The Biotech Hiring Checklist: 10 Must-Haves for Your Future Star

By Mitch Robbins on November 21, 2023

Have you ever played a mind-boggling game? The quest for the ideal biotech candidate can feel strikingly similar. Just like in a complex puzzle game, every piece in the recruitment process, from skills to cultural fit, needs to snap into place to create a complete and successful picture. However, figuring out this puzzle and where each piece belongs is turning out to be more challenging than ever.

Sometimes, in the search for the right candidate, biopharma recruiters become entangled on the web of qualifications. They focus on candidates who look great on paper, ones who flaunt impressive qualifications. But a truly remarkable professional in life sciences isn't just about having the right credentials on a resume.

According to Monster statistics, recruiter confidence in landing the right candidate has slipped from 95% in 2020 to 91% in 2022. It's like the target is moving further away - but what exactly is causing this?

Let's step out of the web of qualifications, because we've compiled a list of top 10 aspects to consider when hiring in the biopharma field. This list won't just help you spot the right skill set, but also identify a candidate's potential to grow with your company culture - the hidden pieces of the puzzle.

1. A positive attitude

When it comes to employee qualities, both recruiters and the managers they recruit for tend to undervalue a positive attitude. But while skills and experience are undoubtedly important, intelligent biotech employers understand that these things can be learned. What is more difficult to teach is the right attitude. After all, a positive attitude is the foundation of a strong work ethic.

A positive employee is someone who is enthusiastic, motivated and has a can-do approach. Such candidates are more likely to be productive, cooperative, and successful. In an interview setting, a positive attitude shining through can also make a candidate more likable and memorable. This type of employee is a great asset to a biomedical company as it will help to create a positive and inspired work environment.

2. The ability to learn quickly

As we mentioned before, most new skills and knowledge can be gained. In fact, 63% of organizations would be willing to hire someone with transferable soft skills and then train them up to full proficiency, according to Monster research. Therefore, the ability to learn quickly is one of the main qualities that employers should be looking for in a future biomedical engineer.

As new technologies and areas of knowledge are always emerging, and organizations and systems are constantly evolving, lifelong learning becomes an extremely valuable quality in the modern day. An engineer in the life sciences field who does not learn new skills quickly risks falling behind, regardless of their expertise or position level. A willingness and, eventually, an aptitude to learn are crucial characteristics of a competent employee, not just for acquiring new hard skills but also for professional and personal development.

3. Good communication skills

Many biotech employers place a high premium on good communication skills when looking for candidates to fill the positions. After all, effective communication is essential for ensuring that tasks are completed correctly and efficiently. Furthermore, good communication can help to build relationships of trust and respect between employees and managers. Such employees tend to be effective leaders, team players and problem-solvers. 

In the employment process, candidates who demonstrate strong verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills are often more likely to be offered a job than those who don’t. Therefore, good communication skills are vital for success in the workplace. 

4. A strong work ethic

In today's competitive job market, employers in biopharma should be looking for candidates who have more than just the bare minimum qualifications. They want employees who will go above and beyond to get the job done and who will be committed to the company's success. 

A strong work ethic is an employee's commitment to performing their best work possible while on the job. This includes putting in the extra effort to get a task done right, being punctual and reliable, and exhibiting a positive attitude. Candidates with a strong work ethic are often highly sought-after by medtech employers as they know that these workers will uphold the company culture and values. Furthermore, candidates with a strong work ethic are often more productive employees, which is beneficial for both the employee and the employer. 

5. The ability to take initiative

Why are candidates who are proactive and can take initiative great options for the companies in the life sciences sector? The ability to take initiative is the capacity to recognize opportunities and act on them without being asked or told to do so. These employees are often seen as being leaders and are more likely to be promoted than those who just go with the flow. Taking initiative also shows that the specialist is willing to go above and beyond his job duties to get the job done. 

Furthermore, it demonstrates that the worker is resourceful and can think outside the box to solve problems. Candidates who take initiative are often seen as more desirable for creative and management roles than those who do not, making it an important quality to possess.

