Living in the world of life sciences, whether you are part of a small start-up or a large, global organization, demands the ability to operate amongst critical timelines that can quite literally save lives. It is a rewarding industry to be a part of, but one that also ebbs and flows as companies face pivotal mergers, acquisitions, and filing verdicts from regulatory bodies. As business needs fluctuate, hiring can become an imperative priority to ensure the vision and scientific objectives of a company are not derailed due to the company being understaffed.

All too often our conversations begin with a hiring manager emphasizing, “We needed this role filled yesterday”. With this sentiment comes a sense of urgency that pushes the boundaries of how quickly a role needs to get filled versus how important it is to still be selective and to ensure that once a hire is made, they add to the harmony of the existing group both from a technical and cultural perspective. 

Cue the initiation of a recruitment effort, one where we are proactively seeking the top talent in the industry who, as you may have guessed: are employed, have not indicated that they are not seeking new employment in any way, shape, or form, and are probably irritated by the inundation of calls they receive daily from numerous recruiters.

What is a hiring organization to do? Glad you asked…

The role of a recruiting firm

As a recruitment firm, PharmaLogics learns from hiring teams all of the basic required technical skills, as well as the skills (both technical and soft) that would create the “purple unicorn”: the dream candidate. We then identify who exists that aligns with the desired phenotype and work to engage a passive market of targeted candidates.

Hiring teams play a critical role in partnering to secure the evolution of recruitment leads from passive candidates to ones that are truly engaged and interested in the opportunity. Camaraderie and diligence in the interview process can make the difference between building a pipeline of promising candidates that withdraw midway through the process, and building a pipeline of promising candidates that become successful hires. 

Below we have outlined some of the key considerations that can sway the engagement and retention of top talent. 

Detailed Job Descriptions

A job description is a recruiter’s form of currency with candidates. Job descriptions that engage a passive candidate are aesthetically consistent with a company’s brand, and filled with content that illustrates in as much detail as possible specifics of the role and the company beyond the bones of what that position typically entails. Ask these three questions when writing a job description:

  1. Is there a cohesive and engaging company overview?
  2. Does the job overview describe specifics in terms of projects, therapeutic areas, stages of development, etc.?
  3. Do the requirements accurately distinguish between must-have requirements versus preferential experience?

Engaging Corporate Marketing Material

Marketing material not only establishes credibility of your corporation, but also allows candidates to do their research and confirm their level of interest in joining the team. Here are a few must-haves:

  1. Company website or company slide deck – A slide deck can supplement a job description to build interest from a passive candidate market. This is often a good stand-in for companies in stealth mode that don’t yet have a formal website, or companies that have a website with very limited content. 
  2. Media – Company photo gallery/videos that show company culture and employee engagement
  3. Recent news and events 
    • If recent news/events are cause for concern from a candidate perspective, are interview panelists prepared to address this?
  4. Reviews – Google/Glassdoor/etc. This is an important one that might not even be on your radar. Ask:
    • Is your corporation soliciting reviews from employees that would accurately and positively reflect on the company environment
    • If recent reviews are cause for concern from a candidate perspective, are interview panelists prepared to address this?

A Streamlined, Effective, and Engaging Interview Process 

A buttoned-up interview process has a significantly positive effect on a candidate’s perception of what life would be like as an employee of your corporation. A robust and organized interview process can cause a hesitant candidate to gain confidence in their decision to interview, or a candidate that is actively interviewing with multiple organizations to rank yours above the rest.

  • Timely feedback – time kills all deals!
    • Communicating feedback as soon as possible not only keeps candidates engaged in the process, but also ensures that your corporation doesn’t lose them at the hands of another organization moving faster.
    • Even if you are not moving forward with a candidate, communicating this decision builds your corporation’s reputation and the level of respect candidates have for your organization overall.
  • Scheduling accommodations
    • Expedite for candidates that have other interviews in process.
    • Accommodate interviews that would fall outside the 9-5 range.
    • Confirm interviews with a minimum of 48 hours notice (ideally more).
  • Defined interview panel and format
    • Does the candidate receive the interview itinerary in advance?
    • Does the panel include anyone that is not essential to the hiring decision? If so, can they be removed?
    • Do the panelists all have the job description, candidate CV, and an understanding of the key competencies they should be assessing?
    • Do the panelists convey a cohesive message around the company vision, mission and culture? Do they sell candidates on the opportunity in tandem with their assessment process?
    • Do the panelists understand the expectations around collecting their feedback?

In essence, companies should make sure to captivate candidates by providing a detailed job description, engage them with corporate marketing materials that present the company in its best light, and provide an effective and timely interview process that benefits both the candidate and the hiring team. By using these tips and best practices, hiring teams stand a better chance at gaining the interest of top talent and placing qualified candidates in new roles. 

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