May 2018

This article originally appeared on Inc 

The Top 4 Hiring Challenges Small Businesses are Facing

Small businesses face a number of challenges related to inexperience, size, and lack of resources. However, few responsibilities stretch these businesses as thin as hiring. While it may seem simple on the surface, hiring the right employees can be overwhelming and taxing on many different levels. Understanding what these challenges are can help business owners and entrepreneurs, like yourself, get a better grip on how to proceed with minimal interference.


According to Wasp Barcode’s annual State of Small Business Report, 50 percent of small businesses say hiring new employees is the top challenge they face. That makes it the number one challenge businesses with less than 499 employees encounter – coming in just above increasing profits, employee healthcare, growing revenue, and cash flow. When you consider that 52 percent of small businesses plan to hire at least one new employee this calendar year, it’s clear that something needs to be done sooner rather than later. Let’s check out some of the biggest hiring challenges impacting small businesses and how they can be alleviated and/or overcome.

1. Competing With Bigger Companies

By far, one of the biggest hiring challenges small businesses face is competing with large organizations for top talent. Big name brands typically offer better benefits packages, higher salaries, and other advantages. But, small businesses have advantages, too. The sooner you recognize what these are, the better you’ll be able to confront this challenge.

The first benefit to understand is that your company is much less bureaucratic than those large organizations with thousands of employees. This allows you to work quicker and more efficiently. It’s also likely that you offer more growth potential, which is exactly what many candidates desire.

2. Finding Qualified Applicants

There’s nothing more frustrating than publicizing a job opening and getting dozens of unqualified applicants who waste your time. If you don’t have the financial means to hire a recruiter, this presents a very real challenge. The best solution is to work within your network when hiring. “Networking can solve a lot of your recruiting problems. If one of your contacts refers a candidate to you, chances are good that they’ve done some of the selling work already,” The Wall Street Journal explains.

“For the same reason, offer rewards for employee referrals. Candidates who come in through these referrals usually have a more accurate picture of the company than those who come in through ads, and in most cases employees recommend only people they think will be a good match.”

3. The Warm Body Syndrome

Many small businesses – startups in particular – deal with “the warm body syndrome.” Instead of hiring people who are fit and qualified for certain positions, people are brought in simply because they’re convenient and cost-effective. At first, this may not seem like a problem. But, down the road, most of these warm bodies end up dragging down your business more than providing a return.

“Like any bad habit, the warm body syndrome is hard to break,” entrepreneur Danielle Gal explains. “The key is creating a new pattern for hiring that is focused on value rather than time constraints. Creating a detailed job description through a job analysis is crucial.”  It’s also smart to hire people with experience handling responsibilities and tasks that you’ll be assigning them. As Gal says, “The position should not be molded to fit the candidate’s competencies.”

4. No Experience With Talent Management

While not exclusively a hiring problem, many small businesses suffer from inexperience related to talent management. As a result, they end up squandering good hires and making bad hires seem worse. The key is to recognize when business leaders have little expertise in talent management. Hiring based on a gut feeling or out of necessity is never a good idea. While you should ultimately bring someone on board who has experience in talent management, you can overcome some of your deficiencies by hiring the right people.

Your staff should have a mix of levels of experience. With your more experienced employees, you’ll discover people who don’t need to be micro-managed in order to be successful. This benefits everyone and allows the company to maximize its resources.

Smarter Hiring Means Better Business

It’s easy for small business owners to get so caught up in running the daily business operations and closing sales that they forget about the significance of implementing smart hiring practices. If you want to build a successful business that thrives on the backs of talented and disciplined people, then you better evaluate where things currently stand and how you can make deficiencies into strengths.




April 2018

Machine Learning vs. Artificial Intelligence

The Biotech industry is booming lately with the progress being made in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. However, these two terms that are often confused with one another.

In the simplest of terms, Artificial Intelligence is the capability of a machine to imitate human behavior and Machine Learning is the ability to make predictions and improve tasks based on data.

Although AI has been around for quite some time, recent advances are launching both AI and Machine Learning onto a new platform. In the Life Sciences field we are seeing more ground breaking treatments and medications through the use of AI and Machine Learning which is helping narrow the gap and allowing for faster data analysis.

