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The Personality of a Scientist

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This ebook delivers a psychographic profiles of Scientists.

Published in: Science, Career
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The Personality of a Scientist

  1. 1. The personality of a scientist A KELLY SERVICES PSYCHOGRAPHIC PROFILE
  2. 2. /02 Well informed and prepared Focused Evaluates alternatives Takes supportable positions Sensitive to others’ positions Strives for precision Logical, orderly workflow Thinks critically Intellectually honest Avoids unwarranted closure Personal integrity Understands business Critical thinker Good listener Monitors improvement Problem solver Good judgement Adaptable and flexible Analytical Good with information Deductive reasoning THE LAB SCIENTIST THE CLINICAL SCIENTIST
  3. 3. /03 In a connected and mobile world, talent is the engine of economic growth and the drive toward a knowledge- based society. Most, if not all, organizations are increasingly aware that a knowledge- based society depends on the best talent being in place across key sectors of the economy. Countries that have established a strong, talent-based workforce – through attracting the best from overseas – have developed thriving, sustainable economies.
  4. 4. Nowhere is the rush for talent more acutely felt than in the science community. Private and public organizations want the best talent working in their labs, to drive science and technology innovation and to enhance their reputation as a preferred research destination. To attract and retain quality science talent requires an understanding of what makes scientists tick: what kind of environment do they thrive in? What opportunities do they look for? What do they want from management? The bottom line is that as competition grows and emerging markets become more attractive as research destinations, organizations need to ‘fine tune’ what they offer scientists. With this goal in mind, Kelly Services conducted extensive research using data from discussion forums and groups, industry association releases, blogs, resumés and trade press articles to paint a psychographic portrait of scientists in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In this resulting paper, we present key advice for attracting, hiring and retaining scientists to ensure you stay ahead of the game, looking in particular at what motivates candidates to succeed. We also illustrate the difference between various science professionals – their key traits – and investigate the types of workplace barriers that may deter them from taking a job at your organization. INTRODUCTION /04
  5. 5. /05 What makes scientists tick? “The prospect of discovery is what keeps us hungry.” – Professor at the Saint Petersburg State University
  6. 6. Scientists tend to have perseverance, patience, tenacity, thoroughness and a singleness of purpose that is not common in other career fields. Traditionally, they have been overachievers at school, particularly in science and math, and have worked incredibly hard to achieve their academic goals. They are typically driven by their inquisitiveness and desire for knowledge, which means they have a passion for and are motivated by their work. “I think the first and most important trait that scientists need to have, and something that I think I have observed during the course of my career, is natural curiosity,” said one expert contacted by Fuld + Company on behalf of Kelly Services.1 Productive scientists have a strong internal drive to achieve their goals and have high levels of concentration and persistence. Nothing is accepted at face value for scientists – every angle of a problem, all of the available data and interpretations of a problem will be digested before any conclusions are drawn. /06WHAT MAKES SCIENTISTS TICK? Productive scientists have a strong internal drive to achieve their goals 1 For the EMEA Psychographic Profiles subject matter experts were interviewed in April 2014 about the characteristics of science professionals. The experts were two professors – one from Saint Petersburg State University and the other from European Science Foundation – and an HR manager from the European Science Foundation.
  7. 7. /07 Lab workers vs. clinical workers “In the sciences, it is generally accepted that you need to be a specialist rather than a generalist.” - Professor at the Saint Petersburg State University
  8. 8. /08LAB WORKERS VS. CLINICAL WORKERS Lab and clinical scientists have many of the same ‘umbrella’ characteristics of all scientists, including common personality traits and career aspirations. These include being keen to work on significant global research, and having clear plans for what they want to accomplish and how they expect to accomplish it. However, there are some key functional differences to be aware of when approaching lab scientists and clinical scientists, mostly to do with their areas of specialty. Lab workers A lab scientist will set their mind to a task and see it through to completion. Focused and goal- orientated, they will not be too interested in peripheral discussion, although they will absorb all other people’s opinions – particularly those of peers – and consider alternative approaches. They are unlikely to get personal and will respect contrary views. There is care and due diligence in the work that they do; hence, it would be no surprise to learn that they will not rush into tasks, decisions or judgements. Evidence is evaluated in a systematic manner; conclusions are delayed if the necessary data and insights do not stack up. Everything is carefully measured in the lab worker’s world. A lab scientist will set their mind to a task and see it through to completion
