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Current Talent Shortage

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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Nate W. » Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:23 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:
PACN wrote:
Dave Jensen wrote:But, if you were a finalist for a position, and you wanted that job, wouldn't you accept a week's paid consultancy to take a shot at it? I would hope that every reader of this forum would have that kind of burning desire to make a successful transition. I wouldn't be too receptive, if I were the hiring manager, to someone who I offered $2000 to, and who was one of two or three people who had a shot at a full-time job in my team. I think that would be a real turn off.

Making the move from academia to industry takes a huge effort. If something like this was offered, my guess is still that those who were interested would raise their hand and find a way to make it work. Perhaps it would end up being a filter - those who make the move successfully to industry would be self-selected, so to speak.

Dave


It seems to me it selects for the people who have the most flexibility in their current jobs, who can tolerate the most risk, or have other financial resources to fall back on.


No, in my opinion, it would select for people who will do anything necessary to land a good job in a company. And it would get people who do not have a long list of check boxes on their CV, people with a good brain but no industry training, into jobs in companies.

DJ


It depends on the situation. However, I always believe a "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Any such offer is just an example of a cheap skate manager trying to save a dime on the back of a poor naive academic. For example, I made 50K at a good University as a lab manager or post-doc for which the position is well funded. The $2000 offer to try out for the job (making 50K-70K) would be insulting to me and I wouldn't deal with this manager in the future. Now let suppose I just graduated from a PhD program and had no job, then I might take the offer. However, most respectable companies would not offer this; they would offer full time employment with benefits or do w/o the position.

Dave, it also might irritate candidates because it would project the image the manager is cheap and a free loader.
Last edited by Nate W. on Sun May 01, 2016 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Apr 30, 2016 7:22 pm

Nate said, "It depends on the situation. However, I always believe a "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Any such offer is just an example of a cheap skate manager trying to save a dime on the back of a poor naive academic. For example, I made 50K at a good University as a lab manager or post-doc for which the position is well funded. The $2000 offer to try out for the job (making 50K-70K) would be insulting to me and I wouldn't deal with this manager in the future. Now let suppose I just graduated from a PhD program and had no job, then I might take the offer. However, most respectable companies would not offer this; they would offer full time employment with benefits or do w/o the position. Dave, it also might irate candidates because it would project the image the manager is cheap and a free loader."

Well I'd like to see the "naysayers" here come up with some kind of an idea that stimulates upheaval. Nothing will change the current situation except something dramatic. What we need here are ideas not to shoot down, but to implement. I may dedicate the rest of my life to one of these ideas, that's how I feel about it. Passion? You bet.

The idea I proposed above is not for someone who has a current job and they have to take vacation and so forth (yada yada yada, I've heard it all -- come on naysayers, throw more at the wall if you want to.) The idea is PERFECT for a company that would normally NOT hire an academic, and they can take 3 pending PhD graduates and give them a project to work on and BINGO someone is hired who would otherwise have gone into a terminal series of postdocs.

Let's be creative here. Let's not shoot down every idea that's different. Honestly, if I were a hiring manager and I told you "Phil, I'd like to hire you but I need to show my managers that you've got the kind of mind we're looking for. Come in here, let me pay you fairly as a consultant for a week and give you a real world project to deal with. If people like to work with you and we sense you are our kind of person, you've got the job" -- how would I feel about you if you said, "Gosh, I've already used my vacation this year." - you'd be out on your ear with no further discussion! Ideas like these are for people who are risk takers, not gripers. You give this kind of person a crack in the window, and they'll go through it without hesitation. Now THAT'S a filter.

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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Nate W. » Sun May 01, 2016 3:46 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Well I'd like to see the "naysayers" here come up with some kind of an idea that stimulates upheaval. Nothing will change the current situation except something dramatic. What we need here are ideas not to shoot down, but to implement. I may dedicate the rest of my life to one of these ideas, that's how I feel about it. Passion? You bet.

