The Life Sciences sector is in a precarious state, sparked by global economic and regulatory pressures, rising labor costs and outdated cultural models. The industry is also faced with a shortage of quality talent — individuals who have the necessary soft skills and technical expertise to drive growth and innovation. Further exacerbating the talent shortage is the general shortage of junior Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) talent, particularly in specific geographies.

PwC’s recent survey suggests that 51% of CEOs in the Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals industries admit to greater difficulties attracting and retaining the right people — more than any other industry surveyed.

Talent leaders in the Life Sciences industry will overcome these challenges by transforming talent acquisition into a function driven by strategy and proactivity. We recommend four strategies to adopt today:

1. Redefine Critical Skills

The Life Sciences industry is restricting itself by relying too heavily on sourcing traditional hires with highly technical knowledge and direct role experience. This narrow view often stems from a long-established reactive approach to talent acquisition within an organization. When asked to think about the future, talent leaders without a transformative approach miss their opportunity to be seen as change agents as they often resort to comfort areas — for example, their grasp on the minimum technical capabilities required today, as opposed to the underlying skills necessary to create a workforce that will embrace change in this ever-evolving industry.

Modern talent leaders understand the need to more broadly define their understanding of critical skills. They use a less technical and more nuanced approach to proactively recruit an array of emerging and experienced candidates from creative and scientific backgrounds. They help their organizations understand the value of candidates with a balance of technical, behavioral and leadership skills —those who embrace change and understand the importance of strategic thinking. The result is stronger, more adaptable quality hires and the avoidance of direct talent poaching, which is so common in the industry.

2. Engage Talent Early and Often

Hiring quality talent in a tight market requires proactively creating deep and diverse talent pools. To do this, engagement must be sincere, intentional and consistent. Employers need to move beyond simple job postings, promoting local events and organizational updates. Strategic engagement requires a marketing-minded, social, mobile and employee-centric approach — this is accomplished by developing and implementing and well-defined Employer Value Proposition (EVP).
With the guidance of an EVP, organizations can provide engaging, relevant material to targeted audiences, demonstrating what joining the industry can offer — both personally and professionally — while raising awareness of the organization. The result is not only a larger quantity of candidates available, but also a higher quality, as the individuals who are engaged have self-selected with the promoted messages and commonly passed the first hurdle of cultural fit.

3. Empower Line Managers to Become Talent Scouts

Hiring managers should have the necessary networks, skills and credibility to function as strategic sourcing specialists. However, few organizations have adopted or even accepted this, leaving too many hiring managers who still see talent acquisition as strictly an HR responsibility. Because of this, talent leaders often find that hiring managers do not understand the true nature of the talent market, inhibiting communication with talent acquisition and often resulting in unrealistic candidate expectations. Hiring managers need to work with their recruitment teams as consultants, using the market intelligence and transparency the talent acquisition team offers to help uncover any alignment between the skills needed for a role and the skills available in the market. Front-line recruiters should not only have the expertise to identify and engage the very best talent, but also the capability to establish credibility and communicate and obtain buy-in at all levels. When hiring managers have the trust, knowledge and resources, as supplied by their recruiter, to work as an ally in the recruitment process, they will do so more freely and more successfully.

4. Align Talent Strategies to Commercial Planning

  • The human agenda must be embedded across the entire organization in order to truly effect change and attract the right talent. Building a sustainable talent strategy that includes the following components will ensure the recruitment function is viewed as a competitive advantage for the organization.
  • Improve Market Intelligence. Gaining insight into target markets provides organizations with the opportunity to proactively identify business-critical talent across the business, as well as analyze the current skills gap.
  • Improve Visibility with Talent Analytics. Tracking and evaluating metrics provides insight into performance, in addition to enabling proactive recruitment. To effectively recruit the right talent, leaders must first understand the soft skills, competencies and professional qualifications they need.
  • Adopt Workforce Segmentation. Tailor components of talent acquisition and management (e.g., the hiring process, training, incentives and schedules, among others) to meet the needs of different segments. Successful segmentation reduces costs, improves development and strengthens employer brand.
  • Strategic Workforce Planning. The alignment of talent and business strategies helps organizations ensure the right talent is available, when it is most needed. Effective workforce planning requires an inclusive talent management solution, succession planning and retention initiatives.

Learn about the difference a Recruitment Process Outsourcing partner can make on your talent transformation journey.