Like many sectors, the life sciences industry has been turned on its head by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these businesses were already struggling to meet their talent needs. As organizations hustle to adapt to a changing market, it is now doubly important to hire key personnel in a time-efficient manner. 

We’ve put together some tips on how life sciences companies can retain and attract the talent they need to be successful in this unusual time. 

Zero in on High-Quality Candidates

The market for qualified life science candidates was extremely competitive before the coronavirus hit. While the landscape has changed considerably with academic hiring freezes and the market crash, it’s still no easy feat to hire top talent. 

If organizations want to hire the scientists, epidemiologists, or medical directors they need to truly innovate, they need to seek out the best of the best. Oftentimes, recruiters make the mistake of contacting too many candidates too infrequently. They make a long list of candidates and contact them once, twice, maybe three times, then go from there. 

The problem is that outreach is typically much more effective when we personalize our approach and give candidates some special attention. When recruiting highly qualified, in-demand professionals, a targeted approach works much better.  

Create a shortlist of candidates who would be an excellent fit for the role – candidates that have all the right skills and where your position would be a logical next step in their career. Then reach out to these candidates with personalized messages, and don’t be afraid to repeatedly follow-up.

When recruiting for these positions, we’ve had great success with making contact as many as 10 times over several weeks until we get a response. It may seem aggressive, but it shows the candidate we’re interested in them personally –not just hundreds of candidates with the right keywords in their profile. 

Mind the Skills Gap

Part of the reason why it’s difficult to recruit qualified talent in this sector is the increasing skills gap. Organizations are struggling to find candidates with the necessary breadth and depth of expertise to drive innovation. Beyond recruiting skilled candidates, there are a few steps companies can take to address this challenge. 

One avenue is training existing employees and offering continuing education options. This boosts engagement and retention, and often costs less than onboarding a new employee. Offering reimbursement for education is a great way to encourage employees to upskill so that they may add greater value to your team. 

Another option is to form closer relationships with academic institutions. Partnerships that focus on open innovation can be beneficial for research, as well as foster relationships that can lead to great hires.  

Last but not least, simply retaining talent goes a long way in these efforts. Retention and turnover are too big of topics to get into here, but a good start is offering competitive salaries and benefits packages. 

Provide a Top-Notch Virtual Interview & Onboarding Process

Virtual interviewing and onboarding will never be the same as in-person. However, it’s what many of us are stuck with for the time being. Even in areas without lockdown orders, many candidates will be hesitant to head into an office unless absolutely necessary 

Life science companies must strive to offer the best possible experiences here within these limitations. Research has shown that a strong onboarding process can improve retention by upwards of 80%. Furthermore, a positive interviewing process is crucial for sealing the deal with candidates.  

Like with traditional interviews, it’s important to structure the process and focus on the candidate’s ability to deliver results. Take care to remain professional and give it the time and effort it deserves. It can be tempting to be more casual and skip protocol with virtual interviews, but we owe it to candidates to carefully review their credentials ahead of time and prepare specific questions. 

With onboarding, we likewise should have a carefully planned schedule in advance. Consider assigning a “buddy” to regularly check-in with a new hire and see how they’re doing.

Loop them in on any virtual coffee meetups or other events. We have to offer them the chance to plug in and socialize with the team. It may seem trivial, but this is crucial to making people feel connected and motivated to work together. 

Life Sciences Companies Can Come Out Ahead

It’s a tough time for any company, but life sciences firms have a unique opportunity on their hands. If their products relate in any way to the coronavirus, they have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience tremendous growth. Beyond the coronavirus, demand for various healthcare solutions will skyrocket when restrictions are inevitably lifted and elective procedures resume. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our talent solutions for life sciences firms, click here.