A recent article in Forbes magazine does a great job at outlining these key differences noting.

As technology, and, importantly, our understanding of how our minds work, has progressed, our concept of what constitutes AI has changed. Rather than increasingly complex calculations, work in the field of AI concentrated on mimicking human decision making processes and carrying out tasks in ever more human ways.

Artificial Intelligences – devices designed to act intelligently – are often classified into one of two fundamental groups – Applied or General.

Applied AI is far more common – systems designed to intelligently trade stocks and shares or maneuver an autonomous vehicle would fall into this category.

Generalized AIs – systems or devices which can in theory handle any task – are less common, but this is where some of the most exciting advancements are happening today. It is also the area that has led to the development of Machine Learning. Often referred to as a subset of AI, it’s really more accurate to think of it as the current state-of-the-art.

The Rise of Machine Learning 

Two important breakthroughs led to the emergence of Machine Learning as the vehicle which is driving AI development forward with the speed it currently has. One of these was the realization – credited to Arthur Samuel in 1959 – that rather than teaching computers everything they need to know about the world and how to carry out tasks, it might be possible to teach them to learn for themselves.

The second, more recently, was the emergence of the internet, and the huge increase in the amount of digital information being generated, stored, and made available for analysis.

Once these innovations were in place, engineers realized that rather than teaching computers and machines how to do everything, it would be far more efficient to code them to think like human beings, and then plug them into the internet to give them access to all of the information in the world.


March 2018

The Freedom of Having an “FSP” Partner

A growing trend within Clinical Operations and Development practices is “Functional Outsourcing” where a sponsor company can segment out specific functions in a “cafeteria style” format to partner vendors while focusing in house on their core competencies.

Recent articles published have highlighted the key factors to consider with this  Functional Service Provider (“FSP”) model to help companies achieve the level of efficiency and flexibility of outsourcing without compromising quality.

Major factors to consider when selecting an FSP partner:

Cultural Fit
Start the vetting process for an FSP relationship by asking about company values, how conflicts are resolved, communication channels, management oversight, and approach to customer service. Answers to these questions should be in alignment with your approach to clinical research and collaboration.

Obviously, if you are pursuing an FSP relationship, you want a partner that has experience with this type of model. That way, it’s likely it has worked out the kinks and will be able to hit the ground running with a new sponsor. Experienced vendors also will have recommendations for training programs, which will ensure a seamless integration between vendor and sponsor staff as well as ensure new staff members are trained quickly and efficiently. Ask if the company has suggestions for the best way to work together, including overall program management, rapid start-up processes, points of contact, system usage, process development, deliverable and timeline tracking, and billing.

Sponsors should ask potential partners about company and team turnover rates. In addition, ask about the company’s strategy for maintaining and disseminating program-related knowledge across their team (e.g. therapeutic, protocol, and system knowledge) as well as how they handle team member departure/reassignment and on-boarding. These strategies should be part of the foundation of the FSP partnership.


Flexibility and Scalability
Sponsors should ask vendors how they plan for and handle the need to scale up quickly, as well as how they avoid under-utilizing resources. In both cases, some sort of strategic forecasting and proactive communication should be part of the plan. Program governance meetings are an excellent strategy for managing the resourcing demands of a successful FSP partnership. These meetings can occur as often as necessary to ensure constant communication between vendor and sponsor. Both parties should contribute to the agenda to ensure active engagement and bidirectional communication. These meetings can be beneficial in maintaining a big-picture view of the FSP partnership, and they encourage direct and frequent communication between team members.

All of the previously mentioned characteristics are important when seeking to establish an FSP relationship that has the potential to reduce time and costs without compromising scientific integrity or quality. There are many potential partners in the industry that provide FSP services, so it’s necessary to conduct a thorough evaluation to identify an FSP partner that is a good match for your project or program. In an industry where the goal is to get approvable drugs to market as quickly as possible, consistency in all of these areas is a winning formula for identifying an FSP partner that sponsors can trust.


February 2018

What Office Culture Fits Your Company?

