When the Need is NOW: The Strategic Advantage of Interim Staffing in Life Sciences & Healthcare

June 24, 2024

In the fast-paced, ever-changing pharmaceutical, biotech, and healthcare industries, every moment counts when determining the strategy for filling critical leadership gaps. Whether bridging a temporary vacancy or engaging the precise expertise required during a critical phase, an increasing number of companies are relying on interim staffing and consultants to address immediate needs for top-tier talent.

“We’re seeing companies of all shapes and sizes turning more frequently to this type of solution,” says Jesse Klein, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Klein Hersh. “It’s not a matter of if, but rather, at what point in in the lifecycle, such needs arise. The drivers are numerous, from covering for a key individual during maternity leave, to fulfilling a particular set of responsibilities that may only be temporary or part-time, to the necessity of quickly plugging an expert into a position for the short term while an executive search is underway, to many others.”

Klein Hersh reports the highest demand for interim staffing solutions and consultants currently fall within four main areas―physician recruitment, regulatory affairs, drug safety, and clinical operations, for a few critical reasons.

Meeting Critical Needs

Often, the biggest need is for speed. On average, typical executive searches take 90 to 120 days. By contrast, most companies need key interim roles filled within days or weeks. Klein Hersh Client Partner Dan Strauss, who leads the Pharmacovigilance and Risk Management practice, and co-leads the Human Resources and Talent Acquisition practice, shares the story of a key role he helped to fill recently―on both an interim and a long-term basis.

“We were approached by a client whose Vice President of Drug Safety was leaving the company,” explains Dan. “They asked us to conduct a retained executive search to identify a permanent replacement, and given their immediate needs, they also asked us to find a consultant who could fill that role right away on an interim basis. We were able to quickly bring in an interim VP of Safety to serve over the 90 days it took to complete the retained search. That individual also stayed on for another month to overlap with the new VP of Safety and ensure a smooth transition.”

“In another recent example―this one in our Human Resources practice area―we were approached by a stealth-mode, venture-backed biotech company to conduct a search for a Chief Human Resources Officer,” says Dan. “We found the ideal candidate rather quickly, but that individual couldn’t leave their current position for another three months. We placed a fractional CHRO who could start right away and bridge that gap for the next 90 days until the new CHRO could join the company.”

Other companies have interim staffing and consulting needs that may be temporary due to budget parameters, or based on where they are in their lifecycle.

“We just worked with an individual who Klein Hersh had previously placed in a full-time role at a biotech company,” says Ethan Schwartz, Client Partner, Physician Recruitment. “She had additional staffing needs on her team, but the organization didn’t have the budget for a retained search. In a very short timeframe, we were able to place three consultants across multiple functions including clinical development, medical writing, and biostatistics.”

Another common reason for hiring consultants is the constant ebb and flow of work, particularly inherent in clinical operations.

“Clinical trials can ramp up quickly, allowing little time to staff up appropriately,” explains Lonnie Brantz, Client Partner, Clinical Operations and Program Management. “A particular trial may require hiring a number of people for a finite period of time. Or a trial might require a particular area of expertise that doesn’t translate to a full-time or long-term position. And beyond these challenges, several of our clients are venture-backed start-ups who may not yet have the capital to bring on full-time Clinical Operations leaders. They’re increasingly bringing on experienced consultants who can strategically drive these programs for three, six, 12 months until they can make a permanent hire.”

Identifying the Best Interim Talent

While there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to an interim search, the key to repeat success is the ability to match the unique and specific needs of the client with the perfect candidate in an expeditious way. To do this, having an immediate understanding of the availability of a vast network of in-demand talent is critical.

“I think the biggest challenge for firms offering interim staffing solutions is identifying individuals who have the interest and the bandwidth to take on specific roles at the time a client needs those roles filled,” says Zach Spitz, Client Partner, Regulatory Affairs. “Given our deep tenure in the marketplace across all our practice areas, we know who’s open to interim roles and who’s looking for full-time positions. We’re able to generate strong candidates very quickly for our clients and get the right individual into a given seat in short order―often within less than a week. I may be biased, but I think we’re the very best at what we do.”

About 95% of the leaders placed in this type of interim role are true independent consultants. They have worked in the field for a number of years, and possess extensive knowledge and expertise. They’ve chosen to leave full-time careers, typically later on in those careers, to become consultants, and are proven experts in meeting interim needs in their areas of expertise. Other candidates are simply open to a variety of leadership roles, including both permanent and interim positions. Like clients, some candidates desire stepping into a role as quickly as possible as well.

“With over 25 years experience, Klein Hersh is known as the premier retained executive search firm in the pharma, biotech, and healthcare industries, but we’ve also built a proven track record in supporting our clients’ interim staffing needs,” adds Jesse. “Our team is always looking to increase the value we provide. And with this offering, we’re able to leverage the high-level relationships we’ve developed over the past 25+ years to bring a streamlined approach to interim staffing and consulting. Whatever the need, our access to world-class talent is unmatched.”

Learn more about Klein Hersh’s Interim Staffing services and contact us to discuss how we can partner with your organization to fill critical interim leadership roles.

Authored by
Jesse Klein
View Contact Page Connect On Linkedin
About the Author
Jesse Klein is a Managing Director of Klein Hersh and has played a formative role in advancing the firm’s leadership within life sciences executive search. He is one of the driving forces in developing Klein Hersh’s winning culture, creating an environment with an extensive focus geared toward delivery, accountability, collaboration, and fun. In addition to his role as a Managing ...