Winning the Race for Top Medical Talent

July 16, 2018

Robust capital investment is driving extraordinary growth in the life sciences industry. According to Pitchbook, a researcher covering the venture and private equity markets, $2.8 billion has already been invested in pharma and biotech startups in the first quarter of 2018. This investment level is on track to eclipse the record $10 billion that was invested in 2017.

New companies are being formed at an unprecedented rate across today’s hottest therapeutic areas.  Although a high percentage of this investment is targeted at oncology and immuno-oncology, there is also a significant uptick in the funding of companies focused on central nervous system (CNS) diseases; cell, gene and stem therapies; orphan and rare diseases; and several other areas.

Growing Demand for Physicians

To advance breakthrough discoveries, emerging organizations are in strong competition for top scientific and medical talent. One area where this trend is abundantly clear is within the physician recruitment landscape. Physicians are increasingly becoming the backbone of many organizations, filling positions which are highly critical to company success.

In R&D, physicians bring together the worlds of bench-side science and medicine, while also delivering valuable knowledge of the patient community to the discovery and development of new therapies. Attracting and hiring top medical talent will help increase the perceived value of the organization in the marketplace.

High Bar for Medical Talent

A high bar has been set in the recruitment and hiring of medical talent in pharma and biotech. Physicians not only must be strong cross-functional collaborators in R&D, but they need a deep understanding of the science that is core to their work, while also possessing practical knowledge of other critical functions. As a result, companies are fiercely competing for top physician talent from a marketplace that is struggling to keep pace with rapidly growing hiring demands.

Staying Ahead of the Recruitment Curve

In the race to hire top medical talent, the winners will be the companies that take a fresh approach in their physician recruitment strategy. Companies that can move beyond the status quo and become more adaptive in their recruitment will put themselves in a better position to succeed in today’s competitive environment. Through our proven experience assisting our pharma and biotech clients, we believe there are a few key strategies that can help companies to stay ahead of the physician recruitment curve: 

  • Find the Best Cultural Fit

In physician recruitment, pharma and biotech companies are a lot like professional sports teams: they all want the number one draft pick. While striving for the best possible talent should always be an overriding goal, companies must also ask themselves who is the right fit for their particular team.  The top pick isn’t always the right fit for growing organizations.  We believe that companies will find the most success when hiring a person who brings the necessary energy and fits in well with their culture.  A candidate that is passionate about your science and brings a successful attitude will be tantamount to a successful and impactful long-term hire.

  • Take a Longer View of Talent

During the hiring process, we counsel our clients to look beyond the “paper” skills that all companies consider when evaluating physicians. A candidate who is experienced in crucial areas that are particular to your therapeutic field but doesn’t have every skill you need today, is still worth a serious look. The focus should be on finding a physician who can help your company today and achieve sustained success moving forward. The right candidates may not check off all the boxes you need today, but through ongoing talent development, their skills will ascend in the future.  Avoiding lost time is one of the most critical, yet unspoken, aspects of successful recruitment.  Waiting for a candidate that you believe checks every box can put your organization at a significant disadvantage. 

  • Close, Close, Close

In an environment where many companies will be competing for similar talent and candidates will invariably have multiple offers, it is critical to act quickly. Avoid the trap that can occur by asking “what if the next candidate is better?” If a candidate fits your culture, is passionate about your science, and is someone you can cultivate to be successful long-term, then you likely you have found your ideal candidate. Companies that move quickly are the ones who will excel. 

Final Thoughts

The expertise and knowledge of medical professionals is critical to helping pharma and biotech companies to advance science, develop new medicines, and meet patients’ needs. By being innovative in their physician recruitment practices, companies can attract and retain the right professionals who can make a lasting impact at their organization.

About the Author:

Jesse Klein is a Managing Partner of Klein Hersh and leads the physician recruitment team at the firm. Under his leadership, the physician recruitment practice has developed broad therapeutic expertise and has a track record of success in helping clients attract and retain some of the most sought after scientific and medical leaders.

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 ...