7 Strategies for Addressing Life Sciences Talent Acquisition Challenges

7 Strategies for Addressing Life Sciences Talent Acquisition Challenges

Finding top life sciences talent has always been challenging, but the process is even more complex in today's employee-centric landscape. And while it would seem that no industry is exempt, life sciences organizations face unique concerns as innovation, technology, supply chain challenges, and keeping up with regulatory changes are essential to staying competitive. 

According to recent data, 71% of life sciences organizations plan to expand their workforce immediately, but 33% of leaders in life sciences report that talent scarcity is a barrier to achieving this goal. 

Traditional talent acquisition methods are no longer viable. Top candidates are not always on job boards or actively looking for new positions, so reaching them where they live and on the platforms they use is critical to a favorable outcome. 

Many companies have found success treating talent acquisition as they would a marketing strategy. In other words, they're viewing candidates as customers, developing profiles around their ideal hires, and creating an online presence that speaks directly to their motivations. 

Most life sciences business leaders agree securing the right people now will prevent scarcity in the future. As competition mounts for the best and brightest, companies need to get creative, and we've got a few ideas that can help. In this article, we cover seven creative strategies to enhance your talent pipeline now and in the upcoming year.

1. Take a Look at Niche Job Boards 

Job boards are a no-brainer for most talent acquisition teams. But it pays to look for ones with a specific focus. Doing so helps you narrow your search even further. 

Some niche job boards are country or region-specific, and others are international. The benefit of this approach is that you're not competing with companies with bigger budgets that use large job boards like Indeed to find talent. 

More importantly, niche job boards are catered to the specific industry you're in — increasing your chance of finding the right fit for the role you’re looking to fill. This means less time sifting through multiple resumes of candidates that are simply not a good match. 

A few examples of niche job boards in the life sciences space worth looking into include:

  • ASHP provides a niche job board for pharmacists and executives in the pharma space.
  • Pharmiweb Jobs has a global footprint, covering everything from research to manufacturing and everything in between. 
  • BioSpace is candidate-focused, providing content, resources, and company information to complement its job board.

2. Explore Online Communities and Social Networks

Online communities, such as those on platforms like Slack, LinkedIn, and Facebook, can be fruitful places to find life sciences talent. These are communities and forums where people gather to discuss industry best practices, share career advice, and stay on top of news and developing trends. 

Some of the most relevant social networks in the life sciences space include LinkedIn and a more recent social app called Fishbowl — an online forum where professionals in various niches can discuss topics, ask questions, and generally connect with others in their industry. 

Two groups worth exploring in Fishbowl include Life Sciences Consulting and Life Science+Biotech+Pharma+CRO. If you’re looking for a couple of groups to explore on LinkedIn for example, consider: 

3. Organize a Talent Search Event

Take a page from the tech sector playbook and consider hosting a talent search or contest to identify top contenders. Google Kick Start is one example, where contestants participate in eight coding rounds for a chance at cash prizes and an interview with the company. 

Hosting a talent search event doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. You can use free tools like Eventbrite or the social channels your talent is on to promote the event. 

From there, you can guide prospective talent to your office, where they can engage in speed interviews with key team members, or it could be informational. The point is to simply find a way to build a relationship with talent and give them a look at your company culture. 

The same can be done using virtual tools like Zoom to host your event.  

‍4. Consider Alternative Candidates 

Work today bears little resemblance to that of previous generations. People have been increasingly moving away from accepting jobs with little to no work-life balance and pivoting into new industries and specialties. 

As a result, many candidates have been exploring boot camps and certification-based programs to enter new industries like life sciences. Not only does taking an alternative route to enter a new field enable candidates to get certified much faster, but it can also be more cost-effective. 

Some certification programs to keep an out include Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Professional Certificate Program in Biotechnology & Life Sciences and the University of Toronto's Certificate in Life Science Enterprise.

5. Consider Relooking Roles for The Project-Based Economy

Instead of viewing work as static, looking at it from a project-based perspective opens the door to a host of improvements that are immensely beneficial to your organization — specifically if you’re looking to become a more agile organization. 

In an agile structure, for example, teams are created to solve a specific problem or complete a project. This structure enables companies to pivot quickly, and the added agility also helps them better navigate uncertainty and disruption. 

Likewise, from an employee perspective, having project-based work means that they have more control over their career. Employees have more opportunities to develop new skills while refining the ones they have. Enabling up-skilling in this manner leads to better retention as employees feel like they have mobility within the organization. And the use of project-based work is picking up steam. 

In an article published by Harvard Business Review, it's expected that by 2027 about 88 million people will be working in a project-based role and that the value of a project-oriented economic activity will reach $20 trillion.

This comes as a result of companies realizing the benefits of innovating faster, capturing future value today, and driving short-term performance as a result of using this model. And there are several aspects of the life sciences space that lend themselves well to the project-based economy, such as: 

  1. Conducting market research 
  2. Developing go-to-market strategies for new drug launches 
  3. Creating global trade compliance programs to distribute biomedical materials 

6.  Look To Rapidly Growing On-Demand Talent Acquisition Platforms

A couple of months ago, we published an article that looked to answer the question of where today's workforce has gone. At the time, some 4.4 million Americans had quit their jobs to join the Great Resignation. Yet, companies were still having trouble finding talent to fill these roles. 

As we looked deeper into the question, we found that most of today's professionals quit their full-time jobs in favor of exploring the independent route. Many joined on-demand talent acquisition platforms like Graphite in search of more control over their career, greater work-life flexibility, and the ability to earn more. 

To get a closer look at why life sciences talent are exploring on-demand talent acquisition platforms over full-time roles, check out episode two of our podcast to learn more. In this episode, life science expert Natasha Co provides additional insights into this shift and how to best work with independent consultants at your firm/practice. 

When looking for ways to address capacity gaps on your teams, it pays to explore these platforms to find top-quality talent. On-demand talent acquisition platforms can help you augment your staff, and most, like Graphite, boost a network of independent experts with experiences across several industries, like life sciences, healthcare, and pharma, to functional expertise in corporate strategy, market research, and finance and accounting. 

More importantly, it takes less time to onboard an independent expert on demand versus a full-time employee and can be more cost-effective. 

7. Develop an Apprenticeship Program 

We've recently covered the impact of declining college enrollment on your workforce. In that article, we discussed how lower enrollment would impact the number of qualified talent with 4-year college backgrounds. One way to combat this disruption and future-proof your talent pipeline is to consider running apprenticeship programs. 

Organizations like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM are already leveraging this technique to build their teams. Doing so enables them to develop young talent while identifying those who would make great fits for filling in leadership positions in the future. And the popularity of these programs is increasing. 

Some 241,000 new apprenticeships were recently recorded in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics national apprenticeship program in 2022. And some organizations in the life sciences space are taking notice to address the talent shortage head-on. 

For example, MassBioEd is a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization committed to building a sustainable life sciences workforce through apprenticeship programs and more. Likewise, another organization in North Carolina recently announced the goal of developing apprenticeships in the life sciences to strengthen workforce preparedness.  

Organizations like Pfizer, Novartis Gene Therapies, and Merck are among some of the large pharmaceutical companies that have signed up as charter members for the North Carolina organization. And many more pharmaceutical companies are actively being recruited to join. 

Getting Started

Today’s life sciences organizations face many challenges when it comes to identifying, attracting, and retaining top talent. Reimagining the talent acquisition process allows you to connect with candidates on their terms and will undoubtedly broaden the talent pool and invite diverse viewpoints, experience, and innovation to the table. 

Interested in learning more about this topic. Then we invite you to sign up for our FREE talent acquisition email crash course to learn more.

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