6. Being team player

There are very few solo positions available in the biotech market. Most organizations intend for their newly-hired candidates to work on a team. Teamwork allows potential employers to see how well the candidate interacts with others and how they handle working on a project with a group. Teamwork shows managers that the candidate can communicate well, take direction from others, and work jointly towards a common goal. 

In addition, effective cooperation helps them to do more in less time. When numerous exceptional individuals collaborate towards the same objective, biomedical leaders may anticipate speedier outcomes. Consequently, recruiters and hiring managers in the biomedical sector should be focusing their attention on team players.

7. Organizational skills

When it comes to higher-end companies, executives frequently have high standards and may seek individuals who can match these standards. Can the candidate manage his time effectively and complete tasks within the time allotted? Is he or she able to accomplish assignments promptly and accurately? Does the individual control his own workflow and schedule?

Time management, job completion, and control over one's own workflow are all examples of organizational abilities. Candidates who demonstrate these skills are often seen as more responsible and reliable, who can keep track of employer’s needs, prioritize tasks and meet deadlines.

8. Problem-solving skills

The Career Builder found out that 75% of employers use behavioral interview questions to assess soft skills. Primarily this technique is aimed at discovering the candidate’s ability to find approaches to solving non-standard problems that personnel may face in the biotech industry.

Employers reward problem-solvers due to their ability to swiftly identify and evaluate an issue while also developing an effective solution. They want candidates who are innovative and can think outside the box. Candidates who can handle difficult situations reduce the amount of time a manager must spend finding a proper option. Companies have more faith in problem-solvers and appreciate their perspectives owing to their track records of problem-solving success. Additionally, they are also more likely to earn promotions and pay hikes.

9. Advanced computer / technical literacy skills

Today's technologically-driven society requires digital literacy in almost every profession. Digital literacy is in high demand in fields other than technology, but it's a 100% must-have for biotech professionals. In an advanced workplace, it is anticipated that employees are familiar with computers, internet research, and a variety of applications, in addition to any industry-specific software.

All modern companies require their medtech staff to have more than just basic computer skills, and the most sought-after candidates often possess advanced technical literacy much beyond their role demands. Computer literate workforce improves efficiency and productivity and allows employers to take advantage of new technologies as they become available. Computer or technical literacy skills signal that the candidate is able to adapt to new technologies and workflows the medtech organization might implement in the future. As more and more employers all over the world increasingly rely on computers and technology to conduct business, computer or technical literacy skills will only become more important for candidates.

10. Flexibility/adaptability

According to a LinkedIn study, the three most important trends for the future of recruiting and HR are soft skills (91%), work flexibility (72%), and pay transparency (53%). Being able to adapt and be flexible in different situations is a key employee skill for any biotech industry. Employees who are able to promptly adjust to new conditions are more likely to maintain a positive attitude and remain productive in the face of obstacles. As they're more empathetic and responsive, they may also develop stronger connections with their coworkers and consumers.

It doesn't matter if a flexible employee is willing to work on many projects at once or if he’s able to change shifts as needed. In the eyes of employers and managers of the life sciences sector, the employee is more valuable because of his willingness to go beyond the job description. When a coworker is unable to work because of health issues, adaptive individuals step in to fill in for them. He pitches in when there's more work to be done.

While this list is not completely exhaustive, candidates who follow these guidelines are much more likely to land their dream job. Conversely, biotech recruiters and leaders who make sure to look for these ten qualities in the candidates they interview, will be much more likely to hire their dream employee - one who goes above and beyond the job description and brings tremendous value to the organization.

Want to strengthen your biotech team with top-tier talent? With AMG, you can. We'll help you identify the essential qualities and skills that can thrust your medtech company into the spotlight. Our expertise in talent management and knack for spotting potential can prove to be a game-changer for your team. So why wait for the stars to align? Contact AMG now and together, let's shoot for the moon!

Posted by Mitch Robbins

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