The Hardest Part of Recruiting For Life Sciences

Life Scienes healthcare researcher in lab uniform holding petri dish

The rapidly changing face of the life sciences industry has created a vital and fertile ground for top scientific and clinical talent to make great progress in medicine, healthcare, and biotechnology. But with these rapid changes comes the realization that we can’t really predict where it’s all headed.

As a recruiter, having a deep understanding of your niche is widely understood to be the key to success. However, no matter what industry area you work with, recruiting is about people. If you have a talent for connecting with people, for understanding their hopes and fears, their challenges, their triumphs, and their shortcomings, this is what will drive your success. These people skills are a prerequisite, while much of the rest, including the highly technical jargon-packed world of life sciences, can be learned.

The Global Talent Shortage

The real problem in recruiting for life sciences, arguably, is that there is a global talent shortage. In such a fast-growing area, this is becoming a big problem for even the most experienced recruiters. Demand far outweighs supply and many recruiters resort to persuasive techniques to lure top talent away from one company to place them in another.

But it’s like a game of whack-a-mole. For every candidate placed, there are 10 more positions to fill and that number is growing on a daily basis. If our educational system doesn’t do a better job of turning out more scientists, engineers, and so on, this trend will continue to threaten progress and will possibly limit our ability to access new treatments and clinical methodologies.

Complementary Skills Deliver Innovation

As new innovations in gene therapy, medication, and biotech offer the promise of a better future, these needs will continue to rise, but the industry needs are not all scientific.

While the scientific breakthroughs may get all the press, the people behind the scenes, the ones that facilitate the research and lay the groundwork for the work to be done, represent a large majority of the need.

For a recruiter in life sciences, it might seem that the job is a never-ending and thankless endeavor. Fortunately, there is a great deal of talent out there that, while they may lack direct experience with the technical positions we are trying to fill, they have complementary skills and experience that can be advantageous as they bring a diverse perspective to the problems that need to be solved. According to Steve Arkinstall, CEO of Elstar Therapeutics, for example, any area of biology can be applied to drug development.

But some of the skills needed in life sciences are not necessarily scientific. People who have experience with in-licensing or who have a talent for managing collaboration are always in high demand. Many of the newest and most rapidly advancing companies need to establish themselves in different countries and any missteps could potentially derail the entire process.

Having someone on board who understands the culture and can navigate the regulatory framework of the market is crucial to their progress.

Focusing an Educational Strategy

Combinations of skills can be part of an educational strategy as well. Combining specialties is not an unusual path, but taking a practical approach is important. Aileen Alsop of AstraZeneca suggests that science students should focus on getting practical experience before they delve into the business or finance end of things. She also advocates choosing a more focused first degree over a combination of majors. According to Alsop, a degree in pure chemistry will give a candidate more options than a diluted major that includes finance. “If you want to add finance later, you can do that.”

That’s not to say that having a business perspective on top of a scientific degree doesn’t have merit. There is still a great deal of demand for people on the science side of things that also have a background in marketing, sales, or project management. Those with science skills that are outside the field, such as computer science, physics, engineering, and mathematics can also find exciting careers in pharma or biotech and the needs for specialists such as these will only continue to grow.

In conclusion, the complexities and challenges of recruiting for life sciences can be solved, like many other problems, with a little creative thinking. If you have life sciences recruiting needs you need to fill, we can help. Reach out today to set up a conversation. The hardest part is already behind you.

7 Reasons Why Your Recruiting Efforts Fall Short

Recruit talking with recruitment committee

Not every life sciences company partners with a search firm for their recruiting. However, recruiting for your own firm isn’t always easy. There are many reasons why your recruiting efforts might fall short, but the key point to remember here is – you are not alone!

Even in the recruitment industry, we often find it difficult to land the right talent for our own teams. Does this mean we are unable to do so? Absolutely not! What is needed to succeed is a methodical approach – knowing where the obstacles are and doing our best to avoid them.

