How I Got Here: Paul Streng, Senior Life Science Talent Consultant at Workforce Genetics

Former scientist and veteran life sciences recruiter Paul Streng recently joined Workforce Genetics (WFGX) as a Senior Life Science Talent Consultant. Paul brings a wealth of diverse experience to his new role, including a successful executive recruiting track record coupled with deep experience as a lab supervisor, a field application scientist and a life science product manager and marketer.

The WFGX content team recently sat down with Paul to discuss his background and his journey to becoming the newest member of a growing WFGX recruiting team.

What was your journey like from the lab to becoming a successful recruiter?

When I was looking for a new marketing role I found a position posted by a recruiting agency that I had worked with previously. When I connected with the owner about the marketing job he switched the conversation over to a recruiting opportunity and how I could use my skills in marketing, sales and my 15 years of science and technical experience to good use in recruiting.

Those are my passions and I love to solve people’s problems and recruiting was a great way to tie all these skills together.  

Why are you passionate about life sciences recruiting?

When I first started out, I was a field application scientist. In that role you do a lot of trouble shooting; you get to go in and solve problems that might arise. I enjoyed the gratification of solving a problem for a client and helping a team secure a grant or get a publication out. I could help these scientists early in their process to overcome hurdles, and if they’re research progressed this could trickle up to helping humankind.

To me, recruiting is not about filling a seat for an employer or getting a candidate a job.

The employer has a mission–which is to help patients and improve lives. To do this they need talent. The beauty of recruiting is that you’re bringing these two together, the talent and an organization, to achieve a mission. I’m bringing the right person to the right job, basically, and this is something I really enjoy. 

How did you connect with WorkForce Genetics and why did you choose to join the team?

When I started looking for a life sciences recruiting role, I went to LinkedIn like most people do and connected with Chris. What attracted me was that Workforce Genetics stood out from other talent agencies out there. Most of these agencies are cut from the same cloth.

The difference here is the business model. Workforce Genetics is about building a talent community and is focused on relationships. And with the BioBuzz media platform, that’s another advantage over standard agencies.

A lot of talent agencies are purely transactional. They want to fill as many seats as possible, get paid and move on. It’s a quantity over quality game. They’re not as passionate about the candidate experience and finding the right fit between job seeker and a company.

Workforce Genetics is the opposite. The whole team at Workforce Genetics is focused on connecting people and community. Workforce Genetics and BioBuzz are focused on bringing everyone together to build a solid workforce to grow the life sciences community as a whole.

This is really unique in the talent industry and our team operates with this mission top of mind. The community mindset here is about doing more than filling one open seat, it’s about the long term view. Having the tools that Chris has put in place and a team that works together and shares information and opportunities creates an environment for success.

How is your science background an asset when it comes to life sciences recruiting?

It’s important to be able to ‘talk the talk’ with life sciences employers and the scientists they’re trying to hire. My background in the lab and as a scientist really helps me communicate with both sides. My science background gives me some instant credibility with candidates and companies.

For a candidate, I can better understand what they’re saying and if they’re legit; I also know the right questions to ask to dig deeper to understand if they’re the right fit. I can better position a candidate with strong data points because I can get deeper and speak to a bunch of different roles.

For a hiring manager sometimes figuring out what the right candidate needs to look like is a challenge. I can help them create that candidate profile, identify what the real need is and engage them in a way that we seek out and hire the right people together.

Because Workforce Genetics takes a community-focused, people-oriented approach, our team is really invested in learning and getting to know our candidates and clients. We can’t be experts in everything but we’re always prepared and invested in a deeper understanding of the people behind the LinkedIn profile and a hiring campaign.

What are a few key components to building strong client relationships and how do you keep these partnerships strong over time?

The way I envision a client relationship is that we are an extension of their organization and a long term collaborator. We strive to become an extension to their talent team and strategy.

Some companies are still trying to figure things out and we’re in a unique position—having worked with a lot of life sciences companies—to help them shape their approach. As you keep filling roles you gain a greater understanding of a client’s inner workings and you start to become part of the team.

For example, the relationship shouldn’t end when you place a candidate.  Transactional companies lose out in this regard because they hire and just move on in many cases. You need to follow up and check in to see how everything is going three months, six months in. This gives us great feedback and keeps that relationship strong with the employer and the hire.

What does delivering a great candidate experience look like in a highly competitive talent market shaped by the pandemic?

A great candidate experience includes proactive communication. Transactional agencies don’t follow up; they focus on filling the seat and only communicating with active candidates.

I strive to follow up with all our candidates. I am their recruiter and I’m trying to help them through this journey. If you don’t keep communicating you’ll miss opportunities and pathways to improve the experience. I want to remain connected throughout the whole process all the way through negotiation and up to their start date and even beyond. This kind of approach builds a real connection with candidates and ultimately helps us better match job seekers with the right positions and companies. If we do this right, the person we hired as an individual contributor will circle back to us in a few years when they’ve been successful and are ready to hire their own team. That’s what it’s all about.

What are some hobbies you enjoy/what do you do in your free time?

I enjoy running but since I’m out in Las Vegas I have to get up earlier and earlier to avoid the heat. By summer time I have to be out by 5 am to beat the heat. I’m also a big foodie and have a bad sweet tooth, so running helps me keep things in check.

My wife and I also like to explore some of the older, divey casinos where the locals go. The strip is the strip so we try to get off the beaten path for the people-watching.

Before Covid, I loved to travel internationally and took some great trips to Thailand, Poland and Russia, which were great. When I traveled I always avoided the tourist places and tried to connect with the locals; that’s how you really learn about the people and the culture. Now I’m more of an armchair traveler, getting that fix via reading.