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SpeakBio Seminar: The Job Seeker's Guide to Talent Acquisition

On August 13th, BCLA hosted its second event in collaboration with Scismic as part of the SpeakBio series. This event titled “The Job Seeker’s Guide to Talent Acquisition'' featured three industry recruiters with years of experience: Doug Fauth, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development at MicroVention-Terumo, Quynh Nguyen, Associate Director of Talent Acquisition at Allogene Therapeutics, and Nicole Wissemann, Founder & CEO of Premier Placement Recruiting. The webinar focused on how job seeking candidates can make themselves most attractive to recruiters and employers and the panelists answered audience questions about finding a job in the current pandemic.

All three panelists stressed that the main thing they are looking for is a candidate who shows they can do the job the hiring manager needs to fill. Though they did differ on the amount of required skills each thought an applicant should have: Nguyen and Wissemann encouraged applicants to apply if they met 60% of the required skills, whereas Fauth thought they needed closer to 100% of the skills. Another important factor is aligning the candidate’s and the company’s values: they stressed that in many cases attitude is more important than aptitude and highlighting soft skills can overcome a lack of necessary technical skills. Furthermore, all panelists encouraged applicants to think not just of applying to a specific position or posting, but rather a functional area in the company because they keep all applications on file and while a candidate may not be suited for a particular role, another role may open up in the future.

The panelists also discussed cover letters, resumes, and interviews. They confirmed that recruiters unfortunately only spend 5-7 minutes looking at a resume, so they stressed that it is important to use a functional resume listing strengths, experience, and education and not using all the space to list publications. The consensus on cover letters was that few recruiters read them, so most applicants can skip the cover letter, with the exception of those applying for writing or communications positions, who should use every opportunity to present their writing skills. For the interview, all panelists said they are very impressed when candidates are energetic, showcase their passion for their work with enthusiasm and actively discuss how interested they are in the job. Another way to signal that you want the job is to send a thank you email as soon as the interview is over; the more time that passes, the less interested candidates appear.

Finally, the panelists discussed how hiring has changed with COVID-19. They stressed that most companies have continued to hire and that one of the challenges for companies is that the talent pool is more local as candidates are less willing to relocate across the country in this environment. And as candidates, ask questions regarding COVID safety protocol, and ensure that you are willing to take a permanent position without seeing the facilities or meeting your future colleagues in person.

Thank you to the over 140 participants who joined the webinar and engaged with the panelists through their thoughtful questions. And thank you to Scismic for another great collaboration! We look forward to many more.

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