  9. 9. LAB WORKERS VS. CLINICAL WORKERS /09 Clinical workers According to research conducted by Kelly Services, clinical scientists’ work dictates a different skillset. Clinical data managers and research associates are better skilled at understanding business processes and management principles, strategic planning, resource allocation, human-resources modeling, leadership techniques, production methods, and the coordination of people and resources. Our research found that the role of a clinical data manager has evolved according to technological advancements, with data management and accompanying ‘soft skills’ becoming more important in today’s clinical environment. As the role involves more collaboration, a clinical scientist gives colleagues their full attention and takes time to digest others’ points, while also rigorously self-assessing for areas of improvement. He or she will use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches. Clinical scientists are solutions-driven individuals who can engage comfortably with complex problems – weighing up the costs and benefits of all outcomes to choose the most appropriate course of action. The role of a clinical data manager has evolved according to technological advancements
  10. 10. /10 Deciding factors: what do science candidates value in a career? “Above all, it is about growth and development opportunities.” – Professor affiliated with the European Science Foundation
  11. 11. DECIDING FACTORS: WHAT DO SCIENCE CANDIDATES VALUE IN A CAREER? /11 What a scientist most values in his or her career probably equates to what we all look for – stability, good management and freedom to work. There are some further reasons, however, that are fairly unique to the science community. These relate to the intensive nature of their work and the commitment they have to making a difference. Fulfilling roles Fulfillment is the strongest driving force for a scientist. For example, if a person engaged in the sciences feels fulfilled and engaged by their work, then he or she will really devote his or her life’s work to specializing in his or her chosen field – some can spend entire lives focused on one area of research. Our primary research revealed this is driven by a sense that scientists feel like their work is more advocacy than profession. Some believe that their findings will help contribute to advancing their countries, which to a large degree is true of the work they do. Fulfillment is the strongest driving force for a scientist
  12. 12. The opportunity, to work on research that’s fundamentally important to society is hugely valuable to scientists /12DECIDING FACTORS: WHAT DO SCIENCE CANDIDATES VALUE IN A CAREER? A chance to innovate Scientists value opportunities and a workplace that generates them. One subject matter expert said: “If organizations – academe or companies – wish to retain talent, they just need to constantly present opportunities. Sometimes scientists are looking for growth opportunities, but most of the time they are simply looking for research and development opportunities.” Sympathetic environments Being in an environment and around people who feel and think the same way is a value many scientists cherish. They find great appeal in organizations that align with their creative thinking and empower them to do what they do best. In a field of work known for breakthroughs and discovery, it makes sense that most scientists fear living a life dedicated to science only to conclude that they made little or no significant impact on science or society. “A scientist might devote his life to just one project and still fail,” said one interviewee. The opportunity, then, to work on research that’s fundamentally important to society is hugely valuable to scientists. Another subject matter expert noted: “People are driven by the fact that they will be published or become prominent in the field because of their discoveries.”
  13. 13. /13DECIDING FACTORS: WHAT DO SCIENCE CANDIDATES VALUE IN A CAREER? Global opportunities In general, scientists benefit from an increasingly globalized and borderless science community that allows for more collaboration and travel, and greater diversity in the work they do. Opportunities abound in the private and public sector. At home and overseas, specialists can move where the financial, governmental or political climate is most appealing. Most who work in the field are acutely aware of where the opportunities lie – whether academic, government or industry – and where they can best practice their specialty according to policy settings. For example, a lab scientist will be aware that in Germany, government regulations are relatively more open to experimentation than in the US. There are a number of paths open to a scientist today – academic, industry and government sectors all offer something different. Jobs in science are also increasingly becoming ‘cross-border’, so many science candidates value the opportunity to work on important research projects with overseas partners. “Employment is no longer an issue, with the establishment of the European Union, as well as the agreement among institutions that the sciences should be a borderless and apolitical field. In a lot of ways, these changes contribute to what drives people to engage in the sciences,” observed one subject matter expert. There are a number of paths open to a scientist today – academic, industry and government sectors all offer something different
  14. 14. /14DECIDING FACTORS: WHAT DO SCIENCE CANDIDATES VALUE IN A CAREER? They added: “In the sciences, it should be recognized that young people know this is a field to which they need to devote time and resources – and given that there are a few private enterprises, the government and other research institutions are the sole providers of lucrative careers for the younger generation. In a way, the main driver is opportunity.” Sustained funding and research grants are a key pull factor for science talent. For example, China has made a priority of bringing in talent from overseas through incentives such as the ‘Thousand Talents’ program, which was set up to attract experts in science, technology, and entrepreneurship.2 As part of the program, successful candidates get a salary plus benefits, a lump sum of 1 million yuan (US$160,000), and research subsidies ranging from 3 to 5 million yuan (US$490,000 to nearly US$820,000) over a three-year period. Scientists face an obstacle course of puzzles, hurdles, roadblocks and experimental problems 2 Lenora Chu, ‘Looking to China for Scientific Careers’, Science, November 2013, sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/ previous_issues/articles/2013_11_15/science.opms.r1300139.
