The Solution to Talent Shortages Facing Life Sciences Companies

A recent study highlights a pervasive challenge facing the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, and that is a lack of talent. The study found that 51 percent of CEOs of life sciences and pharma companies admit to greater difficulties attracting and retaining the right people, more than any other industry in the study.1

In fact, one of the greatest challenges on the horizon for pharmaceutical and life science companies is filling vacant positions and decreasing the time-to-fill for those positions. On average, pharma hiring decision-makers report they are currently 14 percent understaffed and have roughly 212 open positions at this time. Additionally, they report that it takes an average of 105 days, essentially 3 ½ months, to recruit and hire non-executive positions.1

These lengthy vacancies are quickly eating away at corporate profits. In fact, companies lose $500 a day for every job that stays vacant.2 given the average time-to-fill among pharma decision-makers is 105 days, and that amounts to $52,000 per vacancy.

Lack of Right Skills and Culture Fit Key Contributors

For many pharma decision-makers, sourcing good candidates is hard and finding qualified applicants can be even harder. Yet, finding the best-fit talent both in culture and skill-set can be downright excruciating. Consider that 76 percent of Pharma HR-decision makers agree, “when positions become available at my organization, we struggle to find people whose skills match the job requirements,” and 70 percent say, “we struggle to find people who are a good cultural fit.”1

Pharmaceutical and life sciences leaders will need to increasingly leverage data and analytics to bring greater accuracy, efficiency and predictability to the hiring process. As pharma companies continue to struggle with turnover, open positions and costly vacancies, they simply can’t take a chance on anyone who doesn’t measure up.

Yet, while skill assessments are a proven method of gauging if a candidate is a good match – from education and skill requirements to cultural fit – roughly four-in-ten (34%) pharma decision-makers aren’t using skill assessments today.

Meanwhile, 93 percent of those who do currently use skill assessments say they are valuable to their hiring process.

Talent Assessments: the solution to talent-related challenges

The ability to gain more knowledge about a potential hire, and predict their future success in an organization before investing in them, is achievable through talent assessments. And, more and more of the world’s leading organizations are utilizing talent assessments to gain this critical insight. In fact, according to a Bersin study, more than 60 percent of organizations in 2014 are increasing their investment in talent analytics – a scientific, evidence-based approach to hiring employees.

Talent assessment solutions can provide data-driven, scientific-based insight into hiring decisions. Through objective data and insight around competencies, critical thinking skills, values/culture and behaviors, hiring managers depend less on their “gut feel” about a candidate, and can better evaluate them against a set of criteria that are important to a job and to their organization.

Making hiring decisions based on relevant job criteria, not instinct, is simply smart business. In fact, 57 percent of organizations know that employing pre-hire assessments enables them to hire the most potentially successful employees. One company cited in Bersin’s report experienced a $4 million revenue increase within six months of using a data-based screening and hiring process.

life sciences talent

How Do Candidates Measure Up?

Candidates are screened in or out based on qualifications and fit against the job profile report, which outlines the key talents and experience a potential hire needs to be successful in the job. Do these candidates possess the right competencies, values, behaviors, and critical thinking skills that the specific job requires? Candidate Assessment Reports provide comparisons for how a candidate scores against top competencies, values, behaviors and critical thinking skills defined as important to the job.

Who Demonstrates High Performance Potential?

Final candidates are measured against defined, industry-standard job profile benchmarks which determines if they are aligned with the high performance requirements of the job, and fit with manager, team, and strategic priorities of the organization.

Think Beyond Hiring for the Job.

Assessments go beyond finding the right talent for the job. They can more accurately predict future performance, and help identify talent that will have long-term impact on the business. Pre-hire assessments not only allow companies to find the people that can perform the job today, they actually create a workforce that will lead them well into the future.

The most successful succession plans are those that focus on every employee from the moment they are onboard.

Developing leaders internally takes time and resources, but research has shown that homegrown candidates are more likely to be successful than external hires. Using assessments from the initial hiring process throughout the employment lifecycle assures companies create a specific model for every job that defines the competencies, behavior, values and thinking necessary to succeed in the role. An effective succession plan compiles this valuable data on each employee, compares it to the needs of current and future roles, and tracks employee progress toward being prepared to fill those positions. Best-in-class succession plans begin with assessment data from the hiring process.

Recruit & Retain


The growth of talent assessments to better inform hiring decisions isn’t surprising when you consider it is literally the point at which organizations can most influence the talent they have to execute their business strategy. The outcome is a more strategic approach to hiring that identifies talent who can fill broader roles; deliver performance and productivity faster; develop and advance quicker; and fit within your company culture. And, talent assessments conducted at the hiring phase are the cornerstone of succession planning – a must-have in the competitive healthcare landscape.

Contact XBInsight to learn more about our talent assessment system, and why the world’s leading brands choose us as their talent assessment partner. Visit us as or call us at 401.682.2859.