Life science hiring trends that have shaped 2018 – and will remain major trends as we move into 2019

Approaching the end of the year, it’s always a good moment to reflect and anticipate. What did 2018 give us in terms of HR trends in Life Science? What is important in regards to executive search and what will continue to be important in 2019? I’ve had a look at some numbers and stats and took particular interest in the “2018 Life Science Workforce Trends Report”, that the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes (CSBI) published in 2018. Through interviews with life science executives and HR professionals in the industry as well as analyzing job postings, it clearly stakes out some of the trends that we see forming in the industry. It brings some important changes that effects how we hire – or find – life science talent.

Technology – innovation drives talent need

No surprise here: technology development is a leading indicator when it comes to what Life Science jobs are in high demand – and accordingly what talent is. Areas where we will see a growing need for expertise is above all IT – for example in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Another area is specific technology, such as stem cells technology, and lastly, specialized engineering fields such as CAD design. The arrival of new technology heightens the need for people that can think outside the box, and people that have expertise in these new areas.

We have seen across the Life Science industry fast emerging markets, which above all call for constant innovation, especially since some of those are extremely fast growing areas. The talent needed therefore often times has to be highly flexible, qualified across various fields and is in general high demand (meaning high competition for good people and large numbers of people needed).

Demand for soft skills   

As companies evolve and change, so does the desire for adaptive employees who are willing to continue to learn and grow. People with hybrid backgrounds, such as scientist-business professionals, that additionally possess strong soft skills, are highly demanded but not always easy to find. Flexibility, creativity, strong communication and writing skills are often stressed as necessary and valued soft skills.

Growing international markets

Pharmaceuticals is, of course, one of the main areas in Life Science, and the international market is rapidly growing. Markets in China, India, Brazil and Russia have received the nickname “pharmerging” markets. In light of this, candidates who are bilingual or have international experience are highly valued candidates.

The market changes also put a higher emphasis on health outcomes. There is need for more and efficient proof that pharmaceuticals are effective, a game that is all in all very cost driven. That results in smaller and more frequent products launches and a higher turnaround of processes (and people) around that.

University Collaborations and the right consultant to pick up talent

Many companies have already realized the potential in partnerships with universities to help build a good candidate base. According to the CSBI report, 82 % of companies regularly offer internships. Sending employees to participate in educational events on campus and co-managing academic labs are other ways of partnering up with universities. That way, talents are already targeted at jobs that are in demand at a specific time, and companies get exactly what they want.

Collaboration with highly efficient and specialized executive search consultants can also make a big difference when it comes to access to the in-demand high-potentials. Why? Talents/candidates can be everywhere these days and even if they are now “next door” – they very much like to be approached actively from an experienced consultant to get upfront information they would never discuss at this point in time directly with the employer. Start the discussion with me or one of my IIC Partners colleagues today.

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