With rising demand for new drugs and an increasing focus on innovation to cure rare diseases — not to mention a rapidly aging population — companies across the life sciences industry are growing rapidly to address today's most pressing health issues. After all, global healthcare spending is expected to surpass $10 trillion (yes, trillion) by 2022.
And while all of that growth and innovation means great things for the health and wellness of people around the world, it leaves many employers in the life sciences sector in a bind. All across the sector, companies are having to expand their operations, and competition for the top talent needed to fill those roles is only getting fiercer. In fact, in a recent Randstad survey, life sciences customers cited "competitive pressure" as the number-one external obstacle to growth for their companies in the year ahead.
So what can your organization do to attract — and retain — top life sciences talent? Read on for steps you can take to mitigate the three biggest recruitment pain points hiring managers are encountering in the life sciences industry today.
expand your talent pipeline with passive candidates
In today's competitive marketplace, where top life sciences pros are frequently on the job market for as few as 10 days, it's not enough to post your open positions on a job board and expect a flood of resumes. With more open jobs than there are people to fill them, it's vital that employers continuously develop relationships with passive candidates — the top producers in the life sciences arena who are too busy contributing expertise and value in their current role to actively seek out new opportunities. Here are some steps you can do to expand your talent pipeline:
1. build partnerships with academic institutions
To close today's critical skills gap and ensure a robust talent pool over the long term, build a partnership with a university or college. These institutions can groom students to step right into your in-demand roles, as well as provide educational programs for current employees. Through internships, workshops and other on-site training, future candidates will gain insight into your operations and culture well before their first day as full-time employee.
2. train and upskill your current workforce
Sometimes you can get so focused on external talent that you overlook superstars in your current workforce ready for new challenges. Formalizing an internal program for upskilling and advancement will create a talent pipeline that already knows your company's vision, and the chance to expand their skill sets and tackle new opportunities will result in happier, more engaged employees. When workers know there's a path forward for them — say, a lab assistant advancing to a quality assurance manager — employee retention rates increase, which means less hiring down the road.
3. work with a professional staffing firm
Quality and speed are vital to bringing a new drug to market, so making the wrong hire can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. To gain access to the best life sciences talent out there who aren't actively looking for a new role, working with a staffing partner is one of the best choices you can make. Not only will you benefit from their pool of high-quality candidates (building these types of relationships is their passion) to fill your current needs, their deep expertise in the life sciences industry will also add value to your overall hiring game.
strengthen — and market — your employer brand
Today's workforce wants to find meaning and value in their work that goes beyond salary and status, so to attract (and then retain) top talent, you'll need to prioritize cultivating a strong employer brand. Just as any solid marketing plan for a product needs a strong value proposition, the same goes for your how you market your company as the place to work. Here are some steps you can do to strengthen your employer brand:
Not only do 72 percent of HR leaders believe employer branding has had a significant impact on their ability to hire the best candidates out there, but a strong employer brand can also result in a 50 percent jump in the number of qualified applicants and a 28 percent reduction in employee turnover. So really a strong brand does double duty: It eases your hiring burden through increased retention, and it reduces the time it takes to hire when you do. (How much of a reduction? About 200 percent.)
1. use job descriptions as part of your employer brand
If you're using your job descriptions to communicate a long list of duties and requirements, you're missing out on the chance to market your employer value prop. To catch the reader's eye, write the posting in a way that excites them to be a part of your company's mission. Especially in the life sciences industry, focus on the human aspects of the job — how the work they'll do will help transform people's health across the globe and contribute to a greater good.
2. spotlight your company's culture
Sure, a competitive salary and some stellar benefits will grab a candidate's attention, but a positive company culture is what seals the deal. With millennials — and soon, Gen Zers — making up the lion's share of the workforce, your brand needs to speak to what these pros want to see in an employer: incredible health and wellness perks, continuous learning and open, honest collaboration. This is especially important now that life sciences companies need to do more hiring outside of the scientific arena yo acquire the tech talent they need to take on critical roles in IT, cybersecurity, automation and robotics engineering.
3. share your success stories
Content is truly king — and it's not abdicating the throne any time soon — so you'll need to tap into some key storytelling strategies to engage leading candidates. To cover the most ground, strategize blog posts, social campaigns and video content to pull back the curtain on what makes your company special. Make it easy for job seekers to envision themselves in your open roles by speaking to your employees' successes and your company's points of pride, like work/life balance, professional development opportunities and other benefits.
make sure your compensation and benefits are competitive
A competitive compensation and benefits package isn't just a critical lever to pull when getting candidates to accept your job offer, it's vital to driving employee retention, too. And while 26 percent of life sciences companies acknowledge that competitive salaries are important to employee retention, only nine percent cite comp and benefits as something that differentiates them from their competition. So how can you ensure your compensation program is competitive enough to get new talent on board and keep your current workforce around longer? Here are some steps you can do to make your salary and benefits competitive:
1. audit your compensation program
Thanks to salary calculators and other digital tools that make comp data transparent, life sciences pros know their value — and you should know what salary aligns with that value. Audit your compensation program to make sure you're as competitive as can be, which will lessen the chance of losing a top candidate because a competitor knew what to bring to the table. Begin by asking questions like:
Are the salaries across our organization commensurate with each employee's workload and tenure, or are senior medical writers who've been with us for 10 years only making slightly more than new writers?
Do our compensation levels match those of other life sciences companies in our specific market? And what can we do to get further ahead of the pack?
2. make sure your benefits are best in class, too
Perks and benefits are often deciding factors for job seekers choosing a new employer, so you'll have to go beyond salary and make sure your benefits package matches today's demands. Think of what you can offer in the health and wellness space and how you can help your employees maintain a better work/life balance. For example, do you have options for remote work and telecommuting, so that a molecular biologist or medical writer can draft their findings and compile their research in a quiet environment after a clinical trial ends?
3. help employees with educational costs
The volume of education and specialized knowledge that life sciences professionals possess comes with a hefty price tag. So with student debt relief top of mind for many in the sector, offering tuition reimbursement or other educational contributions will certainly set your organization apart and attract top candidates. This also holds true for any additional training or educational initiatives they'll tackle once they're on the job — cover those costs and show your investment in their growth.
the top 5 roles in life sciences
Now that we've walked you through these steps to buck the hiring trends and land the best life sciences employees out there today, let's take a look at how to hire for these in-demand positions in the industry:clinical research associate drug safety specialist medical writer molecular/cell biologist quality assurance specialist
And remember — if you're still feeling overwhelmed by your hiring needs and traditional recruitment channels aren't engaging the talent you need, a staffing partner can help. Start a conversation with one of Randstad's life sciences experts to see what they can do to strengthen your hiring game and match you with your next great employees. Or, head over to our Find Employees portal to browse our nationwide network of vetted life sciences professionals right now.