How to Navigate the Hiring Process in a Salary Inflated Market

Candidates have options

Covid-19 changed the landscape of life sciences staffing. Companies’ hiring surged as funding soared in order to increase speed of development, which resulted in great science - but approaching 2023, the going rate for salaries has never been higher. Qualified candidates have competing offers on the table, so organizations must be prepared to stand out.

This has impacted the hiring power for both large organizations and small, but in different capacities. PharmaLogics Recruiting, a life sciences staffing firm, notes that the rate of kicked offers is much higher across the industry than it was prior to 2020 because candidates have options. They are ambitious in terms of salary and title growth, so hiring organizations must be more agile than ever to secure talent for their team.

What’s a hiring organization to do?

According to PharmaLogics, hiring organizations must identify and rank the most important considerations playing into a candidate’s decision to accept an offer, and highlight those key aspects heavily during the interview process. Factors like career growth, leadership alignment, science, and money rank in different orders of importance depending on the candidate. When organizations fail to identify what will drive a candidate to make a career move or choose their offer over a competing opportunity, they often lose out.

Companies must learn to get creative and know what “levers” they can pull from internally to win the war for talent. These levers vary from company to company, and an organization’s size often affects the feasibility of some hiring tactics. For example, while inflation has hit smaller companies the hardest, they might more quickly and easily get approval for an increased salary budget than a larger company.

Read on for PharmaLogics’ best tips for small organizations and start-ups to large organizations and big pharma alike to ditch a transactional approach to hiring, and lean on their strengths to appeal to candidates’ “why”.

Be flexible wherever possible

Rigid parameters on things like years of experience and salary cap can be a detriment to hiring if your competition is willing to flex in this market. If there are areas a company cannot compromise on, then playing up other strengths may win candidates over, such as equity packages, stock options, higher bonuses, comprehensive benefits packages, and 401(k) match. While being onsite is a requirement for many positions, being open to hiring remotely when possible can be a game-changer for organizations willing to adopt this approach.

Many companies balk at the idea of training, however if the salary budget is fixed then companies must be willing to invest in training certain roles. Hiring managers can still find great talent, but holes in their background provide opportunities to coach them up, and thus hire at a lower pay rate.

Get creative about how you personalize a job opportunity

It’s important to show candidates what is exciting about an opportunity, particularly when a hiring organization has financial constraints. Emotional aspects might be the tipping point for a successful hire, so companies must be able to paint a picture and demonstrate what is inspiring about their team, how candidates would fit in, and explain growth and impact.  Walk through how the team is structured and lay out a clear path for career growth with distinct milestones for promotions. Helping a candidate to think long-term might persuade them to accept the offer with a slightly lower salary.

Other creative techniques that PharmaLogics’ has seen companies employ is adding leadership to final interview calls (the CEO if an organization is small enough), inviting candidates to dinner after an offer is made, or something as simple as the hiring manager sending them an email to offer an extra conversation to discuss any hesitations they may have.

Get a third party involved

Working with a life sciences staffing agency like PharmaLogics allows companies to see into the market, and become informed on what certain title and salary expectations are today versus three years ago. Market salary surveys tend to be outdated because of how fast the industry is moving - data may already be outdated by 6 months by the time it is published. PharmaLogics knows what the going rate is for life sciences professionals in all functional expertise areas, and how to help companies play to their strengths if the top end of the pay scale is not an option.

Candidate interview experience is king

A seamless and clean recruiting process, coupled with speed, goes a long way toward hiring. Missing interviews, canceling at the last minute, or an all-day interview schedule are the types of inconveniences that can make a candidate walk away regardless of the pay being offered. Put candidate experience first by following up quickly, deferring to the candidate’s schedule, and opting for panel interviews to consolidate the process.

Companies put a lot of effort into engaging and retaining employees once hired, but to win talent the same effort must be put into the hiring/onboarding process. Simply put, organizations must be flexible in order to hire successfully in a market where candidates know their worth, and will find what they are looking for - through smart hiring practices, that may be found with you.