The idea I proposed above is not for someone who has a current job and they have to take vacation and so forth (yada yada yada, I've heard it all -- come on naysayers, throw more at the wall if you want to.) The idea is PERFECT for a company that would normally NOT hire an academic, and they can take 3 pending PhD graduates and give them a project to work on and BINGO someone is hired who would otherwise have gone into a terminal series of postdocs.

Let's be creative here. Let's not shoot down every idea that's different. Honestly, if I were a hiring manager and I told you "Phil, I'd like to hire you but I need to show my managers that you've got the kind of mind we're looking for. Come in here, let me pay you fairly as a consultant for a week and give you a real world project to deal with. If people like to work with you and we sense you are our kind of person, you've got the job" -- how would I feel about you if you said, "Gosh, I've already used my vacation this year." - you'd be out on your ear with no further discussion! Ideas like these are for people who are risk takers, not gripers. You give this kind of person a crack in the window, and they'll go through it without hesitation. Now THAT'S a filter.

Dave



In this hypothetical situation, why should I trust you? You can easily take advantage of this situation. The whole "check's in the mail routine" while dangling the full time position over one's head with never any intention of opening a full time position. Words are cheap and action speaks a lot louder.

You asked for solutions. Outsource the position as a temp to hire with a company like Manpower if the company is strapped for cash. You can already treat the position as a temp to hire position contingent on the candidates mastering certain skills; most employment is at will -meaning you can fire them for almost any reason. Fire them if they don't work out and go to the next on the list.

The overall problem starts in DC with the budgets that fund biomedical research and other is how startup biotechs are initially funded and their probability of being a self sustaining company. A solution for the NIH budget short falls is to budget for two years and then invest one years budget conservatively in various low cost administrative fee investments (i.e. annuities and S&P 500 index funds). This will yield 5-8% safety on 30B. You do the math: 1.8B extra a year! Eventually, you can build up a self paying trust for biomedical research. But the dumb politicians and DC administrators can't figure this out.

Generate programs that allow PhDs scientists to get a clinical degree rather easily where they can receive transfer credits in medical school. Ease the stupid regulations on getting a license to work as a scientist in the diagnostics industry if have a PhD, MS, and/or significant non-CLIA experience. Once again obtuse regulators and bureaucrats selfishly standing in the way of scientists trying to get a decent paying job.

Don't have engineering companies and hospitals asking candidates to consider consulting for a week (at $2000) if you really want this job and possibly risk losing the job you already have. Dave you don't understand the risk candidates run in accepting such an offer.....suppose they had a family and a house!

Trying to get something for nothing! Being cheap... Yada, Yada,....selling snake oil!
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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun May 01, 2016 6:51 pm

Nate,

My choice of $2,000 as a 5-day consulting fee does sound low, but it could be any amount. That's got nothing to do with the gist of this idea. Get off of that, will you please? You would be the last guy in the world offered an opportunity like this because of your attitude and the viewpoint you bring to everything (negative). So, it's clearly not an idea for the Nate's of the world. (As an example, you ASSUME this is for people who have a home and a family, but it's earlier in the lifespan of a scientist than that. You ASSUME that it's a cheap company strapped for cash -- why is this? These are often our best employers who do not pick out academics for jobs.)

This an idea for those who are able to take a risk, who do not have a home and family but who are earlier in their career. This is for new graduates or those stuck in the endless postdoc.

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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Nate W. » Sun May 01, 2016 9:26 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Nate,

My choice of $2,000 as a 5-day consulting fee does sound low, but it could be any amount. That's got nothing to do with the gist of this idea. Get off of that, will you please? You would be the last guy in the world offered an opportunity like this because of your attitude and the viewpoint you bring to everything (negative). So, it's clearly not an idea for the Nate's of the world. (As an example, you ASSUME this is for people who have a home and a family, but it's earlier in the lifespan of a scientist than that. You ASSUME that it's a cheap company strapped for cash -- why is this? These are often our best employers who do not pick out academics for jobs.)

This an idea for those who are able to take a risk, who do not have a home and family but who are earlier in their career. This is for new graduates or those stuck in the endless postdoc.

