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Changes to the industry

What's different?

How Has Scientific Recruitment Changed in the Past 10 Years

The field of science has always found recruitment a challenge; the emergence of the worldwide web undoubtedly helped significantly but sourcing a sufficient number of candidates remained a difficulty for many employers.

However, there has been a distinct shift in recruitment during the last 10 years, with traditional methods very much on the back burner whilst scientific employers look for different ways to get better results.

If you have been happily hiding in your laboratory for the last decade, you might not be aware of the recruitment revolution which has been taking place so here's a quick run through of the changes which have occurred.

Traditional recruitment

The internet changed many things but recruitment experienced a wholesale overhaul once candidates were able to search online.

No longer restricted to only searching for jobs in their local area, the internet provided a great way for employers and candidates to hook up quickly, easily and conveniently.

Recruitment has changed in the last 10 years.

There were three distinct ways in which recruitment was handled 10 years ago.

An employer may simply advertise their scientific vacancy and spend days sifting through the number of CVs they received, trying (without any significant experience of doing so) to identify those who might have the qualities needed.

Secondly, a recruitment agency may have been used. This allowed candidates to be properly vetted before being passed through to the employer, ensuring the process was much slicker and wasted far less valuable time.

Lastly, to ensure a truly whole of market reach, a head hunter may have been used. With this method, individuals who were not actively looking for work would be approached by specialist recruiters who had identified that they had the skills needed for a vacancy.

All three methods had their pros and cons, but overall the process could be time-consuming, costly or the target candidate could not be persuaded to leave their current position.

With the need to find more quality candidates, the industry was forced to adapt how it handled recruitment.

The science of selection

Reports from the House of Lords Select Committee on the subject of Science and Technology points to a lack of students pursuing STEM subjects (science, technology, English and maths). The authors also state there is a shortfall in the number of graduates qualifying from these areas.

Yet, the number of jobs within the scientific industry is steadily rising. Employers don't want to lower their standards yet many individuals may not have all the qualities described as desirable. A difficult situation with two diametrically opposed positions.

Employers have tackled this by switching the way in which they recruit, moving from an instinctive, gut feel about a candidate to analysing a series of carefully designed psychometric tests.

Individuals who don't have the experience or skills on their CV can quickly overcome an employer's objections by performing well on a competency test conducted during the interview. Typically carried out under timed conditions, an employer can get a far more realistic idea about a candidate's abilities than simply quizzing them on their CV.

Moving to active recruitment

The other major change is the way in which recruitment agencies and employers now work together to fill a vacancy.

Whilst agencies will still have some quality candidates on their books, they recognise that taking the pick of those actively looking for work may mean missing some of the most capable minds in science.

Science job recruitment is changing.

Social media sites such as LinkedIn have been a godsend to recruitment agencies, helping them to identify potential candidates and allowing them to get in contact to see if they can be persuaded to move.

A recent report suggested that more than one in five of every scientific placement had a LinkedIn profile which was instrumental in the vacancy being filled.

Statistics have shown that taking a more measurable approach to recruiting means that candidates are more likely to accept the position, and employers are better able to attract and retain quality scientists.

Whilst this doesn't suddenly increase the number of scientific candidates in the country, it means that employers are able to be more flexible about their demands, which in turn makes more vacancies accessible for those in the industry.

Image credits: RDECOM and Atomic Mutant Flea Circus

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