How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

Employee signing a contract

How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

Asking about salary history during the hiring process is actually illegal in some states. Not astonishingly, this means that when it comes time to make an offer, there might be some surprises.

The need to get in line with the rules has, however, fueled some interesting and progressive initiatives from some of the world’s biggest companies.

Amazon, for instance, is planning to hire in excess of 100K new employees this year to power up new locations in the United States. Hiring managers will not be asking for a previous salary, no matter what state regulations might apply. Meant to level the playing field, there are some that feel this will be harmful to some groups — especially women.

Is the Salary Disclosure Law Limiting Us?

Without the ability to negotiate or push back when a disparity is identified, candidates might be at a disadvantage. When it comes time to finalize the offer, this approach might derail the entire process, wasting a great deal of time and effort and causing a ripple effect of frustration from HR right up to the C-Suite.

If we can all agree that there’s got to be a better way, let’s look at what we know:

  1. As a hiring manager, you can’t talk about salary history.
  2. If you don’t talk about salary, everybody will be surprised at the end of the recruiting process.

How to Negotiate Without Asking About a Potential Candidate’s Salary

At the offer stage, many companies will make a standard offer based either on what the job pays or on the current marketplace. This removes the negotiation process, which at times must be competitive if you are to win the talent you need.

Here’s a way of gauging how your candidate might respond to your offer without asking for specifics: frame a salary range into a hypothetical situation to gauge their amenability. You might say something like “If we were to decide that we wanted to bring you on board, the offer might be in the range of 80K to 100K. In your opinion, is this a range that you might consider?”

You have put the question to them in a hypothetical manner and have not asked about their salary history. It’s a simple yes-or-no question that they are not required to elaborate on. You can then listen to their response and observe their physical reactions to get a sense of which way they are leaning.

By employing this technique, you have put your cards on the table and you have left some room to negotiate. Using this method, you have discovered much about where you and your candidate stand. You have neither broken any rules nor put anybody in an uncomfortable position. It is a flexible yet quantitative method that simply requires a slightly different technique than you might be used to.

In the end, you are still responsible for ensuring equal pay for women, minorities, and other protected groups. That doesn’t mean, however, that each candidate should have access to the same pay regardless of their experience and skill level. This method allows you to work within the parameters of the law while accomplishing your hiring goals.

How to Assess Soft Skills in the C-Suite

CEO and executives talking during a meeting

How to Assess Soft Skills in the C-Suite

In life sciences, the value of soft skills goes far beyond simply being able to get your point across. Knowing how to assess soft skills in the recruitment phase is essential to a successful process.

In the c-suite, the ability to listen, empathize, and communicate with individuals from any department is key to any leader’s success as it encourages the kind of loyalty, respect, and transparency that are the hallmarks of any high-functioning team.

But, even if your candidate is speaking the words, how do you really know that they can walk the walk? Knowing how to assess soft skills during the recruitment phase is crucial, but you can’t absolutely rely on their CV for confirmation. First, you will need to do a bit of discovery. Then, you will have to put some of their claims to the test to find out where they really stand.

Four executive soft skills and how to assess them

Some soft skills are easy to ascertain, and some are more elusive. Let’s look at a few of the top soft skills we seek in today’s life sciences leaders and how we assess them:

Soft skill #1: Communication

Communication is a multi-faceted skill as it involves give-and-take on two different levels: verbal and written. A candidate’s cover letter should be a good initial indication of how well they communicate on paper. If it is error-free, clearly written, and there are no spelling or grammar mistakes, this is at least a good initial assessment.

Verbal communication can be assessed through direct conversations as you find out more about who they are and how they see themselves. Well-spoken statements that make their point concisely are positive, especially if your questions are framed to elicit an out-of-the-box response.

Do they listen to your question first, or do they interrupt before you’ve finished? Did they take the time to understand the question completely? And finally, did they actually answer the question you asked?

The ability to present ideas to large groups of people is often very much a part of an executive position. For these candidates, you might ask them to give you an ad hoc presentation on a topic of their choosing during one of your meetings. This will tell you several things: how they respond to the unexpected, how well they can communicate their thoughts, and how quickly they can adapt their demeanor to meet the challenge.

Soft skill #2: Collaboration

Collaboration and teamwork are essential in life sciences. No matter what department your candidate is being considered for, teamwork is the foundation of success from the c-suite to the OR.

