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.


How Social Engagement Can Help Your Recruiting Process

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How Social Engagement Can Help Your Recruiting Process

The current talent shortage is making for a very creative recruiting environment in the life sciences arena. As vacancies far outnumber the candidates, the landscape is competitive. Candidates hold all the cards, it would seem, and if you are looking to onboard at the executive level you need to discover ways in which you can stand out from other organizations.

40% of Quality Hires Now Come from Social Media Interactions

As part of your toolkit, social media can be an effective tool to help you engage potential candidates as well as clients.

LinkedIn, in particular, has become a gauge of sorts, as it’s often the first point of contact between you and a prospective company. In fact, in LinkedIn Talent Solutions’ Global Recruiting Trends Report for 2017, 40% of quality hires are coming from social media, a metric that is somewhat evenly balanced between referrals and third-party websites. As of 2016, a full 84% of companies were actively recruiting through social media.

That being the case, your company’s LinkedIn profile—as well as those of your recruiters—needs to be notable, noticeable, and different enough that it will garner the attention of the people and companies you want to work with.

Social Engagement as Strategy

It’s not enough to simply have a profile. Your profile needs to be well thought-out and complete, but the buck doesn’t stop there. A static profile with little activity will appear to be standing still. A profile that is actively engaging its followers will draw attention, proving the old adage that the squeaky wheel (still) gets the grease.

Social engagement hinges on being able to provoke thought and start discussions. It provides you with an opportunity to lead with authority, providing proof of your influence and strengthening your position within your niche.

To that end, here are a few tips on how to boost your social engagement on LinkedIn:

Invest Time and Effort into Your Profiles

Your brand, as an entity, consists of a lot of moving parts in the form of recruiting consultants. Each consultant is a brand unto him or herself. While your company’s profile needs to reflect the mission and values of your organization, it should provide the authority upon which your consultants can base their own personal brands. Both company and consultant profiles need to be engaging and active, providing useful, actionable information that represents value to potential clients and candidates alike.

Ensure that all of your profiles are complete and up-to-date. If your candidates have trouble tooting their own horn, outsource their bios to a professional copywriter. Company and consultant profiles should always be in the first person, as social media is a personal platform and you want to be as human and as reachable as possible.

Engagement is a Two-Way Street

By the very definition of the word, engagement requires the input of more than one party. It’s not enough to re-post and cross-post (though that should be a part of your strategy and will help you to connect with others in your niche), you should be creating fresh, original content that represents your unique point of view. If you can post articles and insights that pique the interest of people in your wider circle, your word will travel further, and your circle will grow.

Join a group or two within your niche or think about starting a group of your own. Stepping outside of your inner circle will broaden your reach and will help you connect with voices of authority. Studies show that the most successful recruiting agencies are the ones that are actively interacting and engaging with their audiences.

Another tool you can use to your advantage is the “active” status that LinkedIn provides. It shows you when a user is online and displays when you are signed in and available as well. The more personable and reachable you are, the easier it will be to connect with you.

Post Only Mindful, Relevant Content

LinkedIn isn’t for skateboarding dog videos or pictures of your backyard barbeques. Though these certainly have a place in the social media realm, it’s not about business. The content you post should have some merit and insight into your thought processes, your methodologies, and ultimately, your values – both as an individual and as an organization. If you can manage it, create the content yourself. Blogging is a great way to let your audience know just where you stand on current topics of discussion. Individual insights should reflect the culture and ideals of the organization as well, providing some transparency into your processes and the challenges that you face.

Letting people in your industry know that you are experiencing the same pain points as they are, you may be able to position yourself as a solutions provider who always has their finger on the pulse of what makes the staffing industry tick.

Recruitment is a People-First Initiative

Is it possible to affect transformation through social media engagement? Absolutely. Devise a content and social media strategy that includes a completed LinkedIn profile, active engagement, and insightful content and you’ll be ahead of the curve in no time. As recruitment is a people-first industry, you need to make time to prove you are a real human being. Speak up, voice your opinions, share insights, and do it regularly.

If you have any questions or comments, call to speak to one of our recruiters today.

Recruiters vs. AI – Who Will Win?

3D human head with data bits. Artificial intelligence concept.

Recruiters vs. AI – Who Will Win?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot button in the recruiting industry in recent years. But how does this affect the future of recruiting? Granted, it’s a major disruptor. Most recruiters would probably agree that it provides invaluable support in shortlisting and qualifying candidates. But can it ever really replace what we do?

In assessing the usefulness of AI vs. its inherent flaws, we came up with a few reasons why AI will not be likely to replace human recruiters, now or in the foreseeable future. Here are our thoughts on this controversial topic as it affects the recruiting industry:

No Matter How Smart It Is, A Machine Will Never Be Able to Build A Relationship with A Candidate

Recruiters are effective at building relationships over time: relationships with candidates, with clients, with the industry at large. A machine cannot express excitement and it cannot “want” a candidate to get the position they are up for. It does not have an opinion, nor can it form one, so will never be able to express an opinion about a particular candidate to a client. It takes time to build a personal relationship and AI just hasn’t the capacity to do so, at least not enough to be able to make a difference in the process. Gone would be the gut feelings, the instinct, the knowing that the client/candidate relationship would be a good fit. Conversely, think of the times a candidate looked great on paper, but you knew they would not be a good cultural fit? AI cannot gauge culture, personality, or ethics unless it is represented by a metric of some sort.

AI Can’t Sell

AI does what it does based on algorithms, picking up on things like relevant skills, experience, and education leveraged from a candidate’s CV. It takes a human, however, to be able to sell an opportunity or to sell a candidate to a client. AI is not persuasive; it is black or white, yes or no. Many recruiters cite the experience of having a candidate say “no” to a potential job but ended up taking a chance because they trusted the recruiter, only to find that their initial impressions were misplaced. Bottom line: AI doesn’t think outside the box. AI doesn’t see potential. AI does not and will not sell.

AI Is Not Influential to The Process

A machine can only go on what it is programmed to do, which is to identify candidates based on a set of criteria. What it cannot and will not do is to work closely with a client to better understand their expectations and business needs. This process alone may broaden the scope of the search and help to narrow down the right candidate. AI is simply there to tick boxes and to not color outside the lines.

AI Doesn’t Love Its Job

Even though AI functions well within the parameters of what it was designed to do, what makes a recruiter successful is the passion they have for the process and for the job they do. It is the genuine caring that recruiters have for their jobs that makes them successful and AI can never replace that.

The Recruitment Industry Is About People

While AI does what it does based on data alone, recruitment is dependent on the human touch. As a result, human recruiters can never be replaced entirely. AI can match up a client’s specific needs with individuals who meet certain conditions, but it will never be able to map out a candidate’s career trajectory based purely on data. Because of this, a recruiter will always have a hand in the process.

What do you think about the role AI might play in your future?

Has AI been helpful in identifying appropriate candidates?

Have you given any thought as to how technology will affect your future?

Are you concerned about being made redundant by AI?

For more insights on how AI and machine learning technology might be good or bad for your career, bookmark this page and follow us on social media.