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Recruiting Non-Local Life Sciences Talent in 2020

70% of employers in the Life Sciences industry expanded their workforce in 2019, according to a BioSpace Life Science Community Survey. This means that recruiting and hiring talent within that space is increasingly challenging and competitive.

Unemployment is at an historic low. We are currently in one of the longest economic expansions in history. As a result, finding the right talent is harder than ever. Many organizations have exhausted their local talent, especially in hotbed areas such as Biotech Bay, Genetown, Biotech Capital, and Pharm Country. And although most companies would prefer to hire local talent, that is becoming more and more challenging as a result of supply and demand.

In order for companies to add new roles and have the ability to fill those roles, they must entertain the somewhat less favorable option of relocating candidates. It is no surprise that when considering the opportunity to relocate for a new job, candidates list salary/compensation as their number one deciding factor.

However, as companies try to lure the best of the best to a new geographical location, there are other surprising factors that may give an edge over the competition.

Here are 4 areas that matter to candidates (in addition to salary):

  1. Location: This is where your inner salesman must shine. Not only are you selling your company and all it has to offer, you must also sell its location. Consider spending some time at your local Chamber of Commerce sites. Put yourself in the shoes of a new resident. What are the highlights within a 100-mile radius?
  • Speak to the climate; hot, cold, wet, dry. It doesn’t matter. List some advantages associated with whatever it may be.
  • Mention any Life Sciences funding opportunities within your region, such as Venture capital, National Institute of Health (NIH) or others. This shows your city is supportive of their work and indicates stability.
  • Is your area known to have an excellent education system? This can be very attractive for candidates with families.
  • And if, by chance, your city has a lower cost of living than that of the candidates’ current home, mention that as well.
  1. Healthcare: These days, healthcare benefits are much more than the ever-escalating cost of insurance. Clearly identifying healthcare benefits can be a significant factor in attracting candidates.

Winston Benefits, a benefits administration, enrollment, and communications company, found that—as in many other competitive industries—biotech companies stand out by offering strong health benefits to their employees. This means that to be competitive, Life Science companies are upping the ante on healthcare benefits.

Other non-traditional wellness perks can set an organization apart from the competition, with offerings such as:

  • On-site gyms or gym discounts
  • On-site cafés with healthy eating options
  • Retiree health benefits
  • Pet Insurance
  1. Flexible Work Schedule: 36% of respondents selected this answer as extremely important in a recent BioSpace survey. This took precedence over options like bonuses, retirement plans, and PTO. The trend of offering employees some level of flexibility is not going away.

    As a matter of fact, 34% of U.S. workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in order to work remotely. And those who do work remotely are 29% happier than on-site workers. Of course, “flexible” is subjective and means different things to different people. A few of the common approaches companies are implementing include:
  • Non-traditional hours, meaning outside of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Freedom to work remotely anytime, anywhere
  • Flexibility to plan around weekly targets while managing personal commitments
  • Ability to make your own schedule if performance metrics and deadlines are met
  • Ability to set your own hours
  • Summer hours—half-day or entire days off on Fridays during the summer
  1. Flexible Move/Transition: Moving out of an area will always be a major life change and quite stressful. Keep this in mind when constructing your relocation package. Does your company have the ability to go above and beyond to make this process as smooth as possible for the new hire? Consider a few of these ideas:
  • Is it possible to adjust the start date that takes into account school schedules?
  • Is there an opportunity to work remotely while the move is being coordinated?
  • Can the company pay for temporary housing while the candidate looks for a place to live?
  • Will the company cover moving expenses including transportation and packing/unpacking services?
  • Is it possible to cover storage expenses until the candidate gets settled?

In a poll of U.S. workers by Robert Half, 62% of respondents said they would consider relocating for a new position. A separate poll found that, in the past five years, 34% of companies increased their relocation package offerings to attract top candidates from beyond their geographic area. For many organizations, relocating workers might be a necessary business expense.

The bottom line is that to remain competitive in attracting top-level candidates in the Life Sciences space and convincing them to relocate to a new geographical region, companies will first have to accept that this is the current state of the recruiting market. And then companies need to review and revise their strategy to attract and ultimately lock-in relocatable potential hires.

This is a great conversation to have with your trusted external recruiting partner who has insight to share on all of these areas covered, plus additional market intelligence.