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Life Sciences

October - December 2015

The life sciences recruitment market is active. In this heavily candidate short market a company must sell itself if it is to attract the best of the available talent. Organisations with something unique to offer and that keep the recruitment process succinct and tight are the winners.

Contract Research Organisations (CROs) are very busy. These organisations provide an outsourced clinical research service to pharmaceutical companies across the globe. With a strong pipeline of clinical research work thanks to global trials that require patient recruitment in Australia, we’re seeing increased demand for full-time and locally experienced Clinical Research Assistant (CRA) and Senior Clinical Research Assistant (SCRA) candidates. There is a definite focus on permanent recruitment and we have seen similar trends across all CROs that operate in ANZ. Given high demand we’ve seen salaries increase and more counter offers in this market. For the same reason local multi-site independent monitoring experience is also sought.

Medical Advisors who are qualified medical doctors are in demand as they can provide increased support to healthcare professionals.

Medical Science Liaisons are also sought. Many PhD graduates see the Medical Science Liaison role as a way to commence their career in the industry. This is an area that is expanding rapidly and while a PhD is globally becoming a standard entry-level strategy for the medical affairs space, entry-level roles are still hard to attain.

Candidate trends

When it comes to candidate trends, the most significant is that most candidates will not consider an opportunity unless it offers a much better proposition than their current role. Most employers are doing whatever it takes to retain their existing talent and therefore a hiring company needs to put the same if not more energy into attracting these individuals.

Organisations that work closely with their recruitment partner and communicate to candidates what differentiates them and their offer – during all stages of the recruitment process – are securing the top talent.

While there are a number of excellent candidates who are seeking part-time roles, unfortunately these can rarely be accommodated in big CROs.

Candidates are more willing to undertake additional courses and training to develop their softer skills and commercial acumen, knowing that pharma companies view these skills as highly as technical expertise. They are also encouraged by pharma companies and industry associations to network and attend networking events.

In other trends, it’s interesting to note that the type of candidate who excels in industry actively seeks out challenges to stay engaged and is willing to move into an unfamiliar area in order to challenge themselves and keep their knowledge current.

Previously, pharma professionals specialised in one particular niche therapeutic area, but today it is recognised that skills and expertise are transferrable to new or different therapeutic areas. In addition, employers even now acknowledge that people with transferrable skills can challenge the norm in their new area and bring across new approaches to drive development and accelerate progress.


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