Where does your company stand? Do you prefer a millennial or more seasoned and experienced person in their work history? Both have positive and negative attributes, so what are your company’s core values, expectations and future goals? Can you reach the next level of competitiveness in your field and stand out above the rest?

These all need to be considered before making a hiring decision that could change the face of your company….for better or worse.

The hiring and recruiting field has its work cut out for us these days due to high numbers of job seekers in spite of the fact that unemployment is at an all-time low. With companies looking toward their growth and maximizing production, output and profitability it may be hard to put your faith in the hands of a millennial with 4 years of job experience between multiple companies. You may want to lean toward the candidate that is a veteran in their respective field with a proven track record of reliability and experience under their belt.

However, taking all things into consideration a fresh set of eyes may be exactly what’s needed to project your company to the next level depending on your goals. Open minds, new ways of thinking and lack of fear (which so many millennial’s seem to possess) have a way of bringing about new innovative thinking and productivity. With new technology applications being taught to the younger generation and the ever changing and growing field of life sciences this could be vital.

No matter the focus of your operations, you can be as diverse in your own staffing as you want. Creating an environment that blends experience with applied knowledge and leading edge thinking methods will move your company to the top of your field. Address your company needs and strategies, apply them and follow thru.

Most importantly keep learning along the way and have an open mind.

Written By: Keri Forte


October 2017

Should I Stay or Should I Go:
Why Employees Quit and How Employers Can Retain Them

For some, quitting a job is a well-thought-out, decisive career move.

For others, it’s a split-second reaction to an adverse situation.

Either way, leaving a job can be closely followed by confusion and regret.

Did I make a huge mistake? What if I hate my new job? Was I truly unhappy? Was there something I could have done differently? Would my boss have been willing to work to find a satisfactory resolution? Would my old company take me back? Why did I feel that quitting was the only option?

These are all common questions following the strategic (or emotional) decision to change jobs. In an earlier article, we concluded that regardless of the job or individual, the reasons for quitting are consistent across the board:

Reason #1: Toxic Work Environment
Reason #2: Limited Work/Life Balance
Reason #3: Poor Compensation
Reason #4: Rare Recognition
Reason #6: Zero Mobility
Reason #7: Unfulfilled Goals
Reason #8: Inept Management

Furthermore, it’s worth noting: it doesn’t matter if these reasons are true, only that they are true for the individual who has decided to quit. Now, let’s assume these past employees are genuine workers with honest motivations. If employers know the reason for the resignation and value the employee who is leaving, the reasonable conclusion is this:

What can employers do to retain these employees, or incentivize them to return after they’ve already resigned?

We all have doubts. Even the individuals who are most certain of their decisions second-guess themselves at one point or another. In fact, “a recent survey polled 4,505 U.S. job seekers and found 76 percent of full-time employees are open to new career positions.” Wow — 3/4th’s of employees could leave at any point in time, even the happy ones.

There are two huge clichés particularly fitting in this situation:

Cliché #1: The grass is greener.

Cliché #2: Hindsight is 20/20.

At one point or another, every single working individual will wonder if there’s a better opportunity elsewhere. The way to effectively retain — or win back — winning employees is to acknowledge these common causes of quitting and address these grievances with creative, actionable solutions.

An organization’s greatest assets are its people. If the people are unsatisfied or malcontent, it will negatively impact the organization. So, it comes down to one thing: retention, retention, retention (so much so, it merits repeat). Strive to preemptively change negative mindsets by doing the following:

Solution #1: Keep lines of communication wide open.

The decision to quit is a personal one, but as an employer or boss, don’t take it personally. It isn’t a personal affront (usually). The relationship between the manager and the managed will not spiral into resentment provided that a good manager always leaves the door open to discussion, free from judgement. Ensuring open communications from the get-go provides a foundation for the relationship and encourages employees to speak up about any frustrations and allow managers to offer solutions before the situation becomes a problem.

Solution #2: Reset expectations.

Expectations play a huge role in the decision-making process. So, when it comes to the day-to-day demands of a job, it’s important that the expectations of the employee line up with the expectations of the employer.

