A company’s ability to continuously attract talent is a crucial part of its success.

Significant global challenges in recent years however, have forced organisations including life sciences and pharmaceutical companies, to reassess recruitment strategies and the way they position themselves to appeal to jobseekers as they compete for talent.

Employers are increasingly having to adapt to a post-pandemic ‘new normal’ and a generation of applicants whose expectations have rapidly evolved.

Jobseekers are now critically assessing prospective employers, to determine whether these companies align with their own goals and values.

Moving with the times

In today’s world, job applicants are more discerning and demanding than they were even five years ago. They seek more modern and balanced lifestyles, and a career that matches these aspirations.

They seek a good work-life balance, whether that’s remote, hybrid or flexible hours and roles that offer strong career progression with investment in learning and development. 

Online employer ratings platforms such as Glassdoor have growing influence and organisations must recognise that their employer value proposition (EVP) – the careers, benefits, culture, lifestyle and experience promised must be visible, authentic and on-point.  

Organisational culture in particular has grown in importance post-Covid. Jobseekers are now critically assessing company values, questioning if these align to their own.

They are researching Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commitments and accessing the huge amount of online information on this topic.

They are asking themselves, what does this company stand for? What are its goals, its vision, and purpose? And do I really want to work here?

The life sciences sector can certainly benefit from leveraging the greater desire to work in industries that have a strong mission component as they seek to attract talent, but this alone is not enough – the EVP must resonate and be authentic.

Igniting careers in life sciences

The Covid-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the life sciences sector and has made the public more aware of the wider industry.

Much of its work that dominated the news headlines in the past few years, such as the clinical trial process and vaccine development, is now more widely understood.

The visibility of and interest in the life sciences sector has significantly increased over the past few years, helping to educate the general public on the benefits it brings to society.

Despite this interest, some hiring challenges remain within the industry. One of the key barriers to entry for people starting their careers is a misconception that a science background is essential.

In fact, one of the great attractions of the life sciences sector is the variety of roles available across the spectrum of skills and experience.

The industry should make more of an effort to showcase the wide range of opportunities on offer by making clear that many do not necessarily require a scientific background.

These include everything from administrative and operational roles, some areas of business development, and manufacturing and supply chain positions. Better outreach and communication to inform new jobseekers is key.

View to a skill

There are several ways to support the life sciences sector’s ongoing search for new talent. One way of driving recruitment is through increased investment.

In recent years, the UK government has allocated individual grants to regional centres of innovation to encourage growth and investment.

These are often located near research centres and universities providing opportunities for graduates to join the industry.

Offering work experience and insights may encourage university graduates to consider roles in the sector.

Many university courses still do not offer students a year in industry as part of their degrees, so helping universities with funding and flexibility to create more work placement opportunities could address some of the hiring challenges.

These placements are vital, allowing students to experience life working in the industry and to gain a real understanding of the sector.

Employers benefit because it not only helps to attract talent and fulfil future vacancies, it also means graduates who do take up positions have realistic aspirations and know what to expect.

Support for those who decide not to attend university is equally important and this is where apprenticeships come in, offering a paid, hands-on route to learning new skills.

Our experience of apprenticeships here at Medidata has shown how successful they can be.

It is important that this channel to exciting talent continues to be supported at government and employer level, so that organisations – many of whom have contributed to the apprenticeship levy over many years – are encouraged to make use of apprentice programmes and the diverse talent they can feed into the organisation

New opportunities for experienced hires

The industry is not just looking at early career talent to fill roles, but also experienced hires.

Those who are more experienced but have no earlier involvement in life-sciences can bring significant and valuable skills gained elsewhere to roles in our sector.

This includes software development, supply chain management, and marketing. As with any job, it is important that applicants develop an understanding of the sector if they have never previously worked in life-sciences. This can be attained through research, educational experience, or volunteering.

As the life sciences industry continues to grow, it will need to attract and retain talented staff from different industries across a range of roles and alternative sources. 

Applicants must bring the right skills, attitude, and functional experience to roles they are applying for. 

The competition for talent with specialist expertise remains fierce. Organisations must communicate and constantly evolve their Employer Value Proposition to attract and retain talent.

Those that consistently achieve this will win and do so with a happy workforce!

Andrew Bott is Director Talent Acquisition at Medidata