Do-It-Yourself recruiting in BioScience


Help Wanted

It is not so simple any more.

If you’re going to conduct a search for a top-level person without using outside resources, here are some guidelines:

1. How to find good candidates for your job openings:

— Using employee referrals and networking will fill a good proportion.

— Posting to your website and to social networks will also fill some.

— Googling, Boolean Search and other software tools will fill some if your HR team has a well-trained internal recruiting group.

— But sometimes you just have to ask specific people at specific companies if they would like to come work for you.

But which companies do you consider? A limiting factor is how much you can spend to relocate the right person. Will the budget allow it?  From how far afield? Anywhere in the U.S.? Your state? Your region? Would you recruit from outside the U.S., with the attendant visa issues? It’s considered “relocation” if the prospect would have to move fifty miles or more.  (Jolyce Ledvina of Suddath at is a good person to talk with about this issue.)

How far afield you look depends on the position you are recruiting for. A controller can do her job in any company, but a Director of Biology is a very different role in, say, a cancer therapeutics company vs. a life science tools company, so you may have to seek more remotely.  The number of companies in your area that are working in the same therapeutic or life science area that you are may be limited. Who are your local competitors for this particular function?

Once you have decided the geography of the search, you must determine which companies within that area are likely to employ the people with the experience you need. The best tool I’ve found for this is BioPharm Insights but they are rather expensive. may be a good place to go to check out other companies as is BayBio or your local biosciences organization. The old reliables are Hoovers, followed by OneSource, but both of these do all industries, so be careful about the details. Free sites are BloomsbergBusinessWeek and Forbes, but again, they are not specific to the biosciences world.

Since most of the people currently employed doing what you need to have done are happy where they are, you will need at least fifty companies.  Be sure not to include any with which your company currently has agreements or collaborations.  But do include companies that are not doing well.  Their people may be more ready to leave.

Don’t feel that you must have someone from a major pharmaceutical company. As a company gets larger, the responsibilities of a particular role may narrow, and small companies usually need someone who has broader experience.

Now you have a list of the most promising places to find the person that you need.

The next step is to identify each of the appropriate people and approach them with the fact that you would like to discuss your open job with them.  Is this something that your team can or wants to do?  There have been scandals around “poaching” people from competitors when more than one person moved from one company to a competitor.  This is not usually a problem when an outside recruiter is involved.

All of this must take place before your hiring manager can see the first resume.  How much time and effort will this take?

We have all been spoiled by Amazon and simply ordering what we want off the internet – recruiting is most definitely not like that.  People are the item which can say “No!”


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