The Pharma & Healthcare sector is facing major challenges. Although attracting new talent is not the first thing that comes to mind, it is indispensible to the long-term future of companies in this sector. So, what is to be done? In a context of scarcity, what strategy should be adopted to attract the best talent?
The healthcare industry’s finished products are not destined for traditional clients, but for patients. This fact, although rather obvious, means that mistakes are simply not permissible. From the products themselves to the conditions of use, nothing can be overlooked – therefore high levels of expertise are imperative when filling vacancies. Candidates possessing all the required skills are rare, so recruiting internally would seem, at first sight, to be the most efficient solution. Existing employees are familiar with the company’s culture and are already specialists of the sector in question. They are aware of the problems and are already in situ. But promoting internal recruitment involves careful talent management and, for the moment at least, talent management is limited to senior managers and directors. Employees occupying position N are not always ready to assume the functions of their N+1. Their level of ability is often not monitored closely enough to be sure they can easily take on a function with greater responsibilities. Recruitment is far too strategic to be left to chance.
In order to grow, a company needs skills and cohesion. Although external recruitment is more difficult it does offer various advantages. External talent brings new ideas and best practices and approaches problems with a fresh eye. Candidates are only too aware of their value on the market so do not make a particular effort to be easily found by recruiters. In order to identify talents who are often invisible on social networks, using external help is clearly the least risky solution. When a head hunter is given an assignment for a position in FMCG, the company with a vacancy usually provides two or, at most, three keywords. In the Pharma & Healthcare sector this number can be much higher. This gives an indication of how demanding and how technical this type of recruitment can be. For example, to find a Senior Marketing Director, specialised in oncology, fluent in English and German and not coming from a competitor’s laboratory, calls for highly developed methods and very efficient tools. The Pharma & Healthcare labour market is highly internationalised and only specialised facilities, such as research centres, will make it possible for candidates with the appropriate profiles to be identified and contacted.
In a market where the candidate has the upper hand, knowing how to appear attractive is a must. Two elements are key to this: the company must be more visible and faster reacting than its competitors. The speed of decision-making takes on a much higher importance when, as it is the case in the Pharma & Healthcare sector, candidates have usually more than one offer. The employer brand is the sum of all the values associated with the company – what candidates perceive as its culture. This will count for a lot when it is time for the candidate to make up his or her mind. Having an optimised recruitment process and communicating strong corporate values seem then to be the surest ways of winning the war for talent!
Elyas Bozan, Director at Morgan Philips Executive Search Germany
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