St. Petersburg Times
By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
ALL ABOARD: Holland America Lines celebrated its 20th year in Tampa
by throwing a luncheon Nov. 16 for the Children's Cancer Center
on the cruise ship Veendam. The cruise line donated the food, and
47 crew members gave up their day off to help. Their tip: four-hour
phone cards from the organizers.
Waiters passed champagne and hors' d'oeuvres in the Rubens Lounge
while Tampa Tribune scribe Steve Otto hosted a silent auction. Lunch
and a live auction followed, emceed by WFLA Channel 8's Brian Fasulo.
A tour of the ship included the penthouse with butler's quarters
where cruisers can host a private party at sea.
The more than $160,000 raised at the event will help children being
treated for cancer or chronic blood disorders at bay-area hospitals.
Chairwoman and Chairman of the Board of The Childrens Cancer Center
Tina Hunter Stewart said it all: "Kids should fly kites, not
Medzilla.com discusses making the transition
to biotech recruiting
Biotechnology recruiting is hot. It's more active than IT and
telecommunications and it isn't suffering the shortages in other
areas of healthcare, says Frank Heasley, PhD, President and CEO,
of MedZilla.com, a leading Internet recruitment and professional
community that targets jobseekers and HR Professionals in biotechnology,
pharmaceuticals, healthcare and science.
Still, according to Dr. Heasley and other biotech recruiting professionals,
it may not be the time to jump onto the biotech bandwagon. There
are things that recruiters who are thinking about making the leap
"A lot of recruiters have been thinking about biotech recruiting
as a safe haven until their own sectors come back to life. But what
most people don't know, is that it's among the toughest recruiting
areas to break into," Dr. Heasley says. "We have seen
a lot of people from IT and other industries having problems moving
into biotech before they were properly prepared."
Learn the language of biotechnology
Veteran biotech recruiter Tina Hunter Stewart, President of
Tampa, FL.-based BioPharmMed, an executive search firm specializing
in medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical, warns that biotech
recruiting is different than other recruiting areas because many
hiring officials are at the PhD level. "Most do not have tolerance
for recruiters who do not clearly understand the language of biotech.
So it requires recruiters who have either come out of a biotech
background, or have a very clear understanding of the regulatory
requirements, clinical and scientific requirements and are able
to speak the language of biotech at least on a conversational level,"
Understanding the vocabulary is not only necessary when dealing
with clients, Stewart says, but also with job candidates. "Recruiters
have to be able to identify candidates and determine if they have
the technical expertise necessary. Biotech is probably the most
stringent area to get into. I think medical device and pharmaceutical
is a little easier to pick up," she says.
Dr. Heasley, who holds a doctorate in bacteriology and was a biotech
recruiter for five years before launching Medzilla.com in 1994,
recommends that recruiters get to know the field and have a life
sciences or healthcare background. "Some sort of background
in the life sciences or healthcare is almost a prerequisite so that
the language isn't foreign to you," Dr. Heasley says. "I
would hate to be the person who doesn't understand this field calling
up someone at the NIH, for example, and asking them to refer people.
Communication is essential to the recruiting discipline. If you
can't ask the right questions, then you can't expect reasonable
While Susan L. Metayer, principal staffing consultant at Rockville,
MD.-based Biotech Resources, a permanent staffing agency specializing
in the bio-pharmaceutical industry, thinks biotech recruiters need
to be knowledgeable, she doesn't think that the field is quite so
daunting. "I have a colleague that I worked with at a telecommunications
staffing agency and he had gotten into the biotech side. Basically,
he did it because the telecommunications industry is dead in the
water right now. He's doing well in biotech," Metayer says.
"He has done a lot of research on the Internet, and I've been
helping him out as much as I can. I think that if you have the background
of recruiting it takes some studying and knowing the right people.
Use contacts that you already have in the industry as a resource
to increase your knowledge base."
Find the right candidate for the right job
According to Metayer, client companies are very specific on the
type of background that they are seeking. For example, she says,
recruiters should not try to fill an MD opening in an oncology trial
with an MD who has a background in allergic diseases. Even for mid-level
clinical research positions, clients want people whose backgrounds
match the focus of the trials.
The option of doing what you know in biotech
Stewart says that she has seen recruiters going through a difficult
transition period while moving into biotech, which requires the
same high level of knowledge and professionalism as the fields they
already know. "I have a lot of IT recruiters calling me constantly
because I'm on a couple of boards. Many of them want to get into
this business but they don't know how to do it or they're nervous,"
she says. "What I try to tell them is that every pharmaceutical,
biotech and medical device company has an IT department and those
departments will need your expertise. Why should you learn the biotech
scientific area and try to transition from placing IT people to
placing scientists and researchers and the like? Instead, stick
with what you know."
Understand the industry
The shortages troubling other areas of healthcare are not so
prominent in biotechnology, says Stewart. Still, there are some
areas of shortage. "In biotech, we're finding that in the areas
of clinical research and regulatory affairs there are shortages
of available candidates. So, biotech companies are resorting to
a lot more contracting and consulting arrangements in those positions
to offer flexibility and be able to staff up when they're in the
middle of different phases of clinical trials," Stewart explains.
Stewart remarks, "We see somewhat of a turnover in the
executive ranks at the VP, president and CEO levels. Companies are
continually trying to attract new and different talent to their
senior ranks to help them reposition their companies or to try to
attract someone who has a presence in the industry who can lend
For those who are qualified, biotech offers rewards
To be successful in any business, one has to enjoy the industry,
Metayer says. "I find biotech very exciting. The advances in
medicine are fascinating," she says.
Dr. Heasley commented, "While they were challenging, the
years I spent as a biotech recruiter and executive were rewarding.
