Biopharma Seeks Superior Talent in Response to Unprecedented Demand Following the Pandemic

Despite an uncertain political climate and global economic trends, the job market in the US is still soaring. The unemployment rate currently sits at a remarkable 3.5%, the lowest rate in half a century, and it’s even better for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, whose unemployment rate is a mere 2.0%. This is truly an encouraging sign for the economy!

Biopharma has continued to thrive during the pandemic, and recruitment in the industry has kept on going strong. Joe Peters, President of the recruiting firm Scientific Search, has commented that “Life sciences companies were hiring throughout the pandemic, and though the rate has dropped slightly, it is still bustling with activity.” So despite job losses making regular headlines, there is no need to worry about a lack of opportunities in the biopharma sphere!

In this unprecedented job market, fueled by the pandemic’s safety measures, it’s not uncommon for job seekers to demand the ability to work from home. In fact, when starting the job search process, “The first thing any candidates ask is, can I work from home? Or, is this a hybrid job?” said Peters of BioSpace. This lack of workplace enthusiasm, he believes, is not likely to change, even as safety measures are relaxed.

Jana Swenke, the head of pharmaceutical and biotechnology recruitment at Kaye/Bassman, bluntly highlighted the growing importance of remote and hybrid work, stressing that “If you’re not doing remote or hybrid, you’re not in the game” when it comes to employers.

The landscape of hybrid working arrangements in the biopharma sector has seen immense change since the onset of the pandemic; what was previously at 15% has now shot up to almost universal acceptance, as Swenke estimated that nearly every company is now providing this option to its employees.

This shift in policy is seen as a win for both the organization and its workers, many of whom suffer from long, taxing commutes to work in urban centers such as Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, and the Research Triangle. Hybrid working arrangements ultimately create a better life balance and greater satisfaction amongst the ever-evolving biopharma organization.

In today’s highly competitive job market, companies are going to greater lengths than ever to attract top candidates. From title inflation to increased base salaries, businesses are utilizing a range of strategies to make themselves more attractive to job seekers. According to Swenke, this has been an ongoing trend since the onset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Peters reports that salaries have been steadily increasing year-on-year. It’s clear that companies are willing to go the extra mile to secure the perfect fit for their team.

Before the pandemic, sign-on bonuses were already the norm in biopharma to compensate for stock options and bonuses potential new employees would miss out on by leaving their current employer. But according to new research from Indeed, sign-on bonuses for U.S. jobs have become far more common since the pandemic—and that includes PhDs joining the biopharma workforce.

As the economy begins to falter, companies are starting to feel the pressure, laying off workers and struggling to grow. This could result in a shift towards employers having a stronger presence in the hiring dynamic, limiting the amount of perks job candidates may be able to demand. As hiring conditions shift, it remains to be seen how long job seekers can continue to demand perks.

The labor market has cooled considerably from the heights of a year ago, as evidenced by the decreased numbers of new job postings on Indeed and the slower wage growth being seen. It’s clear that employers are becoming more conservative in the current climate.

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