To help you do the same, let’s look at seven reasons why your recruiting efforts might fall short:

  1. Being Unrealistic About Your Expectations

Many employers conjure up an “ideal employee” persona that is simply impossible to manifest. Being realistic about what the role entails and aligning this need with expectations is key when identifying the right candidates.

  1. You Fail to Look Beyond The Resume

Smart people can make themselves look pretty good on paper. However, the resume only tells a small part of the story. Taking for granted that what’s on the resume is gospel is often narrow-minded. Be sure to check references, ask questions, and get buy-in from other stakeholders before making a decision.

  1. You Are Blinded by Their Charisma

Some people just interview well. That doesn’t mean that they are right for the job – it just means they are persuasive – not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re hiring for the sales department, but what are they really like? Charm only goes so far. No matter how much you like the candidate, make sure they can walk the talk.

  1. You Do Not Have A Strong Employer Brand

Having a strong employer brand is important if you want to attract the right people. Being seen as a great company to work for, whether it’s because of your people, your culture, your innovation, or a combination of those things will help you do so. Make it known what you do for your employees. Whether you offer educational opportunities, housing resources, paid volunteer time, cool perks or benefits, you need to make it known.

  1. You Are Relying on Social Media but Not Using It Properly

If you have decided on a social recruitment strategy, don’t just post job openings. This does nothing to engage or encourage potential candidates to interact with you. Social recruitment is a two-way street. Take the opportunity to display some of your brand personality, whether it’s pictures of a networking event, employee achievements, or social activities outside the office. This gives candidates a chance to picture themselves working there and it might give you a leg up on the top talent you’re after.

  1. You Don’t Sell Yourself Well Enough

This could be true of recruiter or candidate. But think about it. If your candidate fails to see the benefits of working for your organization, what impetus will they have to give you a shot? A good way to walk through this process is to develop an “ideal candidate persona”. This will help you identify in advance their professional challenges, their values, and their short-and-long-term goals so that you can articulate these points back to them during the interview process.

  1. Your Onboarding Process Is Not Well-Developed

Between 40 and 50 percent of all new hires quit within the first six months. In many cases, this is due to a non-existent or undeveloped onboarding program. Your new hire should be nurtured during the early stages. Outlining a clear process, complete with benchmarks, and providing adequate mentorship along the way will help you succeed. Connect the candidate to people in your organization who will stand by them through the learning process. Identify a progression of milestones to be achieved during this time to help them acclimate. These approaches will also help you to quantify their efforts, so you can adequately measure success.

In conclusion, successful recruitment takes commitment, but it also requires a broad view of the bigger picture. You must ask yourself: How is this person going to benefit the company? How will they get along with my team? What are they really looking for? And are they going to be happy here? If you can answer these questions, you just may have a very good chance at landing the talent you’re after.

Executive Recruiters Deliver Value in a Tight Job Market

Executive shaking hands with new recruit

Executive Recruiters Deliver Value in a Tight Job Market

The job market in America has never been more competitive or exciting. Following a business slump that seemed like it would never end, companies in a wide range of sectors are actively seeking top talent.

Technology and Life Sciences are two areas seeing the biggest surge in demand. Competition for young talent—some just out of school—is high. Some companies, out of sheer desperation, are willing to take a second look at candidates they would not have considered just a few years ago, underscoring the need to partner with staffing agencies who specialize in these niches.

Available jobs today almost outnumber the unemployed – a metric the likes of which has not been seen since the millennium and a drastic swing away from the 2009 post-recession statistic of almost seven people per job vacancy. The ensuing issue, once a candidate has been placed, is how to keep them interested and productive enough that they stay the course.

In a market where companies are scrambling to compete, to innovate, and to establish themselves as a force in their market, working with a professional recruiter just makes sense. With an ability to see beyond a company’s immediate needs, the likelihood of placing a candidate that can go the distance is far greater, delivering value that goes above and beyond.

