Breaking into the Biotech Industry: Candidate Screening

Looking for a biotech research job? Find out key factors to highlight in your CV so recruiters can determine whether to move you forward.

Scismic recently released a job matching platform, Scismic Job Seeker. While designing Job Seeker, we received input from recruiters and hiring managers in biotech companies to build a platform that serves their needs. Below, we share our market research on key factors that hiring teams look for in scientific candidates, and factors that are not critical during the resume and phone screening process.

Candidate evaluation process*

*This is a generalized overview. While most companies follow a similar process, some may use different evaluation methods.
  1. Resume screen: A recruiter reviews your CV and selects candidates that meet enough of the job criteria to be considered for the position.
  2. Phone screen: The recruiter either phone screens you to ask for more detailed information, or passes your CV to the the hiring manager (selected candidate’s future supervisor). The hiring manager evaluates the application, and may phone screen selected candidates.
  3. Interview: The top several candidates are invited to interview with the hiring manager and research team. Personality, skills, and cultural fit are evaluated.
  4. Selection: The hiring manager selects their top candidate to make a job offer.

Scismic Job Seeker’s matching algorithm takes into account the criteria that hiring managers and recruiters identified as key factors during the screening process. This way, recruiters and hiring managers will not receive applications on Scismic that they would immediately screen out, and scientists won’t waste time applying to jobs where they will not be considered a qualified candidate.

This article only addresses the screening stages and does not include information on how candidates are evaluated at the interview and selection stages.

Key factors in screening, in no particular order

  1. Lab techniques and research fields
  • While you can learn skills on the job, you need to know enough of the required skills to get through screening. Recruiters want to ensure that candidates they pass on to hiring managers meet the hiring managers’ criteria.
  • Skills are a key factor in screening, even for PhD-level positions. However, selection depends on the company and role. For example, at one biotech startup, hiring managers only consider candidates who meet all technical requirements because they do not have manpower to train new hires. Meanwhile, another biotech startup adapts the role to fit competent candidates and their current skills.
  • Tip: Highlight your techniques by creating a skills section in your CV, and list the techniques you used under each position. It’s okay that the skills are duplicated under the position and the skills section.

2. Years of experience, and where they were gained

  • Recruiters and hiring managers look at whether your research experience was gained in academia or industry.
  • Your degree might be required for some roles and will help in preliminary screening. However, your student years are not included in recruiters’ definition of years of experience
  • Do not be discouraged if you don’t have industry experience. There are still roles for you in industry.

3. Experience leading a research project

  • Have you been the key decision maker and driver of a research project? Have you designed experiments, analyzed outcomes, and created next steps to push the project forward? Highlight your contributions and how they moved the field forward.
  • Not all roles require experience leading a research project.

4. Publications and presentations

  • Research articles, patents, and reviews are key factors considered during screening.
  • Most hiring managers polled also want to see your manuscripts under review, theses, posters and short talks at conferences.
  • Tip: If you have many publications, consider creating a “Selected Publications” section instead, showing your top 5 publications (for example, first author papers and publications that are relevant to the specific job). Include a link to your full publications list.

Factors that are not critical in candidate screening

  1. Management experience in academia
  • While not a key factor in screening, craft a strong story about your management experiences in academia for your interview that highlights the challenges you faced, your achievements, and your abilities.

2. Some types of publications and presentations

  • 80% of hiring managers polled do not consider manuscripts in preparation, reviews in preparation, and white papers during screening.
  • Most hiring managers polled do not consider teaching experience or invited seminars during screening.

3. Impact factor, number of publications, and alma mater reputation

We hope this helps you decide which areas to focus on in your professional development, and in building your CV!

If you’re looking for an industry job, complete your candidate profile on Scismic Job Seeker at We have biotech companies on Scismic that are waiting to hear from you!

Scismic fosters groundbreaking science by connecting researchers to jobs that empower them to perform their best. Scismic Lab Seeker, our free academic lab database, will help you find the perfect academic lab! We recently released Scismic Job Seeker, to help you find the right industry jobs in less time. Sign up today!