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Posted by Shannon Dubois on November 5, 2022
biopharma recruiting strategy

Biopharma recruiting strategy is more critical than ever as countless workers quit their jobs and employers struggle to find and retain the employees that they want and need across all sectors, particularly in biopharma, healthcare, and life sciences. The Great Resignation has hit hard with millions of workers leaving their jobs en masse since early 2021, due in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has drastically changed our lives, our economy, and our workforce. Despite the economic headwinds the U.S. is facing in light of inflation and other factors – unemployment remains low, the labor market remains tight, and The Great Resignation appears to be in full swing.

Within the biopharma industry alone, staffing shortages are widespread, with a global shortage of people who have the right technical expertise to navigate the complex biopharma internal and external challenges—from evolving regulatory environments to fast-emerging trends. Studies have found that 70% of pharmaceutical companies faced significant supply chain issues, decreasing the in-full delivery of medicines by 50% during the early months of the pandemic.

Biopharma recruiting and hiring has been one of the biggest challenges facing the industry consistently for the past several years, with the pandemic seriously exacerbating the issue even further. To hire and retain talent in the new and evolving workforce landscape, it is critical to understand the reasons behind the shifting paradigm and to be able to adapt to a candidate-driven market.

Recruitment has historically been more of an afterthought for many companies, but it is not enough anymore to keep doing it the same way it has always been done. It is time to evolve.

Effective Biopharma Recruiting Strategies

Addressing the global lack of qualified and experienced staff in the biopharma industry will require a multi-faceted approach, with certain strategies significantly more sustainable and effective than others.

Money

While many employees have stated that other factors are more important than salary, low pay is the number one reason employees cite for quitting. Understandably, and as exemplified across sectors, biopharma firms have increased salary offerings to new recruits to lure them from competing companies, or to simply get them in the door.

While this approach may certainly ameliorate acute hiring crises, it is not necessarily sustainable long-term. Increased salaries for new hires can increase the overall manufacturing costs for biopharma companies, which could decrease profitability and the bottom line. The worst case scenario for jobseekers hired at unsustainably high salaries is a potential lay-off down the line, which leaves the employer and employees no better off than they were to begin with (and sometimes even worse).

Job Flexibility

The nature of the pandemic forced people to re-evaluate their values, goals, and what they prioritize in their lives and in their careers, which have led many to search for jobs that better suit their needs. The flexibility of work schedules that can accommodate childcare, remote work, and the general unpredictability of pandemic and post-pandemic life challenges has become a top priority for job seekers, and the biopharma industry is no exception.

Remote Work Statistics

 %
Companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t.
 %
of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
 %
of people feel that working remotely reduces stress.

Industry giants such as Pfizer and Novartis made changes to their workforces, striving to provide employees with more modern and flexible work in a hybrid at-home/in-office style where possible.

For Pfizer, the potential sale of its 1.89-million-square-foot office and laboratory space in Collegeville, Pennsylvania in 2021 was based on the company’s evolving flexible working model to offer employees greater flexibility to work remotely while still maintaining the ability to connect and collaborate regularly on-site.

Novartis was making similar decisions in aims to develop a hybrid at-home/in-office work approach and, as a result, was also trying to determine what to do with its offices.

The ability to hire remote or hybrid workers can broaden the talent pool for biopharma recruiters and provide the flexibility and other benefits many job seekers are looking for, including:

  • Time and fuel savings due to the lack of a commute
  • Opening up job searches outside the geographical area, making it possible to work for companies around the country (and in some cases, the world)
  • Allow workers the freedom to live and work where they want
  • Schedule flexibility during the workday
  • Mental health benefits- workers may be more comfortable in their home environment with less distractions, noise, and the ability to take breaks when needed

Training

Every new life-saving advancement in the biopharma industry is monumental for the patients who will be helped, but on the staffing and employee end of things, it also adds an enormous demand for new and increased training in an industry that already requires very specialized training competencies from its potential hires.

Whether its cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, or any of the other countless protocols within biopharma laboratories, adequate onboarding and training time and resources can be the difference between attracting potential new talent that may excel in the open positions, versus having to turn applicants away. More and more job listings offer on-the-job training for people who are otherwise qualified, which can be an integral component to getting new employees in the door.

Biopharma Recruiting Efforts & Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment has historically been more of an afterthought for many companies, but during a consistent talent shortage, it is not enough anymore to keep doing it the same way it has always been done. Putting more time, energy, and resources into recruitment and hiring efforts is key, as well as delving into the advantageous world of recruitment marketing.

While recruitment is mainly about attracting talent to job openings, recruitment marketing is about attracting talent to the employer brand. Building a strong employer brand will help you recruit the right people for the right roles faster.

To build a strong employer brand, “what” your organization does must be well-defined, synthesized and understood by your audiences. And we all know that’s no feat to be taken lightly when it comes to scientific concepts. But companies tend to have an even harder time with their “why.” Effective messaging demonstrates who you are, what you do, and (most importantly) why you matter.

Why do your employees show up to work every day and how are they changing the world? Define your “why” and then bring it to life. This will demonstrate to jobseekers considering your company why they should work there.

Your “why” has never been as important as it is today:

  • Survey after survey shows that meaningful work is paramount to employees during this Great Resignation.
  • Investor sentiment has weakened in the biopharma sector over the past 6 months after all-time highs during the peak of the pandemic.
  • The public’s positive perception and trust in the healthcare and biopharma sectors has waned over the past year as well.

