Time to fill in biotech recruiting

How long does it take to fill a scientific or technical position in Biotech? Would you be surprised if I said there was no real answer to this question? There are too many variables in play when recruiting in Biotech. Sure we can find an average time to fill but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The time to fill in biotech recruiting varies as much the bio-solutions in development across the industry.

 Is the client a Fortune 50 or a startup? Is the company privately or publicly held? Is this position in Boston or San Francisco? Is this compensation heavily weighted towards salary, bonus, or equity? What is the viability of the product? What kind of resources will the have to be successful at the position? What is the reputation of the company? What does the biotech industry say about the hiring company? Will the company be the victim of a merger or acquisition?Etc, Etc, Etc. Depending on those variables, one company might might take 2-3 times longer than another company to fill the same job req.

I’ve seen some positions filled within 2 weeks while others will take 90 days to fill. I’ve seen some positions sit open, then closed, and then opened again for over 6 months. One thing that many recruiters and candidates agree on is the importance of networking in the recruiting and hiring process. Being networked to the right candidates will help fill a role within 30 days. Nobody plans on having a req sit open for 90+ days but it happens, and when it does, what do you do about it? What do you do to prevent it from happening on your next req?

The Brookings Institute published their findings of a national study that measured the amount of time that job descriptions were posted on company’s websites in a number of different cities. The time period for the study was Q1 2013. According to the study, job ads for STEM positions in San Francisco ran for an average of 50 days. In Boston, that number was 38 days. Nationally, the study shows that STEM positions requiring a Ph.D had ads that were published for 50 days. The average for non Ph.D positions in STEM was 33 days. These numbers don’t represent the time to fill but the amount of time spent soliciting candidates to be moved on to the first stage of the interview process.

BountyJobs also releases information related to Biotech and Pharma searches from their platform and some scientific positions on their site took over 170 days to fill on contingent while 50 days seemed to be the magic number on retained searches. Average time to conduct a first interview on any position in Biotech or Pharma was 31 days. Another interesting note is that job reqs in Biotech and Pharma had 30% fewer candidate submissions compared to reqs outside the industry. If you are having issues attracting qualified candidates for your positions, know that you are not alone.

When a position needs to be filled in a timely manner, engaged search with one recruiter is usually the best bet. Having an experienced recruiter spending 100% of their time on your position and providing market feedback is a lot easier to manage then using a handful of different contingent recruiters from different companies. Engaged search efforts will typically result in fewer candidates submitted but a shorter time to fill. The recruiter will have a better understanding of the person needed to fill the position and what the market is paying for that combination of technical and leadership ability. Internal recruiters will spend less time managing the process and be exposed to a lot less noise then having to deal with 5-8 contingent recruiters.

Contingent search is best utilized when a talent acquisition group is looking for additional candidates on a position to supplement their own efforts. Their talent pipeline will benefit from attracting candidates that their internal recruiters are not exposed to and they will only have to pay a fee if they hire one of those candidates. From an agency standpoint, most contingent searches are given low priority and a wide net is used to attract candidates, therefore, more resumes will be submitted of candidates who may or not meet the requirements of the position. Talent acquisition groups will have to be more involved screening candidates on paper and over the phone.

Paragon Search Group is an American biotech recruiting firm specializing in permanent positions in Process Development, CMC/Reg Affairs, Manufacturing, Project Management, and Quality for companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50.



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