Ask the candidate to describe a collaborative situation and its results. Ask them to talk through a scenario in which better collaboration would have improved the result. Were they able to turn things around? And if so, how did they accomplish it? Ask for specifics, and find out how they personally felt about the situation and what could have been done differently to achieve an improved outcome.

Soft skill #3: Integrity

Integrity, honesty, transparency — these are all highly desirable leadership traits, and especially important when dealing with investors, shareholders, or the public. In recent years, we have seen many cases of executives losing their way, giving in to a sense of entitlement or engaging in unethical practices that serve few but themselves.

To lead from a place of integrity requires ongoing self-evaluation and, often, the courage to seek counsel from outside of their own organization to be sure they fully grasp all the implications. This is especially important in times of economic challenge when information that comes from the CFO might only be a part of the puzzle.

Integrity is difficult to assess simply by asking questions. It may be more valuable to have a clear picture of the candidate’s background and to ask them about specific scenarios to understand how well they perform under pressure. What they do and what they say when their back is against the wall says a great deal about their character. As a leader’s ability to influence others is what will ultimately take them to the top, those who they lead must have absolute confidence in them. Integrity is essential in order to realize this goal.

Soft skill #4: the capacity to learn

Many highly skilled individuals, executives and clinicians alike, may allow their status, power, influence, or money to dictate their behavior. Once they have arrived in the c-suite, many don’t feel like there is anything left to learn.

Many incredibly smart people invest too much time and effort into simply being smart. Many would prefer to spend their time proving their validity to others instead of challenging themselves to grow and evolve. When a person sees themselves this way, they may believe that there is nothing left to learn despite what they say to the contrary. After all, it would seem pretty arrogant to come across this way, and most of them are at least smart enough to know this.

In assessing the capacity to learn, look beyond the words and make particular note of the activities the candidate is actively involved in for the purpose of furthering his or her learning goals.

While these are just a few of the soft skills that your candidates should be evaluated for, the key takeaway is that actions always speak louder than words. An executive recruiter can play a significant role in helping to assess these qualities in tomorrow’s leaders. Call or request a quote today.

 

Common Pitfalls in International Biotech Recruiting

Two lab technicians in bio tech lab

Common Pitfalls in International Biotech Recruiting

If you are searching for top leadership talent for your international biotech company, it always pays to work with a specialist. Whether you are a small company, a startup, or a global organization, it’s never easy. Pact & Partners, a leading Life Sciences recruiting firm, is here to support you with sound advice on common pitfalls in international biotech recruiting and tips on how to avoid making them.

Good leadership is hard to find. Landing the ideal candidate is often a lengthy and complex process that requires patience, preparation, and the ability to visualize what that talent looks like and what, ideally, they will bring to the table.

If you are expanding into new markets this process is especially difficult as there may be vastly different compliance and regulatory issues to consider. The culture is different, and the expectations of the clientele are different, but one thing that never changes is the talent itself. Being able to identify the right talent is where the challenge lies, but there are ways to mitigate the risk and give yourself a better chance of success.

Let’s look at a few actionable tips that can help you avoid common pitfalls in international biotech recruiting:

International biotech recruiting tip #1: Keep your eye on the prize

Your company’s mission and vision should figure prominently in any major recruiting decision you make. Placing the right person in the right position is key to your long-term success. Even if you feel that you are behind the eight-ball and need to make a decision sooner than later, try to focus on the future.

Your gut reaction might be to hire somebody who will provide a “quick fix” in the short-term, but if you have doubts about their long-term potential, perhaps it’s more prudent to keep your options open. If your goal is to find somebody who will be able to take your organization into the future, be absolutely sure about your decision. Having to revisit this process again in the near future is neither cost-effective or good for your culture. If you absolutely need somebody right away, consider placing somebody on a temporary basis until you find the right fit.

International biotech recruiting tip #2: Consider the local culture

Culture is important to any high-performing organization, but it’s also important to note that just because a culture works for you in one country doesn’t mean it will be exactly the same in another. Business practices, regulations, and customs are likely to be completely different, so it’s important that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you are forcing a square peg into a round hole. If you do, you are putting your new recruit at risk and possibly your company if you lose them entirely. Keep an open mind, think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Consider the qualities that are most valued in the target country rather than clinging to what you know.

