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What Challenges Might Hiring Managers Face When Growing a Life Sciences Business?

23 August 2021

By Jay Freeman

What Challenges Might Hiring Managers Face When Growing a Life Sciences Business?

Life sciences is a valuable industry in a multitude of countries, functioning as a catalyst for economic growth and security, even during some of the biggest healthcare challenges such as the pandemic.

Rising global competition, recruitment concerns, increased digitalisation, and the post-pandemic future are all factors that can impact the hiring capabilities of a life sciences business.

With so many factors at play that can inhibit the growth of a life sciences business in the hiring process, which challenges should hiring managers be considering?

The effects of the pandemic

Long-term structural changes are to be expected after such a large-scale global event, and with the life sciences industry being so central to the response to the pandemic, many of these changes are set to revolve around barriers to healthcare, vaccination efforts and increased spending in the pharmaceutical industry.

Primarily, the pandemic accelerated expected trends in the industry – digital interactions and workforce agility – that will continue to be central to the way the industry continues to evolve.

Remote work and virtual processes may have seemed like a temporary necessity, yet even as clinical trials resume, more than half of the interactions between the lead physician and patients are done virtually, compared to 8 percent pre-crisis.

This has multiple implications for hiring managers, the most important of which is the necessity for new skillsets that match the continuing need for remote working and business agility.

Given that the life sciences industry experienced growth during the pandemic at a time when other businesses were struggling, soft skills such as problem-solving, resilience and adaptability a key area of focus when hiring.

Rising global competition

An element of growth is the acquisition of top talent, a challenge that has been prominent in the life sciences sector for a long time.

Finding those with the skillsets required for roles in the sector, combined with the new ways of working, can be extremely time-consuming and made even more difficult by the general war for talent.

Digital skills are in demand across sectors, such as specialised skills in automation, CAD design, bioinformatics and data modelling and programming skills.

For hiring managers, this means that filling vacancies may require a more targeted approach that attracts highly skilled candidates to their organisation, rather than traditional methods of hiring.

There are a few important areas to highlight, such as your values, vision, and mission, which ideally need to be shown to have been put into practice.

With such stiff global competition, showing evidence of the positive change your organisation is enacting and the difference the candidate can make by being a part of the organisation can go a long way in giving you the edge over your competitors. 

Alongside the barrier of global competition, poor employee retention is a hand-in-hand issue – high employee retention is a huge advantage in the war for talent, and it requires commitment and a strong investment in training and development.


Increased digitalisation has been both a catalyst for, and barrier to, growth in the life sciences sector – it’s also a competitive advantage.

The rapid expansion of life sciences technologies is such an influential aspect of the growth of the sector, yet if hiring managers aren’t able to meet the demand that digitalisation requires in order to promote growth, it will merely be more of a barrier than a positive.

Automation, process integration, artificial intelligence (AI) and other areas of IT functionality need to be prioritised for life sciences organisations to remain competitive, innovative and adaptable.

In the UK alone, the AI sector is valued at $46.3bn, with venture capital (VC) investment rising to $3.4bn last year.

If increased digitalisation isn’t accounted for by hiring managers, this type of growth won’t be achievable, and organisations may lag behind the exponential growth that organisations who are leveraging digitalisation are seeing.

Attracting candidates

As mentioned previously, it isn’t just the war for talent that hiring managers in life sciences have to contend with in the traditional sense of competing for top talent, it’s also about attracting candidates too.

Many of the candidates seeking work in the sector want to contribute to something that has a positive effect on society and the world at large, which is why social responsibility is a common focus for job seekers.

Candidates will likely be weighing up their options, which means that an organisation’s stance on issues such as sustainability, CSR and their ability to innovate and leverage investment will be considered alongside a life sciences job role.

The tradition of monetary benefits is moving out in favour of a more value-driven workforce – this needs to be targeted by hiring managers.

With diversity and inclusion continuing to be high on the agenda of many businesses, it is important for hiring managers to continue to implement D&I initiatives, as research indicates that diverse companies outperform their less diverse peers on profitability.

Diversity and inclusion are also potential area of interest to candidates, so ensuring that they continue to be a priority is essential for growth.

If life sciences organisations don’t emphasise their social and environmental commitments, they will struggle to fill skills shortages, innovate, and grow.

To summarise

The ability to innovate is central to life sciences, which is why many of the factors that can accelerate growth for the sector can also be a barrier to it.

Processes were expected to continue to change due to the pandemic, which has put a large responsibility on hiring managers to account for new ways of working, in-demand skills, and the war for talent as remote working continues to expand the global market.

With skills shortages also playing a key role in the necessity for top talent, it has become critical for hiring managers to attract candidates with a strong stance on CSR by conveying the values and mission of their organisation.

Focusing on these areas ensures that your life sciences business can thrive and continue to grow.

For expert help securing top talent for your life sciences organisation, get in touch with the Panda team today.

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