A Start-up Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Top Talent Part 1: Needs Assessment

Attracting great talent can be a hurdle for start-up companies.  Life science entrepreneurs know that finding and retaining top talent is crucial to the success of their fledgling company.  Not only does the right talent help ensure that the work gets done properly, having top talent on your team is likely to generate approval from investors and board members and has the potential to assist you with obtaining future funding.  

Needs Assessment: What type of resource do you need?

For companies subject to GXPs (i.e., Good Laboratory Practices, Good Clinical Practices, Good Manufacturing Practice, etc.) having a clear position description is imperative.  The position/role description should:

  • Provide a description of the activities that the incumbent will perform,
  • List the qualifications for the role (i.e., education, training, certifications, and experience),
  • Explain the reporting structure (both the role/position that the incumbent will report into as well as, all roles/positions that will report into the incumbent)
  • Include any additional requirements or success criteria for the role (i.e., is the incumbent expected to attend meetings at non-standard hours to accommodate a European based headquarters office, will the incumbent need to have to present in front of executives, board members, investors, etc., does the incumbent need to work independently with minimal supervision, etc.)

It’s also helpful to further define your talent pool, specifically if the role will be:

  • Location (NB opening your role to remote workers expands your talent pool)
  • Temporary (include duration) or permanent,
  • Contract-to-permanent,
  • Full-time or part-time, and
  • Employee or independent contractor

Once armed with a solid position/role description, the recruitment process begins in earnest:  

The Recruitment Approach: Grassroots? Professional recruiting support?

Networking is a great way to identify top talent.  Entrepreneurs often tap into their personal networks to identify talent to fill the seats of their executive teams and key leadership roles.  But rarely do start-up executives have a broad enough network to fill out every key position on their team.  While grassroots networking is a great start, is your executive team member’s time best spent searching LinkedIn for potentially qualified candidates after exhausting the closest members of their network?  One way to improve the efficiency of your job search is to partner with an experienced life sciences recruiting firm.  When looking for recruitment partner, consider firms that:

  • Have experience working with start-up life sciences companies
  • Can support searches for employees and contractors, including full-time and part-time resources,
  • Have access to databases and resources beyond LinkedIn, especially firms that have access to individuals who may be passively seeking new opportunities
  • Have a talent base with professionals representing a broad range of experience (from early career through senior executives)
  • Can help you strategize on ways to fill positions that are difficult to hire (i.e., interim staffing and/or contractor support), and
  • Will provide you with pre-screened candidates that meet the criteria established in the position/role description and are within your budget,
  • Are looking to establish a long-term relationship with your company and are not focused solely on a one-off retained search for a senior level employee, and
  • Have the ability to employ contractors as W2 employees of the agency to help mitigate the risks of potential misclassification of workers.

Check Out Part 2: A Start-up Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Top Talent - Part 2: Applicant Review Process

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