Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another wave of hiring...

We are going through another wave of hireing, which is nice becuase I am also looking to get a promotion right now. Having several bazillion resumes on my desk to look at gives me a great idea of what the market looks like to compare myself against. Leaving aside the high school drop outs I refer to here, there are a lot of educated people out there.

Do the degrees matter?
Is a MD/PHD better than a Ph.D.?
Does adding JD or MBA to the end help?

I would love to know that answer, but I dont' think I am any further along towards true enlightenment. I am seeing a lot of variation. We am involved in searches for 1 director level person, and 2 product manager roles, so seeing 2 different levels.

On the director level, we are getting MOSTLY Ph.D. -or- MBA. A few Ph.D./MBA combo packs. Only one MD/PHD.

What are we doing with this information....
not much. I was just noticing. At these levels (the product managers are senior level, not entry) work experience is what matters. The MD/PHD is gone already, as they don't have any and are looking for a first job. Degrees don't help with senior level jobs, experience does -> so bye bye. The Ph.D./MBA dies a similar death. Spent a long time in school and is now trying to catch up. Not there yet, have to take a more junior level position.

That leaves us with the "pure" Ph.D.'s and MBA's. Here we have a mixed bag of experience from little to lot. Too much experience (on the PM roles) means they will be unhappy sooner and want a promotion, so you have to watch out for that. Too little experience means you have to teach them more. Seems so clinically easy to write about, yet so hard to do.

The take home message here is that more school doesn't seem to be helping. Once you have a certain number of degree's (i.e. 1 real one) I and the others involved don't seem to be giving you any credit for the extra work. I would be interested in seeing if you get more money for the extra degrees (do they pay off, in the classic NPV sense). I would guess, but don't have solid data, that they do not pay for themselves. I don't see us offering more money to people with more degrees. I don't, in fact, see us even giving the people "intellegence" credit for the degrees. This probably answers my question from a few posts ago, as to whether or not going to get an MBA would help me. I am solidly in the NO camp on that front now. Anything that distracts from "learning" is to be avoided, and I think more school is a block to learning.

This is not to say classes are bad. I, in fact, think classes on defined subjects are a really good idea. Obviously, as I just went to one, I would say that... but I think the classes are key to helping with the "language" issue I discuss here, and that is learning. A degree program where you take tests and go to lots of classes, some of which you probably don't care about, is probably not the thing to do after a certain point in your career. This assumes you have a graduate degree of some flavor already. For those without, there is probably always room to pick up that degree, as it may be blocking you from the highest levels of company structure.

on a side note:
I rank myself as a poor judge of whether or not someone will be any good when I interview them. The last couple of hires I have been involved with, I think I have called correctly in that they are working out. My head is greatly inflated from this. I am sure I have a couple of good misses coming my way....

My uncle says that he gave up after a few years, and just judges based on the first 2 or 3 minutes. Says he is doing just as well as when he tried harder, but that it is much less annoying just to get it out of the way. I have heard of studies which say that you do that subconsciously anyway, so he may just be being honest about the whole matter. He is a judge, so that should scare you a bit, but no he doesn't use that in cases, he is talking about hiring for his legal practice and for the court.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where do we get Resumes?

I was asked by a person looking for a job (not on-line) where we get the resumes that we use to fill jobs? Is Monster.com or Biospace.com worth it?

This is rather timely, given the question being asked on slashdot.org right now... with linked commentary here about whether or not Monster et al are worth anything.

I will say upfront that I have, essentially, got both my jobs through Monster. Both times I have been contacted by the recruiter that got my resume in front of them hiring folks becuase the recruiter found my resume on Monster. I was a little stupid and didn't know about Biospace, but that is my bad.

So.... we don't really get too much from Monster. We sick Headhunters on our jobs. I don't think I have interviewed anyone recently who didn't come through a head hunter. Is this costing us too much money? maybe. could be cheaper to hire more HR people and do it that way. I don't know. I just know how we get the people.

I do know that HR uses Monster, so we do get the resumes in house, and that you can apply for the jobs directly, so we do get those as well. The problem is that we get about 100 gazillion resumes for every posting. None of the resumes are even remotely qualified for the job. No high school education...applying for a position that requires a Ph.D....this might be a problem.... So - we have recruiters winnow the field for us. There are a solid group of recruiters we use, all of whom are quite capable, and that keeps us from having to deal with the 100 gazillion unqualified people.

