How To Attract Top Talent For Executive Pharmaceutical Jobs

3 mins Minutes

Issues like high staff turnover and talent shortages profoundly impact life science business...

By Guest Author

sharing industry expertise

Issues like high staff turnover and talent shortages profoundly impact life science businesses looking to hire excellent candidates for all-important senior pharmaceutical jobs. To navigate this increasingly difficult recruitment landscape, the pharmaceutical industry must attract the best and brightest professionals to fill senior-level roles. With the right people at the top, pharma companies have a greater chance of overcoming the recruitment challenges currently facing the industry and retaining outstanding staff who will drive innovation and prosperity. 

This begs the question - what is the best way to draw in and retain executive-level professionals? Research conducted by CPL and labour market data provider Vacancysoft revealed that pharma companies have an increasing amount of executive vacancies, a finding that highlights the industry’s stark lack of executive talent. While there isn’t a universal solution applicable to all life sciences companies, pharma firms can implement several strategies to recruit senior-level candidates that perfectly suit their needs. 

In this guide, we’ll explore top tips for executive recruiting in the pharma industry and the various skills and qualities your ideal senior-level candidate should possess. We’ll also take a look at how hiring a recruitment partner like Meet can enhance your executive talent acquisition strategy.

Top Tips for Executive Recruiting in the Pharma Industry

Every organisation needs strong and effective leadership to steer them toward success, not least pharmaceutical firms. The pharmaceutical industry is currently undergoing a recruitment crisis, with the demand for top talent far outpacing supply. 

Firms are struggling to recruit high-quality candidates for executive-level roles like CEO and director, and the fact that the typical executive search process lasts between 4 to 8 months means that companies could be waiting a substantial amount of time for the senior staff they require. 

Let’s explore 3 top tips for executive recruiting in the pharmaceutical industry: 

1. Value Employee Referrals 

Executive recruiting can be a lengthy process, but there are recruitment strategies that pharma firms can employ to save time and money. Utilising employee referrals is an efficient method of streamlining the recruitment process, with 48% of businesses claiming that employee referral programs are their preferred hiring strategy. 

Not only will leveraging employee referrals speed up your executive search process, but it’ll also make your current employees feel trusted and valued, thereby boosting your staff retention rate. 

2. Maintain Discretion and Confidentiality

Once you have a shortlist of potential candidates in mind, you should think about the most appropriate way to contact them. It’s important to remember that executive and senior-level staff are likely to be mindful of their privacy, so it is paramount that you are as discreet and confidential as possible.

A study conducted by Experteer revealed that 86.9% of executive candidates prefer to be contacted through a private email address or via online networks. By using private communication channels, you’ll be demonstrating to your shortlisted candidates that you respect their desire for privacy, and they’ll be more likely to accept your interview request. 

3. Go Above and Beyond Expectations 

To secure your ideal executive candidate, it is crucial that you go the extra mile to show them that your firm is a place worthy of their expertise. You should acknowledge the fact that executive search is very much a candidate-driven market, and in-demand executives will be expecting far more than a run-of-the-mill recruitment process.

Providing candidates with an elevated recruitment experience is vital, as research shows that 77% of candidates who’ve had a positive experience will share it with their networks. Going above and beyond to boost candidate experience offers an array of valuable benefits, including higher referral rates, a strong employer brand, and more high-quality applicants. 

There are many ways to facilitate first-rate candidate experiences, such as offering a face-to-face meeting with your company director, treating them to a meal outside work hours, giving them a tour of their workplace, and doing your best to accommodate their specific needs, such as offering remote interview options. 

Sourcing the best and brightest executive-level candidates is no easy feat, and if you’d like to learn more about it, feel free to read about our executive search service. 

Skills and Qualities to Look For in Executive Candidates 

Hiring top talent for executive pharmaceutical jobs is no easy feat, and that’s why it’s vital that you know the skills and qualities to look out for. Executive and senior-level staff with sufficient leadership experience are likely to possess a superlative set of professional attributes, from people management skills to a comprehensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.

Here 5 of the key skills and qualities you should look out for when hiring your next senior-level professional: 

Innovative thinking

The pharmaceutical industry is at the forefront of technological revolutions, harnessing the powers of AI, machine learning, and biometrics to streamline and automate their day-to-day operations. Executives at pharma firms will be expected to take the lead on complex projects involving advanced technology, so it’s crucial for them to be able to develop innovative solutions to tackle potentially difficult issues. 

Negotiation savvy

A key responsibility for executives at pharmaceutical firms is negotiation, particularly in relation to pricing and market access. Forging effective and long-lasting relationships with lobbyists, manufacturers, and government regulators is integral to bolstering your negotiating and bargaining position, so having the confidence and know-how to build these connections is essential. Having stand-out persuasion abilities will also come in handy when it comes to internal matters, such as convincing esteemed team members to stay at your organisation.  


All pharma firms have to deal with issues that affect their profit margins, including supply chain disruption, competition from rival companies, and global challenges like wars, health crises, and natural disasters. Amid an ever-changing business landscape, executives must be capable of quickly adapting to meet the needs of new and unforeseen situations. 

For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, pharma firms were forced to adapt by implementing virtual working arrangements, boosting telemedicine sales, and shifting their focus from research and development to vaccine production. 

