Employer Insights: The Top 3 Things That Define a Quality Candidate

five people sitting in chairs waiting for an interview

Do you know what employers in the life sciences industry value when it comes to hiring? Many professionals don’t know, and as a result they just send out their resume and hope for the best. Perhaps, they are fortunate enough to land an interview, however many people feel a little lost and don’t know what to say that will help to distinguish themselves from other candidates. Unfortunately, most people generally receive little (if any) feedback when they don’t get a job offer after interviewing. For this reason, its difficult to know what to improve on when targeting other positions.

BioSpace recently conducted a survey of business decision makers to find out what factors they think are most important in the candidates they hire. The majority of survey respondents consisted of directors, managers, talent acquisition professionals, HR generalists and recruiting specialists. These respondents were employed by organizations of various sizes, with 62% being in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Here are the top three things that define a quality candidate!

Relevant Work Experience

What might seem surprising is that 91% of survey participants indicated that having relevant work experience was vital in defining a quality candidate. Relevant work experience was prioritized over holding advanced degrees (24%) and having attended a highly recognized educational institute (8%). This is significant because educational history is often the first thing people think of that will set themselves apart from others. However, employers don’t place the same value on degrees and prestige. Make sure that you’ve highlighted your relevant work experience, accomplishments, and transferrable skills on your resume. They should be emphasized and easy to find on the document.

Strong Communication Skills

All of your intellect and knowledge might be deemed useless if you can’t communicate effectively, in a way that others understand. 65% of the decision makers surveyed selected, “demonstrate strong communication skills” as necessary for candidates. Many life science positions involve working with cross-functional teams of people from a variety of departments. Do you have a history of success when working in groups or on large projects? If so, you probably have utilized strong communication skills to get things done. Think about ways you can bring attention to your collaborative efforts and communication skills on your resume and during an interview.

Demonstrate Leadership Experience or the Potential to Be a Leader

Have you held any leadership roles in the past? Have you taken initiative to get things started or coordinated logistics to ensure success? Employers want to know that you can step up and help them to achieve organizational goals, even if it isn’t technically part of your job description. 39% of survey participants indicated, “demonstrate leadership experience or the potential to be a leader” as an aspect of a quality candidate. Have you completed any supplemental or leadership training in previous positions? If so, mentioning those events on your resume and in conversation during an interview can be beneficial.

Contrary to popular belief, many employers don’t value holding advanced degrees or attending highly recognized universities as highly as many job seekers assume. Instead, a recent BioSpace survey of hiring decision makers prioritized having relevant work experience, demonstrating strong communication skills, and demonstrating leadership experience (or the potential to be a leader) as most desirable. Were you surprised to see these results and the emphasis on soft skills throughout the life sciences industry? How can you show potential employers that you have the work experience and people skills necessary to be a good fit in their organization?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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