Dave


Dave, I get the gist of the idea but it is an issue of trust and what is commonly done in the marketplace. Correct me if I am wrong, your idea is that the highly motivated will take the chance and the less motivated will not on a position where academic scientists can't easily obtain industry related skills. This is just not commonly done in the job market, even in the biotech industry.

I can name numerous positions where candidates w/o industry skills, but have the scientific expertise, are hired fulltime and trained during a probationary position. My first industry job was as a QC/QA scientist at a CRO. This position required industry skills and expertise. The company was willing to hire someone w/o the industry skills and understood that it would take sometime before I was completely trained according to their policies. Companies like PPD or Quintiles would never hire someone in the manner you described, a one week contingency or even a two months contingency!

Another example would be a FAS or sales position at a reagent company. Reagent companies like Promega, NEB, Sigma, and Thermo Fisher. They all hire mostly fulltime or part-time while they train them on the sales part of the position. A consultant one week position--it would never happen. The USPTO hires scientists as patent examiners and trains them on the law. MBA graduates are routinely hired fulltime into positions for which they don't have the exact expertise; yet they are trained. Investment banks hire PhDs with the scientific expertise but they don't have the financial expertise.

Why is the hiring process somehow different in the biotech industry, according to you? Which I contend, with examples, it is not any different from any another type of profession or industry sector. Why should a post-doc or experienced scientist have to prove themselves anymore just because they don't check off all the specific skills that an employer might want? Some of these skills can't be acquired by any other means than an industry position or candidates have to pay an enormous amount of additional tuition and time for an another degree. Or they have to relocate to a given academic lab to acquire that technical skill on top of what they have. So if an employer offers this deal and they are being picky about a specific technical or industry skill (that can be easily learned in a couple of weeks), they are being cheap and the company is strapped for cash. They want something for nothing because they know there is a glut in the market.

You asked "You ASSUME that it's a cheap company strapped for cash -- why is this?"

Because most reputable companies that hire biomedical scientists don't hire this way. If they did (i.e. looking for a specific skill or offer a probationary period for academic scientists), they would outsource such a position to a temp agency like Manpower or Aerotek. GSK in the RTP area routinely did this. The only situation where I might think a company would hire this way would be a VC backed startup that is looking for a specific industry related skill set that they can't find among academic scientists. These companies are cash strapped and don't have revenues. When they are burning through VC cash and trying to bring a significant return for their investors, this company might try to take advantage of the job market glut. However, this situation is quite rare and a reputable company wouldn't do it. Most of these companies are meant to enrich the investors and founders not the entry to mid level employees; and most of these companies will fail.

Dave, why should candidates to be so trusting and why would reasonable skepticism among candidates about such an offer be perceived as a negative attribute?

Please answer this question. I think people's attitudes have changed since the recession of 2008. There isn't a talent shortage or skills gap in the biotech industry but more an unwillingness to train or avenues to obtain industry specific skills w/o significant student debt. The recession of 2008 has made employers more picky than ever and unwilling to train. For example, I am trying convince a transfer technology office that a scientist with a publication track record and who has written legal briefs can easily draft a patent or write a licensing agreement w/o much guidance. It has been suggested I intern; it is absurd what some people expect w/o good reason. It is all about the money.

Dave, it might help if you provide a specific example where this contingency consultant arrangement is appropriate and would help a manager solve a hiring problem?


Of note, many post-docs and technicians have families and small homes.
Last edited by Nate W. on Mon May 02, 2016 1:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Rich Lemert » Sun May 01, 2016 9:29 pm

The people objecting to this proposal base their objection on the idea that someone who's already working will have to take some sort of leave (paid or otherwise) to complete the "consultancy". This ignores the fact that if they're working they've already demonstrated their abilities, and there's no need to go through this 'demonstration' process. The job seeker will have other ways available to him or her to do this, even when all the work they've done is proprietary, and hiring managers have plenty of ways to confirm your claims.

