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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Fri Apr 29, 2005 6:09 pm

Hi Philip,

Great question. Most of Genentech's hiring managers review all of their postdoc applicants' CVs for consideration. We have some hiring managers who prefer to only review those postdoc applicants who meet the requirements for the position (ie. at least one first-author publication). It is my responsibility as a sourcing consultant to assist the client with this process of screening out those who are not qualified. It is also my role to run key word searches when we are looking for a particular technique or skill set, but this is more relevant at the Research Associate level-type position.

At Genentech, it is our role in Staffing to oversee and manage the staffing strategy for a specific client group (ie. Research). We have very close ties to the corporate staffing strategies as well as research-specific staffing plans. We are a diverse team of professionals who have a variety of experience, education and training, and some of which have biology degrees.

That said, we also take every opportunity to utilize training and educational resources (such as uc extention classes, etc.) in order to familiarize ourselves on the more technical aspects of the positions we are recruiting for.

~Pam
Pam Maynard
 

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Apr 29, 2005 8:07 pm

Pam,

A good answer to a potentially tough question. Philip has become known here on the forum for asking tough questions, and sometimes asking them in a way that makes me flinch a bit (sorry Philip!).

I agree with him that the whole topic of H/R is something that most scientists don't know much about. Perhaps later in your dialog with us you might explain more about the structure of your H/R department, so that scientists can understand how the company receives and reviews resumes/CVs. Many scientists from academia, I would think that Philip is in a University lab, express a frustration that they don't understand or appreciate what it is that human resources does. The goal always seems to short circuit the HR department.

So. when you are back with us on Monday, can you tell us more about the "structure" of H/R at Genentech, and more about what the role of H/R is for your clients. Thanks Pam for a productive day!

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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Ken » Fri Apr 29, 2005 8:55 pm

I guess Dave was at least partially calling for me to chime in a bit. I'm an industry postdoc, so I guess I can answer some of the questions on the other side from HR, though I've only been in my position for about six months.

I guess I can start by saying be careful. I was offered one industry postdoc with a tiny company that I was pretty certain was the proverbial "cheap pair of hands" position. Postdocs are often paid less than research associates, and some places may use that to hire a postdoc for a research associate position in order to save money. The position at the small company had only had one postdoc prior, and they would not give me his/her contact information, or agree to have him/her contact me. So, I was a little concerned about that position, and turned it down.

Other than that, I'd also like to thank Pam for coming on here, and it's interesting for me to see what my CV went through!
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun May 01, 2005 2:36 pm

Hi Ken

Small companies COULD put together a quality postdoc program, but it would be costly for them. Everything they need to do has to be focused on one objective . . . advancing their development of real products that can go into the clinic. So, it is very tempting for those small companies to use their postdocs to advance their own interests instead of setting them free the way that Pam describes the process at Genentech.

I know that other quality employers such as Merck and Amgen have postdoc programs as well. If there are scientists reading this site who have gone through a good industry postdoc in a location other than Genentech, please jump in,

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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby brendan » Sun May 01, 2005 3:29 pm

What are the career plans for the 13 to 18 postdocs that finish their postdoc tenure this year, but do not get hired full time at Genentech?

You seem to imply that it is more unusual to do a second postdoc in industry, so I assume that the more average postdoc will take full-time scientist positions at other biotech companies?

If so, what has been the success rate of these postdocs obtaining full-time positions?
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Ken » Sun May 01, 2005 7:01 pm

I didn't mean to imply that one can't get a good postdoc at a small company, merely that one has to be a little more cautious about accepting such positions.

The question always arises about how to obtain the elusive "industry experience" and I remember being very tempted by an industry postdoc position that I knew to be subpar merely because I would be able to put industry experience on my CV.