Anna Sidana, VP of marketing at Simply Hired, agrees. “I believe the biggest reason someone would regret changing careers or jobs is because they expected something other than what they got,” she explains. (Forbes)

Employers should make sure to periodically reevaluate expectations between the employer and the employee and adjust for any discrepancies between the two. Above all, people crave stability and consistency in their daily lives. When everyone is on the same page, surprises (especially unwelcome ones such as a “sudden” resignation) are less likely to happen.

Solution #3: Give them what they want, but also what they deserve.

If an employee feels they deserve a reward, recognize it.

If an employee consistently does exceptional work, reward it.

If an employee feels overworked and underpaid, evaluate it.

If an employee feels ignored, address it.

If an employee feels stuck, change it.

If an employee wants competition, encourage it.
To keep employees both happy and motivated sometimes requires concessions on the employer’s end. This could mean higher compensation, shorter hours, overtime pay, a promotion, or even a more difficult problem. To perform and grow, employees need to be challenged. To evolve and exceed expectations, employees need to innovate. Like any relationship, it takes two. The employee and the employer must work together, problem-solve, and periodically reevaluate based on the needs of the individual and the organization, respectively.

As Entrepreneur so aptly put it: “No one likes to see a quality individual leave for another organization. And, in many cases, this is preventable.”

What does it take? Work.


July 2017

When some employees quit, we heave a sigh of relief. But when valued employees quit, bosses panic. What made them want to abandon ship? Why didn’t I see this coming? However, what may seem like a sudden employee departure can be easily explained.

Regardless of the job, the reasons are consistent across the board:

Reason #1: Toxic Work Environment

You don’t invest in companies. You invest in people. People and culture are one of the most important aspects of any job. It doesn’t matter if the job role, the title, or the compensation is a perfect fit. As social beings, we need positive, daily interaction with others. At the very least, for spending 40 hours per week in an office, it should be in good company.

Reason #2: Limited Work/Life Balance

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Employees seek flexibility in the workplace that will allow them to manage other responsibilities on the side like family, health, and personal goals. Even the most successful and career-driven individuals understand the importance of balance.

Reason #3: Poor Compensation

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys,” James Goldsmith—financier and political crusader—famously said. If you’re not willing to pay for top talent, you will be unable to retain or recruit top talent. In this instance, it’s beneficial to compare yourself—and your business—to others. Consider: What do your competitors offer that you don’t? How can you level the playing field?

Reason #4: Rare Recognition
It comes down to positive versus negative reinforcement.
While negative reinforcement is more effective for sparking behavioral change and breaking bad habits, positive reinforcement influences whether you get the job done and how well you do it. Employees need to be rewarded for good performance, otherwise they’ll lose motivation.

Reason #5: Bad Benefits

Similar to Reason #3, you must pay to play. Further, employees need tangible assurance that their well being will be attended to on-the-job.  This means competitive 401(k) plans with matching, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, etc. Competitive benefits will allow your business to recruit and retain top talent.

Reason #6: Zero Mobility

If employees can’t grow, they’ll go. Not everyone is content with coasting, especially young and hungry candidates—the ones who will work hard, long hours driven by passion and personal goals. If there’s no career trajectory, or employees feels themselves topping out and becoming overburdened by redundant job duties, they’ll seek opportunities elsewhere.

Reason #7: Unfulfilled Goals

Almost everyone has an imagined career path and goals. Sometimes, the path and goals change subtly. Occasionally, they change so dramatically the current job or career path no longer fit the desired destination. It’s up to management to tune into their teams and find ways to integrate company goals with an employee’s personal ones.

Reason #8: Inept Management

Unsurprisingly, the number one reason employees quit is due to bad managers: “According to Gallup polls, 50% of employees who quit cite their manager as the reason.” People join companies for compensation, benefits, and opportunities, but they can’t always anticipate how a future manager will impact mentality and performance and eventually, they leave.


Filled Positions

While your instinct may be to slow down job searches during the summer months, now is a perfect opportunity to regroup on your goals and ramp up your efforts before fall!

The life sciences industry encompasses a myriad of subcategories and potential positions. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), life sciences occupations are projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024.