Interpersonal skills

While demonstrating all the necessary professional competencies is important, executives must possess outstanding interpersonal skills. They should be able to make meaningful connections with board members, media outlets, and regulators and be a point of contact for employees looking to raise queries or concerns. Building positive working relationships is vital for any executive, so be sure to assess your candidates’ social and communication skills. 

Strategic awareness

An effective executive doesn’t just think about today’s problems and pain points, they are able to predict future concerns and modify strategies accordingly. Like great chess players, they can see several moves ahead, and this instinct guides them when drawing up strategic forecasting plans. 

The nature of the pharma industry is changing all the time, with issues such as climate change and conflict having significant knock-on effects for pharmaceutical manufacturers. Because of this, pharma firms need leaders with the strategic awareness necessary to navigate through immediate and future crises. 

Benefits of Partnering with a Recruitment Agency  

Collaborating with a recruitment partner is an effective strategy for hiring new talent. An efficient alternative to dedicating time and cost to an internal recruitment process, partnering with a recruitment agency yields many benefits, particularly when hiring executive staff. According to one study, a staggering 97% of senior-level professionals would prefer to be headhunted by recruiters than search for their next opportunity themselves. 

With this in mind, let’s explore the advantages of calling on a recruitment partner to assist you: 

1. Access to a Wider Talent Pool

Rather than trawling through various job boards for top senior-level candidates, your recruitment partner will focus their efforts on attracting passive candidates already employed. Any reputable agency is sure to have a team of recruitment specialists who have spent years building a vast network of highly skilled professionals. So, when you call on them to source you a high-quality candidate for your senior-level vacancy, your designated consultant should have a variety of high-calibre professionals with the right skill set to be your next executive. 

2. Reduced Hiring Time 

Whether you are a large, multinational or small firm, using a recruitment partner can save your business valuable time. Internal recruitment can be time-consuming, as key hiring tasks like seeking candidates, carrying out interviews, and negotiating salaries require a lot of time and effort. With a dedicated recruitment agency like Meet doing these tasks for you, you have more time to focus on your important daily tasks. Not only can your recruitment partner take care of the hiring process, they can also source suitable candidates quicker thanks to their vast network of passive candidates.

3. Long-Term Cooperation

Once your recruitment partner has connected you with a perfect candidate, you’ll have the confidence to call on their recruitment services again in the future. Building a relationship such as this will benefit your future recruitment needs, as the agency will clearly understand your brand identity and business goals. As well as helping you recruit more top-notch candidates going forward, they’ll also provide you with expert market insights that can inform your overall talent acquisition strategy. By working with a market-leading recruitment agency like Meet, you can feel secure in the knowledge that you can rely on our client services whenever you need to make a future hire. 

4. Lower Costs 

Another key benefit of partnering with a recruitment agency is that it is a cost-effective method of hiring. With access to a wide pool of high-quality candidates and a team of consultants able to perform recruitment tasks on your behalf, recruitment agencies help you to reduce hiring expenditure in the long run. There are many costs associated with carrying out your own recruitment process, such as creating job advertisements and training new hires. A recruitment agency can help you save money by taking on costly recruitment tasks, reducing the risk of employee turnover, and cutting the time it takes to find top-tier candidates. 

5. Expert Recruitment and Industry Knowledge

Executive hiring in the pharmaceutical sector can be a particularly difficult task, but by partnering with a recruitment agency with expert knowledge of the pharmaceutical recruitment space, you can expect a swift and stress-free hiring experience. They’ll be able to provide valuable insights regarding the latest salary information, job market trends, and in-demand skills, giving you a clear idea of the sort of candidates you should be considering. 

Final Thoughts

The pharmaceutical industry is facing a recruitment crisis for executive-level positions, with high staff turnover and talent shortages. To navigate this difficult recruitment landscape, pharmaceutical companies must attract and retain the best and brightest professionals. Strategies such as valuing employee referrals, maintaining discretion and confidentiality, and going above and beyond expectations can help attract and retain executive-level candidates. Additionally, partnering with a recruitment agency can provide access to a wider talent pool, save time and cost, and lead to long-term cooperation. 

It is essential to look for executive candidates with skills such as innovative thinking, negotiation abilities, flexibility, interpersonal skills, and strategic awareness. By implementing these strategies and finding the right candidates, pharmaceutical firms can overcome recruitment challenges and drive innovation and prosperity.

Connecting Top Talent with Senior Pharmaceutical Jobs 

With years of experience in pharmaceutical recruitment, our consultants go the extra mile to source our clients' best and brightest candidates. We aim to be a go-to recruitment partner for firms looking to fill their available pharmaceutical jobs with some of the industry’s top professionals. We also offer a selection of best-in-class services designed to fulfil all of our client’s recruitment needs. 

If you are a pharma company looking to fill a vacant position or a candidate who wants a brand new challenge, we invite you to contact us today. 

Book in a call with one of the team about your hiring needs.

Meet Recruitment 2022. Meet Recruitment Ltd., Meet Recruitment Inc. and Meet Personalberatung GmbH are all subsidiaries of Meet Group (No. 13556131) a company registered in England and Wales at Irongate House, 22-30 Dukes Place, London, EC3A 7LP.
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