Loss of the Passive Candidate
This reliance on the Internet is frustrating to many independent biotech recruiters, who believe that biotech employers are missing out on an important piece of the candidate pool. For years, human resources staff noted the difference between "active" and "passive" candidates. The active candidates are those who are in the job-search mode. Passive candidates are buried in their work and not considering a change (that is, until they get a phone call that starts them thinking about their options).
"Recruiters, by their nature, can work in any field they find hot, and therefore are only partially affected by the employers' move to internet job sites," says Linda Todten-Jensen of CareerTrax (Sedona, AZ).
"However, we see every day that this focus on the internet can hurt employers. They often miss out on those candidates who are currently in jobs they are doing well at, but who aren't reading internet ads," reports Jensen.
"These passive candidates are a key part of what external recruiters bring to the table. The internet just doesn't reach out and get someone to think about an opportunity like a call from a headhunter does," says Todten-Jensen.
HR staff disagree about the long-term value of independent recruiters to biotechnology employers. To some, the internet has totally replaced their use of external resources. To others, such as that California company with more than 100 current openings, these outside resources are critical partners in the hiring process.
The competition is getting tougher for good candidates. Radford describes how companies plan to manage this competition for job applicants.
"Two major issues emerged from our seminars with human resources," says Radford. "For one, recruitment is again a major focus for these departments. And because they all want experienced staff, many times this means identifying people at the competition. This leads to the second major issueretention."
It doesn't appear that new graduates or postdocs will be able to fill these job requisitions for newly-commercialized firms. Instead, it may be company versus company, with recruitment efforts geared to take experienced staff from wherever they can be found, even if it is at that friendly company right down the street.
"Retention programs must clearly identify the reasons why an employer is the best place to work," says Todten-Jensen. "As hiring begins to get more aggressive, employers need to be prepared for more voluntary turnover, and a strong retention program is the best defense.
"If the industry continues to have so few training programs to get people moved over from the too-full academic pipeline, then we'll all be fighting tooth and nail for the best people who already have that experience."