Talent Planning Strategy: Are You Ready For 2024?

8-9 Minutes

2023 has been a rollercoaster of a ride in the Life Sciences recruitment landscape. For star...

By Emily Davies

Senior Content Writer

2023 has been a rollercoaster of a ride in the Life Sciences recruitment landscape. For starters, inflation has put a strain on investments and hiring, and the dawn of new technology has continued to widen the already gaping skills gap. Yet despite these challenges, the demand for the best and brightest Life Sciences talent is still as strong as ever. 

In fact, Astrinxinc predicts an 8% increase in Life Sciences opportunities by 2030. Industry analysts also report that the sector’s 5-12% year-on-year growth shows no signs of slowing down. Alas, this growth comes hand in hand with a persistent shortage of specialized talent, with estimates suggesting that more than one-third of positions will be unfilled by 2030.

So, with more and more companies competing for the best Life Sciences talent, it’s clear that something needs to change when it comes to the way you think, plan and operate in your recruitment practices.

You see, whether you’re a big pharmaceutical business, a nimble biotech startup, a mid-size medical device company, or a major healthcare communications agency, the means to attract and engage with the crème de la crème of Life Sciences talent is changing. But fear not – we’re on hand to help! 

As award-winning Life Sciences recruitment experts, we know what talent wants, what your competitors are offering, as well as all the other things you need to consider when planning your 2024 talent strategy.

Remember, your talent planning strategy is more than just filling your immediate job roles. It’s about setting your business on the right course for the coming year, ensuring you hit your goals and secure long-term success.

So, as we look toward 2024, let’s explore five key trends and insights shaping the future of Life Sciences recruitment.


1.    Skills Shortage Maintaining a Talent-Driven Market 

With the skills gap ongoing, the demand for specific skills within Life Sciences is far outpacing the supply. This means that highly skilled candidates often find themselves juggling several job offers simultaneously – and the competition is not just from multiple Life Sciences organizations! Other industries are also competing for the same talent, particularly digital and technical expertise.

That means that candidates are in a unique position to demand more, with more than 40% of the global Life Sciences workforce actively looking for new job opportunities. For companies to secure this coveted talent, they need to craft a winning strategy, creating value for workers, not only as stakeholders but as whole individuals too.

So, how exactly does this work? Well, the most successful companies are no longer concentrating on hiring the smartest people but rather on having access to the smartest people – and that’s where we come in!

For employers, they might only recognize the skills shortage when it comes to recruiting for a new role. For us at Meet, due to our close relationships with both companies and talent, we know what is happening as it happens. So, if companies want to succeed in 2024 and beyond, they need to bring their own degree of flexibility to how talent is sourced, trained and managed.

That means being open to hiring individuals who demonstrate knowledge, adaptability, drive and a thirst for learning, whether that be taking a chance on those deepening their expertise in a ‘secondary’ field or on those who have experience across multiple roles within Life Sciences.

At Meet, we pride ourselves on being the ultimate matchmakers, listening to the wants and needs of candidates as well as employers. By becoming an extension of your internal talent acquisition team, we’re able to feed this information back and forth to source the best outcome for clients and candidates and create successful, long-lasting relationships.

Earlier this year, we asked over 400 decision-makers hiring in one of our biggest markets, East Coast Pharma, about their current most pressing challenges in finding talent. Over 90% cited a ‘talent shortage’ or ‘skills shortage’ as their most significant hurdle to overcome. 


2.    Inflation and Investment Strains Stretching Time-to-Fill Metrics

Time-to-fill, a term that might sound like recruitment jargon, is essentially the countdown that begins as soon as you advertise a new job role and stops once a candidate accepts the offer – and as you’re well aware, top talent doesn’t hang around for long!

In fact, almost 60% of job seekers lose interest in a position if they think the application process is taking too long. But in today’s climate, the skills gap coupled with inflation’s pressure on investments, budgets and hiring has meant more and more businesses are exercising caution when it comes to taking on new hires.

According to Biospace, throughout 2023, 13% of Life Sciences businesses have hit the brakes on hiring altogether, and 38% are scaling back their recruitment plans. Consequently, this level of uncertainty has pushed top talent to explore their options elsewhere, and the average time-to-fill in Life Sciences has stretched to 60 days – and that gap just keeps getting wider!

So, have you contemplated your current strategy and how to improve it?

See, the truth is that even those with effective hiring processes can find weak spots where they can streamline their methods. To begin, evaluate how long it takes to move a candidate from one stage to the next and compare it to industry benchmarks.

For us at Meet, despite the challenging market conditions, doubts around hiring strategies and cost-conscious approaches, our teams have stepped up to meet the needs of our Life Sciences partners, with our average time-to-fill standing at 49 days – 11 solid days shorter than the current industry standard. 

However, taking everything into consideration, decreasing your time-to-fill shouldn’t be your sole objective. If your hiring process is too short, you might not give yourself enough time to evaluate talent, risking a poor hire. On the flip side, if your process is too brief, candidates might not have enough time to really get to know and understand your business. The right process strikes a balance, allowing enough time for both parties to make an informed decision. 