  15. 15. /15DECIDING FACTORS: WHAT DO SCIENCE CANDIDATES VALUE IN A CAREER? What do they dislike or avoid in professional life? In their daily jobs, scientists face an obstacle course of puzzles, hurdles, roadblocks and experimental problems; a work environment that adds to those challenges is probably not appealing. Science candidates are often aggressively unwilling to be stopped by obstacles. Our research also highlighted the need for a supportive working environment. “Scientists ought to be in the middle of a perfect condition – a combination of desire and a reinforcing environment that encourages them to pursue what they want,” said one HR manager. A workplace that is burdened by processes, bureaucracy and politics would not be appealing to scientists, who, like most of their peers, are ambitious and driven. Also note: younger candidates may be less responsive to the hierarchical corporate structures that govern most workplaces. They have more freedom today to express and share their ideas than their predecessors; they will therefore be less tolerant of encroaching management and executive bodies. Scientists like most of their peers, are ambitious and driven
  16. 16. /16 Sourcing and motivating talent “Scientists are very loyal to institutions that they feel support them and help them grow.” – Professor affiliated with the European Science Foundation
  17. 17. /17SOURCING AND MOTIVATING TALENT A scientist needs to be challenged and able to work with a certain degree of autonomy By their nature, scientists are not happy with the status quo, which means they are constantly moving forward and looking for new things to discover to stimulate scientific progress. If opportunities do not present themselves in the workplace, then logically scientists will find it hard to adjust and will look elsewhere, which is why employers need to think carefully about what motivates candidates to succeed. The need to be challenged A scientist needs to be challenged and able to work with a certain degree of autonomy. Any employer looking to engage candidates should think seriously about how to create an environment with these two things in mind. Subject matter experts interviewed for our survey agreed that an environment that favored micromanagement was not conducive to retaining science talent. “The best way to retain talent is by providing as much assistance as you possibly can to ensure that they are supported and encouraged to pursue developments in the field,” one expert observed. “Providing assistance in terms of funding, research opportunities and publishing, among other things, would allow science candidates to maximize their potential and contribute greatly to the institution and society.”
  18. 18. Although scientists do collaborate on research projects, subject matter experts also observed the benefits of offering flexibility, variety and choice in the way scientists work. “Working on your own is the most preferable set-up, but most of the work is often collaborative – sometimes with groups of three and as large as a group of one hundred people collaborating from multiple areas,” one expert said. “Many scientists are not people-persons. They often work on their own and they prefer it that way.” Rise of the social scientists Popular culture has always painted scientists as introverted ‘geeks’ – socially awkward, unable to form functioning relationships and happy engrossing themselves in their research as an alternative to real engagement. But that stereotype is being quietly eroded by the influence of technology. In particular, the rise of social media as a tool of mass communication has allowed scientists to communicate their ideas with a much bigger audience. Science blogs have even become a major social media phenomenon: the I F***ing Love Science Facebook page now boasts more than 17 million followers. /18SOURCING AND MOTIVATING TALENT Scientists like most of their peers, are ambitious and driven
  19. 19. Without doubt, social media has given science – in particular a younger generation of scientists – a platform to develop and hone a profile. Business Insider, an online business publication, recently posted a list of the top 40 scientists using social media; among them were astronauts, physicists and molecular biologists.3 That is something to consider in recruiting from a talent pool reared on these technologies – they are not necessarily going to fit into a box labeled with old stereotypes. /19SOURCING AND MOTIVATING TALENT The rise of social media has allowed scientists to communicate their ideas with a much bigger audience 3 Melissa Stanger, ‘These 40 Science Experts Will Completely Revamp Your Social Media Feed’, Business Insider, March 2014, www.businessinsider.sg/scientists-to-follow-on-social-media-2014-1/?op=1#.U9mwJsrGvSg.
  20. 20. /20 Five key tips for attracting and retaining science talent REVISE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURES ASSIGN MENTORS NURTURE INNOVATION OFFER FURTHER OPPORTUNITIES INVEST IN TRAINING
  21. 21. Not all organizations are going to be able to meet the demands or satisfy the desires of all scientists. For example, not all companies and organizations operate at the cutting edge of science, focusing on hugely significant discoveries or the solutions to life’s problems. However, science candidates will appreciate the ability to learn from those who have experience: mentorship programs are a good way to entice talent into an organization – offering them an opportunity to work with an established expert, in order to learn and grow. /21FIVE KEY TIPS FOR ATTRACTING AND RETAINING SCIENCE TALENT Science candidates will appreciate the ability to learn from those who have experience
  22. 22. The following are five key steps organizations can take to better meet the needs of today’s science candidates: 1. Revise management structures – create management hierarchies that minimize administration for science workers. 2. Assign mentors – consider a mentorship program to allow young recruits regular exposure to experienced specialists and practitioners. 3. Invest in training – offer additional training to help develop ‘soft skills’ not picked up in tertiary education, such as management and presentation skills. 4. Nurture innovation – consider using new technologies to encourage more online collaboration between scientists. 5. Offer further opportunities – Look at additional learning opportunities, such as conferences, to encourage networking and personal development. /22FIVE KEY TIPS FOR ATTRACTING AND RETAINING SCIENCE TALENT
  23. 23. EXIT This information may not be published, broadcast, sold or otherwise distributed without prior written permission from the authorized party. All trademarks are property of their respective owners. An Equal Opportunity Employer. © 2014 Kelly Services, Inc. ABOUT KELLY SERVICES® Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a global leader in providing workforce solutions. Kelly® offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire and direct-hire basis. Serving clients around the world, Kelly provided employment to approximately 555,000 employees in 2014. Revenue in 2014 was $5.6 billion. Visit kellyservices.com and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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