Your employer brand needs work
Ask yourself: why would I want to work for me? The motivations of top talent are many and varied; they may want to work for a company that ensures a comfortable work/life balance, that offers some delicious perks like social events and away days, or that invests in its R&D department and leads the way in innovation.
How outsiders perceive the experience of working within the four walls of your organisation is encapsulated in your employer brand. This brand is built on the back of the opinions of past and present employees, who use social media and purpose built utilities like Glassdoor to rate your company as an employer.
You can take control of your employer brand by selling your company’s vision on your website, being active on review sites and interacting with reviewers, and offering up content that shows exactly what it’s like to work for your company. Inspiration can be taken from Silicon Valley tech giants like Google, who have worked to understand the motivations of their ideal hires and expertly pandered to them.
Your salaries aren’t competitive
It must be remembered that you largely aren’t in control of what you pay top talent. Rather than paying what you think they’re worth, you’re obliged to pay what the market thinks they’re worth, and the discrepancy in these figures is often large.
To attract and retain top talent it’s vital that you research salaries offered by direct competitors and companies in similar markets. But remember that it’s not solely a question of salary; competitive benefits such as bonus plans, discounts and flexible working conditions can be far more tempting than an extra couple of grand. And never underestimate the importance of work/life balance to a modern professional.
You’re being too picky
Hunting for a perfect candidate, it’s said, is like hunting for a purple squirrel. You can search for as long as you want, but you’re not going to find them. As such, compromise is key.
It’s always wiser to focus on the person over the resume. A candidate with the necessary skills and experience, but who doesn’t fit in well with your team, isn’t likely to change as a person. On the flipside, a candidate who is a good fit for your team but doesn’t bring the levels of experience that you’d hoped for can always develop their skills. The short-term pain is more than paid off with long term gain. According to the Studer Group, “A survey of 610 CEOs by Harvard Business School estimates that typical mid-level managers require 6.2 months to reach their break-even point.” that means that vast sums of money invested in a bad cultural fit could be flushed down the proverbial toilet once the incompatibility is recognised.
The key? Don’t miss out on talent by ruling out candidates through nothing more than inflexibility. See people for their potential, not their limitations.
You’re not looking at graduates
Speaking of upskilling, are you actively looking at inexperienced talent fresh from higher education? This wide-eyed group bring energy, passion, drive and new ways of thinking, as well as specific scientific skills that benefit from the latest knowledge. They are mouldable, and ask for significantly less compensation than their experienced counterparts.
To properly capitalise on graduate talent, you need to carefully consider how to reach and attract them (partnering with higher education institutions is a great strategy), and you need to offer a sturdy program of support.
You’re not looking internationally
Why restrict yourself to your own shores? The emerging talent markets of India and China are excellent sources of hardworking and skilled professionals. China produces 150,000 life science graduates within its borders annually, while many more Chinese nationals study and graduate overseas (10,000 graduate in the US every year, for example). Tapping into these talent markets could prove to be the key to ongoing success for life science companies.