The proposal is really intended to describe a fair method to evaluate a candidate who has no track record to rely on. It's a way for Joe Notsocool, whose entire life up to this point has been as a dedicated student, to show that he has other skills. At the same time it avoids the charge that many make - sometimes fairly, sometimes not - that the company is just trying to get some free consulting. Someone in this situation isn't likely to need to worry about vacation. Furthermore, to echo Dave's remarks, I would strongly question a candidates interest in making a transition into industry if they weren't willing to try to make something like this work.

Keep in mind also that the essential element of this idea is a paid opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate his or her abilities. The week-long on-site component is just one way this could be done. The candidate could, for example, negotiate a two-week off-site project with maybe a different deliverable.

(By the way, this last approach has the additional advantage of showing how you are focused on finding solutions to a problem, and not on finding reasons why it can't be done.)
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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby D.X. » Mon May 02, 2016 3:49 am

Nate W. wrote:
Dave Jensen wrote:
Dave, why should candidates to be so trusting and why would reasonable skepticism among candidates about such an offer be perceived as a negative attribute?



Dave, it might help if you provide a specific example where this contingency consultant arrangement is appropriate and would help a manager solve a hiring problem?


Of note, many post-docs and technicians have families and small homes.


Hi Dave,

If you allow me.

Nate:

Qusestion 1: a bit of reality here. Any decision to Switch a Job be it at the Interface of academia and non-academia Job is a risk on behalf of the candidate taking that decision. Any decision to Switch a Job at any Point in one's career is a risk on behalf of that candidate.

I don't think any one has said that a candidate should be trusting . But what has been said, is keep expectations managed and keep pulsed into the reality and the Situation at Hand. So once you accept that, then you decide, leap or not. With that risk can be great opportunity and its up to the candidate to decide for themselves. It does not matter if its for a contractual Position or for a fixed/permanant Position.

The candidate will weigh their own personal Situation (house, Family whatever) and evaluate the risk themselves - the only Person who is accoutable for a decision to take any Position,

Switching a Job always carries a risk - new employer, new Team, perhaps new subject area. And there is never a promise. Maybe you don't Jive in the Team, or the Boss Ends up being a Person you can't work with, or the Job is not what you expected.

In the US and in Europe there is something called a probation period, its much like one of those test and try contracts but its linked to fixed Budget/permanant jobs. The purpose of the probation period to for both you and your hiring Manager to assess if the Position is a right fit. Ok, its not one week Long, mayby its 1 to 3 months, but in that time you are being evaluated (are you the right Talent?) and that is in the contract you sign. There are absolutely no promises made. At the end of that probabtion period, you can be asked to leave. End of story.

Same applies to the candidate, they can leave too. So its a risk ou take anyways and always. You take it because the opportunity out weighs the risk - and even Folks with Family and houses do it.

The hiring Manager has his or her interest to hire the best candidate - how they take that Approach is for them to do, and not for you to judge. If don't want what's on the table, then simple - walk way. Move on.

And those contractual positions are not just for early Folks, some Folks looking to make a lateral Change in subject area. They are actually good to get a foot in the door.

So if you consider the above, those contracts represent opportunity, if you come in negative then what's the Point? Walk away? I wouldn't want to hire you if one came in negatively, the Point to its is to test and try, take it or leave it.

Question 2: In Terms of those contingency contracts helping hiring Managers, they can really help the hiring Manager. Lets face it, 1 week or 3 months, too short to evaluate any form of Performance really. Seriously, what are you going to deliver in 3 months?.

So what's being evaluted? Simple, the fit to the Team, credibility, and personality and behavior. I've been a few companies obviously and int all my probation period assessments, what was discussed was my behavior, fit to team, crediblity, etc. The Hiring Manager can validate if thier choice was right as an example. At the end of those form, there is a box, retain or let go. So just as FYI. A contigency contract is no different in that manner - and remember it Goal is to assess if you are a fit. And why not? Better test to see if one actually hired a nut job or a true talent. This is where it helps, there are pleny of nuts out there.