I think that in the long run a good academic postdoc is going to be better than a terrible industry postdoc whether you want to eventually go into industry or not.
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Brandon » Mon May 02, 2005 10:09 am

I joined a top ranking lab to pursue my graduate studies. It has now been five years and I have come to realization that my project has failed despite working 70-80 hr weeks. I have enjoyed my education immensely and feel I have received good training but now after 5 years I am left with only a second author Cell paper. I know I want a career in industry so do I stand a chance at landing a good industrial postdoc (like Genentech) or should I try to extend my Ph.D. longer and try to get a first author paper?
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Mon May 02, 2005 11:14 am

Dear Dave and Philip,

The role of Genentech's staffing organization is primarily focused on being (and surveyed as being) "world class" in the areas of customer-focused and client-focused. Our customers include all of you in this forum, as well as applicants, candidates, career fair attendees, and our Genentech colleagues. Our clients are considered to be our ?client group? (ie. Research, Quality, etc.). Genentech's staffing organization hired approximately 1,500 people in 2004 and plans to hire the same amount in 2005. More than 80 percent of Genentech employees have college degrees, and more than 20 percent hold advanced degrees, including PhD's and MD's. Here is a snapshot of how we work to accomplish being a world class staffing organization and still hire the best and the brightest:

As mentioned earlier in the forum, Genentech's staffing department is broken out into teams that support a specific client group. Each staffing team consists of a Staffing Manager, Staffing Consultants, Sourcing Consultants and a Staffing Associate. Each of us have specific roles and responsibilities which range from developing corporate staffing strategies and training hiring managers and interview teams on interviewing techniques, to building a pipeline of qualified candidates and generating offer letters.

Similar to other organizations in academia and industry, Genentech has an applicant tracking system (ATS) which is shared and utilized by Staffing and our client group throughout the application/hiring process. The Hiring Manager (HM) initiates the process by opening up a new position and the ATS automatically assigns a particular 10-digit position number. Now that the position is open, the Staffing Consultant and Sourcing Consultant will sit down with the HM and have a "strategy session". Staffing will offer advice on hiring/interview strategies on topics such as; developing job descriptions, advertising opportunities, interview structure and timelines. The HM will inform Staffing of the specifics of the profile and talent that they are looking for. Once the position responsibilities and requirements are decided upon and the strategy session has been completed, Staffing will post the position on our website which is immediately available (after a quick click of a button) for both internal and external applicants to apply.

Once an applicant (internal or external) applies for a specific position or positions, they will receive an automatic notification thanking them for exploring employment opportunities at Genentech and ensuring them that their resume has been received. Staffing can view all of the new applicants who applied for that particular position under a category of ?New? in the ATS. As the Sourcing Consultant, it is my job to screen all new applicants? resumes on a daily basis and track those who meet the minimum requirements to the hiring manager's open position for their review. (This screening process is necessary as we receive quite a few resumes from applicants who do not meet the requirements for the described position). The HM then has the ability to identify their feedback on the candidate as "Interested", "Undecided" or "No interest" along with any additional comments in the ATS system for Staffing?s review. It is through this ongoing and often daily feedback from the HM that we are able to assist our client with building and maintaining a robust pipeline of qualified candidates.

A few other details that you may want to know about our ATS system is that it allows Staffing to see and share the candidate's application history, review and share candidates cover letters, run key word searches and allows Staffing to manage "hot? or ?future interest? candidates within our own ?sourcing? ad hoc requisitions.

Finally, as soon as an offer has been accepted, you?ll be happy to know that that posting is automatically removed from our website therefore providing our customers with an up-to-date listing of all of our current openings.

This is just the core of what happens in Genentech?s Staffing organization in regards to receiving and reviewing resumes. I hope this answers your question and that this information gives you some insight on how to best utilize HR/Staffing as a resource industry-wide.
Pam Maynard
 

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Y.L. » Mon May 02, 2005 1:06 pm

Hi Pam,

I am a postdoc on stem cell research. I feel that Genentech is very famous for genetic or molecular biology. Do you also have a stem cell program for postdoc? Do you know which firms are the best in that area?

Thanks,

Jan
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Mon May 02, 2005 1:34 pm

Hi Brendan,
The majority of Genentech's postdocs take independent investigator/group leader "full-time" positions in industry, and a couple or so per year may still go into academia. Since our program's start in the early 90's, there has been an upward trend towards moving into industry since there are more biotechnology companies.
~Pam
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