International biotech recruiting tip #3: Familiarize yourself with local markets and specialties

Knowing what the standards are in each country you are going into is key to a successful recruitment process. Find out what typical salary ranges are in the target country as well as what the long-term expectations are of candidates in your niche. Some of these variables can range drastically from city to city as well, not to mention the talent pool may be larger in some places than others. In a more competitive market, you may have to be more persuasive to secure the talent you need.

International biotech recruiting tip #4: Know about local privacy and hiring legalities

As some countries have restrictions on what you can and cannot ask a potential candidate, it is important to familiarize yourself with these policies before you begin the process. Asking the wrong question might land you in much deeper water than if it were simply a faux-pas — it may actually get you in trouble with the law! Some are issues of privacy and some are meant to discourage discrimination. Become well-versed in employee rights and the expectations that are upon you, as an employer.

International biotech recruiting tip #5: Be realistic

Recruiting for biotech takes time — especially if you are in search of effective leadership. You might be able to shortlist a few candidates within the first few months, but there are other tasks that need to be completed before you can begin negotiations. These include vetting their claims, checking their references, assessing their skills, and determining whether they are a good cultural fit — and none of these will happen overnight.

Some of the issues that might affect your timeline include the unemployment rate in your target country; if there are more people than there are jobs, the process may go a little more quickly. If the reverse is true, prepare for a lengthy and nuanced process, as even if you do locate an ideal candidate, it may take careful negotiation in order to lure them away from their current position or another offer.

International biotech recruiting tip #6: Include all decision makers in the hiring process

This is a common trap that many companies fall into — not inviting the opinions of all of the stakeholders in the group. You want to make sure that everybody is on board with your decision to avoid push-back down the line. If there are concerns, hear them out. If you feel you need to be quick to move on a particular candidate, call a meeting so that everybody’s voice can be heard.

International biotech recruiting tip #7: Consider soft skills

Soft skills are essential for any leadership position and nowhere is this more evident than in the high-stakes biotech industry. However, certain character traits can be viewed differently from country to country, so it’s important to understand how your candidate’s soft skills fit into the bigger picture.

For example, North Americans and British people tend to have a sarcastic sense of humor. Europeans, on the other hand, don’t understand sarcasm and would likely think that the person either didn’t like them or was being intentionally insulting. While this is not likely the case, it’s important to protect your staff from little earthquakes like this that could potentially disrupt the status quo.

Humility, familiarity, arrogance, brevity, and candor can also be misinterpreted if the cultural norm is skewed otherwise. Understanding the local culture is the key to assessing soft skills on an international level, and the right balance of soft skills is the key to keeping morale high among the rest of your team.

International biotech recruiting tip #8: Understand what equivalent titles are in each country

A title or a set of letters after a name may mean something completely different from one country to the next. While being a “Director” in one country may place your candidate at a high level, if they are coming from another country, it may mean little more than a glorified assistant. Be sure you understand what each candidate’s responsibilities were for each of their previous positions in order to properly assess their relevance for your situation; however, knowing what specific titles mean specifically will help shorten this process considerably.

International biotech recruiting tip #9: Learn to be an effective remote manager

Managing your team from afar requires a different approach than if you were hands-on and present every day. Your team needs to know that they are a part of something bigger and that the company cares enough to include them in their long-range planning. Even the best recruits can lose their way if they are poorly managed. Distance should not be a catalyst for dissention.

Consider implementing an integration program for your new recruits to familiarize them with your brand and its values. Holding weekly video conferences is a great way to connect names to faces. Getting to know other stakeholders in the company, even if they are in different countries, will go a long way to helping your people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. If an employee feels valued, they are more likely to stay in their position. Be sure they have everything they need to move forward with confidence.

International biotech recruiting tip #10: Provide mentorship

Life Sciences is a field like no other. Most of the people involved in the industry are highly trained and specialized in their field, so it’s not unusual for them to be thrown into the fire, so to speak, without so much as a training period. The need for talent combined with an urgency to fill open positions sometimes forces your hand. Keep in mind, however, that your new recruits may need a little more from you in order to become the high-functioning team member you need them to be. Dedicate some time and effort to mentoring your new hires and you will not only be assured of a smooth transition but will stand a much better chance of keeping them for the long haul. Your recruiting partner should be by your side through the entire process to ensure a seamless on-boarding.

