16 Jan 2020

The Rapid Growth in Companion Diagnostics Created a Candidate Shortage

If you are reading this article, you are aware of the incredible growth in the Companion Diagnostics industry.

 As precision medicine advances and more companies strive to develop immuno-oncology therapies, the growth will continue.  As an employer or manager in search of future employees, the scarcity of candidates is a problem.  In this article, we will review some ideas that will help you fill your open positions.

First, let’s review some of the positions that are hard to fill.   There are not enough candidates to fill every opening, so in order to win the talent war, you must adjust your recruiting strategies.  Our firm Connexis Search Group receives a lot of requests for business development sales reps based in New England, Northeast, and California.   It makes sense because 90% of all the biopharma accounts are in these areas.  Other positions that are in demand and that our firm recruits are:   Clinical trails, assay, and biomarker development scientists, Ph.D. in molecular oncology or molecular/cell biology, Director of Companion Diagnostics (Oncology), computational scientist, Geneticists, NGS scientists, molecular pathologists, Genetic Counselors and MSL’s.

The big question is, "Where do you find candidates for your hard-to-fill companion diagnostics positions”?

  • Take them from your competitor
  • Take them from a similar company---maybe not a direct competitor
  • Take them from a diagnostics company—and train them.
  • Find someone that wants to leave academia.

# 1 ----The best candidate is someone that is currently doing the job for another company. You don’t have to train these candidates, so they are productive immediately.  And they require less of your time. 

#2-----These candidates may not have the desired experience, but they can do 50-75% of the required job functions with minimum training.  Hiring managers must realize that in order to hire in a candidate scarcity economy, they will need to select candidates based on potential and provide training as needed.

#3 ----Biopharma companies should recruit candidates from the molecular diagnostics industry.  These candidates will understand companion diagnostics and will only be lacking in some of the nuances of working for a biopharma company.   For example, A Ph.D. with NGS assay development experience that works for a liquid biopsy company will be able to transition to a biopharma company with little training.

#4----Candidates from Academia will have the appropriate formal education, but they lack experience working in a commercial environment. This incites a longer training cycle.

Here are some challenges with recruiting these candidates: 

  • The number of available candidates that are interested in changing positions.
  • Most of these candidates will receive multiple job offers. The competition to hire them is fierce.
  • Location—where do they currently live, and will they relocate? Relocation can be difficult for companies that are not located in areas where there are a lot of other similar companies.  (Candidates want the ability to change companies without having to relocate.)
  • Non-competes if you are pursuing candidates from competitors. Depending on what state you are located in and the laws regarding non-competes, determine how big an issue this may be.

 Now that you know where to find them, I bet you want to know how to recruit them?

Some of you work for companies that have internal recruiters—keep in mind that internal recruiters don't have time to aggressively pursue candidates.   Most of the internal recruiters have too many open positions to spend the time required to source hard-to-find candidates.

External recruiters are the best choice for hard-to-find candidates. A good recruiter will not rely on job postings (too passive to yield results) to find candidates.   They will identify candidates and call them----nothing is more effective than calling a candidate and talking to them.   As candidates become scarcer, recruiting techniques will have to become more aggressive.  

If you are a hiring manager and have critical open positions, you will have to get involved to secure approval to use an external recruiter.  Relying on HR or the talent acquisition group will lead to a slow process in finding candidates.   Please keep in mind that these individuals are doing the best than can, with the amount of time that they can dedicate to your project.   Many of them are working 10-15 open positions and don't have time to source candidates---so they rely on job postings.  Our firm, Connexis Search Group, allocates searches to our 25 recruiters so that they will have only 2-3 searches at a given time. 

This allows them enough time to pursue candidates aggressively and not rely on ineffective job postings.

Also, if you desire candidates from a competitor, internal recruiters will not be able to call these candidates.   It is not part of their recruiting process to call candidates that work for a competitor.

In order to win the talent war, you must become more aggressive in your recruiting approach.



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