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Life Sciences Recruiting vs. Other Industries

In my experience of over 15+ years of talent acquisition, I have found some fundamental differences in the method and style of recruiting for filling positions within industries.


First, I must state the obvious - positions within the life sciences industry are unique, specialized, demand higher qualifications, and are therefore much harder to fill. Seldom will you see multiple positions for one scientific role; therefore, competition for qualified and skilled individuals is high.


Recruiting for the life sciences industry is a much more specialized and rigorous formula. Recruiters must be relentless in their outreach and sourcing to build and sustain a robust pipeline. The talent search is far beyond that of a cookie-cutter approach. Recruiters' processes and methods are to get a true sense of the candidates' character. They want to determine if the candidate has the capabilities, vision, values, and confidence for the challenges and opportunities inherent in a life sciences role. This is not always a simple task, as obtaining such information from the wide range of individuals interviewed can sometimes be challenging. Recruiters have to be astute, understand the science language, and be able to extract what they need.


Forming relationships with potential candidates and understanding their career aspirations is vital to the possibility of filling future roles; thus, the utilization of social media is a must. Recruiters must not only be willing to continuously build new relationships via this method but also be able to maintain and sustain existing ones. Pipelines must be robust and evolving to keep up with demand. Many job seekers will go to headhunters/agencies to assist them with their job search.


Recruiting in other industries still carries some of the fundamentals mentioned for life sciences recruiting. Skills and qualifications are constantly reviewed; however, in some cases, years of experience can equal the level of education required. For example, the position may ask for a Master's degree in a specific field; however, “X” amount of work experience may equal that. 


Many positions require "high volume hiring," and the strategies for these are different. As there can be ample candidates where minimum sourcing is required, the time to fill positions is far less than the average for scientific positions. Numerous applicants will post their CVs on job boards and use sites such as Indeed or Zip Recruiter (not something you will generally find for science applicants). As many of these positions needing to be filled are not “life-changing,” the approach is a little more relaxed. This also carries into the qualifications of the recruiter. 


The fundamentals of recruiting for any industry remain the same. Have a strategy, execute it, always communicate, and know that you are making a difference to the individual looking for a job and the company hiring.