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Why pharma needs to get sexy

Why pharma needs to get sexy


How can pharma firms lure the top talent away from the finance and tech sectors?
Last Updated: 06-May-2016

The vast majority of you reading this article will be aware that the finance and technology sectors lure much of the top talent when it comes to UK graduate recruitment. And it’s understandable. In finance, it’s well known that you can earn a serious amount of money while in tech you can work on innovative projects in cool, hi-tech, cutting-edge environments. And both provide professionals the chance to build networks with some of the sharpest people around, people who are almost guaranteed to have some sort of success further down the line. The pharmaceutical industry also offers this sort of potential, but far too few of the best and brightest consider it as a serious career option, at least not in the face of the competition from the aforementioned sectors. But what can pharma do to win the ‘war for talent’?

One of the reasons the technology sector has grown as an attractive field to work in is because firms have been able to tap into the drivers of younger generations and build employee value propositions that are tailored to these individuals. Pharma firms should be asking themselves, what do the people we’re trying to recruit actually want? Employee perks have changed considerably over recent years and the millennial generation, in particular, looks for more alternative benefits and ways of working than their predecessors. This means considering incorporating factors like flexible working or the chance to get involved with international projects as a part of a role.

Along similar lines you should also consider what opportunities you’re offering to professionals early in their careers. While most understand that you have to earn your stripes, millennials tend to get itchy feet much more quickly than other generations and want to feel like they’re making a valuable contribution to their employer at an early stage. If they don’t see these opportunities in a potential role, they’re likely to look elsewhere to find them. Promote the fact that your company offers the chance to work on major projects or with senior figures in the organisation and you’re likely to find a considerable uplift in interest in roles. More radically, why not develop an ‘intraprenurial’ culture and the idea that you give new employees the chance to be creative and take ownership of their own projects. As Marlene McGrath, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at 3M highlights: “This not only helps them learn and grow but it has also led to breakthrough ideas for the company. When people are encouraged to share ideas and explore new theories, it builds a dynamic workforce where people are passionate about what they do.”

Finally, we all know that one of the methods to tap into the graduate workforce is by embracing online platforms. Far too many pharma firms are miles behind their rivals in the war for talent when it comes to their employer brand and particularly how it’s promoted via social media. This is quite simply a necessity in the modern world and while the majority of graduates aren’t going to make a job decision based on social output alone, it can help to add depth and provide a clearer idea of the type of working culture at your organisation. It’s doesn’t take a huge amount of work to build interesting and engaging profiles and trust me, your rivals in the tech and finance sectors are already doing it. Look to create pages that provide a real insight into what working life at your firm is like and you’re likely to tap into a market that previously may not even have been aware of the organisation as a future employer.

Abid Kanji is Associate Director at NonStop Recruitment