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Recruiting in life sciences in 2023


It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, in the event you’re a expertise acquisition (TA) skilled, you’ve skilled large modifications and disruption over the previous few years. This can be a given. However we wished to do a deeper dive to get a greater sense of the precise challenges and alternatives TA professionals in several industries—monetary providers, manufacturing, and now life sciences— are dealing with. What are their prime issues and priorities? How are they turning to know-how to achieve their targets? 

For this put up on life sciences, we spoke with a number of TA execs to establish the highest traits and themes on this business. An enormous thanks to everybody who participated and shared their experience, together with the Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm and the VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm.

Let’s take a high-level have a look at the traits which are defining recruiting in life sciences:

  • There are extra professionals working in life sciences analysis in america than ever. In actual fact, the variety of researchers working in life sciences grew by a startling 79% from 2001 to 2021.

  • There are additionally a file variety of folks graduating with life sciences experience—organic and biomedical sciences levels and certificates have elevated 103% over the previous 15 years. 

  • The life sciences business employs a increased share of expert staff than different industries, heightening the competitors for expertise.

  • Turnover has the potential to be extremely disruptive—81% of business professionals say they’re able to make a transfer. 

  • Whereas not distinctive to life sciences employers, there’s a rising urgency to prioritize range, fairness, and inclusion (DE&I). In a latest survey, 73% of life sciences professionals felt that racial minorities have been underrepresented on the most senior ranges, whereas 63% mentioned they felt girls have been underrepresented on the prime. 

Able to dive into our findings and listen to what the TA professionals needed to say? You’ll discover detailed descriptions of their prime challenges, alternatives, and software program necessities beneath.

What is exclusive about recruiting in life sciences?

To place it merely: Hiring for all times sciences is hard! Life sciences employers have a broad vary of wants on the subject of expertise. They require highly-specialized expertise with graduate levels but additionally want retail and plant staff who can work out of particular places. Whereas the expertise pipeline seems to be strong, the competitors for expertise is excessive and turnover is a serious concern. 

In comparison with different industries, life sciences employs a larger share of high-skilled staff. In 2020, practically half (47%) of life science business jobs have been thought-about high-skilled occupations—considerably greater than the 27% common throughout all different industries. 

The vary of abilities and experience wanted inside life sciences is noteworthy: from highly-trained scientists doing analysis and growth, to regulatory affairs consultants, to producers in crops making medical gadgets, to administrative roles like HR and finance within the head workplace. Some corporations even have a retail arm, which entails high-volume, seasonal hiring and competing in opposition to different retail employers. 

“For me, the R&D aspect is fascinating as a result of we’re searching for such a selected sort of expertise— typically there are just one or two folks available in the market. It operates extra as government search than as high-volume recruiting.”  

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

The number of roles at life sciences corporations means the method to recruiting can by no means be one-size-fits-all. College recruiting, for instance, can look very completely different relying on the kind of position. When employers are searching for MDs, they have a tendency to construct relationships with Ivy League medical faculties and their alumni networks. However for sourcing shift staff at crops, holding occasions at small-town technical faculties is more likely to be rather more efficient.  

“For extra area of interest recruitment like MDs, we actually tapped into alumni networks, college networks. We tended to go to big-name faculties like Columbia and Harvard to get the phrase out. It wasn’t precisely on-campus recruitment; it was extra by way of their alumni networks, by way of referrals. We put an enormous push on referral campaigns. And since we had sensible alumni from prime faculties, there tended to be quite a lot of visitors coming that manner.” 

Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

At first look, the life sciences expertise pipeline seems to be promising, with a file variety of folks graduating faculty with life sciences experience. Within the US, for instance, graduates in organic and biomedical sciences totaled greater than 163,000 in 2020—a file quantity, and double the quantity from simply 15 years in the past.

Equally, biopharma and life science employers have been rising headcount over the previous few years. A survey of business employers carried out by BioSpace discovered that 78% of biopharma employers anticipated their variety of open roles to extend in 2022. This was a bounce from 68% in 2020 and 65% in 2021.