In a nutshell, the ideal recruitment strategy is one that’s both efficient and cost-effective, resulting in a high-quality hire. Working with a company like Meet ensures that candidates are carefully sourced, vetted and screened, guaranteeing a match not only in technical skills but in soft skills too. Essentially, we’re here to add value precisely where and when you need it most.

Throughout 2021, across all our markets, our average time from resume sent to the hiring of a candidate was 29 days. Streamlining our processes has shortened that window to just 26 days in 2023. 

Head over to our exhaustive guide to learn more about current challenges affecting time-to-fill in Life Sciences and how you can overcome them.


3.    Competitive Salary Insights 

For companies to reach their growth targets and compete for top talent, you must understand the salary expectations of current and future employees. For Life Sciences, in particular, salaries have rapidly increased over the last few years!

This year, however, due to cautious hiring trends, the pace has slightly slowed, with an average salary growth rate of 3% from 2022 to 2023, compared to an 8% growth rate from 2021 to 2022.

Still, skilled Life Sciences professionals have continued to see their incomes grow over the last 12 months, with average earnings for full-time employees reaching $142,885 – one of the highest rates ever seen!

This salary growth can be attributed to two things: candidates pushing for higher wages to reflect the increasing cost of living and the persistent skills shortage, which has meant employers are battling it out and paying the big bucks to secure the very best talent. As a result, 99% of Life Sciences employees saw a salary increase when changing employers, and 27% reported a salary increase of more than 25%.

That said, it might not be as daunting as you first think. While you might need to stretch your budgets to compete for top-tier talent, it’s been noted that candidates are showing some flexibility when it comes to compensation increases.

This shift in mindset on the candidate side is likely influenced by the strains on investment and hiring, along with visible layoffs occurring throughout the industry. With everyone within Life Sciences aware of these constraints, professionals are acknowledging that super-high levels of wage growth are now less realistic.

From Meet’s perspective, between 2021 and 2022, we saw significant salary growth across each of our markets. From 2022 to 2023, however, salaries have remained relatively the same due to market challenges. 


4.    Talent Still Wants Flexi-Working Options

The last few years have seen flexible and hybrid working arrangements become ever more popular. In fact, they’ve become so ingrained in work culture that for many Life Sciences employees, flexible working is no longer considered a benefit but an expectation.

While talent is still on the lookout for flexible working options, with 30% of workers contemplating a career move if required to return to the office full-time, employers are increasingly nudging employees to be present in the workplace.

So where does this dynamic leave Life Sciences businesses?

Well, for one thing, we must remember that top talent and desired specialist skills are still in high demand and difficult to come by. Still, nearly half of the Life Sciences workforce is willing to forgo other job benefits if it means having a flexible working environment that aligns with their work-life preferences.

In the instance that businesses insist on driving performance through physical proximity, talent is likely to explore career opportunities elsewhere. That’s because with multiple companies vying for their expertise, if talent doesn’t get their needs met by their current employer, they won’t hesitate to get their needs met elsewhere.

In fact, one-third of Life Sciences employees consider flexible hours an essential criterion for accepting a new job, and an additional 39% value it as extremely important. Similarly, a third of Life Sciences professionals consider remote work options essential, and an additional 28% believe it very important.

In light of the fact that 43% of recent resignations cite the absence of remote working options as a key factor, and 41% attribute their departure to a lack of schedule flexibility, it’s clear that businesses refusing to show their own degree of flexibility are only limiting their talent pool for roles crucial to their success.

And let’s not forget that being open to flexible working arrangements can prove advantageous for employers too, with an enormous 62% of workers reporting heightened levels of productivity when working remotely!

With flexible working options showing no sign of slowing down, at Meet, 49% of roles we took on in 2023 had elements of remote working. In comparison, only 40% of positions in 2022 had remote working options. 


5.    Exploring Your Talent Acquisition Options 

In a world (and sector!) constantly evolving and reshaping how businesses operate, recruiting for new positions in your business is no exception. What we mean by that is that when you rely exclusively on binary choices of in-house resources or traditional contingency recruitment providers, you only generate limited results.

So, when looking at your 2024 hiring strategy, what’s your alternative?

Well, the key is understanding what people your projects require over a defined period of time. Just think about it: is your talent acquisition strategy aligned with your business objectives, and how can it be more flexible? 

The answer is by teaming up with a company that offers a comprehensive suite of services, whereby you gain the ability to adapt to both anticipated and unforeseen hiring challenges. These kinds of services encompass talent planning and provide you with insights such as competitor benchmarking and salary insights, ensuring you maintain your competitive edge within a challenging market.

What’s more, you can explore flexible options that suit where you’re at and spearhead you toward greater success, such as consistent hybrid and embedded RPO models and dedicated executive solutions. These kinds of options mean you gain access to more high-quality hires as well as predictable costs in line with your budget.

While these innovative recruitment strategies are shaping the future of talent acquisition in Life Sciences, it’s important to note that traditional services, such as direct hire and contract solutions, still have their place. So, depending on your stage of growth, the key is to explore all available options and collaborate with a partner who truly understands your unique business needs. Essentially, a recruitment partner just like Meet! 

Think Meet can help you map, plan and hit your 2024 business goals? There’s only one way to find out!  

Contact us, include #hiring2024 in your message, and a specialist team member will be in touch in the coming days. 

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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