Every industry experiences its own unique obstacles when it comes to recruiting. Every business deals with global trends, political changes, and economic challenges. However, Pharma and Life Sciences organisations have the additional pressure of rapid growth, ongoing drug evolution and developments, updates in technology, and a serious talent shortage.

A recent report published by the Social Market Foundation and EDF highlights that 640,000 vacancies are predicted within the STEM sector over the next six years. Additionally, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry cited that the UK is facing a major skills shortage in life sciences that threatens to undermine the research and development of new medicines and prevent growth and investment in the sector. Overcoming the the skills shortage could be the factor that defines which organisations excel before 2020 and which are left behind.

A recent Cielo study, European Talent Acquisition Trends: Productivity, Profitability & Personal Impact, found that 42% of Talent Leaders viewed skills shortages as their biggest business problem. These Talent Leaders also said that the way to overcome these shortages is for their organisations to invest in innovative ways to attract and retain the best talent. Traditional recruiting techniques are often not as effective for Pharma and Life Sciences, in comparison to other industries, due to the niche skills and qualifications required.

For organisations looking to address the talent shortage directly, there are three core recruiting tactics that should be prioritised:

1) Data-based Decision Making

Thorough industry research is vital in determining key skills shortages, yet 33% of Pharma/Life Sciences companies said they are not effective at utilising analytics to inform business decisions. Successful talent programs use data to understand where in the recruitment process your organisation is losing key candidates and whether the recruitment process is at fault or if the skills your business needs do not exist in the target marketplace.

2) Employer Brand and EVP

The war for talent in this sector is fierce, making it crucial to engage and attract the best quality talent. An authentic EVP allows organisations to showcase their values, company culture, and career paths to candidates before applying for a role. The EVP should then be reiterated throughout the entire recruitment process – creating a consistently positive candidate experience at all touchpoints. Experience is a key way to set your company apart in attracting and retaining candidates with the skills you are seeking.

3) Recruitment Process Outsourcing and Talent Pooling

Preparing for the future is paramount to talent acquisition success. Whilst candidates may not be looking for a role right now, it is imperative for organisations to have ongoing dialogue with candidates who have the key skills they are looking for. Organisations that subtly communicate their EVP to passive candidates through regular contact achieve shorter times to hire and decreased cost per hire.

Most talent acquisition leaders find it nearly impossible to address these three areas while meeting the day-to-day demands of the business, so it is understandable that Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical companies are shifting from traditional, in-house recruitment teams and embarking on partnerships with Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers. Partnering with a strategic expert allows these businesses to be more cost- and quality-effective. A strategic RPO partner delivers insights based on data, an articulated EVP and employer branding support, and talent pooling and segmentation expertise as a part of an integrated, end-to-end talent acquisition process.

Whilst the skills gap in the European Life Sciences sector is very real, there are many ways organisations can be prepared for the future. Proactive thinking, and thoughtful consideration of partnership options will enable businesses to have the talent to face the industry and market challenges head-on.