How to Overcome Skill Shortages in Life Sciences Recruitment

8-9 Minutes

Life Sciences is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors in the world, yet des...

By Guest Author

sharing industry expertise

Life Sciences is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors in the world, yet despite being a leading contributor to the economy, Life Sciences is currently in the midst of a talent shortage. 

While available talent is few and far between, the need for pharmaceutical and biotechnology staff is continuing to soar, with businesses under increasing pressure to attract the best and brightest candidates. 

It’s no secret that skill shortages are one of the biggest challenges affecting Life Sciences recruitment, and companies that fail to address it risk losing their competitive edge. Though the demand for Life Sciences professionals is far outpacing supply, there are numerous methods that organisations can implement to tackle skill shortages and attract top talent. With the right talent acquisition strategy in place, Life Sciences companies can build a talented workforce that drives innovation and growth. 

In this guide, we’ll delve into why there is such a stark talent shortage within Life Sciences and explore five innovative recruitment strategies that help you to attract high-quality candidates. 

Why Is There a Skills Shortage in Life Science Recruitment?

There has been a shortage of Life Sciences talent for a number of years now, and given the lack of qualified candidates, rapid technological advancement, and ever-increasing competition for the highest calibre professionals, this unfortunate trend shows no sign of dissipating any time soon. While candidates can look forward to a wide array of opportunities from businesses in need of their sought-after skills, Life Sciences companies are having to come up with creative strategies for attracting and retaining the highly skilled individuals they require. 

Pressure from Rival Industries

One of the key reasons behind the scarcity of talent is competition from other industries also seeking STEM candidates with valuable skills in areas such as AI and digital technology. A survey conducted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry found that 43% of pharmaceutical companies claim that a lack of digital literacy skills was a major factor affecting their recruitment successes. 

This concerning figure highlights the difficulties Life Sciences companies have with sourcing well-qualified candidates, and with rival sectors like engineering and renewable energy pursuing the same professionals, this problem is likely to persist. 

What is the State of Play for Life Sciences?

Despite the recruitment challenges, the Life Sciences industry is expanding at a rapid rate, not least due to an increasing demand for effective treatments and technological advancements.

The likelihood of the sector’s continued prosperity hinges on whether Life Sciences companies can hire the right amount of first-rate professionals within a reasonable timeframe. Published in 2020, the Science Industry Partnership Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy estimated that 133,000 additional Life Sciences jobs need to be filled by 2030 for the sector to overcome the skill shortages. 

At Meet, we understand that filling Life Sciences jobs is no easy feat, especially given the lack of available specialist talent. Developing a best-in-class talent acquisition strategy can be tricky, so we encourage you to check out our market-leading recruitment services to discover more about how our award-winning team can support you. 

5 Strategies for Attracting Top Life Sciences Candidates

The Life Sciences industry is nothing if not ambitious, and considering 71% of Life Sciences companies plan to grow their workforce in the near future, it is abundantly clear that firms need to adapt their hiring strategies to compete with the growing amount of competition. 

The sector has evolved dramatically over the last few years, largely down to the workplace culture change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, technological shifts led by the development of artificial intelligence, and a growing demand for top-tier professionals. Yet, in spite of the various Life Sciences recruitment difficulties, businesses with the right recruitment strategies in place have every chance of securing a dedicated team of outstanding employees. 

Let’s explore five of the most innovative recruitment strategies for attracting top Life Sciences candidates:


1.    Promote Professional Growth and Career Development 

A sure-fire way to draw in the brightest Life Sciences candidates is by promoting professional growth and facilitating career development opportunities. 

By providing your employees with regular training programs, workshops, and mentorship initiatives, not only will you be investing in your staff’s success, you’ll also be igniting their passion for continuous learning - something that is guaranteed to make them want to stay at your company. 

Leading Life Sciences companies, such as Pfizer and Sanofi, have benefited greatly from implementing comprehensive upskilling programs. For example, Sanofi’s Digital Accelerator program aims to upskill their internal workforce and support their global digital strategy, while Pfizer’s Learning and Development program has been credited as one of the top upskilling programs in the industry. 

Research conducted by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees state that they’d be more likely to stay at a company that champions growth and offers pathways for progression. 

With this important figure in mind, you should allocate time to facilitating comprehensive upskilling and reskilling programs for your employees. For instance, if your organisation is dedicated to digital transformation, you could get your employees to take an online or in-person course designed to enhance their knowledge of new and emerging digital technologies.

2.   Establish a Unique and Recognisable Employer Brand 

Another proven strategy for attracting exceptional Life Sciences talent is establishing a unique and recognisable employer brand. In the heavily candidate-driven Life Sciences industry, organisations with strong employer branding can expect more interest from top candidates, differentiation from their competitors, and increased opportunity for research funding. 

Investing in your employer brand should be high on your list of priorities, particularly given that 59% of recruiters claim to be devoting more time and money toward boosting their employer branding strategies. 

With countless studies showing that candidates are more likely to join a company with a distinctive and recognisable employer brand, improving your branding is a pressing need that your firm must address, and fortunately, there are plenty of tried and tested techniques for achieving this. 

An effective technique for making your employer brand more visible is by showcasing your culture, mission, and values via a range of channels, including social media posts, job advertisements, and employee testimonials. 

