Pharma | Biotech | Medical Devices

How well you win the “war for talent” will impact your career’s success

The Life Science industry, comprised of Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Biotech companies, is facing an unprecedented challenge to attract and retain top talent.

With the global Life Science industry valued at more than $1.23 trillion (Deloitte, 2015), one could reasonably expect there to be an abundant and growing pool of talent available to fulfill the needs of our industry.

The reality however, as you may well know is radically different. Yes, company earnings and valuations are growing, but the pool of top high performing talent is not keeping pace.

In this post, we will discuss the THREE KEY DECIDING FACTORS motivating a candidate when deciding to accept your offer, or go with the competition.

The stakes are enormously high

The stakes for Hiring Managers and Directors couldn’t be higher. Even larger players with esteemed brands and reputation are struggling to attract and hire the talent they need to secure their organisations position in the market and ensure future competitiveness.

In my frequent discussions with GM’s, Directors and Executives with country or regional responsibilities, it’s clear they’re painfully aware that their team’s ability to consistently deliver results directly impacts their own career advancement, and the rewards that come with it.

During my 15+ years working in the Life Science industry, and in particular the past seven and a half years recruiting exclusively for Pharma, Medical Devices and Biotech companies, I’ve learned what motivates experienced marketing and medical professionals (we call these specialists “EMP’s”) to join an organisation as a permanent or interim contract employee.

What’s Motivating Top Talent?

Future Opportunities

Regardless if the hire is for an interim contractor or permanent employee, for many highly qualified candidates, the pathway to career advancement is of paramount importance. While they don’t expect a guaranteed promotion based solely on their educational degrees and skill sets, often you can persuade a candidate to join your team by presenting them with future opportunities, in areas aligned to their career ambitions.

Take for example a candidate who is highly specialized in the area of oncology. Maybe the role you are hiring for isn’t in oncology, but your business has recently acquired an oncology company who are completing Phase II studies. By mapping out a career path that could lead this candidate back to the oncology area in a few years, you may be able to entice them to join your team now.

Job Titles

When considering the attractiveness of a position you seek to fill, Top Talent will unsurprisingly be attentive to the specific job’s title and the next steps available for them if they assume the role. We suggest being as transparent as possible when discussing titles and advancement scenarios. We have seen candidates withdraw from the recruitment process after interviewing purely because the title was less than they desired at this stage of their career. A scenario which could have been addressed early in the process to avoid losing a top candidate.

We’re not suggesting making everyone a Vice President (as the banking industry is sometimes prone to do) but it could mean adding “Senior” to his or her title after a fixed period of time. Top candidates with long experience in your business know their market value and will need to be compensated accordingly. But realise in a candidate-driven marketplace, a better job title than they previously held can make the difference between a candidate accepting your role or taking a competitor’s offer.

Especially be aware of this key motivator if your ideal candidate shows interest in working for smaller companies. Titles are often one level higher in smaller companies than in larger ones. If they are being considered for a Director role with a competitor, and you have only offered them a Manager title, assuming all things being equal, that could be the deciding factor which can sway your ideal candidate to accept the other offer.

Flexible Working

A third motivational factor Top Talent considers when weighing competing offers are flexible working arrangements. These include remote working (working from home), flexible hours, job sharing and part-time working. Regardless if this is because the candidate maintains a separate family and work residences, as is often the case with today’s global workforce, experienced Life Science professionals are used to the often high demands required of them and are looking for ways to better integrate their working time with their personal lives.

However like any valued partner in a relationship or business venture, they don’t want to have their commitment taken for granted either. They may not explicitly ask for flexible working arrangements during the interview process for fear of appearing less committed, but you can be sure flexibility is an important component in their decision process. Don’t assume they know it’s a given at your company. In the life Science industry it is still only about 50% of companies, which offer truly flexible working. Be very clear about your management’s attitude toward flexible working and discuss any formal policies openly. It very well could be the deciding factor for your next hire.

Alternative Staffing Solutions

Finding that perfect internal hire may be your ultimate goal, but like most Life Science Directors in the industry, you know that the process can take 6, 9 or even 12 months. Don’t despair, as there are alternative solutions which can help you alleviate the stress and work load of having a hiring need, but not being able to identify the right candidate. At MTS Talent we have focused our business model around Interim Staffing as we believe it is a real business solution for the Life Science industry, the same as it has been for many years in IT and financial services.

Download our MTS Talent Guide: How to Hire Contractors and Interim Managers in the Life Science Industry This free guide will help you determine if an interim solution is right for you and will ensure you make the right hiring decision, saving you time and potentially costly mistakes.

What every Life Science Director needs to know about hiring Interims in the Pharma, Biotech and Medical Device industry

Kelly Brändli, Founder and Managing Director of MTS Talent services has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry. Since 2010, she has grown MTS Talent into Switzerland’s leading Life Science interim staffing provider, supplying high-caliber Marketing & Medical Affairs Talent on an interim and contract basis.

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