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Where Do Great Scientific Candidates Live?

One of the first questions our hiring managers ask is, “Where are you going to find candidates for my job?”

The answer is honestly never the same, and it depends largely on the job, the level, and the hiring manager’s preferences.

We always use LinkedIn. It is, for better or worse, the largest and best repository of candidates available today. Google+ tried to take over, and failed. Facebook has also tried to take over, but the social aspects of Facebook largely prevent people from adding much detail about their work duties. Do you have your title, employer, and a description of responsibilities on Facebook? I’m betting the answer is ‘no.’

We use a search function called ‘Google X-ray’ quite a bit. That’s really just a fancy way of saying we use boolean search to specifically target certain websites. We can, for example, search for labs within the domain that mention certain keywords of interest.

PubMed is another favorite, especially when we are looking for a specialized skill set and we are open to graduate students or postdocs coming out of academia. We recently had a search for a computational biologist with specific expertise analyzing ATAC-seq data. By surveying PubMed, we identified three main labs in the US that specialize in ATAC-seq, and compiled a list of the postdocs in those labs. Then we cross-referenced that list with LinkedIn to identify the computational biologists. Voila! 7 ideal candidates. Several candidates did not have LinkedIn profiles, and in that case we usually just email them to ask what they do.

Scientific Societies are often another great source of candidates, though usually through advertising. We help our clients choose relevant societies and post ads or attend conferences on their behalf. Networking events around Cambridge are also fun, and there are some really specialized ones! We have helped clients to sponsor a networking event or meetup that is tailored to the field or the type of candidate we’re seeking. We also have encouraged career fairs when we are open to hiring people just finishing their degrees. 

Our database is another wonderful source of candidates. As I am writing this, we have 39,372 candidates in the database, and that number grows every day. We have contact information, resumes, and even phone screen notes for many candidates. We have an admin entirely dedicated to keeping the database fresh by updating candidate profiles from LinkedIn and keeping track of candidates that do not wish to explore jobs at this time. We never contact candidates that express a desire to be left alone, but we find that most people are happy to receive a relevant opportunity, even if the timing is not right.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should give an idea of the lengths we are willing to go to find the right candidate. Since we were/are scientists, we love the challenge of a good search. I remember digging into a new project in grad school and getting so excited to search for the best papers, methods, reagents, collaborators, etc. This is no different. When we have a new client or a new and challenging search project, figuring out where the candidates can be found is sometimes even more fun than the victory of making a great hire.