Explain to candidates what their day-to-day will be like, what their future could look like, and the long-term advantages of joining the team. The job seeker has to market themself to the company, but the company has to market itself to the candidates as well. Clear messaging around what a candidate will get out of their time at your company, what they will accomplish, who they will be working with, and how they will contribute to the mission of the company will help demonstrate the bigger picture and even help candidates visualize their future there.

Even when it comes to the most scientific organizations, emotive messaging is powerful. All of your audiences are humans at the end of the day – and decisions are driven by data and emotion.

Do You Actually Need to Hire a Recruiter for Biopharma Recruiting?

Whether a biopharma company should hire outside recruiters or focus on HR and marketing strategies for recruitment depends on the time, resources, and manpower available, as well as the particulars of the open positions that need to be filled. For many companies, it may be cost-effective to outsource biopharma recruiting efforts, but a lot of recruitment strategy can be executed in-house by HR and marketing staff, too. The use of recruitment marketing tactics to augment hiring efforts can absolutely change the game.

The role of marketing in the recruitment process to attract talent to your brand, to demonstrate and share your company culture, to map your candidates’ journeys, and to define your “why” are just some of the really integral pieces of the recruitment process that demonstrate the merging of recruiting and marketing. More can be done to attract and retain talent by integrating marketing into recruiting strategies, rather than just traditional recruiting alone.

Create a Biopharma Recruiting Strategy

There are innumerable benefits of creating a recruitment strategy that incorporates marketing, and they all boil down to one major advantage – the ability to truly understand and effectively reach the ideal candidates that you are trying to find.

Persona Development

For your recruitment efforts to be made exponentially more effective, you will need to learn everything you can about your ideal candidate, their pains, challenges, what drives them and what information they’re looking for. Everything from their motivations to their goals and even their decision-making factors.

Identifying all of this information is called building a persona, and using that persona in your recruitment marketing strategy will empower you to present the right content, in the right context, to the right people on a consistent basis—and that’s key to effective employee recruitment.

Let’s start with the basics: what is a persona and why are they important?

Personas represent the user types expected to come to your site, their thoughts, behaviors and goals, and are then used to assess the content and functionality you should include on your site.

For example, the personas for a career website might include:

  • Students (i.e., potential future employees)
  • New graduates looking for entry-level positions
  • Mid-career candidates looking to change fields
  • Industry veterans looking for upper level positions

As you can imagine, each of these personas comes to the site with a completely different goal in mind with different priorities they value and even differing perks/benefits that matter most to them.

Determining personas for your target audiences helps inform your recruitment website’s structure and content. A potential employee will be attracted by different things than a consumer, but both need to be drawn to your website. Knowing what each audience needs to get out of your site is vital to ensuring your site delivers those things through the appropriate, optimal channel.

Journey Mapping

Now that you know the personas of your target candidates, the next step in the marketing strategy for effective recruitment is to map out their journey through your website. By mapping the candidate journey, you ensure the relevant functionality and information is laid out optimally in your website for this persona. It helps you structure the flow of your site with the proper content, calls to action, resources, and more.

To begin mapping out a journey, you want to answer a few questions:

  • What drives this persona to seek employment/leave a current employer?
  • Who/What do they turn to for advice about job hunting, benefits, etc?
  • Where do they look when considering new career paths or growing within their current career?
  • Where do they look for job listings?
  • What makes them pick one company over another?

With the answers to these questions, you can design your website and careers section to integrate with the candidate journey. By incorporating marketing strategy in this way to make your website content relevant, accessible and available to your ideal candidates, you increase your company’s visibility and strengthen your recruitment strategy.

Social Media

92% of all companies use social media to recruit talent, and biopharma companies are no different – they are investing in social media recruiting like never before. From employee advocacy videos, to promoting specific job openings, to creative campaigns demonstrating their “why” as compared to competing employers. On top of all that, reporting and analytics are key for providing lots of great data and insights to constantly modify and improve performance.

Some stats:

  • 96% of job seekers use social media when conducting a job search
  • 49% of professionals follow companies on social media to stay aware of job opportunities
  • 81% of jobseekers want to see job opportunities posted to Facebook
  • 78% of recruiters expect social media recruiting activities to increase
  • 46% of companies said social media recruiting investments are a focus
  • Instagram recruiting more than doubled between 2017 and 2021
  • Nearly 40 million people search for jobs on LinkedIn each week
  • 71% of U.S. hiring decision-makers feel that looking at candidates’ social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants

We hope it’s becoming clear that if you’re a recruiter nowadays and you don’t see yourself as a marketer, you’re in the wrong profession, and social media marketing is another extremely critical component of recruitment marketing strategy.

Biopharmaceutical Executive Recruiting

Like many industries, biopharmaceutical companies have specific and specialized hiring needs because candidates needed to fill open roles require very specific skill sets and expertise to be hired, especially for executive positions. Executive search firms may be needed to fill certain positions with skilled leaders that are essential to fulfilling the companies’ mission and operating goals.

Whether executive search firms are a part of the recruiting strategy or not, recruitment marketing can still be an invaluable tool to augment any and all recruiting efforts in place.

Let Us Help Shape Your Biopharma Recruiting Strategy

When it comes to recruitment and hiring, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Recruitment marketing is more important than ever, and it’s time to step on the gas. Let’s get started.

Embryonic stem cells

Recruitment Marketing for Healthcare & Life Sciences

In our brand new ebook, emagineHealth has done a deep-dive into the recruitment marketing strategies that you can begin implementing today.