Today’s tight job market favors the candidate

As the requirement to meet financial as productivity targets continues to be a concern, placing the right person in the right position is more important than ever. Job growth is predicted to slow because companies are having a difficult time hiring the talent they need.

According to PNC Financials’ chief economist, Gus Faucher, this will likely result in businesses being forces to raise salaries in an effort to convince key personnel to stay put. Employees, on the other hand, are leveraging their power and finding that switching jobs is working in their favor.

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that individuals who switched jobs saw an average of 3.9 percent increase in salaries, showing that there is an incentive to keep options open. While this represents a small cross-section of industry in the financial sector, companies in any industry should take note: if employees are restless, they are likely to pursue other opportunities.

Now, more than ever, hiring for fit should be paramount. When placed in the right position, all parties benefit. Employees are happy, challenged, and fulfilled, attrition is much reduced, and business can scale, innovate, and thrive, knowing that their teams are well-placed within the company culture.

How an executive recruiter improves your chances of landing the right talent

While nothing in life is guaranteed, some business decisions will help you buck the odds on the side of success when it comes to recruiting. Executive talent and leadership is not always self-evident. In most cases, it doesn’t simply leap out when an opportunity presents itself.

More often, it is a matter of knowing where to look, and that is where having a staffing professional on your side is going to make a difference. Even if you think you have identified the ideal candidate, building a successful campaign takes a certain amount of finesse and insight, not only into your long-range goals, but as to what they really want – and often, it has little to do with money.

For top talent, you see, money is not the be-all-end-all. Of course, it’s a factor, but finding a good fit for their skills and their passions is just as important. If an employee, whether they are an executive or a researcher, feels at home where they are, they are not likely to leave.

Appealing to their sense of purpose is key, and this requires a nuanced approach. Inevitably, if your candidate is this strong, there will be other recruiters and other companies who will be attempting to turn their heads elsewhere.

In conclusion, landing the right talent is crucial to your success. Studies show that high-performers are at least eight times—400 percent—more productive than their average counterpart. This is a significant argument in favor of hiring well.

If you would like to learn more about how Pact and Partners can help you with your leadership staffing needs, reach out today.

 

Global Recruiting Trends In 2019

Businessman showing upward trend

Global Recruiting Trends In 2019

LinkedIn’s annual global recruiting report for 2018 looked at staffing trends across a wide range of recruiters. The survey solicited responses from almost 9000 recruiters and hiring managers across 39 countries worldwide and looked at issues such as diversity, interview processes, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Here is a summary of the Global Recruiting Trends report findings.

Diversity

Diversity and inclusion were found to be one of the top trends. 82 percent of respondents stated that diversity was a driving force behind their hiring strategy. Key drivers in this area were that companies see workforce diversity as an arbiter of culture and optimized performance. However, 40 percent of companies were still finding it a challenge to locate appropriate candidates and 27 percent found it difficult to retain such candidates once they had hired them.

Interviewing Trends: New Ways to Assess Candidates

Interviewing trends are shifting to accommodate new processes and modern workplace needs. these methods include a focus on soft skills assessment, understanding a candidate’s shortcomings, and mitigating interviewer bias.

Going forward, new tools that will help to streamline the process might include assessments conducted in virtual reality (VR), on-the-job auditions, and meeting outside of the office in more casual locations. The thinking behind these strategies is that it will be more difficult for candidates to overstate their skillsets and that it will be easier for the hiring manager to assess whether they are a good fit for the position.

Data-driven Decision Making

Data is already a key driver throughout the recruiting industry, but going forward, it will become even more important. The study found that almost 40 percent of respondents see data as one of the most important components of the recruiting process.