And one final thought - the relationship between you and an employer is a Business Transaction. Any thoughts of warm fuzzy's, consideration of house and Family by HR, loyalty, talent etc., does not exist. This is corporate, and it can care less about your personal Situation when Budgets are challenged. If you don't like it, stay in academia.

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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby E.K.L. » Mon May 02, 2016 9:31 am

D.X. wrote:In the US and in Europe there is something called a probation period, its much like one of those test and try contracts but its linked to fixed Budget/permanant jobs. The purpose of the probation period to for both you and your hiring Manager to assess if the Position is a right fit. Ok, its not one week Long, mayby its 1 to 3 months, but in that time you are being evaluated (are you the right Talent?) and that is in the contract you sign. There are absolutely no promises made. At the end of that probabtion period, you can be asked to leave. End of story.


I'm not sure a one-week consulting job-slash-job interview is all that comparable to the probation period in Europe. During this time (which in Germany or UK can be up to half a year) you are still employed on a full contract, with all contractual rights, such as health insurance, pension schemes, holiday pay and other benefits. This can actually make quite a difference depending on your country of residence.

You never have a job guarantee in the industry anyway; your department or even your company could get closed down, for example. On the other hand it is very difficult to fire a tenured professor (short of disciplinary action) or a civil service employee around here.
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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Dick Woodward » Mon May 02, 2016 11:43 am

As I read this entire thread, it is clear that there is a bit of confusion here. Dave Jensen is talking about ways to make the jump from academia to industry, not from one job to another. The one axiom to remember is that the toughest job search that you will ever have is your first industrial position. If you do not have someone to help you network, you may have to do something like the trial period that Dave suggested.

Given the contraction in some of the pharmaceutical companies, there are a lot of people out there with proven skills and references and networks to match - why hire an academic? Even if there is a probationary period - which is standard in many companies - that period still represents a significant investment and a concomitant opportunity cost if the candidate does not work out. It is to the company's advantage to minimize the possibility of that failure in any way possible.

Nate talks about the concept of "temp-to-perm" using agencies such as Manpower. This is all well and good, but why would a company take the temp who is straight out of academia as opposed to one who has a track record in industry? For that matter, why would the temp agency even look at someone from academia?

Finally, DX comment to Nate said it best:
And one final thought - the relationship between you and an employer is a Business Transaction. Any thoughts of warm fuzzy's, consideration of house and Family by HR, loyalty, talent etc., does not exist. This is corporate, and it can care less about your personal Situation when Budgets are challenged. If you don't like it, stay in academia.


You may not like it, but that's the way the world works. The company does not exist to provide you with a living - they exist to make a return for their shareholders.

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Re: Current Talent Shortage

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon May 02, 2016 1:30 pm

Thanks folks for the additional comments. It's just bizarre how different the views of the "real world" are to different people. Those who are "looking" have one impression . . . those in jobs have another. It's something that would make me smile if it weren't such a deadly serious topic of discussion.

Putting those without an industry track-record and an employer together is my goal -- not my business goal, as that's totally different . . . just the goal of my passion in this area. I see some merit in this idea, but any kind of internship would work. If it's not a short consultancy to get a "glimpse" of a person, perhaps it's a combined PhD program as they do in Denmark, where you can have both academic and industry advisors on your project, and the company gets some knowledge of you along the way. I'd like to start a 501C3 based on some idea of this sort, and fund it with the support of companies and non-profits who care about getting the academia-to-industry transition smoother and more beneficial to society here in North America.

As always with ideas like these, they won't apply to those who see things in a negative light or who make assumptions about this being "cheap." But, it could certainly be beneficial to the hundreds/thousands of those who are presently being trained with great science, but who have no concept whatsoever of how to build a marketable background for industry. There needs to be some kind of gatekeeping process, whereby you focus on those who have a great mind that can benefit a business. I know they are out there -- I meet them all the time when I give talks and so on.

Let's keep the ideas flowing and see what shape they might start to take. I'm not ashamed to invest in something that seems fresh and promising, and I'll keep the forum informed.

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