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How to screen scientific curricula vitae accurately - with an example

Why is it challenging?

Technical CVs are proven to be very difficult to screen especially due to the specific scientific nature of them. Considerations of scientific or engineering principles need to be made in order to assess whether or not a CV is relevant. In order for someone to be able to determine which CVs are relevant, they should have a basic educational background in life sciences and understand several factors. These involve research applications, common laboratory techniques, informatics tools, and necessary skills. Without this understanding, it is impossible to perform a focused search, which is why companies hire agencies, such as SpinUp Search who specialise in the area.

Case Study:

In this fictional case study, we are searching for a candidate with expertise in developing molecular dynamics simulation methods for certain applications. Recruiters would use a set of keywords to assess the relevancy of a resume. This would certainly include molecular dynamics and molecular simulations. They may also find keywords in the job description related to areas of applications such as medicinal chemistry, bioinformatics, or quantum chemistry. However, these can potentially mislead the search as experience in these fields itself does not guarantee working knowledge in molecular dynamics. And even if the candidates applied this technique as end-users, it does not necessarily mean that they have sufficient theoretical knowledge for a method development.

Example 1: right experience but no relevant keywords

  • developed enhanced sampling techniques

  • developed relative free energy calculation methods

  • developed reversible reference system propagator algorithms

There are many CVs that do not include keywords recruiters are looking for. Therefore, applications of highly qualified candidates get rejected on a daily basis. Have you ever wondered why your application was rejected for a role that was an exact match to your expertise? This might have been one of the reasons.

Example 2: has the right keywords but still irrelevant experience

  • used molecular dynamics simulations to evaluate permeability of lipid membranes

  • used molecular dynamics simulations to investigate polymer systems

  • used bioinformatics tools to predict protein structure and molecular dynamics for refinement

In these cases, clarification is needed as application does not necessarily mean that the candidate developed methods for molecular dynamics simulations.

Example 3: Misleading keywords

  • medicinal chemist worked on the design, synthesis, and antiviral evaluation of polydeoxyribonucleotide analogues

  • bioinformatician worked on the analysis of microscopic images

  • quantum chemist worked on the development of density functional methods for heterogeneous catalysis

These experiences (by the given information) do not involve working with molecular dynamics at all.

This case study shows just how many factors and pieces of information to look out for as without a specialist to recognise the issues of the CV, the candidate would have deemed to be a good fit which in this case would not be a successful hire option. Agencies like ours, have specialised advisors and employees who have the ability and relevant understanding to be able to identify discrepancies and to help biotech or pharmaceutical companies hire successfully.

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