From technology skills to emotional intelligence, what you should be looking for in a candidate.
The market for pharma/life sciences talent is very tight and demand is projected to continue as hiring activity remains robust. In June 2019, the unemployment rate for science talent in the U.S. was 1.4% and the unemployment rate for healthcare talent was 1.5%, less than half of the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 3.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.“Tight job markets demand that organizations become more agile and nimble with talent,” says Allison Kerska, vice president, Life Sciences Integrated Operations, Kelly OCG, a leading advisor of talent supply chain strategies and workforce solutions. “On top of that, individuals today continue to embrace a variety of different work styles geared to enhance flexibility and maximize their career potential.”Over the past five years, employment in the U.S. pharma/life sciences industry grew by 11% and employment in the healthcare industry grew by 10%, faster than overall U.S. job growth of 9%, according to Emsi: Labor Market Analytics. Over the next five years, employment in the U.S. pharma/life sciences industry is projected to grow by 9% and employment in the healthcare industry is projected to grow by 11%, faster than projected overall U.S. job growth of 6%. Employment in the biotechnology space is projected to grow by 24% over the next five years.To help meet the challenge of a changing workforce, we asked experts to share their opinions on the skills you should look for in a potential employee. Here’s what they said.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
“Look for someone who can recognize and understand the impact of their emotions and the emotions of those around them. Someone with a high EQ is able to think through a conflict before reacting and has the empathy and communication skills to elevate teams and make meaningful connections throughout the organization.”
-Tyler Black, president of Global Medical Staffing, an international healthcare staffing company based in Salt Lake City, Utah
“While scientific and technical skills are critical, life sciences employers report that soft skills are also becoming increasingly important for successful candidates. With the rise of AI/automation, demand for skills that are essentially ‘human’ will continue to increase. Top/fast-growing in-demand soft skills for life sciences talent include decision making, teamwork, creativity, change management and negotiation skills.”
-Sam Smith, vice president, Global Practice Lead, Life Sciences & Healthcare, KellyOCG
A team player
“Anyone can elevate themselves. The best hires are those who want to make everyone else around them better, whether or not they receive recognition for it. A team player gets along with their coworkers and wants the entire team to succeed. They help create a work environment that is collaborative, inclusive and focused on achieving team goals.”
-Lynne Gross, president of RNnetwork, a travel nurse staffing company based in Boca Raton, Florida
Positive, can-do attitude
“There are people who look at the world and only see limitations, and then there are people who see the world as full of possibilities. Someone with the latter outlook is approachable, accepts feedback and helps bring up the morale of the team. They want to work through and overcome challenges rather than shy away from them. They’re not afraid of failure because they know it’s just another learning opportunity.”
-Leslie Snavely, chief digital officer of CHG Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company based in Salt Lake City
“Skilled talent shortages persist throughout the life sciences sector, but advances in new technologies are expected to drive even greater demand for people who can leverage digital innovations in the industry. Life sciences companies are competing against numerous other companies for scarce tech talent, making attraction and retention strategies critical. Data science, machine learning, python programming and tableau are all some of the most in-demand skills.”
Skills in emerging scientific fields
“With changing global population demographics, the profile of diseases continues to evolve, generating strong demand for innovation in the pharma/life sciences sector. Many life sciences companies’ R&D efforts are focused on attacking diseases at the molecular and sub-molecular level. Critical fields for R&D include molecular biology and genetics/ genomics, biopharmaceuticals and biomechanics/ biomedical engineering, including regenerative medicine and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Pharma/life sciences employers are increasingly looking for candidates with skills in these emerging scientific fields. Cell biology, molecular biology and immunology are always at the top of the list of in-demand skills.”