Hiring and Retaining Talent in Industry: Perspectives and Challenges

Mevan Dissanayake shares considerations for job seekers and organizations
Industry Matters Newsletter
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Hiring, recruiting, and retaining talent is a vital process that drives the growth of a company. It plays an important role in facilitating a smooth transition of responsibilities between individuals, bridges gaps in knowledge and expertise within the organization and helps define the culture of an organization. This process is influenced by economic conditions and market forces. The ACS Division of Business Management conducted a symposium on Hiring and Retention of Talent at ACS Fall 2022 in Chicago. This article highlights learnings for both employees and employers on hiring and retaining talent in industry. 

Challenges for Job Seekers

Candidates present a myriad of factors that differentiate each other in the interview process. The number of papers, awards & benchtop skills exemplify the technical talent of the candidates. Evidence of a candidate’s ability to integrate into the team, contribute towards accomplishment of business results and use strong business communication skills are all differentiating factors. A recruited candidate is expected to lead projects independently towards business outcomes while taking risks. Therefore, leadership experience is also a differentiator of considerable strength. Recruiters look for candidates who demonstrate skills that pertain to all four parameters with high proficiency.

Challenges for Organizations

Companies use different strategies for identification of technical talent. Recruitment teams may make in-person or virtual visits to universities to build relationships with prospective candidates early on, or recruiters may choose to participate in career expositions such as an ACS Career fair. The challenge for recruiters is to tap into the diverse pool of passive candidates. Passive candidates are not active in the job market and can be reached through a recruiter’s network. Often the right candidates for interviews have been identified through the organization’s network by the time the job is advertised. 

From a company’s perspective, the success of the recruitment process depends on the company’s mission and capability needs, candidates’ potential to contribute to the position and advance within the organization, and a competitive compensation package offered by the company. However, strategizing to attract top talent should extend beyond these factors. The companies’ strategy should also include shaping their public image on social media by sharing company commitments, diversity and inclusion programs and outreach efforts.  

Successful examples of outreach include a reputed pharmaceutical company that initiated a podcast about its papers during the pandemic. In addition, several companies participated in the EPA’s green chemistry challenge awards program and the recipients received attention in the press. Scientific publications generated by the organization provide a glimpse into their cutting-edge research, promotes a sense of accomplishment among employees, and creates opportunities for external collaborations. 

Retaining Talent

Once hired, the support provided to navigate the learning curve about industrial processes, experiential learning and networking opportunities are key attributes that strengthen the integration of new recruits. The opportunity for lateral mobility within an organization maximizes the opportunity for the candidate to lead a stable career in the company for a lengthy period. 

The process doesn't stop at completion of recruitment. Tapping the full potential of the team remains equally challenging and demands continuous efforts from management. High performing teams are vital for the accomplishment of the growth desired by chemical industries.

Mevan Dissanayake
Mevan Dissanayake, Technology Development Module Engineer, Intel Corporation

Mevan Dissanayake is a Technology Development Module Engineer at Intel Corporation in Chemical Mechanical planarization area. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a PhD, where he worked with Professor Aaron Vannucci. Mevan did postdoctoral studies at the University of Rochester with Professor Ellen Matson before joining Intel. He currently serves as the Communication Chair of the ACS Division of Business Development & Management.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

Mevan Dissanayake

Mevan Dissanayake is a Technology Development Module Engineer at Intel Corporation in the Chemical Mechanical planarization area. 

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