07 Jul 2021

7 Techniques: How to Recruit and Hire Life Science Sales Candidates.

Suggestions for recruiting life-science tools sales reps:



Life science tools companies sell analytical instruments or supplies to researchers that work in the biopharma, industrial or academic industries.  Most of these products are used in the research use only (RUO) market. This article will take a closer look at the challenges life science companies face as they try to hire sales professionals.

The available pool of sales candidates in the life science tools industry is sparse due to the demand and the limited pool of candidates. 

Over 4,000 life science sales jobs are posted on Indeed based on a job search conducted on July 5, 2021. The industry is experiencing significant growth, which will fuel demand for more sales professionals. The global life-science tools market will be around $95.68 billion by 2027 and grow at a CAGR of 8.5% over the forecast period 2020 to 2027.

Most life science tools companies desire to hire candidates with existing sales experience and have a life science degree, limiting the pool of candidates. Even though the number of Biology graduates in the workforce has been growing at a rate of 4.1%, from 2.73M in 2018 to 2.84M in 2019, only a tiny percentage of these candidates desire to become sales professionals.


Suggestions for recruiting life-science tools sales reps:

  1. Hire candidates with the appropriate life science degree who are currently working in a laboratory and a desire to break into sales.  This assignment is not an easy recruiting task since most people who work in the lab do so because they enjoy the work. However, you are trying to find a candidate that is disappointed with working on the bench and wants to break into sales.  This group of candidates represents a tiny percentage of people working in the lab and requires a tremendous recruiting effort.  



  2. If you hire an existing life science candidate, then be more open to their background. For instance, if your company sells to academic accounts, consider a rep that sells into industrial accounts. But, again, consider the candidate's intangible attributes, not just their experience.



  3. If you must have experienced sales reps, be prepared to offer higher compensation. higher base salary, car allowance, stock options, enhanced vacation time, etc. If you want to hire experienced candidates, you have to be willing to pay.  Culture is also influential, not just compensation. Try to structure your company so that your reps have a lot of autonomy to get the job done.



  4. Another option would be to hire candidates from a similar industry.  For instance, if you're selling products to cardiovascular researchers, consider hiring candidates from the medical device space who understand cardiovascular.



  5. Consider sponsoring candidates who need work visas.  Most small companies typically shy away from the visa process even though it is not as expensive or difficult as many believe.  Our firm, Connexis Search Group, recently placed a Field Application Specialists that needed an H1 visa.   Our client was pleased to learn that the process was easier than expected.



  6. Another source of life science candidates is to recruit from companies that hire entry-level candidates and train them. Typically these companies do not pay as much as other companies. So when these candidates learn the profession, they realize they're underpaid and will start considering other opportunities.



  7. Don’t rely on job postings to find candidates.  Job postings are not effective in finding passive candidates.  The companies that use aggressive recruiting techniques are the ones that are hiring top-tier candidates.  


Why Hiring Life Science Candidates is Challenging:

Hiring life science candidates poses several challenges for companies in the industry. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Limited pool of candidates: The demand for life science sales professionals often surpasses the available pool of candidates. This scarcity can make it challenging to find suitable candidates with the desired qualifications and experience.

  2. Specific requirements: Life science tools companies often seek candidates with a combination of sales experience and a life science degree. This requirement narrows down the pool of potential candidates even further, making it difficult to find individuals who meet the criteria.

  3. Competitive market: The life science industry is experiencing significant growth, leading to increased competition for qualified sales candidates. Companies must compete with one another to attract top talent, making the hiring process more challenging.

  4. Disinterest in sales roles: Despite the growing number of Biology graduates, only a small percentage of them aspire to pursue sales careers. This limited interest further reduces the pool of candidates available for life science sales positions.

  5. Compensation expectations: Experienced sales professionals in the life science industry expect competitive compensation packages. Companies must be prepared to offer higher salaries, additional benefits, and incentives to attract and retain experienced candidates.

  6. Cultural fit: Finding candidates who align with the company's culture and values can be challenging. Life science companies often prioritize candidates who can work autonomously, exhibit strong communication skills, and adapt to the industry's dynamic nature.

  7. Visa requirements: Hiring candidates who require work visas can add complexity to the recruitment process. Some companies may hesitate to pursue candidates who need visa sponsorship, limiting the available talent pool.

By understanding the challenges associated with hiring life science candidates, companies can better develop the strategies mentioned above and adopt more flexible hiring practices to overcome these obstacles and make life science recruitment easy.



Recruiting life science candidates will remain a challenge due to the shortage of available candidates and the growth of the life science market. The companies that will win the talent war are the ones that are willing to be flexible with their hiring practices and use aggressive techniques.  


About Connexis Search Group:

Connexis search group has been recruiting in the life-science industry for the last 21 years. We employ 23 recruiters located throughout the United States who have vast connections in this industry.  Many of our clients are in the life-science sector, and the above observations are from our experience recruiting candidates for these companies.

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