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What You Need to Know When Hiring a Life Sciences Contractor

16 September 2021

By Jay Freeman

What You Need to Know When Hiring a Life Sciences Contractor

Hiring in life sciences can come with a multitude of dilemmas around flexibility, availability of skills, costs, and the competitive nature of the jobs market.

Hiring a life sciences contractor offers a unique solution to many of these common hiring problems, particularly given the period of high investment and the war for talent that have been prominent barriers to the hiring process.

Bringing individuals with transferable skill sets is essential to the period of recovery in life sciences, and can also help to maintain the continued innovation that the sector is seeing due to record-high investments.

If you’re considering hiring a life sciences contractor for your life sciences organisation, here’s what you need to know.

Reduced cost in the long-term

When hiring a permanent full-time employee, there are a variety of factors to consider relating to expenses and payroll.

This usually entails paying additional expenses such as health insurance, private healthcare, pension contributions, and statutory payments such as maternity and paternity payments and sick pay.

These costs can increase the total payroll considerably, without even factoring in the costs of office space, travel allowance, or new equipment – it can all add up quickly.

Most employers will pay contractors more than their regular employees per hour, however, a contractor does not require the above expenses and additional costs.

Overall, it is generally much more cost-effective to hire a contractor when factoring in all of the additional costs of hiring a regular employee.

Bridge the skills gap

One of the most prominent challenges facing the life sciences community at present is the skills shortage, combined with high vacancies and rising global competition.

In the last ten years alone, the life sciences sector has seen an 8% increase in employment and a 3% increase in annual turnover, which is only set to increase due to high job demand.

Though the demand for jobs is increasing, the difficulties with filling vacancies usually relates to the rising global competition that has accelerated due to remote working, and skills shortages in areas such as digital and computational skills, statistical skills and leadership skills.

Filling these gaps can be time-consuming and costly, which is why life sciences contractors are a great alternative for hiring managers.

Many contractors will have gained thorough industry experience by completing multiple projects throughout the year, and therefore have diversified skillsets.

Additionally, contractors are also highly beneficial to most life sciences businesses for their ability to work with high efficiency, as their mode of working relies on it.

Some contractors will even have international experience through their work, which can assist businesses considerably as a contractor can potentially provide market knowledge for other countries at a time when the globalisation of life sciences, pharmaceutical companies in particular, expands.

Add in the wide client base that life sciences contractors have and their variety of skills and experience, and you have the ideal candidate to fill the skills gap in your business without the difficulties that come alongside recruiting a full time permanent employee.

Pairing with high investments

In 2020, despite the numerous business challenges facing all sectors, investment in life sciences reached record highs – the third quarter of 2020 was the largest quarter on record in terms of dollars for venture investment in life sciences.

Over a third of the money raised from venture capital over the first quarter of 2021 was for biotech firms specifically, which are experiencing accelerated growth that can only be maintained with highly skilled talent.

As mentioned above, life sciences contractors have specialised skill sets that can be immediately implemented in a business without the constraints of the regular employment process.

Given that investments continue to be high in the sector, it follows that businesses will need to adapt quickly in order to keep up with the period of accelerated growth to innovate.

Rather than having to upskill current staff or seek out unique skills in lengthy candidate search, a life sciences contractor can simply be hired during a period when they are most needed.


Adaptability across the business

For a life science business, it can often be difficult to determine the best time to hire a candidate – whether during a peak period or during a trough – which means the success of hiring can come down to timing.

Contractors can be hired when they are needed most, whether this means hiring during a peak in order to maintain or accelerate growth, or during a trough in order to alleviate the pressure on other employees and be a catalyst for growth.

Maintaining business efficiency is considerably more complex during the hiring process of a permanent employee, which is why the efficiency of hiring a contractor is such an attractive alternative for many fast-paced life sciences businesses.

The workload of current employees can be reduced by dividing efforts between them and a contractor in terms of priority.

This way, business objectives and core activities can be met with more efficiency and less burden on staff.

An added benefit is also that contractors can act as temporary cover for maternity, paternity, and sickness leave.

In conclusion 

The competitive nature of the life sciences sector can cause the hiring process to be complex, time-consuming, and it may not always result in the ideal hire.

Hiring contractors can offer a reprieve from some of the usual pitfalls of recruiting full time permanent employees – skill sets, flexibility, costs, efficiency, adaptability – and can fill gaps with minimal disruption to the business at large.

Hiring managers are critical in life science’s ability to grow by sourcing the best talent, and are expected to account for the newer ways of working, skills shortages, the war for talent, and the expansion of the global market.

Contractors are uniquely placed to account for these changes with the advantages of cost-efficiency and the flexibility that many businesses require in order to continue moving in a positive direction.


If you’re looking for expert help in securing top talent for your life sciences organisation, get in touch with the Panda team today.


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