In recruitment we are privy to the reasons why individuals look for new roles – why they actively want to move away from their current role and what they hope to achieve in the future.
We often get very standard reasons such as salary, flexibility or progression, but speaking to individuals in the life science industry we often hear that the science often matters a lot more than anything else. In this article I will explore what candidates mean by this, the reasons why the science matters to them and what the implications are to employers.
A large proportion of candidates in the life sciences industry entered the field to have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes.
This isn’t always the case but often the original reason for studying in the field and choosing a career path in this area is altruism. These individuals will change roles purely to get closer connected to improving healthcare outcomes, this can be going from a large pharma business to a smaller developing business where they may have more visibility of the progression of drug candidates through the pipeline.
There are also those individuals who simply love science. The geeky scientist trope is generally exaggerated but one thing that often rings true is the passion for the work they are doing. Having a pure interest in the complexities of the experimental work, research or testing that they are doing is common.
We tend to see this in all areas of the industry, from those working in analytical chemistry to those doing stem cell research and everything in between. For these individuals, making a move in their career is focussed around becoming an expert in their field, developing skills in this area (or closely linked areas) and continuing that technical development.
With all this in mind, we will often hear candidates say they are happy to take pay cuts or happy to have limited flexibility because the role will allow them to be closer to the science or develop in that field.
Why does this matter to potential employers looking to attract someone into their business? Often an employer approaches hiring as a one-way process. They interview a candidate to see if they are a fit for their business, the key question being ‘what can we get from them?’
We advise our clients to look at what can be gained from this as a partnership, not only what can we get from them but what can they gain from working with us?
In the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries we advise our clients to talk to candidates about the organisation’s long-term strategy and their goal as a business.
Often, hearing a business is focussing on developing drug candidates for under-served disease areas can be enough to make a candidate decide that they are the employer for them.
Additionally, focussing on the skills the individual can develop and how they can become a specialist will really help, and introducing the experts you have in the business that they can learn from is invaluable.
Given all of the above we would strongly recommend employers to take a look at their brand image, hiring strategy and process and ensure the science is at the heart of it all to ensure they are attracting the best and most passionate talent to their business.