Updated: Jan 13
For Small Companies/Hiring Teams:
How to Stand Out in This Competitive "Buyer’s” Market
Sabrina Deltoro, Founder & Recruiting Director
Delson Talent Consulting
May 18, 2022
The below information mostly pertains to smaller start-up companies, but might also be worth a read if you are a hiring manager at a larger company.
With unemployment at an all time low, companies are having an increasingly difficult time finding and attracting top talent. As of April 2022, the unemployment rate in the United States was 3.6%, and the unemployment rate in the Bay Area as of March 2022 was 2.9%. Additionally, Goldman Sachs expects the United States unemployment rate to match the 50-year low by the end of 2022. Needless to say, when it comes to job hunting, this is a buyer's market, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BIOTECH COMPANIES?
Anecdotally, from what we’ve seen lately at our firm, there are many early-stage biotech and pharmaceutical companies looking for wet lab folks with the same molecular biology skillset, with ideal level ranging from RA or SRA through Scientist II. It seems many companies are looking for folks who know their way around a lab, have experience with NGS, CRISPR, or high-throughput screens, coupled with enough experience in industry to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact in the lab, all ideally within the salary range slated for the opportunity.
To further the point with a bit of data, when I go to LinkedIn and type in “research associate, molecular biology” in jobs in the search bar, then filter for full-time roles in the biotech or pharmaceutical industries, 2,916 openings pop up. When I filter down for ‘San Francisco’, ‘Redwood City’ and ‘South San Francisco’, 359 openings pop up*. When I use the same filters, but for "Scientist, Molecular Biology", I see 10,061 and 625 results, respectively*.
Since competition is fierce and wet lab folks are in high demand, companies should be doing everything in their power to stand out and set themselves apart from their competition. Below, you’ll find a few suggestions we’ve shared with our clients recently.
GIVEN THE STIFF COMPETITION, HOW CAN COMPANIES STAND OUT?
What you’re likely already doing to attract talent: (and should get on ASAP if not!)
Have interesting and compelling messaging on your company site
Having interesting and exciting messaging on your site about what your organization does and the area of research you are in can help attract candidates. Sometimes, I read through a company’s website, and the information is so vague that I can’t really figure out what they are working on, what area of research they are focused on, or what problem they are trying to solve. Lack of information like this isn't overly compelling, and can be problematic, especially given this competitive environment. There is so much competition, your organization’s science MUST stand out!
Competitive compensation bands
You’ve likely already worked with a compensation consultant or one of your lead VCs to create market-appropriate compensation bands/ranges so that once you find and vet a candidate, you will be able to make them a competitive offer. Knowing what other companies are offering for similar roles, and then making competitive offers is essential to staying competitive and getting candidates to sign the dotted line.
Having competitive benefits will also help land a candidate once you’ve identified your person. Competitive in the biotech space seems to be at least 15 days PTO with another 15 company Holidays, and 10 sick days. We also see medical premiums paid at 90% often.
Inclusion Statement at the end of your job postings
Adding an inclusion statement at the end of your job posts can help convey your company's commitment to fostering and creating an inclusive workplace.
What you might not be doing yet (but should!):
Have a Glassdoor profile
I don’t necessarily recommend the paid version of Glassdoor, but I absolutely 100% recommend creating a basic Glassdoor profile for your company. Here, you can include your mission and vision statements, discuss your areas of research, and give information on benefits. This is also a great place to post any press releases your organization may have as they come out. Be sure to include photos of your team in the office, as well as at off-site and team building events. You could even add screenshots from virtual events that took place during shelter-in-place. Since the market has shifted, candidates are not simply looking for A job anymore, they are looking for THE job. The role they are interviewing for/interested in is important, as is the physical facility they will work in, and the culture of your organization. Showing prospective candidates that your organization is a good place to work can only help attract talent.
Once you’ve set up a profile, I recommend sending an email to your employees and say something along the lines of “we’ve recently created a Glassdoor profile to help us attract the best of the best and bring new colleagues on to our team who you are excited to work with. If you have been enjoying your experience working here, I hope you would consider leaving us a review” This way, you aren’t asking the team to “please leave us a positive review”, but you are asking folks to share their positive experiences without pressure.
Additionally, If you are a very small company, this also helps add to your online footprint to make your organization seem more established.
Get hiring managers, and other team members, to reshare company job posts via LinkedIn
This will help get your openings out to your employees’ networks faster. See this post from LinkedIn on one way to do this.
Co-Founder, BOD and SAB information
Make sure your Company LinkedIn page has compelling and interesting information about your area of research, as well as your Co-Founders, BOD and SAB (if applicable).
If you are making an effort to portray your organization as a diverse and inclusive workplace, you should strongly consider making MLK day and Juneteenth paid company holidays and advertise this on your website and job postings. Depending on what diversity means to your organization, you could also consider offering paid mental health days.
Add your pronouns to your email signature
Adding pronouns to your email signature can help show candidates that your work place is a safe space that fosters inclusion. Here is an excellent article on the topic.
Focus on retention
While this doesn’t help attract someone out of the gate, per se, having measures in place to retain talent will prevent you from having to backfill folks, which is especially ideal when they are in hard-to-fill positions. Always a good idea to be proactive, and essential to be proactive in a ‘buyer’s market’.
These strategies above should help generate interest in your organization and drive traffic to your job postings. If you are still not getting the applicant flow you are hoping for, you can always partner with and utilize external recruiters, like Delson Talent, that use active and captivating, personalized top-of-the-funnel reach outs to help increase candidate flow for your open roles.
*At time of writing