But these constructive traits don’t inform the entire story—turnover is excessive and discovering expertise continues to be a big problem for employers. An awesome majority of the biopharma and life sciences workforce is trying to make a transfer—a whopping 81% of business professionals are looking for a brand new place

And life, bodily, and social sciences had a 0.6% unemployment fee in 2022—the second-lowest unemployment fee of all US occupations—signaling the dearth of available expertise and the issue of filling open roles.

Challenges of recruiting within the life sciences business

The challenges of recruiting in life sciences embody competitors for highly-skilled expertise, location-based recruiting in a world that wishes distant work, non-integrated tech stacks, lack of entry to knowledge, and rising issues over range, fairness, and inclusion (DE&I). 

Competitors for highly-skilled expertise in a small pond

With the highly-specialized nature of life sciences roles, TA professionals have a restricted pool of expertise out there. Staying aggressive means creating highly-detailed market intelligence about who’s main completely different areas in every firm, in addition to up-and-coming leaders who would possibly find a way (and prepared) to maneuver right into a management place at one other firm. 

“It is a small world, particularly in biotech and biopharma. You recognize the gamers you wish to go after and the gamers you do not wish to go after. If we’re a selected therapeutic space, who’re the famend business leaders? Who’re the highest leaders in that house from an organization standpoint? After which who’s main these features?” 

– Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

Location-based recruiting in a world of expertise that wishes distant work

Location is a serious sticking level in life sciences, with staff wanting or anticipating flexibility however employers not all the time prepared to supply it. Some roles—like manufacturing and retail—merely don’t have distant work choices. However there’s extra potential for flexibility with different life sciences roles, like these in analysis or head workplace features. In response, some life sciences employers have tried to stroll the road, permitting some distant work however requiring staff onsite for a set variety of days every week. The shortage of readability could be off-putting to staff who don’t wish to settle for a suggestion with sure expectations and discover that their working situations dramatically change in six months.

“The problem now could be distant vs. non-remote. The largest motive folks turned down presents was location; no one wished to maneuver to the place we had places of work or crops.”

– Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

Non-integrated tech stacks results in an absence of entry to knowledge

In an business like life sciences the place turnover is excessive, it’s necessary to have clear knowledge in your HRIS so you possibly can perceive what’s occurring along with your expertise—each earlier than and after they be part of your organization. However many life sciences employers have disparate tech stacks that don’t speak to one another, which implies it’s onerous to get a transparent image of the place and why they’re dropping expertise—and the best way to treatment the state of affairs. 

“After we have been going by way of techniques integration, half the time the techniques would not speak to one another, so that you could not join the dots. You could not inform a narrative of what was driving turnover. As soon as we obtained an built-in HRIS system, a few of these insights began to change into extra clear.” 

Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

“Value per rent could be very handbook proper now and really tough to get to. I want there was a extra automated manner of monitoring it as a substitute of our procurement workforce and HR workforce attempting to compile a dashboard for me.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Stress to prioritize DE&I

DE&I is a priority for each life sciences staff and employers. In a 2021 survey of life sciences professionals, 63% of respondents mentioned they assume girls are underrepresented and 73% assume cultural or ethnic teams are underrepresented on the most senior ranges of their organizations. Just below a 3rd of respondents mentioned that their organizations have particular packages in place to encourage a extra culturally/ethnically various workforce. As a rising variety of candidates want to be part of organizations that prioritize DE&I, employers will really feel rising stress to make progress on their DE&I targets. 

Alternatives in recruiting for all times sciences organizations

Lots of the challenges we explored within the earlier part—the restricted expertise pool, lack of entry to knowledge, and elevated curiosity in DE&I—may also be thought-about areas of alternative. Life sciences TA professionals are taking inspiration from different sources, like hiring maturity fashions and market analysis, to higher perceive their employer model. 

Information-driven recruiting… and turning knowledge into insights

Life sciences TA groups acknowledge the facility of utilizing knowledge to tell their recruiting choices and actions. A few of their prime issues embody with the ability to measure value per rent, time to fill, company spend, and inside mobility. Information that gives a greater sense of the present market and will help TA professionals make predictions can also be excessive on their wishlist. 

