Science Matters: A New Approach To How You Hire

Many job seekers still know how hard it is to get hired. There’s no doubt that certain worker populations continue to feel the pressures and competition of finding employment. Nearly every global industry, after all, continues to evaluate their workforce strategies in the face of extreme demands for productivity and efficiency.

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Many job seekers still know how hard it is to get hired.

There’s no doubt that certain worker populations continue to feel the pressures and competition of finding employment. Nearly every global industry, after all, continues to evaluate their workforce strategies in the face of extreme demands for productivity and efficiency.

But as a hiring manager in the sciences, your reality may be very different. You probably have several great openings. Your bulleted list of qualifications is probably long and the positions probably demand people with very specific experience.

And yet you just can’t find them.

I’m not going to talk here about the talent shortage in high-tech fields, which obviously flies in the face of job dearth in other areas. This talent gap is complex and so are the solutions to closing it.

But assuming you’ve come to terms with how difficult it can be to source the best people for your company, you’d probably love to just overcome these challenges and move on. It will take not just simple tweaks to the candidate search process, but the adoption of an entirely new way of thinking about how you hire.

Be open to that change, however, and you could find yourself exposed to a new world of talent. You’ll also begin positioning yourself as an employer of the future who understands how much the talent game has changed— and you’ll know how to play it so that you’re always ahead of the competition when it comes to hiring the best.

That brings us back to “job descriptions.” It’s appropriate for a manager to conceptualize job requirements. But how useful is a rigid set of qualifications when job descriptions can become obsolete the moment you write them? This is especially true in hightech fields like the sciences where technology and cross-collaboration make business move at warp speed. Take six or more months to find the right person, and you might realize that your expectations for a certain position have completely changed.

A more effective candidate search requires getting past the job rhetoric. The best scientific talent and the skills they bring to the table are now as fluid as your business. They are savvy social networkers, sharing their expertise with colleagues around the world as the industry shifts to a more collaborative model. Many seek contract positions by choice with an array of companies, amassing dynamic skills along the way that aren’t easily categorized but nevertheless very relevant to your organization. Continue to put too much stock in job descriptions, however, and you can expect to continually miss out on opportunities to hire from this forward-thinking labor pool.

This points us to another overarching theme of candidate sourcing today and in the future—that it’s really about people, not a list of duties. Jobs will always change. The one consistent factor is the people who make up your workforce. In the hypercompetitive global market of the future, who your employees are and what they know will also become the biggest driver of your organization’s success, making it even more critical for you to nail the hiring process.

Yes, you’ve got to make sure your workforce is technically proficient. But just know that the whole picture will have a profound impact on how jobs get done. It’s no wonder that in the latest workforce survey by The Economist magazine, a majority of global firms agree that problem-solving, project management, and the ability to fit into the organizational culture are now more important than job-specific skills.

Thinking so differently about candidate sourcing can certainly seem overwhelming. And while futurists predict these new hiring philosophies will take over in less than 10 years, there will be organizational resistance.

To meet the challenges head-on, reevaluate your practices to come up with a more thoughtful workforce strategy. Partnering with a workforce solutions firm can help you map it out. It can also give you the ability to focus on your core competencies while leaving the navigation of the new workplace to professionals who deeply understand its complex issues and can help you carve out a solution that works for you.

Don’t wait to confront the new talent game. Start making your moves now, and watch how better hiring practices could become one of your organization’s greatest assets.

Published In

Saving Energy, Saving Money Magazine Issue Cover
Saving Energy, Saving Money

Published: April 1, 2012

Cover Story

Saving Energy, Saving Money

In 2002, when Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, California, decided to build the Molecular Foundry laboratory, they employed the help of Steve Greenberg, an in-house energy management engineer.