Are we missing people? Probably. But the chance of missing them has to be covered by the fact that we would spend several weeks wading throught that sea in order to find good candidates, and that would probably cost us something as well in terms of time/money. The trade off isn't pretty, but that is where you are.

My recommendation for people looking for jobs - get a good recruiter on your side. In fact, get several good recruiters on your side... they will have much better luck in getting your resume in front of us than any other way.

Posting your resume on Monster and biospace and the other sites are all excellent ways for recruiters to find you.

SO- in summary - I think monster et al are good for being found by recruiters, but not so usefull for directly getting the job.

DO NOT PAY them. Anyone who asks you to pay is ripping you off. The company, if they hire you, pays the recruiter. If they ask for money from the job seeker, they are slimy and you should run away from them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cross-Field Languages

So I speak Biology, Computer, IT, Marketing, and a bit of Finance.

These are all different languages with different conventions and different background assumed stuff. Words have different assumed meanings.

Example: Library
Biologist - has to have a modifier on it (cDNA, genomic or other) but it is a collection of those things that you can screen
Programmer - collection of calls you can make that is already written so you don't have to do some bits.
Marketing - the place where the marketing reports are (electronic these days...)

If you don't know what the word means, you can lead people astray. When I went to finance class recently, the most important thing I came back with was that I learned a bit more about how to talk to finance people. When I deal with the finance people at work, I am starting to learn what there words mean, and what the "obvious" problems with some solutions are. When they explain the problems to me, I understand what they are saying and can picture it.

The funny part about speaking different languages is when you have to serve as a translator. Several of the marketing people can't speak "finance" and we will be in a meeting and they will all be saying the same thing but neither side will realize it. This is where knowing both simplifies things. I can just point that out and we move on. 30 minutes of the meeting saved!

So - I think that is the major benifit of conintuing education. Don't stop going to work, but you have to keep picking up new "languages" as the more people you are able to talk to (and undersand/be understood) then the more useful you are and the more intersting the assignements/jobs you will be given/able to take/grab or for that matter even be able to see. Many will not even be able to see the problem, thus you have an advantage.

To MBA or not to MBA

Another friend is going back to get their MBA. This particular person didn't actually complete their Ph.D. so they are in a little differant boat than I am, but it still gets me thinking. Should I do that?

The finance class I took recently was awesome. Really interesting stuff, but could I take a whole lot of that?

The guy who went back is preaching that the best reason to be there is the connections that you make. He is meeting great people and building a great network. Is that what I need to do? I am building a network as well, but I could see that his network will be with people that I wouldn't normally meet. There is a lot of value in the "discontinuous" network, where you meet up with people that you wouldn't run in to. People in other industries think differently and have differnt worries. Some of it applies to you, some doesn't, but hearing the other stuff is always useful.

So this gets back to the debate I have. Should I do it? I would get one of them Executive MBA's, as there is no way I am going to school for a couple of years. I have done enough "pause" on the career advancement treadmill that I don't want to get off again. Experience at work trumps school work for a lot / most things. You have to get the theory in the classroom, but the practice only comes at work. The Theory is key, as without it you don't have a clue of what is going on at the big picture level, but the day to day experience is huge as well.

I continue to lean heavily toward "NO", but it is a pretty weak lean. Money is always an issue as paying for things can be hard. Time doesn't grow on tree's, and my daughter will only be this age once. Miss it and it's gone. Those are non-trivial things to overcome, never mind the whole concept of having to take a test again. Don't think I could do that.

Sacred Cows, and beleiving what you are told

I have "known" for quite awhile (since I got here) that we couldn't license off a particular bit of technology becuase we had given an exclusive license to someone else and they were sitting on it and there was nothing we could do about it. The problem was that I was never able to find that licnese and really had no proof of this. I was afraid to ask, becuase everyone "knew" about this license. Finally, I have brought slowly but surely the entire legal files through my office and have found that no such license exists and that everyone "knew" about it from someone else. No one actually had ever seen or known about such a beast. Strange stuff......

The outcome of this is that I now have full legal buy in to go license this technology off and we should make good money on it. It only took 8 months for me to complete this search (not full time, always in the background...).

My point of this is that when there is something that everyone "knows" you should push, quietly mind you, but push nonetheless to actually see the obstacle. If you are blatant and upfront about it, you will get a bad rap, as a lot of the "known" things are real. Sorting out which are real and which are urban legend takes awhile, but as in this case can have big rewards.

I have to grow our license revenue by a decent percentage this year, and this has just given me another tool to do that with.