Life science recruitment is a crucial component of a successful life science cluster

Feb 4, 2021

What are the specifics of life science recruitment in the Nordics, and how has recruitment been affected by the pandemic? In order to find some answers, we did a little 3 Q&A interview with Managing Director, Vibe Puggard, from MVA-member HAYS – Recruiting experts worldwide.

Q1: How does Life Science Recruitment in the Nordic differ from the recruitment elsewhere?

Recruitment to the LS industry in the Nordic Countries is an interesting subject to look at. To give a view on how recruitment here differs from other countries it is interesting to look at the markets and the characteristics of employment here.

The Nordic countries by themselves are relatively small compared to other European countries but the industries within Pharma, Biotech and Medical Technology are very well developed. Within the Nordic region, Denmark and Sweden differs from Norway and Finland by being significantly bigger markets and stronger in R&D. On top of this Denmark is known for favorable regulations and has a large LS industry with the largest exporting sector. In Norway financing is very strong. Sweden however is the largest market on the sales side, they will therefore often act as HUB for the rest of the Nordic region.

Due to the highly developed Nordic market, strongly represented by both production companies and sales companies the need of the staffing spectra is on one hand very broad, but also very specialized. We therefore see a stronger need for importing specialty labor from abroad, as we are not educating enough specialists to be self-supplying and we there have a greater need for hiring from abroad.

Luckily it is quite attractive to work in the Nordics as work life balance and the flexicurity model are things that speak in favor of working in the Nordic region.

In Denmark, it is relatively easy to employ people from abroad. This makes the need for recruitment on a permanent basis greater. Also, Denmark and especially Copenhagen is known for a high degree of Work Life Balance and pleasant living which often means a great deal for people coming to Denmark from abroad. Sweden is not only a larger market, but takes the lead on freelance and temp jobs since the termination of permanent employees is much more costly in Sweden than Denmark. Therefore, companies are typically more careful with permanent hires.

Sourcing the right specialists for the LS industry however is not so easy as the ones in jobs can be hard to move as job security is also of high value. Thus, companies can no longer rely on the old “post & pray” method where the right candidates come to you, you have more and more to know the players in the market and engage with the candidates in different fora, have methods of sourcing internationally and schemes to employ from abroad. As we in the Nordics are not producing enough specialists ourselves to meet future demands we must therefore seek abroad to find the right specialists to meet demand. In this race the work structure of the Nordics can be seen as an absolute advantage.

 Q2: What are the unique selling points of Hays Specialist Recruitment?

As the world’s leading specialist recruitment agency, Hays has a global network of specialists that we can tap into. Spreading across 33 countries and with more than 250 offices, we are able to source the right candidates from all over the world. With insights from local markets we can provide a full picture of the global labor market and the specifics that characterize candidates and their motivations to move. An example. 10 years ago, specialist from e.g. Poland would be characterized as cheap labor and would move for money, however with the development of wealth, educational level and prosperity characteristics and skill level have changed which mean motivation is different. This knowledge is important to hiring company to know when they need to attract the right specialists, and this is knowledge that Hays can provide due to our international profile.

Hays is a full-service agency going beyond just recruitment for our clients. We are a strategic partner that support our clients in recruitment, training and onboarding among other things. As a thought leader in the market we have e.g. launched Hays Learning: a free Learning Management System that allows both existing and non-existing clients to have their own platform for ongoing education, training and onboarding of their employees.

In order to support the Life Science sector, which is very often very internationally based with need to cross country recruitments. In our experience it can often be a jungle for companies to set up international agreements that really works under same roof so to speak. In Hays we are ISO certified to make sure clients in all countries receive same quality work and, besides the local recruitment specialists in every country, Hays also provides an international recruitment desk who works as cross country account executives from coordination of international recruitment agreements to securing implementation, compliance and the best possible account management in every country. So, to sum up the combination of international setup combined with the country specific team of consultants working in the Life Science industry allows us to become true specialist and a secure, full-service solution for our clients.

 Q3: How has the life science recruitment business been affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has – and is still, affecting most companies including the Life Science industry. In many ways the Life Science industry has been strengthened during the pandemic. However, like many other sectors some have mastered to get strengthened through the crisis while others have lost their breath.

The pandemic has strongly affected the way we work. We have seen that recruitment of new employees has moved onto digital platforms like MS Teams, Zoom and Slack. But the personal interaction that often makes a difference in the recruitment of new talent is weakened, when you can only meet online. It is easy to read a CV and check the factual knowledge about a person, but chemistry between the company/Hiring Manager and the candidate and the culture within the company is challenged when you are no longer able to meet onsite.

Further to this we are seeing a growth in demand of Data Scientists, Digital specialists, Compliance people and a new kind of sales & Marketing people. As things move online the approach must be different, the amount of data grows and the need for capture, structure, quality assurance and analyzing skills

We have noticed that the employer branding is becoming more and more important. When meeting physically is not an option it takes more to move people. Therefore branding, visualizing the purpose and showing the company DNA online, through media, through recruiters etc. is becoming increasingly important. It has therefore also shown that the most qualified people for the job can be hard to attract if they already have a good job today.

Hence, our job as recruiters have also changed, as the focus on the cultural fit is becoming even more important to map out prior to a hire. We are therefore even more than previously focusing on being the prolonged arm of the companies in our message to the candidates.

And on the assessment side we can make a difference for the clients in offering the full circle recruitment solution including assessment tools that supports our clients in other parts than just presenting the right candidates. With COVID-19 our clients have started to realize that we are here to support them from end-to-end in their needs, as we have the tools, knowledge and resources to help them – even when times are changing.


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