How scientific recruiters can benefit by using patent-based recruitment databases

Access a wider basket of talent of candidates with validated skills

March 14, 2024
Editorial Team

In 2018, the HardSkills founders, in a project funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, interviewed over 1,000 R&D-intensive companies in the country about what was holding back their future growth and innovation rate. The results were surprising.

The majority of respondents indicated that their inability to effectively find candidates with the right skills for both new and replacement recruitment was hurting both growth and innovation. It was difficult to find candidates globally and even when they found candidates who seemed suitable, the lack of technology expertise among executive search firms meant there was widespread and costly mis-hiring.

But why would this be? 

Recruitment in the science and R&D space has always been challenging because of the niche expertise recruiters are required to find and hire. And although several specialist executive search firms exist for this exact purpose, as good as they are, they have their limitations. For instance, while these specialist search firms have experts on board who are very knowledgeable about certain technical and scientific subject areas, with more than 60,000 technical fields in the world, it is impossible for one person or one agency to be an expert in all.

This is where patent-based recruiting such as HardSkills come in. Patent-based recruiting is a tool that helps turn all recruiters into technology experts, regardless of their previous experience.

In this article we will discuss how patent-based recruitment can help recruiters, companies and institutions to make successful hires in the science and R&D space.

The challenges of scientific and technical recruitment

Across the world, recruiters face similar broad challenges. The two primary challenges are:

1. How do you find candidates with the required skills?

2. How do you validate a candidate’s skills once you find them?

These two challenges are magnified in science and R&D recruitment because of the niche skills being sought.

Patent-based recruitment helps science and R&D recruiters address both these challenges by:

1. Offering recruiters a much bigger basket of talent to choose from.

2. Automatic skills validation.

Let’s elaborate on these two points below.

A wider talent basket

For every person promoting themselves on LinkedIn every day, there are possibly 10 others working quietly in the background who don’t have the time or the inclination to get onto social and professional networks to tell everyone how good they are at their jobs. Similarly, for every person actively looking for a job, there are likely 10 other passive candidates who are content for the moment but might just bite if someone reached out to them with an offer that was interesting enough.

Things get even more difficult when it is a super niche job in the first place. This is when patent-based recruitment helps.

Patent-based recruitment helps recruiters especially find passive candidates – people who are not active, and sometimes not even present, on any other social or professional platform so Google or LinkedIn algorithms cannot find them.  They are often at the forefront of invention and innovation but are not great at self-promotion. 

Passive candidates make up the majority of the world's R&D experts. This is important from a recruiting perspective because 70% of researchers are open to new research opportunities, even if they are not actively searching for a new job according to ResearchGate.

So, when recruiters use a patent-based recruitment tool during the search process, they unlock access to a wider variety of candidates from anywhere in the world. The HardSkills database, for instance, has more than 28 million patent holders!

Skills validation

All recruiters must determine whether a candidate has a specific set of skills that will help them be successful in the position they are hiring for. Experienced recruiters usually have a process to validate skills. It could be a combination of looking at the candidate’s educational and technical qualifications along with online skills assessments. Often they use third parties such as LinkedIn or sub-consultants for such validation. But while LinkedIn may be a good guide to validate skills, patents are a more reliable method of proving that a candidate has the skills they claim to have on their personal and professional online profiles.

This is because candidates found on patent databases have a proven track record. A patent, after all, is evidence that a person has worked with a process or a niche subject for a long time and therefore has the knowledge and skills associated with working in that discipline.

Additionally, the patent application and evaluation process is long and rigorous. As part of the process, patent examiners – skilled engineers and scientists – review the information provided in the patent to determine whether a patent can be granted. The entire process, in a way, validates the skills of the patent applicant.