A deteriorating economy; a forced shift to remote working: the challenges of a post-pandemic world are shared across business sectors. But for the Life Sciences industry, there’s another, more pressing problem: how to manage a constant stream of candidates in a sector that continues to grow at pace.
Most industries face losses in times of economic uncertainty, but rapid expansion – and the challenges of managing it – are more typical in Life Science. The seemingly bottomless pools of candidates that typified the pandemic period have given way to a much more competitive environment. Companies are left with positions they can’t fill. Life Science recruitment suddenly looks very different.
What every company needs in the post-pandemic market is some form of competitive edge. As the industry diversifies, Life Science companies are forced to make themselves more attractive than they needed to be only months ago. This doesn’t just mean a bigger pay package: it means offering a host of new benefits that were not previously part of the hiring process.
Efficient on-boarding has also become more important than ever. While people craving stability during the pandemic led to a scramble for the few jobs that were on offer, candidates today face overwhelming choice. If the process isn’t smooth and easy, they are unlikely to stay interested. As a result, boosted retirement packages, longer parental leave, more sick days without penalty and longer holidays have all become increasingly common.
But the most obvious – and important – change has been the shift to remote working. With 87% of people originally working from home as a result of pandemic distance protocols, an unprecedented number of people have opted to stay there and benefit from the flexible hours it offers. It’s near impossible to hire someone without offering it.
Another significant shift has been towards hiring students – a result of a lack of eligible candidates specialising in Life Science and the increase in hiring competition. Recent graduates, fresh from their specialism, have the skillset needed to thrive in the sector. Their lack of experience might seem like a downside for the prospective employer, but they are commensurately easier to interest – and do not need as competitive a pay package.
Shift in Sector
It is unsurprising that the pandemic has resulted in net growth in pharmaceuticals, research, and testing sectors. Recent hiring has seen a shift to favour 3 of the 5 main Life Science sectors: Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, Research and Testing and Medical Device Manufacturing, the first two of which now dominate hiring activity. The pressure to find candidates specialising in these areas is rising – hence the need to turn to graduates who often have the scientific expertise candidates with prior recruitment experience do not have.
As we leave the pandemic in the past, there is an expectation for the bulk of hiring to be focused on Manufacturing and Production, Quality Control Assurance and Research. This poses a huge challenge for recruiters, as these positions require candidates who possess expertise in specialised fields, rather than just a general interest in the broader Life Sciences. Having to search for something so specific in a decreasing pool of candidates will prove extremely challenging.
But among all these challenges, there’s good news, which is that the proven resilience of the Life Science industry over the past few years inspires confidence. As the market continues to recover from the global health crisis, the industry will continue to flourish.
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