While these are just a few of the pitfalls you might encounter in your international biotech recruiting process, they are the most significant.

Ultimately, choosing the right candidate boils down to one thing: are they the right person for the job and do they have the talents your company needs to take it into its future?

Be sure you are allocating enough time and resources to the process and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get results right away. Remember — good things don’t always come easily.

If you are a biotech or life sciences company looking to expand into international markets, you need a recruiting partner with insight and experience in your target countries. Pact & Partners has been a leader in international biotech recruiting since 1987 and can help you build a high-performing team from the ground up. Call to speak to one of our consultants today and discover what’s possible.

How Important are Soft Skills for a C-Suite Exec?

Team of executives discussing business strategies at briefing

The ability to communicate is arguably one of the most important attributes of any successful person — being able to get your point across clearly, concisely, and more to the point — persuasively.

In life sciences, as in many other highly skilled industries, we often look first at technical ability, experience, and education first, but it’s the soft skills that elevate some above the rest.

Effective leadership, in fact, depends on soft skills.

Soft skills provide a basis from which executives are able to lead through others–in essence, being able to motivate and persuade those they lead to carry out their vision for the betterment of the organization. You might say that it’s an exercise in storytelling as much as it is in leadership. Your teams need to be engaged with the plot line in order to move that story along to its ultimate conclusion.

Soft skills analysis

Let’s look at some of the essential soft skills a c-suite exec should have in his or her arsenal:

Communication: speaking the language

In any life sciences organization, there are many departments whose jobs are so technical that they actually have their own language, their own terminology. It’s the way they communicate among themselves, but another department may have little understanding of their jargon, relying instead on their own inter-disciplinary lingo to communicate to their own team and peers.

As a leader in the c-suite, a working knowledge of the jargon used by each department is necessary, but even more important is the ability to translate that information into plain English that anybody can understand.

Why is this important? As a leader, a c-suite exec is in a position where they need to be able to take what is happening in any given department at any given time and relay concerns and issues in a way that is understandable to the rest of the executive team — and also to be able to speak directly to the stakeholders who are at the heart of the issue.

Empathize, listen, understand, visualize

Beyond the ability to understand and communicate between teams, a c-suite exec needs to be able to empathize. This is a key attribute in the process that will ultimately lead to a successful resolution of the issue at hand. Without the ability to truly empathize, there is no impetus to find a solution beyond the obvious.

Our top talent in the c-suite does not get there by being unapproachable, rigid, or closed-minded. The leaders we look to for the guidance and vision we need are not only easily understood, they are good listeners. They are intuitive, they encourage open dialogue, and are pivotal in encouraging collaboration and productivity. They are as transparent as they are personable.

While these are qualities we aspire to at the management level as well, they are traits that most c-suite executives have mastered. They possess a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge and can put an analytical slant on a situation while also applying best practices, employing a combination of these things to arrive at an equitable solution.

As opposed to a manager who may be operating on a reactive or gut-level basis, c-suite executives must function at a higher level, a place where opportunity springs from adversity and solutions are not just of the break-fix variety, they are sustainable and far-reaching.

Rather than being dependent on their technical know-how, their ability to hear what’s being said and to envision a path through to the other side is what sets a true leader apart. What gets them there is their ability to listen, to empathize, to analyze, and to persuasively communicate what needs to be done

Diversity of experience

All organizations have a very specific culture. If the culture is high-performing, it’s important to be able to maintain its functionality clear to the c-suite. This means that their leaders need to be able to recognize that culture and provide a habitat where it can thrive and grow.

Even if an executive is coming from a completely different niche, a different industry or a different country altogether, their ability to articulate and embody the values and the culture of an organization are what is going to support it best. Knowing what motivates employees is the key here, and having the insight to recognize what needs to be said or done to continue to motivate them brings value that resonates throughout every department.

Adaptability: the final frontier

Having mastery over these soft skills is a common thread we see in the c-suite. These are skills that will rise to the fore in times of change–and if anything is a constant in today’s world, it’s change. The ability to foresee the change that’s coming and then to gently steer the organization and its people towards that future demonstrate true leadership.