Currently, only about 65 percent are leveraging data towards reducing attrition, skills assessment, and crafting more attractive offers, but in 2018 and beyond, almost 80 percent say that they will be implementing a data strategy in the hiring process, indicating a significant movement in that direction.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Become Commonplace

AI is penetrating many sectors of industry. From customer service to retail, it is seen as a potential threat to the job market, but in the recruiting sector, it may just be a game-changer. Some hiring managers receive upwards of a hundred resume’s every single day. AI can help them more accurately shortlist for required skill sets and experience, giving recruiters an accurate screening tool that will greatly reduce the time-to-hire and any recruiter bias that may exist.

That said, only 14 percent of hiring managers seem to think that AI threatens their own livelihood. Some of the things that AI simply cannot do include seeing a candidate’s potential and establishing a cultural fit within the organization.

Conclusion

While the LinkedIn report highlights that the recruiting process has become largely transactional, there are trends emerging that elevate the job to a more strategic level, emphasizing the human connection and critical thinking about how to land the right candidates. Going forward, the recruiters who will find the greatest success will be the ones who can leverage new trends and technology through these market changes.

How Employer Branding Can Help Your Recruiting

Your Culture Is Your Brand sign in a conceptual image

How Employer Branding Can Help Your Recruiting

The face you present to the world – your brand image – is an important component of your marketing. In business, it provides a stepping-off point for differentiation, giving your customers and your broader audience something to identify with. No matter how strong your services or products may be, if you are unable to build positive association with your brand, you may never be able to gain traction in your niche.

Your brand, in a sense, is what people say about you behind your back – or at least this is how you should think about it. Taken in context, you need to control that conversation by crafting a clear message and making sure people know who you are and what you stand for.

Branding Takes Your Image to The Next Level

While most people associate branding with landing new business, your public face is important to a lot of other initiatives as well. In the area of recruiting, your brand says a great deal about what kind of employer you are and if you want to ensure you are attracting the right candidates, you need to make sure you are sending the right message.

This is what we call Employer Branding. Employer branding might be described as the action of helping your ideal recruits see you as an employer of choice in your industry.

In order to tailor your message to the right individuals—much like marketing in any industry—you need to understand your target market. Not to be confused with consumer marketing, this involves understanding what people are looking for in a job and developing a strategy as to how you can deliver it.

Conduct Internal and External Analyses

In a broad sense, you need to establish a brand image that is attractive to your target audience. If you come across as an organization that people want to do business with, then it follows that you will be a desirable company to work for as well. Top talent seeks out the best possible placements for their talents. Your task is to become that aspiration.

On an internal level, you should take a close look at your company culture, your staff, and what can be done to make your workplace more desirable. This could involve career development, or it could extend to work-life balance, diversity, or a progressive physical workspace. Employee training also provides a particular allure for some, as many top achievers are always looking to learn, expand their skills, and grow as a professional. If you offer these opportunities, you will likely attract a higher caliber of individual.

How Your Employer Branding Can Help or Harm

If your company had no employer branding whatsoever, it could easily alienate some applicants. As a newcomer who has only surface knowledge of your company, it would be easy to pick up on the more negative aspects. A company that would have you onboard without any potential for development, for instance, is a red flag for many. Nobody wants to feel like they will be stuck in a rut with no discernable future. You want to give the impression that you care about your employees and that you are a good company to work for.

Your employer branding will be a monumental help when it comes time to recruit new talent. Landing high-performers is not a simple task, especially in today’s competitive job market. Your ideal candidates need to have the right mix of skills, experience, and cultural fit if they are going to go the distance. Being their number one choice will give you an edge when it comes time to make that decision.

In closing, spending some time to develop your employer branding will take care of many of the pain points of recruiting. If you are effective in delivering a positive impression, your biggest problem will be shortlisting the hordes of candidates that will be coming your way.

If you would like to learn more about employer branding and how it can help your organization attract top Life Sciences talent, schedule a consultation with Pact and Partners today. With more than 30 years of experience in trans-Atlantic life sciences executive recruiting, we are your rock in a changing world.