hiring trends in the life sciences industry.

life sciences Button

Life sciences companies are working at the front lines of innovation every day to improve the health and well-being of people around the world. And with rising demand for new drugs and a rapidly aging population driving growth across the sector, life sciences organizations are facing the challenge of how to expand their operations to meet today's market needs and drive success.

That success, however, hinges on finding top talent. So if you're looking to hire in the life sciences sector, you have to be aware of the latest hiring trends impacting the space so as not to be left behind the competition. Here's what you need to know today.

the numbers don't lie

The growing pains life sciences companies have been feeling aren't about to subside any time soon. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that occupations across life, physical and social sciences will grow seven percent by 2028 — faster than the average for all other occupations. That means about 97,400 new jobs within the next decade. For those keeping an eye on growth across the industry, this isn't at all surprising, given that global healthcare spending is expected to surpass $10 trillion by 2022.

But with that growth comes increased talent shortages across nearly every occupation within the industry. With more open jobs than there are people to fill them in the U.S., life sciences organizations are having to rethink their hiring strategies to keep apace with demand — especially when it comes to the most in-demand jobs. 

telescope illustration
job growth in life, physical and social sciences will grow 7% by 2028.

And what are the hottest jobs right now? According to data provided by labor-insights provider Burning Glass over the past 12 months, there were:

  • quality assurance specialists: 15,401 openings

  • clinical research associates: 4,266 openings

  • cell biologists: 3,427 openings

  • medical writers: 2,019 openings

No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of hiring to do. And it hasn't been easy for companies to recruit these skilled pros — which greatly impacts their bottom line. Randstad's research shows that: 

  • the average time to fill a nonexecutive position in the industry is 105 days

  • companies lose an average of $500 per day for every job that's vacant

So strictly in terms of averages, companies are losing $52,500 in the time it takes to hire one role. Ouch.

what this means for employers

All across the sector, the competition for top talent is only getting fiercer. In fact, a recent PwC survey showed that 51 percent of CEOs in the life sciences industry admit to greater difficulties attracting and retaining the right people, more than any other industry surveyed. So what can your organization do to attract — and retain — the best candidates out there? Here are our recommendations for rethinking your hiring strategy.

trends arrow yellow illustrationtrend:
severe shortage of life sciences talent

how that affects you:
increased competition for talent

tailor your hiring approach for efficiency

In today's ultra-competitive job market, where top talent can be off the market in as few as 10 days, there's no one magical recruiting solution that will work for everyone. You'll need to focus on your business's specific hiring needs, over both the short term and long term, and then define a targeted approach for attracting top talent.

top life sciences talent can be off the market in as few as 10 days.

As an example, let's look at what it takes to hire a quality assurance specialist today. To be successful on the recruitment front, you'll need to:

  • ensure your hiring process is efficient

  • know what a competitive salary is for the position

  • determine the must-have skills for quality assurance specialists

  • write an appealing and effective job description 

  • understand industry- and position-specific hiring trends (check this one off the list — you're doing it here!)

  • identify the best recruiting method for sourcing talent

For deeper insights and actionable items, be sure to check out our guide on how to hire in the life sciences industry.

trends arrow blue illustrationtrend:
lack of qualified talent for life sciences occupations

how that affects you:
waiting for resumes to pour in won't cut it

expand your talent pipeline with passive candidates

1. train and upskill your current workforce
You don't always need to look externally to find the right candidate. There are already superstars in your ranks, so train and upskill them to take on bigger challenges in the critical roles you need filled. Formalizing an internal advancement program not only creates a new pipeline of talent who already know your company's vision and operations, but it also drives employee engagement and retention — which means a lot less hiring for you to do in the future.

2. build partnerships with academic institutions
Your hiring woes aren't going to subside, so you'll need to think of talent acquisition over the long term. To do that, build a partnership with a local university or college.

Academic institutions are fertile ground for grooming students to handle the industry's most in-demand jobs. They also offer an opportunity for future candidates to gain keen insights into the innovative work your company is doing. And given how important workplace culture is to today's workforce, this partnership will stoke interest in working for your company months or even years before a candidate officially comes on board.

upskilling employees drives engagement and retention — which means a lot less hiring down the road.

3. lean on staffing experts
Everyone knows that making a bad hire can cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention hours of wasted time training and onboarding an employee who ultimately wasn't a right fit. So to tap into passive candidates who will most certainly be a great fit with your company and culture, consider partnering with a staffing firm. Be sure to forge a relationship with one that has deep knowledge of the life sciences industry, so that you're able to tackle both your current hiring needs as well as strengthen your overall recruitment strategy. (Here are five questions to ask when evaluating potential staffing partners.)

trends arrow turquoise illustrationtrend:
widening skills gaps in life sciences occupations

how that affects you:
competitors will try to get your skilled talent to jump ship

focus on employee retention

1. audit your compensation program
Offering competitive salaries isn't just a lever to pull to get new hires on board — it's critical for employee retention as well. And given that only nine percent of life sciences companies think their comp program differentiates them from the competition, you'll go far by making sure your offerings are above the status quo.

To get the lay of the land, compensation-wise, start your research with Randstad's 2019 Salary Guide, where you'll find the most recent salary data for positions across the industry. But be aware: What makes for a competitive salary varies greatly by location, so to access the most specific data for your market, head on over to our salary calculator.

9 percent pie chartonly 9% of life sciences companies think their compensation program sets them apart from the competition.

2. make sure your benefits are best in class, too
To attract the best of the best, you'll need to think beyond salary and make sure your benefits package is in line with candidate expectations. In fact, 66 percent of workers consider a strong benefits and perks package to be the most significant factor in determining whether or not they'd accept a job offer. In addition to a robust portfolio of health and life insurance offerings and retirement savings contributions, think of how you can help your employees balance work and life more effectively — say, with opportunities for remote work, telecommuting or flexible work schedules.

3. help employees with educational costs
The specialized knowledge life sciences pros have to maintain comes at a cost — and a large one at that. So offering tuition reimbursement or other educational contributions will set you apart from the pack when it comes to attracting top talent. And to keep showing your investment in each employee's professional development, cover any additional training or development programs they'll need to take on in order to keep abreast of changes in the industry, like learning new digital platforms and tools or the latest updates to regulatory requirements for clinical trials.

66 percent pie chart 66% of workers consider strong benefits and perks to be the most significant factor when considering a job offer.

key takeaways

With so much growth taking place across the industry, employers will need to ensure their hiring game is strong — not only to land new hires, but to keep their current workforce engaged. That means:

  • tailoring your hiring strategy to rise above the competition

  • tapping passive candidates to expand your talent pipeline

  • driving employee retention by offering best-in-class salaries, benefits and educational opportunities

To drill deeper and learn more about what you can do to stay ahead of the pack in today's job market, our How to Hire resources are just a click away.

LS Hiring Guide Banner

ready to learn more?

Get in touch with us today to learn more about all the ways that Randstad can help your business. start a conversation