Why Life Science Professionals Are Harder to Recruit and Hire Away from Their Current Companies

By Chris Frew, CEO – Workforce Genetics, LLC.

While job postings in the life sciences industry are much lower than they have been in recent years and the market has been hit with several layoffs this year, it still hasn’t made hiring any easier for the companies who are looking to bring on talent.  Recent data may point to an important factor as to why that is.

A recent study by Specialist Staffing Group revealed that job security is a top priority for STEM professionals, with 53% of respondents globally valuing job retention more than a higher salary.  In the United States, 63% of STEM workers agreed that keeping their current job or contract was more important than earning a higher salary. 

I can tell you first hand after working with dozens of clients this year on executive and scientific search assignments that It’s just as hard to recruit in life sciences today as it was in the middle of COVID.  Every company is chasing ever-narrowing pools of STEM talent, so your employer value proposition needs to be more clear than ever.  

This is why investment into employer branding and recruitment marketing is so beneficial to companies in the life sciences and other STEM industries.  It’s not enough to just put it on your career site. Your talent acquisition team, or your highly capable recruitment vendor – like Workforce Genetics, must be capable of capturing and sharing your employer value proposition clearly and effectively.  Getting the story right and capturing the candidate’s attention with a compelling message about why a career at your company will fulfill their passion and needs is the difference maker.

Jame Ellis, principal of Employer Brand Labs, who has written several BioBuzz guest posts about employer branding for biopharma companies, shares his advice for how biotech companies should craft their message to get candidates to choose you.

Here are some other reasons why STEM professionals are harder to recruit away from their current companies than you should take into consideration when crafting your employer branding and talent acquisition strategy.

  1. Stability and Long-Term Career Growth: Job security and sticking with a company supports stability and a sense of long-term career growth, which is important to many STEM professionals. Sticking with their company provides the opportunity to build expertise, work on challenging projects, and advance within their current field.  Many projects that STEM professionals work on are longer term in nature so it often requires them to stick with it to see the project through.
  2. Intellectual Stimulation and Personal Fulfillment: The study also found that purpose was a key driver for STEM professionals, with 81% of global respondents and 90% of US respondents citing it as a significant factor in their careers. STEM professionals are often very passionate about their field and purpose-driven.  They find intellectual stimulation and personal fulfillment in their work so they often prioritize job security to ensure they can continue pursuing their interests and making a meaningful impact through their contributions.
  3. Culture and Mission:  What the company stands for is very important to most STEM professionals.  Not only is the company’s mission important, but the culture that is created to achieve that mission is a very important factor as well. Since the diversity of thoughts and ideas is the foundation for the best innovations, diversity is also a very important cultural element for STEM workers.  The study found that 62% of global STEM professionals expressed a desire to work for organizations committed to diversity and inclusion. 
  4. Work-Life Balance: Job security can contribute to a better work-life balance, allowing STEM professionals to have a sense of stability and peace of mind outside of work. They may prioritize the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, spend time with family, and pursue personal interests over earning a higher salary.
  5. Benefits and Perks: Job security often comes with additional benefits and perks such as healthcare, retirement plans, paid time off, and professional development opportunities. Many STEM professionals in Biotech also have stock options and substantial bonus’ as part of their compensation. These benefits are only earned based on sticking with their company, so many of them are unwilling to give those perks up.  
  6. Fear of Unemployment or Industry Instability: The rapidly evolving nature of the STEM industry, coupled with the potential impact of automation and AI, can create uncertainty. STEM professionals may prioritize job security to mitigate the fear of unemployment or instability in their field, ensuring they have a stable income and professional stability.

Specialist Staffing Group’s survey included more than 2,300 participants in Germany, the Netherlands, US, UK and Japan. Of which, 501 respondents came from the US with 89% in permanent employment.

If you are looking for additional solutions to help convey your employer brand messaging reach a highly engaged audience of life science professionals, BioBuzz has a suite of solutions that may be able to help.

If your company is exploring better ways to recruit and hire top talent in the life sciences industry, feel free to message me directly and I’d love to have a conversation with you about what you can do to improve your results.