While some changes are subtle, others can be life-altering. This could be due to sweeping regulatory restructuring at the government level, internal or external financial trends, or technological transformation.

Any of these things could cause widespread disruption and fear that the mission is not sustainable. This is a situation that illustrates just how important soft skills truly are in the c-suite, as an effective leader can help brace for the change and gradually steer their organization in a positive direction, using persuasion, empathy, and their innate ability to tell the story of how all will be overcome.

How Pact and Partners can help

While soft skills may be viewed by some as being intangible, your executive recruiter can play a significant role in helping to identify these qualities in potential executives. Call or request a quote today.

How to Choose the Best Candidate from Your Short List

4 job candidates waiting for an interview

You’ve interviewed, you’ve called back, you’ve shortlisted. When you are closing your search for an ideal candidate, you should count yourself lucky if you have two or more to choose from on your shortlist. Since you already know that candidates on your shortlist are well-qualified, your approach needs to shift somewhat.

How do You Recruit Top Talent?

Attracting and retaining top talent is a strategy unto itself. In today’s competitive job market, many skilled workers are opting for freelance and contract work over permanent full-time positions simply because it gives them more options in the long-term.

To win them over, you would need to provide a compelling argument as to why a candidate should choose your company over, say, a start-up who might appear more progressive in the Life Sciences sector.

Technology Changes the HR Focus

The constantly changing digital landscape doesn’t make your task any easier, either. Many traditional roles are changing. Regulatory compliance, reporting standards, and data privacy issues are top concerns. You may well need temporary employees to get you through your digital transformation, and in the end, you may still be left with gaps to fill.

All this considered, having more than one candidate on your shortlist can be seen as an incredible stroke of good fortune. In consideration of every little thing that could impede your progress, both known and unknown, you need to make sure you choose the right one.

A Different Approach is Required

You have navigated your way to the finish line in your recruiting process. You already know that the candidates on your shortlist are well-qualified to do the job, so you really need to go deeper in order to establish not only the candidate’s potential to grow into your plans for the future but also to see whether they will be a good cultural fit–in other words, how will they get along with the rest of the team? Often, once these elements are placed under the microscope, the right candidate will emerge.

Solving the Conundrum: Tips On Choosing Between Equally Qualified Candidates

Your shortlisted candidates probably have quite a lot in common. They all have the right qualifications, experience, certifications, track record, and attitude. But, what are the differences? What sets them apart from each other? And most importantly, is there anything in their personality or background that is going to negatively disrupt your established culture?

Tip #1: Soft Skills Assessment

When your decision-making is down to the wire, assessing soft skills is essential. Your candidate’s ability to communicate and work well in a team environment is what will pave the way to a successful onboarding. Other soft skills to consider include social intelligence and emotional intelligence–two crucial skills to have when working with others. Emotional intelligence can be described as one’s ability to empathize with others, while social intelligence is more of an awareness of one’s own self in relation to the larger group. It also refers to a person’s ability to adapt, cope with, and manage change, an essential quality in today’s mutable business environment. Craft lines of discussion around these topics to see how each candidate would respond to certain situations.

Tip #2: What’s in Your Future?

Where your company is right now may have little resemblance to where it will be 10 years from now. If you have a reasonably good idea of where your industry is headed and the direction you will be taking your organization, you should be able to separate the women from the boys in terms of your shortlisted candidates. Do they have the foundational skills to evolve along with your company’s mission? Do they have vision enough to add value to your operations as you evolve? Are they interested in learning new skills? Do they show leadership potential? Dive deep into each candidate’s goals to understand what really motivates them and where they see themselves in 5-10 years.

Tip #3: Is it a Good Cultural Fit?

The benefits of a strong company culture include an increase in productivity, collaboration, and innovation as well as a significant reduction in employee attrition. It also contributes to your brand identity as people, ultimately, are what drives the company forward. If your company has a strong and identifiable culture, it is important that your new hire blends well with the existing team. If the cultural fit is good, they will get up to speed faster, perform better, and stay on the job longer. At this point, you might think about bringing your team into the process. Allow your shortlisted candidates to spend some time with the team they will be working with, either as a shadow or on a more casual basis and see how they mesh.

Onboarding your next Life Sciences superstar doesn’t have to be a pain point. If you are interested in speaking to one of our medical headhunters about your recruiting needs, call Pact and Partners today.