Attracting Life Sciences talent when skills are scarce

With no immediate solution to the continuing skills shortages within Life Sciences, it is important that companies looking to attract talent take a good look at how they will recruit in the future.

With the younger baby boomers now retiring in increasing numbers and fewer graduates with the right STEM skills entering the workforce (as well as the ‘B’ word with its continuing level of uncertainty) finding the right skills is going to be a real challenge in the mid-term.

So how do you ensure that your roles attract the talent and skills you need to stay competitive within Life Sciences?

One element that many companies still overlook is the importance of employer branding. Companies need to invest in becoming an employer of choice in their marketplace so that they can successfully attract, recruit and also retain today’s top candidates.

This is where employer branding comes in. Employer branding is about delivering an authentic and compelling experience to candidates and employees alike.

In this blog, CY Partners offer some top line advice on the complex subject of employer branding.

What is an employer brand?

  • A recruitment and retention strategy that positions your company to appeal to a range of target audiences within your marketplace.
  • A focused and consistent message that speaks to both current and potential employees that conveys the company’s culture and identity in a compelling way.
  • A long-term vision that encompasses the values, systems, policies and behaviours which define what your company expects of your employees and what they can expect of the company.

The key steps to a strong and compelling employer brand:

There are a number of factors to consider before embarking on the development of your employer brand. Here are the key steps to consider:

Get buy-in and clarity at all levels within the company

Your company culture must be a clear set of values that are communicated and believed in from the top-down. It’s got to be real too – not just an exercise on paper. Whatever culture is promoted to potential new recruits, this needs to be what they actually then experience when they join the company.

Do your research

There are two areas to focus on. Firstly internal – this could include focus groups, interviews with executives, needs analysis as well as complete employee profiles and workforce demographics (Gen Y, Gen X etc.) Secondly, you will need to consider external factors such as:

  • who you are looking to attract
  • what they want
  • and you should definitely know what your competitors are doing.

Be prepared to compare the outcomes of sessions involving senior management (perceived reality), against the findings from the employee sessions (actual reality). Address any internal issues first before attempting to launch any employer branding activity.

 Know your target audience.

What are their values and expectations? What are they looking for in a future employer?

It is important to remember that what is vital to one group might not be so in the minds of another. Make sure the message fits the audience, and be prepared to have different messaging if you wish to appeal to diverse skills groups.

Develop your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

Based on the outcomes of your research, your EVP is the commitment you make to your current and future employees.

From this, develop a short statement – we would suggest no more than 10-12 words, as it must be concise and clear, and needs to complement your actual brand. The most successful employer brands do not stand alone. They should possess key elements of the company brand too.

Consider your candidate experience.

  • Explore the application process through a candidate’s eyes: Is the website engaging for potential employees? How long does it take your company to choose who to interview, and then how long before they receive feedback? You really need to consider every touch point of the candidate experience.
  • Why would someone want to work for your company? Explore the reasons why people would love to work for your company – you can do this by asking recent joiners as a starting point, or you could incorporate it into any candidate info you require as part of the application process to get more responses. Be objective: the process is about discovering what your culture is about, not what you wish it would be.
  • Your brand message should be seen, felt and heard by all – even when a candidate is interviewed. The culture of your company should be felt the minute anyone walks through the door.

Clearly communicate with all your audiences

This is also an area where you need to consider internal and external factors.

Internally: you should be developing an employee induction program – this should include a working document, and depending on the size of your company, may need to have different versions – regional, divisional, even departmental.

Externally: you will need to consider how you brief your chosen recruitment consultancy, as well as revising any advertising/website content and social media to ensure consistency of brand message.

Measure and evaluate your success

Once you’ve implemented your employer brand you can start to review a number of areas to measure the ROI. These should include turnover/retention rates, application levels, cost per hire and at least an annual employee satisfaction survey to understand loyalty and engagement.

 Employer branding is a complex subject, so our tips are designed to just give a flavour of what is involved. To truly make it a success, your employer brand will need to be developed and delivered with a dedicated focus over a period of time, with buy-in from many stakeholders within your business.

CY Partners are a specialist recruiter for the Life Sciences community and can provide more in-depth advice on all aspects of maximising your investment in employer branding. If you would like a confidential discussion on this, or any aspect of your recruitment, please contact us on 0191 477 4733.


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