With a clearly defined message and mission statement that you are open and transparent about, your brand has a greater chance of being positively perceived by prospective candidates. Other methods for boosting your employer brand include: 

  • Encouraging employee feedback

  • Creating an employee referral program

  • Rewarding staff with additional perks 

3.    Make Your Compensation and Benefits Packages Competitive

While being passionate about scientific progress and making a positive difference to people’s health and wellbeing are common reasons why professionals pursue Life Sciences careers, so too is the relatively high pay. 

Given that those who work in Life Sciences possess in-demand skills and specialised knowledge, it is unsurprising that these professionals enjoy competitive compensation and benefits packages. If the packages you offer don’t match up to what your direct competitors can provide, you run the risk of discouraging high-quality candidates from applying. 

Understandably, many Life Science companies may find it difficult to improve their pay offerings due to a multitude of factors, including decreased funding and record levels of inflation. Though these issues are somewhat difficult for firms to navigate, it is important to bear in mind that the financial and reputational costs associated with having poor staff retention rates are also considerable. 

With the cost of turnover per employee at £30,614, it is understandable why so many Life Science companies recognise the overall financial benefits of investing in compensation and benefits packages. Even if your business is experiencing financial uncertainty, there are numerous non-monetary rewards that you can add to your packages to make them all the more appealing to top industry talent. 

Whatever you choose to include in your list of employee benefits, be sure to consider employee trends such as the increased desire to work remotely, have clear development paths, and enjoy a better work-life balance. Top suggestions for boosting your compensation and benefits packages include: 

  • Flexible working arrangements 

  • Regular one-to-one meetings to discuss career development

  • Health and wellness programs 

  • Frequent employee engagement surveys 

  • Employee recognition schemes with bonuses for workplace achievements

4.    Make the Recruitment Process Quicker 

Making your recruitment process swifter and more efficient is a great way to provide an elevated candidate experience, thereby attracting a higher volume of top-quality candidates. 

With the demand for outstanding Life Sciences professionals surpassing the amount of available talent, the very best candidates are likely to receive an array of job offers from rival organisations. By implementing a quick recruitment process, you can remain ahead of the curve and improve your chances of securing high-calibre candidates before your competitors do. 

The recruitment landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, not least due to the rise of AI-powered tools and digital advertising. Today, it is par for the course for Life Sciences companies to employ state-of-the-art, technology-driven recruitment techniques, and using these tools to conduct quicker hiring processes is essential for facilitating exceptional candidate experiences. 

A survey conducted by Robert Half revealed that 62% of professionals lose interest in a job if they hear nothing back within two weeks, a figure that highlights the importance of quicker recruitment. 

Follow these top tips to optimise your recruitment process: 

  • Tailor your job descriptions to suit the specific needs of your organisation

  • Showcase your company’s culture and values within the job ad to attract candidates who are motivated by your vision

  • Use AI-powered tools to automate tasks like CV screening, video interviews, and scheduling 

Using a specialist Life Sciences recruitment firm like Meet is also an ideal option for companies who wish to make quicker hires. With a vast pool of high-quality talent, expert knowledge of the industry and recruitment trends, and a selection of best-in-class services, we can take care of the hiring process while you attend to your daily duties. 

5.    Foster an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Having a workplace culture that champions inclusivity and diversity provides numerous benefits for businesses, including higher productivity, more innovation, and a greater ability to attract top talent. With a reputation for being a traditionally male-dominated sector, the Life Sciences industry still has difficulties with attracting candidates from underrepresented communities. 

In spite of the challenges, research shows that Life Sciences companies are moving in the right direction, with more than 10% of businesses above average in relation to gender pay equality. 

As well as making it easier to draw in top talent, fostering an inclusive workplace culture leads to enhanced productivity, decision-making, and employee engagement. By ensuring that your workforce feels welcomed and supported, you can be sure that they’ll go the extra mile to further your company’s goals. 

A great place to begin is adapting your talent acquisition strategy to actively seek out candidates from all walks of life. Ensuring that your job description is inclusive and welcoming will increase the chances of attracting applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds. Other actions you can take to create an inclusive workplace culture include:

  • Collaborating with organisations dedicated to promoting diversity in STEM and Life Sciences 

  • Conducting regular inclusivity training sessions

  • Having a diverse interview panel 

Finding the Formula for Life Science Recruitment Success

Despite being one of the most rapidly growing sectors, the Life Sciences industry faces a persistent talent shortage, driven by increasing demand, rapid technological advancements, and competition from other sectors. However, with the right talent acquisition strategies, companies can overcome these challenges and secure top-tier professionals. 

To thrive in this evolving landscape, it's crucial for Life Sciences firms to prioritise professional growth, build a unique employer brand, offer competitive compensation packages, streamline the recruitment process, and foster inclusive work cultures. By implementing these innovative recruitment strategies, organisations can not only bridge the talent gap but also drive growth, ensuring their continued success in this dynamic field. 

Connecting Candidates with Life Sciences Jobs 

With years of experience in Life Sciences recruitment, our consultants pride themselves on helping clients uncover the brightest sparks that the industry has to offer. Whether you are looking for an experienced Life Sciences professional or a graduate with outstanding potential, we are here to support you.

If you’re eager to make your recruitment vision a reality, we encourage you to get in contact with us today, and one of our expert consultants will speak with you about how we support our clients. 

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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