pharma, life sciences, talent acquisition

Reimagining Recruitment in Pharma and Life Sciences: A New Era of Talent Acquisition

Below, we share our perspective on how Pharma and Biotech firms may need to rethink their recruitment approach to continue to meet their companies’ hiring needs.

The Pharma and Life Sciences industry, a pivotal force in driving healthcare innovation, is grappling with a substantial talent acquisition challenge. Historically, the industry has relied on attracting seasoned professionals from within its ranks. However, it’s now confronted with an undeniable reality: this approach is no longer sustainable. With a staggering 87,000 roles left unfilled in the U.S. alone and predictions pointing to a 35% talent deficit by 2030, the need for Talent Acquisition (TA) professionals to revolutionize their strategies has never been more pressing.

Understanding the Challenge

This talent shortage is rooted in a confluence of demographic shifts, economic developments, and technological breakthroughs, which have collectively propelled the growth of both pharma and life sciences. The life sciences sector, in particular, is poised to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 11.75% through 2028. Meanwhile, the pharma sector is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 5.96% annually.

Yet, to harness this growth, both sectors find themselves in a fierce battle for talent, not just among themselves but with industries outside their domain vying for tech-savvy talent essential for digital transformation. The demand is broad, encompassing roles from software development, where employment in the industry has surged by 26% since 2017, to statistical and data science positions, which have experienced growth rates of 18% and 153%, respectively.

The struggle extends to non-technical domains as well, with a marked increase in demand for managerial, financial, and sales roles. Notably, sales and account representation positions have witnessed a 14% uptick in postings since 2017, while managerial and business/financial operations roles have grown by 33% and 25%, respectively. This illustrates the comprehensive nature of the talent challenge, spanning across both technical prowess and business acumen.

The Strategic Pivot

For TA professionals in the Pharma and Life Sciences fields, the path forward requires a reimagined approach to recruitment. Key strategies include:

1. Expanding the Talent Pool by Hiring from Outside the Industry:

It’s crucial to venture beyond the industry’s traditional confines and attract talent from varied sectors. This entails valuing transferable skills for roles, particularly those in administration and operations, and recognizing the potential contributions of individuals without direct industry experience.

2. Embracing a Skills-Based Recruitment Approach:

Transitioning to a skills-based hiring model can dramatically enhance the talent pool. This shift prioritizes specific skills and competencies over industry experience and educational background, which is particularly relevant for technical roles where the mastery of certain technologies and methodologies is paramount

3. Ensuring inclusivity is at the forefront of the candidate experience:

This evolution in recruitment practices is not just a response to the current talent crisis; it’s a strategic move toward fostering a diverse and resilient workforce. By adopting these approaches, TA professionals can address the immediate talent shortage and lay the groundwork for sustained growth and innovation in the Pharma and Life Sciences industry.


The future of the industry hinges on its ability to adapt to these challenges by embracing more inclusive and flexible talent acquisition strategies. For TA professionals, this means reassessing hiring criteria, welcoming unconventional candidates, and investing in the development of new hires to bridge skill gaps. The message is clear: by broadening the horizon of talent acquisition, the Pharma and Life Sciences sectors can navigate the complexities of today’s job market and secure their position at the forefront of healthcare innovation.

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