The industry makes a difference in people's lives, and, as a result,
those who work in it need to be knowledgeable. They, in turn, expect
the best from the recruiters they entrust with finding some of their
most valuable professionals. At MedZilla, we work closely with pharmaceutical
and biotech decision-makers, recruiters and job candidates on a
daily basis. We are enthusiastic about the near and long term prospects
for growth, discovery and contribution to the greater good in these
Working with Recruiters
Trust and values set the tone for a successful
By Mike Kappel
Human Resource professionals know that relying on Executive Recruiters
to fill top-level positions is a part of the hiring game. In fact,
HR pros at mid-to-large sized companies typically have budgets specifically
allotted for using Recruiters.
Since interaction with Recruiters is often inevitable for filling
senior level positions, HR pros must be savvy in choosing the recruiters
with whom they work.
When partnering for a Retained Search or important contingency
search, HR pros need, above all else, to trust their Recruiter.
Your Recruiter should show clear signs of business acumen, not simply
sales skills. Good Recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of
the marketplace; they should be able to speak intelligibly about
the movers and shakers in your industry, and they should be on top
of general market trends as well. But most importantly, they should
come across as sincere and trustworthy.
"Ethics, not greed, should be at the forefront of your Executive
Recruiters agenda," said Tina Hunter-Stewart, President
of BioPharmMed/BPM Resources, an Executive Search Firm specializing
in the Telecom, Biotech, Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Industries.
"Reputable recruiters strive to develop long-term relationships
with companies, rather than push for one-time placements."
Good recruiting outfits should have solid testimonials from their
clients; reputable search firms are proud of the quality work they
do, and they keep lists of references readily available for prospective
The best way to establish trust with a recruiter is a face-to-face
meeting. This should be done for all high-level searches, whenever
time permits. HR pros are analytical people by nature; questioning
the recruiter until youre satisfied youre choosing the
right person to conduct your search is time well spent.
Recruiting fees can be hefty, so make sure youre getting
the biggest bang for your buck. Good recruiters check all references
up front, and never "float paper," or send a résumé to
a client if the candidate hasnt already been interviewed in-depth.
"We recently performed a CTO search and carefully reviewed
over 150 candidates worldwide before presenting 6 finalists to interview
with my client company," said Hunter-Stewart. "This work
was grueling, but I felt good knowing we put the absolute best possibilities
in front of my client." Hunter-Stewart points out that her
time spent on the extensive search freed up her client companys
HR team to tackle the many other tasks on their plates.
Recruiters also perform the near-magical act of finding passive
candidates; these candidates arent looking for jobs and definitely
arent reading the Sunday want ads or Internet job boards.
"Recruiters must know the top candidates in the industries
they work," said Hunter-Stewart. "By aligning ourselves
closely with senior executives, we know where companies are headed,
what their long-term staffing needs will be even whos
about to retire.
"With our eyes glued on the industry, we know what companies
are set to do before they do it, and can often line up potential
candidates before the job opening is created."
A good recruiter will also assist her HR counterparts in the all-important
issue of employee retention. The best recruiting firms follow up
with candidates theyve placed months before, to ensure the
candidate and the client company are getting along.
"I dont feel my job is done after the candidate is hired,"
said Hunter-Stewart. "I have an ongoing dialogue with the Human
Resource professionals at my client companies to ensure both parties
remain happy, and the candidate stays with the company for the long
Relocation is another value-added service that the best recruiters
will handle. Stewart actually functions much as a realtor would,
checking out area schools, cultural life and homebuilders. Shes
even chatted with candidates teenage children about their
.since this age group can often nix a potential move!
"The area to which a family is moving is just as important
as the position for which he or she is interviewing," said
Recruiters can also help determine why companies cant hire
the people they want. Perhaps your interviewing process needs tweaking,
or your benefits arent in line with the industry standard.
Or maybe your location isnt conducive to keeping single people
happy. Whatever the problem, recruiters can uncover the answers
and streamline your hiring process.
Understanding your corporate culture
Recruiters deliver the most value when they are intimately aquainted
with their client companies.
"Ideally, a recruiter grows to be seen as a part of a corporations
culture," Hunter-Stewart said, "and is relied upon to
help above and beyond placing candidates." Hunter-Stewart works
with HR and Senior Level Management at her client companies to actually
help define positions.
"I may have a candidate whose credentials exceed that of the
companys position opening," Stewart said. "Often
times my clients will redefine who they are looking for around my
candidate, and bring on a more talented person with a greater skill
set than initially anticipated." Operating at this level inside
a company requires a strong knowledge of the company by the Recruiter.
And a strong trust of the Recruiter by the company.
Stewart develops this trust by getting to know many top managers
at her client companies. Management and HR then feel comfortable
that Hunter-Stewart knows their business, and is capable of finding
the best candidates.
"Once this trust is established and a client company is confident
with my firms ability to do the job and see every search through,
we can create a mutually beneficial synergy that propels both parties
forward," said Hunter-Stewart.
Hunter-Stewart personally visits many of her client companies to
absorb the spirit and feeling of their corporate cultures.
"Since all companies are different, Recruiters need to be
in tune with each client companys respective needs,"
said Hunter-Stewart. "When HR professionals see the time I
take to get to know and understand them as people and as
a company all friction melts away and a great working relationship
Executive Recruiters can save HR pros time, effort and money. Just
be sure to base your selection on the ethics, reputation and value-added
services the recruiting firm has to offer.
Mike Kappel is the president of Top Echelon. Founded in 1988,
Top Echelon is the worlds largest and most profitable network
of recruiting firms. Top Echelon has been creating technology employment
solutions for 12 years.