“Information I’d wish to see is traits within the market—issues that is likely to be a bit extra predictive of the place the expertise market goes. For those who’re searching for knowledge scientists or entrepreneurs, what does that market appear like proper now? How does it inform a narrative relative to the place you have been a 12 months in the past or the place you assume you are going?”  

– Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

However not all groups are defining metrics in the identical manner or are in a position to entry the identical dashboards, so there’s a possibility to get everybody on the identical web page on the subject of knowledge. That is particularly necessary for getting a holistic image of what’s occurring with expertise inside a company—recruiting is one piece of a a lot bigger puzzle.

“We’re shifting in direction of extra of a data-driven tradition. We wish to make it possible for the whole lot we do depends extra on data-led decision-making than on intestine really feel. There’s some resistance, however we’re getting there. And recruiting knowledge can’t stand alone; it must be tied to human capital administration knowledge. Recruiting must be based mostly on workforce planning. It must be a holistic story versus simply the recruiting piece.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Defining—and making progress on—DE&I targets

It’s not simply candidates who care about DE&I. TA professionals are additionally conscious of the significance of making a extra equitable expertise, particularly on the subject of their expertise pipelines and interviews. 

“We’re attempting to know how individuals are shifting by way of the funnel and if now we have illustration inside our recruiting funnel. We additionally wish to have a various interview panel, so when candidates are available for interviews, we’re absolutely representing the corporate.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

On the subject of recruiting various expertise, life sciences employers are trying throughout a number of points of identification, together with race/ethnicity, veteran standing, and disabilities. 

“We might have a give attention to range recruitment for veterans or disabled candidates in addition to an enormous give attention to traditionally Black faculties and universities, so there can be particular occasions happening all year long.” 

– Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

Nevertheless, one problem multinational employers face is aligning on a constant definition of DE&I since it might range considerably by nation. 

“We’re doing quite a lot of work on streamlining our definition of DE&I, as a result of if you go exterior of the US, DE&I means various things to completely different folks. As an alternative of attempting to recreate it internally, we’re looking for out externally how folks outline it in each nation.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Availability of technical (and different) expertise in the marketplace

Whereas tech corporations have been experiencing layoffs and hiring freezes, life sciences has continued to rent at a gentle tempo. Expertise acquisition professionals inside life sciences are starting to see there’s a possibility to rent candidates—particularly these with technical abilities—from these swimming pools. 

“From a strategic funding standpoint, the pharmaceutical business is seeing quite a lot of corporations beginning to rent tech expertise. Due to what is going on on in excessive tech, there’s curiosity now in tapping into different corporations which have seen layoffs.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Taking inspiration from hiring maturity fashions 

Business analyst Josh Bersin created a hiring maturity mannequin, which reveals how corporations transfer from reactive and fragmented to standardized and structured and finally proactive and customized. This mannequin is inspiring life sciences employers to rethink the standard reactive method to recruiting. As an alternative of beginning a search in response to requests from hiring managers, they’re trying into extra strategic actions like proactive sourcing and succession planning. 

“There’s additionally an enormous give attention to shifting away from reactive search. Pipeline is changing into an enormous factor as a result of most corporations try to maneuver up the maturity curve. To get there, we have to give attention to extra proactive sourcing that is truly tied to succession planning, quite than blindly supporting the speedy want. That is the evolution happening proper now.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Employer branding

Employer branding is probably the very best instance of each a problem and a possibility for all times sciences recruiting. Employers have their work reduce out for them when it comes to defining their worker worth proposition and standing out in a crowded market. There’s additionally some stress round competing with tech employers, and whether or not this could influence employer branding efforts.

“At one level, folks tended to take a look at what Google was doing, what Meta was doing. But when we have a look at our recruitment effort, we haven’t recruited anybody from Meta or from Google. We shouldn’t attempt to replicate what they’re doing. We’re truly doing higher than they’re; we’re offering extra worth than they’ll present.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Life sciences employers are rising to the problem by investing in analysis and digging into knowledge to know why their present staff have chosen them. 

