Explore the 4 Main Recruitment Methods Used by Science Companies Today

Do you remember Ryan Howard, “The Temp” that Michael Scott hires in the TV show “The Office”? Ryan is placed at Dunder Mifflin through a “temp agency; a commonly typecast role in the media to depict a third-party recruiter. This depiction raises the question, do all third-party recruiting firms place temps like Ryan?

No! Ryan depicts just a small branch of third-party recruiting companies that focus on staff augmentation (individuals brought on board to augment permanent staff or to complete a specific project determined to last a finite period of time).

Many third-party recruitment firms are focused on direct hire recruitment. Companies that fill positions with these third-party firms enter into a contingent or retained search agreement. In the case of a scientific recruitment firm, the agency is tasked with finding the correct technical and cultural fit for a company, which is much different than “The Temp” which is filling a vacancy for a finite period of time.

1. Executive search

Executive search firms are hired/retained by an organization to fill executive-level leadership roles. The hiring company retains the executive search firm’s service until the position is filled, requiring internal resources to participate in the required qualification meeting with the search firm, conduct final interviews from a shortlist of qualified executives and select the best fit making a quick and strong offer of employment.

The benefits of an executive search firm that has an industry niche include an immediate network of qualified candidates. The search firm has researched the talent market for similar openings at other companies and will start with a shortlist of qualified leaders to reach out to.

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Furthermore, they will be able to provide feedback on the total compensation package being offered to confirm it meets market standards. Many executives require relocation for their next opportunity so it is the search firm’s job to only present leaders willing to relocate to the company’s location. This in turn saves time for the operations decision-makers. They won’t have to interview candidates that are unlikely to make the move or who want to negotiate work from home details.

The role of an executive search firm includes negotiating offers of employment on a daily basis. These offers include total compensation packages and the value of equity (RSUs or stock options).

Most hiring managers have these negotiations a few times a year and aren’t as familiar with how to discuss equity and how the offer compares to others in the market as much as an executive search firm is. For example, if a biotechnology company is looking for a Chief Scientific Officer, they would select an executive search firm specializing in the biotechnology sector, to research both passive and available leaders available for a career move.

Getting started with executive search in steps:

1. Decision maker Intake Call (DMIC): This is a call that acts as a kick-off meeting with your executive search firm. The goal of this call is to clearly outline expectations for the right long term fit.

2. Set a 1-week progress report to review candidates with the search firm, verify profiles are consistent with expectations, and that total compensation details are in line with market value (demand in the market)

3. Create a timeline for interviews with your search firm, as well as scheduling time with internal decision-makers to provide detailed feedback after these interviews with the search firm included in the feedback conversation.

4. Move quickly with making an offer to qualified candidates. We suggest 3-5 business days after the final interview. Don’t lose out on a “great” candidate while waiting on a “perfect” candidate.

2. Recruiter process outsourcing (RPO)

A recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firm augments a company’s talent acquisitions branch of the human resources department. RPO firms can recruit for local or national openings and can take on 100% of the company’s talent acquisition portfolio or a smaller percentage. RPO firms provide flexibility for companies that don’t have an accurate long-term forecast for hiring (i.e. if they have 20 positions to fill in the first quarter, and none the rest of the year; the company doesn’t need to employ a full-time recruiter internally. This means that they can press pause on utilizing the RPO until they need to hire again).

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An RPO firm will come with their own Applicant Tracking System (ATS for short) which should have an existing candidate pool applicable to your niche skill sets.  If hiring needs are immediate, the RPO option becomes even more advantageous as minimal onboarding and training will be required, which is needed when hiring an individual producer for your talent acquisition needs.

Your RPO firm should have a team with a segmented area of focus:

⋅ Researchers who source the talent pool for qualified candidates,

⋅ Recruiters who conduct the phone interviews

⋅ Account managers who know how to qualify new job openings with department decision makers

Segmenting these talent acquisition functions should all have a positive effect on the time to fill (TTF) for openings.

Here’s an example in the life sciences industry: A positive patient response from a clinical trial leads to a ramp up in hiring. Instead of trying to scale up a recruitment team internally (assuming you pick the right recruiters to hire) the RPO can be up and running within 24-48 hours. Furthermore, the RPO could be implemented within the organization and departmental hiring managers within the first week.

How RPO works in steps:

RPO firms will run all aspects of a company’s talent acquisition department, even partnering with human resources on background checks and drug screens when necessary.

