4 Tips to Hire in the Competitive Biotech Market

Biotech companies have consistently ranked finding and attracting talent as one of their top concerns in recent years. This is in part due to the fact that, especially in areas of high industry concentration, companies are seeking the same expertise and highly qualified talent. How do you compete with bigger companies and attract the scientists you need? Based on our experience helping biotechs find and hire the right scientists and engineers, we have four tips to share:

1. Be Willing to Train

Ask yourself, if you hire someone who is already an expert in every skill and responsibility needed for a role, how does the employee benefit? 

Limit your must-have skills: There are skills that a candidate needs to bring to your company on day one to begin contributing. Ask yourself which skills these are and consider the other sought skills as nice-to-haves rather than must-haves when crafting your job description. This flexibility will also likely get you a more diverse pool of candidates!

Showcase what new hires will gain over the course of a year: A top concern of job seekers is finding a role where they can learn and grow. What aspects of the life science ecosystem will they gain new experience in? What new skills will they be trained on? Make this growth potential clear during the interview phase.

2. Expand Your Search

Are you only looking in your local area or reaching new hires through team referrals? You’re missing out on qualified applicants if you aren’t looking beyond these options. 

Look outside your local area: There are many qualified job seekers outside of your local area. In our experience, many of them would be willing to relocate for the right opportunity. You may actually be able to hire more quickly by looking for talent where other companies aren’t. Share your open roles or reach out to candidates outside of your region to find more qualified candidates and reach a more diverse pool! 

Build community connections: If you have entry level roles that would accept recent graduates or postdocs, then cultivating relationships with local universities and colleges will allow you to be in front of more candidates. Participating in local events or supporting community efforts that are aligned with your values gets your brand in front of more potential job seekers, and shows your commitment to what you stand for to candidates.

3. Rethink Your Benefits

Candidates will weigh your offer against their other opportunities, and may feel that your offer is a reflection of how you perceive their potential. This can cause some difficulty when the highest salary you are able to offer is lower than a competitor’s. However, not every job seeker is alike, and creating benefits packages that reflect this will help you stand out from others.

Go beyond base salary: If you can’t compete on salary, show candidates you consider their needs and life priorities by coming up with creative ways to make your benefits package enticing. Startups are often able to be more flexible and offer stronger packages than bigger companies. Equity, performance bonuses, and non-financial options like offering a flexible schedule, better work/life balance, or even a strong health insurance plan all show candidates that their job satisfaction matters to you. For information, check out this article.

Consider sponsorship and e-verification status: Did you know over half of postdoctoral trainees are international? Many of them are passionate about STEM and want to contribute to companies like yours. If you have the means and experience to sponsor visas, including job seekers who would require this in your talent pool would reveal additional highly qualified candidates for you to consider. If you are not in a position to sponsor visas, consider applying for e-verification to hire candidates with OPT status.

4. Move Quickly

Many highly qualified candidates will be going through interviews with several companies at once. Acting decisively will help you secure your first choice for a new hire.

Express interest immediately: It is critical to reach out quickly when a strong candidate comes in. If candidates don’t hear from you within a couple days of applying, most will assume you’re not interested and move forward with other opportunities.

Make offers quickly: Once you and your team have met a candidate you think is a strong match, get them to the offer stage within a couple weeks, even if you have multiple stages of evaluation. Many candidates have offers with 2 weeks of them applying, so move quickly! Many companies have lost out on strong candidates by waiting for the “perfect” candidate and losing the strong candidate by not making an offer sooner. 

Scismic’s talent matching platform helps biotech companies find qualified scientists and grow diverse teams. Our specialized algorithm accurately targets relevant candidates for faster hiring, and is 2x more effective in bringing in underrepresented scientists. Learn more about us here.

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