Since the end of the recession, the war for talent has raged anew in some laboratories. Laboratories in the petroleum, minerals, biotechnology, and other industries are actively recruiting experienced scientists, engineers, and technicians. However, simply screening large numbers of résumés will not enable your laboratory to win the talent war and hire the best candidates. This is because the war for talent is not the result of an overall skills shortage but rather a shortage of job candidates having the right combination of advanced skill sets laboratory managers require.
When advertising positions, guide candidates to your firm’s website, where they are required to answer a series of questions pertinent to the job opening. Then look only at those candidates who were able to answer every question. By using wellchosen questions, you will winnow down the candidate pool to those individuals who have the combination of skills you need. You could also throw in some behavioral questions to help weed out candidates.
Job openings posted on the major job boards are likely to prompt hundreds of responses, including many from individuals unqualified for the specific opening you are advertising. (Individuals post in the hopes that your laboratory also has other openings for which they are qualified.) Instead, advertise openings on your firm’s website and on specialized websites focused on science job openings, such as the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’s) www.acs.org, www.thesciencejobs.com, www.sciencejobs.org, and others.
Clearly define the skills, experience, and personal characteristics you are looking for before beginning to screen résumés. Another challenge for human resources representatives and hiring managers is that job hunters attempt to game the system by including in their résumés keywords taken from job postings. This can add greatly to the number of false positives (“hits”) that occur when searching résumé databanks for particular skill sets.
Find passive candidates. These are individuals who are not actively job hunting but would make good candidates. Use online professional networks such as LinkedIn to find them. Observing how they interact with others on discussion boards can give you insights into their professional behavior, work ethic, and how they interact with others.
Since the recession began, priorities for hiring new employees have changed. With the slow economic recovery, these new priorities remain the same. Just because the pace of hiring scientists and engineers remains lower than at prerecession levels does not mean that new employee hiring is any less critical. Talent recruitment and management remain important priorities for companies and organizations in both developed and emerging economies. However, while the priority has remained high, expectations for new employee accomplishments have risen. This is as true for laboratory hiring as it is for any another sector of economic activity.