Who's hiring in Big Pharma? Novartis, Roche, Sanofi top the list

Want a new job in pharma? The world's biggest drugmakers are hiring--even in the U.S. and Europe. The numbers aren't enormous, but as Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News numbers show, the three most active recruiters have more than 5,000 positions to fill among them.

Over the past few years, we've grown more accustomed to job cuts than job vacancies. And on this entire list of Big Pharma companies, none has managed to avoid laying off workers. Still, hiring must go on, and the who and where tells a story of the industry's current state of mind.

So who, exactly, is hiring, how much, and where? The companies line up as one would expect, with the suffering soldiers at the end. That's Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), in 10th place with 368 jobs listed, most of them in the U.S. Eli Lilly ($LLY) comes in 9th with 484 jobs, but the lion's share of those are in China, where the company hopes to expand its sales network enough to grab its piece of that market's growth. And in 8th place is AstraZeneca ($AZN), which is recruiting 544 workers, almost half of them in the U.S., and another 202 in China.

The hardier souls at the top of the list? All European companies, with Novartis ($NVS) in the lead--and a significant one, we might add. The Swiss drugmaker is looking to hire 2,740 people, more than 1000 of those in the U.S. and another 500 in its home country. Germany, Austria and the U.K. are also in the mix, as is India, with 113 vacancies.

Second-place Roche ($RHHBY) and third-place Sanofi ($SNY) each want to hire a bit more than half as many, with Roche seeking résumés for 1,450 jobs and Sanofi looking for 1,427. In each case, U.S. operations have the most vacancies, with 744 for Sanofi, or 52%, and 591 for Roche, or about 41%. Sanofi is also looking for 465 in China--more than Bristol-Myers is eyeing altogether--and a few dozen in each of several other markets. Like Novartis, Roche is hiring at home in Switzerland, with 240 vacancies. The company needs 192 people in Germany and 148 in China, too.

We'd like to see a comparison to job openings in years past, but none is to hand. We can tell you, however, that two of the most active recruiters are among Big Pharma's top employers these days, with Novartis at 127,724 at the end of 2012, a 3.2% increase over 2011, and Sanofi at 111,974, down by 1.6%. So, their current hiring plans won't change their totals much.

- see the GEN story

Special Reports: Top 10 pharma companies by employees | Novartis | Sanofi | Roche | Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2012