Bay Area Employment Snapshot: The Peninsula

More than five years after the “dot-bomb” meltdown, hiring is once again on an upswing. In this three-part series on the new world of employment in the Bay Area, the Examiner finds out how senior human resources professionals in San Francisco, the Peninsula and the Valley see job trends in 2007.

Jeff Coon, Senior Director of Human Resources

Kathleen Rinehart, Corporate Communications Director

PDL BioPharma, Inc.

Jeff: The job market here is very strong. If PDL is an example, we have hired 200 people in the last year, and expect to hire a little less than that in the next year. We anticipate a 20-30% growth rate over the next 4-5 years. We are hiring all across the board in research, clinical, quality assurance, finance, legal, and human resources. It is increasingly difficult for Biotech companies in the Bay Area to find top talent Senior-level people with industry experience are especially difficult to find. Trying to find skill sets specific to certain clinical phase trials is extremely difficult.

We have had to come up with new and creative ways to find people, especially passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for jobs. We’ve seen a shift towards using a much more targeted approach and are working closely with smaller organizations. Some of the professional organizations we use are Drug Information Association (DIA), Association of Clinical Research Professional (ACRP), American Association of and Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS). —we partner with over fifty organizations in all. The most successful recruiting source for usremains our employee referral program. When you know someone who works at a company already they can give you the human component. We just held our first job fair. Over three hundred people attended and we received over two thousand résumés as a direct result to the advertising for our career fair.

Kathleen: The Bay Area is the biotech hub. Nine treatments that use our company’s antibody technology are on the market, and we have a very strong proprietary pipeline with a goal of at least one new product into the clinic every year. One of the reasons why people like working in biotech so much is that they are excited about what they do. You get to make a difference in people’s lives.

Judy DiPaolo, HR Director

Mills-Peninsula Health Services

Thanks to an aging baby boomer population, the health care employment picture has remained stable and is even experiencing an upswing. We typically have openings in nursing, radiology, pharmacy and the allied health jobs such as physical therapy.

This represents a re-balancing after the dotcom boom and bust of several years ago.

During the dotcom heyday, it was much more difficult to fill positions. After the bust, we would receive hundreds of applications for one position. We had to turn away very qualified candidates. People were happy to have a steady job with benefits. Now I would say we are somewhere between the two extremes.

In a market on the move, there is a greater pressure to remain competitive. I see salaries rising. We see more people willing to move to new organizations and new jobs. People are much more willing to change jobs or go back to school. They aren’t as nervous – it is a good time to take risks. They also are looking for more life balance and benefits such as flexible schedules, an easy commute, fitness centers and day care.

From the employer side, today’s health care recruiters are looking for applicants with strong clinical or technical skills, excellent computer skills and strong interpersonal skills because we work with very ill patients and their families.

Mills-Peninsula has a low vacancy rate. At the end of last year we had 10 percent turnover overall and 2.6 percent vacancy within nursing staff. The challenge is to keep abreast of what the trends are. I can never get complacent. Turnover is cyclical. We tend to lose people in the summer or at the end of the year. The greatest challenge right now is finding high-level, seasoned staff for management positions and technicians with specialized advanced training.

The Bay Area is a recruiting challenge. We take an aggressive, ongoing approach to attract the best candidates – job fairs, online recruitment, advertising and direct mail. The majority of our applications come to us online. We also have an internal “rewards” program to encourage our own employees to recruit their friends.

Mills-Peninsula continues to work hard to meet the challenges of the local market with competitive salaries and benefits. We are a great place to work, and we know we have to be creative in providing an environment that will attract the high performing people we want to join us.

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