We’ve recently helped candidates fill the following positions:

  • Clinical Trial Associate
  • Clinical Project Manager
  • Clinical Data Manager
  • Bioinformatics Engineer
  • SAS Programmer
  • eTMF Specialist
  • NGS Engineer


June 2017

As we enter the Summer season, both the contract and permanent staffing market are HOT as we see the following trends:

  • Data-led patient engagement has led to more roles in software and data management.
  • Growth of genetics/genomics as the emphasis moves towards a personalized medicine treatment has led to an increased demand for data science skills.
  • Emphasis on cyber security as an increasing number of companies are connecting their devices and apps to the cloud, cyber security.
  • Changing regulatory environments as continued regulatory uncertainty continue with healthcare reform and drug pricing remaining hot topics, regulatory professionals are in demand.

In this market, our recruiter tip for this month is especially relevant.

Recruiter Tip of the Month

Contemplating a job change? Already submitted a resignation? Can’t wait to quit?

There’s just one problem. While you’ve got one foot out the door, your boss is tempting you with an attractive counteroffer.

It would be so much easier to stay at your current company, with a pay hike and potentially greater or varied responsibilities.

But you’re forgetting one very important detail: why you wanted to leave in the first place?

Counteroffers should never be accepted….EVER!

If you finally made the decision to jump ship, it’s because there were issues or deal-breakers that couldn’t be fixed by a chat with the boss.

Qualms with a current job can be categorized in 3 ways:

  1. Issues within your manager’s ability to control
  2. Issues within my ability to control
  3. Issues that fall outside my manager’s and my ability to control.

If #3 is the case, then it’s likely a new job is the solution, because the issue cannot be solved by either you or your manager. According to a Pittsburgh staffing firm, “More than 50% of all employees who accept counteroffers change companies within the following 24 months.” So, whatever the initial issue was, it will likely persist regardless of the counteroffer.

Believe it or not, most employees do not leave solely for a higher salary; they leave for an all-around better opportunity that fits their future career goals.

Accepting a counteroffer is a bad idea because:

  • It doesn’t address the underlying issue.
  • It may damage the relationship with your current employer.
  • It undermines your value, since you probably deserved more, sooner.
  • You may regret it later, having forfeited a new opportunity for professional development.

What type of company do you want to work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you are worth?


May 2017

Flynn Life Sciences Group is in the middle of an evolving time in the Pharma community from Digital Transformations to Big Data to Drug Pricing. We see successful trials marked by collaboration, digital knowledge, and patient engagement. Better recruitment, contractor engagement and employee retention is a major ingredient to this.

We sponsored the Boston Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (BCBB) Meet Up at Meadhall in Cambridge last month which had a tremendous turnout. We are excited to be a part of this community that is shaping the future of research for our industry.

Every interviewer asks some variation of the same three questions:

1. Can you do the job?
Questions involving strengths, weaknesses, specific skills, and experience fall into this category. For life sciences professions, be sure to incorporate technical expertise, demonstrate science proficiency, and highlight understanding of regulatory standards. Also, take this opportunity to explain how you handled a variety of situations in current or past roles that are applicable to the new position.

2. Will you like the job?
Questions involving the job role and the company fall into this category. Do your research on the company; its origins; and past, current, or upcoming projects that are relevant to you and your experience. Don’t forget a healthy dose of positivity, whether it’s reflecting on your old role or highlighting your motivations for securing this new role.

3. Will we like working with you?
This is an alternative to “why should we employ you?” or “what will you do for our bottom line?” Insert tangible examples of how you have contributed in the past and will contribute in the future.

Similarly, interviewers, recruiters, and hiring managers are testing 3 things: your technical proficiency, your personality and ability to fit in with the team, and your communication skills (written and verbal).

Recruiter Tip of the Month

When on an interview, use your inner “DREAMER” to share a professional vision about yourself in the future. Your interviewer has read your resume. The interview is a time to shift your focus from your past to your future.
Paint a picture of how you hope to make a difference: in your work, in your life, at their company or organization. Inspire them with your aspirations for the years to come.