As many sectors of the life science industry continue to see dramatic growth, recruiting and retaining highly skilled professionals from a talent pool that's struggling to keep up has become an enormous challenge.
A 2018 workforce trends report published by the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes (CSBI) revealed that positions in regulatory affairs and compliance are, on average, most difficult to fill; followed by quality, product/process development, and research and development.
If you hire into these roles, you probably don’t need statistics to know that finding talent is hard and getting harder. In a globalized life science industry with a competitive talent pool, firms need to evolve the ways they find and hire resources to keep pace with demanding projects schedules.
Today's hiring managers also need to be able to rapidly scale staff up or down as the project schedule demands—a never-ending balancing act between managing current resources and planning for future staffing needs.
These pressures have led companies to embrace the contingent workforce—highly-skilled individuals with expertise in rare and competitive fields who contract with organizations on a temporary basis. This model, as firms are finding, often better reflects cyclical or project-based demand while infusing staff and systems with best practices gleaned from a variety of experiences.
But building and managing a contingent workforce can demand significant time and energy without the right resourcing partner—one that can take on the intensive work of finding talent and qualifying candidates around precise requirements.
Here, we explain three useful tips when looking for a life science resourcing partner that can help you find exactly who need, when and where you need them.
The FDA Group helps thousands of life science companies find the resources they need, wherever and whenever they need them.
We connect life science companies to the resources they need through the hiring arrangement that’s best suited to the project, role, or function whether it’s a contracted full-time engagement or direct hire.
1. Find your niche. Are they generalists or do they live and breathe life science?
Recruitment and resourcing firms that work across a variety of industries often dilute their effectiveness in each one. The core issue here is that recruiters within these firms are often generalists themselves. Unlike a niche firm, whose recruiters must bring deep industry-specific experience to be successful, generalists often don’t have the firsthand subject matter expertise to understand and articulate the fine points about the roles and functions that guide their search and selection process.
Without the expertise to make your life easier by narrowing 10 to 15 resumes down to five or fewer, generalists often can’t avoid the cliche of throwing things against a wall to see what sticks. If a qualified candidate is even in the stack they give you, it’s now up to you to spend the time and energy finding them.
Here at The FDA Group, for example, our recruiters and project managers come from the world they hire into each day. Unlike larger firms, we’re armed with firsthand experience working in the roles where the subtle details make all the difference—accelerating the process of finding great talent.
2. Ask about their search process. How do they identify right-fit candidates?
Especially in specialized life science roles, the job of a resourcing firm is to identify genuinely perfect-fit talent—not simply pass a stack of resumes for you to do that. Investigate how the firm finds and selects the resources they deliver as candidates to ensure they’re more than just a job board.
What methods do they use to apply your requirements to identify potential candidates? Equally if not more importantly: how do they sift through that group and work it down to a shortlist of extremely qualified candidates you can be confident in?
Using ourselves as the example again, we have a large network of people with established consulting agreements with our firm—some of whom are former FDA staff with intimate knowledge of requirements and expectations. If for some reason the perfect resource isn’t found there, we immediately move to an active channel to source from many thousands more in locations all around the world.
Key Questions & Considerations
A few simple questions can go a long way in locating an effective resourcing partner:
- Is this firm going to push the real work back onto me by showing up with ten or more candidates? Or is this a firm that’s so effective I can check their first one or two top choices and move forward without delay?
- How do they identify candidates? Do they have a bench of talent and active channels? Or do they grab a pre-packaged template and blast it out to LinkedIn?
- Do they work with talent sourcing partners in other countries to secure offshore resources?
- Do they tout special software for identifying candidates? Be wary—these tools are often just flashy crutches to distract from lackluster recruiting skills. As of now, no magic tool—even with AI—can outperform an experienced resourcing professional who can discern soft skills through subtle, often intangible indicators.
3. Gauge their experience level. Do they have what it takes to fill specialized roles on your team?
Experience level often ties in closely to generalist versus niche resourcing firms.
- Are the recruiters being tasked with finding a very specific technical skillset fresh out of college and trying to find their stride professionally?
- Do they actually know the industry terms they’re working with?
This is a simple, but crucial point that often flies under the radar only to result in a messy stack of candidates that might be laughably far from what you actually need. More resumes don’t mean better candidates.
Takeaways and next steps
In the highly volatile regulatory scientific environment, resourcing demands can be thrown at you that can make or break a project or program and everything downstream from it.
Here’s a short summary of key items or actions to consider to ensure you can find and access the resources you need, quickly:
- Create a simple resourcing plan to improve communication and responsiveness where it matters most.
- Look beyond the words on a resume to identify the specialized experience you need.
- Consider the contingent workforce (like full-time consultants) to bridge staffing gaps without delay.
- Enhance accountability to manage expectations across parties.
If you’re looking for a resourcing firm that’s capable of locating specialized talent, use the following criteria to find the partner that’s right for you:
- Are they a niche life sciences firm?
- Does their search process reflect the sophistication you need in finding highly skilled resources?
- Do they bring industry experience to bear on the search process?
Get the right life science resources the first time—wherever and whenever you need them.
Need a better approach to life science resourcing? We give you access to dedicated life science professionals with the experience, skills, and background to see your project through to success.
Whether you need a single resource or an entire team of on-site or remote resources, we connect you to qualified life science specialists to build, scale, and efficiently manage projects through traditional direct hire recruiting as well as a flexible contract staffing/staff augmentation model that better reflects cyclical or project-based demand while infusing new skills and experiences into your team.
We fully understand your resourcing needs and employ our proprietary talent selection process to provide the resources you need, at a competitive rate, with dedicated account management every step of the way. All of our services are backed by a Total Quality Guarantee. Contact us and get the conversation started or grab our free white paper below for expert resourcing advice.
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