1. Company selects the RPO firm, and introduces them to the department heads who they will be recruiting for.

2. Department heads run a Decision Maker Intake Call (DMIC) for each open position.

3. RPO firm researches/sources the market for available and qualified talent.

4. Recruiters screen and select the best candidates from the shortlist provided by the researchers.

5. RPO firm schedules interviews with department heads to make their final selection

3. Contingent search

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With contingent search, a company utilizes a third party recruiting firm to work on a specific position, paying the firm a fee only if they provide the candidate who receives and accepts an offer.  Contingent firms don’t get paid up front to initiate the search and are often competing against the companies internal talent acquisition department.  With this recruitment method, the company has minimal investment in the relationship with the recruiting firm, only paying a fee for services rendered. Contingent recruiting firms should have a niche industry or skill set focus for tough to fill positions. This niche industry/skillset knowledge is crucial because the company’s internal recruiter may not be familiar with or have an existing network within said space. Contingent recruiting firms open up a talent pool that the company’s internal recruiters haven’t identified.

Companies will often use a contingent firm for specialized skill sets (IT, biometrics, scientists) because their internal recruiting team may not have this area of specialization.

The fundamental advantage of working with an RPO or retained firm over a contingent firm is the level of service provided.  While on a contingent agreement, the recruiting firm will still be competing against internal talent acquisition candidates and potentially other recruiting firms.  If on a retainer, the firm is 100% responsible for fulfillment and therefore will allocate as many resources as needed in order to fill the opening vs a contingent agreement where the firm may fill one of five positions they work on they can’t allocate as many resources with a low percentage chance of seeing a return on their investment.

It is important to note a best practice with contingent recruiting firms is to work with one exclusively per opening. A misconception of working with 4-5 contingent recruiting firms per position is that it will “open up the candidate pool.”

In reality, a contingent firm competing against internal recruiting on top of 4 other firms isn’t the most efficient use of their time.  The result is not increasing the candidate pool, in fact you will actually get a decreased commitment/time allocation from the firm’s resources.

For example, if the company tries to use 4 different firms for the same opening, you can expect to get 25% of the effort per firm. Business relationships with recruitment firms are a two way relationship, the more committed or exclusive you are with a firm the better result you will see from them since they will allocate more resources to your opening.

The contingent search process:

1. Company selects the contingent firm, and introduces them to the department heads who they will be recruiting for.

2. Department heads run a Decision Maker Intake Call (DMIC) for the open position.

3. Contingent firm researches/sources the market for available and qualified talent.

4. The contingent firm’s recruiters screen and select the best candidates from the shortlist provided by the researchers.

5. Contingent firm schedules interviews with department heads to make their final selection.

4. Staffing

Staff augmentation is a recruitment method that is best utilized for filling a position open at your company for a finite period of time with an employee on the payroll of a third party. Often referred to as temporary workers, or “temps”, these candidates will be on the third party recruiting firms payroll and will fulfill a specific role under the supervision and direction of permanent employees of the hiring company.

This option allows for flexibility when it comes to a company’s payroll; especially for organizations with a cyclical business model meaning they may only need services rendered for four months a year. Because of this, they can add or subtract headcount as they see fit without having to lay off the candidates themselves. There is less administrative cost and time that needs to be spent with internal human resources staff since the 3rd party administers benefits, payroll, onboarding paperwork and compliance.

Here’s an example of this within the life sciences industry: A company that produces the flu vaccine, which is done seasonally, leverages the staff augmentation model to bring on a group of temporary workers every year for approximately 6 months (sometimes the same from the year before) train them in the GMP regulations, and end the assignments of most of the candidates at the end of the year. There is an opportunity to convert the best of these candidates to permanent employees instead of ending their assignments.

What it’s like to work with a staffing agency

Upon selection of the staffing firm, the company still needs to qualify the roles with the recruiters to ensure they are selecting the right candidates. In many cases, hiring decisions are made by the companies managers based on the candidates resume. The staffing firm will then make the offer and perform all on boarding paperwork and compliance. The staffing firm is responsible for the candidate showing up for their assignment, while the company is in charge of training and supervising the candidate in order to perform the necessary skills.

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Getting the best candidate for the job

All 4 recruiting options have their benefits and drawbacks, but regardless of which you choose you can guarantee the best candidate if you have complete trust in your recruiting firm. While some options allow for more up front perks and others allow for the benefits to come later, make sure you discuss all of these options with your recruitment firm to allow for the most symbiotic relationship possible. Here at GTS Scientific, we offer flexible options for the needs of your company.

Start with us today.