“We’re doing extra with knowledge. We’re doing an inside survey that is going to 10,000 inside staff to know why they joined our firm, what’s making them keep—and in the event that they go away, what are the explanations that they are leaving. Additionally, we’re doing exterior notion, surveying roughly 20 international locations proper now to know exterior candidate sentiment.”

 – VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Recruiting software program necessities for all times sciences expertise acquisition groups

Given the complexity of the challenges life sciences TA professionals are dealing with, they’re trying to recruiting software program to assist. A few of their prime priorities embody integrations of their tech stacks, candidate CRMs that permit them to construct relationships over time, and instruments that can permit them to construct their employer model.  

Recruiting tech stacks that help integrations

Life sciences TA groups typically use a group of instruments for human capital administration (HCM), together with an applicant monitoring system (ATS), candidate relationship administration (CRM), and extra instruments for sourcing and expertise intelligence. Whereas many TA professionals will not be enthusiastic in regards to the particular instruments of their tech stack (to place it mildly!), they select to optimize for integration capabilities quite than the power of every particular person instrument. 

“For those who ask recruiters, all of them hate the commonest HCM instruments. However there is a tradeoff between best-of-breed and a totally built-in utility. I feel most corporations select to spend money on one thing that is absolutely built-in.” 

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Candidate relationship administration (CRM)

As TA groups transfer up the hiring maturity curve, they start to take a much less transactional method to recruiting and see the worth in constructing relationships with candidates over time. Whereas it may be precious to nurture any potential expertise and interact them first at any time when a brand new position opens, it turns into notably necessary for high-priority or extra specialised roles which are usually tougher to fill. In all these circumstances, life sciences TA professionals hunt down a CRM instrument that can assist them maintain expertise heat and expedite hiring. 

“Potential expertise have come to your web site; they’ve requested for info; they’ve utilized to sure issues. They won’t be the proper match for a job, however you wish to maintain them engaged. How do you construct a expertise group the place you are frequently participating expertise so that you’ve got a pipeline? As soon as alternatives emerge, you do not have to return out and do one other huge carry. 

A CRM could be helpful for all roles, however for higher-priority roles—MDs, explicit therapeutic areas, advertising and marketing, knowledge science—these are the areas for which you wish to have a very good CRM platform.” 

Chief Expertise Officer @ a number one biotechnology firm

“I feel folks battle with pipelining as a result of they observe extra conventional fashions. Plenty of corporations nonetheless simply depend on folks making use of. However the business is shifting past that now. So the problem is: How do you place the pipelining construction in place? Not simply sourcing, however aggressive intelligence, so you possibly can truly perceive the standard of the expertise market.” 

VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Workforce planning / capability planning

For TA professionals in all fields, together with life sciences, capability planning is essential to being seen as a strategic associate by enterprise leaders. As an alternative of merely taking orders when stakeholders wish to make hires, capability planning permits recruiting groups to foretell how lengthy hires will take and mannequin out completely different situations based mostly on the make-up of the TA workforce.

“In my earlier firm I owned workforce planning; we have been in a position to successfully forecast month-to-month what we have been hiring for. That’s one in all our 2023 strategic priorities.”  

– VP, Head of International Expertise Acquisition @ a multinational pharmaceutical firm

Capability planning is an occasion the place a instrument like Gem can come in useful: Gem tracks passthrough charges and forecasts what number of hires you may make given historic throughput—knowledge you possibly can slice by the whole lot from hiring supervisor, to recruiter, to division, to position. This fashion you all the time know when you have sufficient recruiting sources to deal with the reqs coming down the pipeline. 

For those who’re recruiting within the life sciences business and wish to dig deeper, we surveyed practically 100 seasoned expertise acquisition professionals in life sciences for extra insights into 2023 recruiting traits. And in the event you’re curious to listen to what different industries are dealing with on the subject of TA in 2023, discover our guides to recruiting in monetary providers in 2023 right here and recruiting in manufacturing in 2023 right here

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