Hiring From Academia for Your Tech Company? Here’s What You Need to Consider

hiring from academia

Technology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies are leading choices for scientists and researchers, studies find. In fact, it’s a little overwhelming. More than 50 percent of survey respondents would welcome office life. Instead of continuing climbing the ladder of academia, they’re interested in industry positions. They’re obviously motivated, skilled, and smart— what’s to consider when hiring from academia for your tech company?

According to an article published in scientific journal Nature, hiring managers need to to keep in mind the huge shift in priorities, goals, and culture.

Academia is a highly-hierarchical workplace. Individual achievement is the status quo. Teamwork is a limited experience.
You see where expectations may affect a potential fit for an internal role.

If you’re talent hunting amongst the academic crowd—or are a researcher needing tips on how to convert your CV to showcase how you add value to a business setting—read on.

1. List out job goals and interests

This may sound a bit redundant, but some applicants are not clear why they want to switch to an industry job. They’re not clear on how their expertise and skills can translate into business life. Sure, a PhD may know oncology like the back of their hand, but how does their interest align with the role itself? How do they see their career trajectory evolving given their background?

2. How set are they in following their own experiences and/or interests?

Academia teaches researchers to zero-in on a niche aspect of research. They have little time or motivation to focus on anything else but that subject matter. In a business setting though, much more flexibility is demanded. They will be joining a team, which possesses a variety of needs. A researcher may be asked to learn about an entirely different field. Do they seem open to this kind of flexibility? Or do they only want to stick to products that compliments their own interest? There is no right or wrong answer here, though it is something hiring managers need to consider when evaluating a candidate.

3. What exact products are they interested in your company?

This is Interview 101, but when considering a researcher candidate you will be able to understand exactly where their expertise meets their interests. Maybe the talent has a background in electrical engineering, but is also interested in the genetics tests it sends to doctors across the country. This is their opportunity to relay what their focus is and for you to ascertain a fit.

4. Do they have any expert insights into the regulatory challenges your company faces?

Academics know the technical ins and outs of their field. However do they understand the “bigger picture” of how their fields fits into the context of the market? This shows their thinking about the field as a business connected to other verticals.

5. Are they aware of how their skills and the position fit into the larger business context of the company?

A smart interviewee will have thought about to emphasize project management, team building, or other skills critical to an industry workplace. But they will also envision how both their technical and soft skills will move the company towards its goals.

6. Have they taken part in any industry-centric initiative or program led by their academic institution?

This is an opportunity to learn whether this has been a long-term goal of the candidate. In Australia, professional companies saw a need to bridge the gap between industry-curious researchers and their own enterprises. Scientists learn about companies through tours, talks, and mentorship. If a candidate has participated in a similar program, inquire about their takeaways.

7. Have they been recommended by a company employee?

The best introduction is always a warm one. Hiring from academia and then transitioning to a business environment can be a challenge. An internal referral strongly suggests the scientist is business-set, ready, and go.

Be smart

Discovering talent is a big deal. When you do find that magical gem of a hire, you’ll want to keep them (and you) happy. How? Glad you asked: Planning team absences. It sounds like a small thing, but it actually can make or break your business. Companies like MyTheresa and Check24 trust us to get it right.

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