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Updated: October 18, 2021 Focus on Midcoast & Downeast

The Jackson Laboratory ramps up recruiting for research jobs

Courtesy / The Jackson Laboratory In Bar Harbor, the Jackson Laboratory employs 450 animal-care technicians, like this one.

When it comes to recruiting researchers in today’s challenging hiring environment, the Jackson Laboratory is the mouse that roars.

Photo / Courtesy of Jackson Laboratory
Chad Cotter, talent acquisition director for Jackson Laboratory

Increasingly during the pandemic, the Bar Harbor-based nonprofit research institute finds scientific talent by selling job candidates on its mission of empowering the global biomedical community in the quest to improve human health.

The Jackson Lab does that via the production of 12,000 strains of genetically specialized mice used in research worldwide.

“Our job candidates have always been attracted by our mission, though it is remarkable to see the amount of people who work in very different organizations and industries who are now motivated, perhaps due to a reset in life and career goals [in the wake of the pandemic], to look at JAX and who are so motivated by our recruitment efforts,” says Chad Cotter, who joined the lab as talent acquisition director earlier this year.

Hiring is a priority at the organization, whose 2,400-strong workforce includes 1,400 in Bar Harbor, more than 100 in Ellsworth and Augusta, 400 in Farmington, Conn., and 400 in Sacramento, Calif., as well as employees in China and Japan.

Out of more than 130 current job openings, Cotter says the hardest to fill are front-line research positions.

“There’s a particular and acute challenge to hiring front-line staff that so many employers have experienced in the past 12 months, and we have felt as well,” he says. “At the same time, specialized roles in research, especially those in genomics and bioinformatics, are in very short supply in the labor market at the moment, and we are facing these challenges with novel sourcing and recruiting methods.”

To a greater degree today, those methods include tapping into employees’ contacts to find potential applicants, and involving recent hires in the networking process.

“We are finding that the networks of our employees and the members of the community are deeper than we imagined,” Cotter says, adding that social media and in-person outreach to individuals and organizations are equally important. “These connections are beacons of our relationships as we hopefully approach the latter days of the pandemic.”

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