The Do’s and Don’ts

Selecting Your Recruiter: The Do’s and Don’ts

Hiring is an extensive and rewarding process, but it’s not immune to stagnancy. From long stretches without any fresh candidates to getting turned down when using outreach marketing to advertise your role, many obstacles present themselves in the task of hiring new employees. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do and you need someone else to lend a hand. In these types of situations, it’s often wise to bring in the expertise and support of a third party staffing resource to get the role filled.

Selecting the right recruiter is extraordinarily similar to choosing the right candidate; there are aspects of both technical and cultural fit to consider. In a highly competitive market, many staffing agencies, firms, and companies will do anything possible to place themselves on a preferred vendors list. So, bringing in the right partner is a critical step to not only fill an open position but also to incorporate sustainable growth for your company. But, how do you go about doing so in an honest, efficient, and value-based manner?

Look for honesty.

We’ve all met recruiters who say, “Of course, I can get this filled for you in a week!” or “Everyone I send over will be perfect.” As enticing as these promises may be, accepting such temporary relief will often lead to more stress and long-term headaches. Sourcing for talent is not a step-by-step lab experiment but rather an abstract puzzle; since there isn’t one right answer, you’re often left with many alternate solutions. During the initial introduction call, poor recruiters will emphasize false beliefs so as to impress you and gain your trust. Not to invoke a cliché, but trust should be earned.

Talented and efficient recruiters often walk you through their methodology and approach and discuss how to integrate those with your preferences and your company’s process. Keep an ear out for questions such as, “What have been your pain points in finding competitive candidates?” and “To be frank, there is currently no one in my active pool who fits this role, but I will reach out to my network which has always helped point me in the right direction.”

Find out what their niche is.

Often times, a recruiter will state “Sure, I can work on any role that comes my way!” during their first conversation with you, and in some cases, this could actually serve as a huge benefit if hiring is across multiple departments. For more specialized circumstances, however, that same recruiter may not provide effective resolutions. So, don’t be shy in asking a recruiter specifics regarding their recent and related placements.

When a recruiter has built up a talent pool with direct contacts, they have a natural jump start, which often lends to impressive referrals – a jackpot in our industry. For example, let’s say you have a Senior Medical Science Liaison role that targets an individual with not only a doctorate degree and at least five years of experience, but also hands-on research experience in epilepsy and the flexibility to travel to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. Recruiters who have never worked in Medical Affairs roles may have a tough time stepping in and efficiently sourcing for this position. Don’t write them off yet! Rather, inquire about their background in neurological Medical Affairs and their approach for this search. If they mention referring back to a previous search/pool or colleagues who have a related network, then that’s a good start and a potentially good partner for this position!

Set expectations up front.

Possibly, the most antagonizing aspect of hiring is not during ruts, but when issues arise in the contract/agreement phase that puts everything to a grinding halt. When a problem crops up so late in the process, it can be related to a misstep or oversight during early communication efforts. Again, look for honesty. You need to find recruiters who not only value, but also practice it. In the initial call, such issues can be deftly navigated before it proceeds to review. Even after the discussion, ask for paperwork regarding agreements and contracts to be sent over and have your legal team review it.

Moreover, to avoid constant rescheduling and unqualified or non-ideal candidates, be sure to set up a weekly meeting with your recruiter. Hiring will always be an addition to your day-to-day responsibilities, but ten minutes each week of clear communication with your recruiter could save hours later.

At the end of the day, do not let hiring create an unwarranted burden on your business. Staffing resources are vital because finding the right addition to your team will impact how the company grows and even how you develop as a leader.

 

Is GDPR the End of Recruiting?

Is GDPR the End of Recruiting?

Have you noticed the increase in privacy policy emails from companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, and LinkedIn over the past year? Although the emails do not advertise it, they are the direct result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted in April 2016 and implemented by the European Union (EU) in May 25, 2018.This new ruling is governing the collection of personal information of individuals within the EU, ultimately causing a paradigm shift in how personal data sharing occurs on the internet.

So, why was GDPR introduced?

Prior to GDPR, laws were written for a world without smartphones that could collect massive amounts of sensitive information for companies such as Google and Facebook. GDPR now provides companies guidelines on how they may utilize personal data, while giving users clarity on how their data is being used.

Legislators in the United States are working on regulation that would be similar while also monitoring GDPR’s effects. No matter where you are located, however, GDPR impacts companies and users everywhere. Although it’s only law in the EU, it’s become a de facto world regulation.

But, what exactly is personal data under GDPR?

GDPR was designed to protect the data of European users, but because the “cloud” is not on one computer and software services have a global reach, GDPR takes into account all EU users even if they work internationally. Any business hosting personal identifiable information (PII) – any data that can identify you such as your name, email address,  social security number, picture, phone number, username, location, and internet protocol (IP) address – falls under GDPR’s supervision.

Well, how did the US react?

Similar to the GDPR, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 – which will go into effect on January 1, 2020 – affecting how personal data is collected, processed, and shared in California.

The CCPA was designed with three major themes: ownership, control, and security.

  1. Ownership gives users the right to know what personal information is being collected and whether that personal identifiable information is being sold, or disclosed, and to whom.
  2. Control gives users the right to say no to the sale of personal information and the right for equal service or price; so if you opt out of a sale, you will not be penalized. If the principle of control sounds similar, it’s because the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) put into place rules to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling your data without obtaining an opt-in. CCPA reinstates this legislation at the state level, requiring the ISP to ask you before they can sell or market your personal information.
  3. To uphold security, a business that suffers a breach of their system will be penalized up to $75,000 for each violation for each affected user. Although this isn’t as strict as GDPR, it’s more than just a slap on the wrist.

Even though that CCPA is only in one state right now, it may be the most impactful start to a GDPR-like act in the US.

 

Ultimately, where are the ethical lines?

When data is used in ways that benefit others while adversely affecting you, ethical problems will arise. Complying with changing privacy regulations is stressful for companies, as well as a drain on resources, but many are embracing it as an opportunity to increase trust and transparency.

As we enter into the age of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition, your data profile stems from your social network activity. When it comes to our data, many Americans see this as a black-and-white issue. In fact, an overwhelming 63 percent of Americans believe that social media platforms have far too much power.

But, how can data collection be immoral when it serves as the backbone of so many of these services we use every day? How many helpful job recommendations have been given by software that matches job seekers’ skills and attributes? How many human connections have been built through recommendations on social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn?

Social media, particularly with Facebook and Twitter, has been found to reflect people’s personality and intelligence as well as characteristics such as sexual orientation and political views. So, could it be ethical to mine this data for hiring purposes when users typically used these online applications with a different intent – and therefore, without consent for data analytics to draw conclusions from their social media postings?

Federal legislation was recently passed, via the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019, which intends to prevent inaccuracies, bias, and discrimination in automated decisions – particularly in the hiring process. So, as the adage goes, “great power does come with great responsibility”. Data and its collection is not the issue – but rather the improper use of it is.