Talent Acquisition

What’s the Future of Life Sciences Recruitment?

What’s the future of life sciences recruitment?

In 2007, a UK CIPD report into popular recruitment methods found that for the first time, corporate websites had broken even with local newspaper advertisements as the most common method for recruiting candidates. Now in 2012, working with scientific, environmental and renewables recruiter, Cranleigh Scientific, Enviable Workplace looked into the future of the scientific recruitment sector and what the current popular methods of recruitment are.

This report was based on interviews with HR professionals from 20 science companies across the country, including Abbott Diagnostics, Johnson Matthey, Siemens, Givaudan, SC Johnson and Synergy Health.

The seven main recruitment methods we explored were:


We found that traditional advertising is now the least valued method of recruitment in the science sector, with preference being given to outside recruiters, employee referrals and corporate websites.

We found that although 80% valued job boards, only 40% actually used them at all anymore. Job Boards are ideal for outside recruiters who then filter responses for quality before presenting the top candidates to their clients. There were simply too many candidates responding through the job boards and without a quick way of separating the wheat from the chaff, they fail to provide value for the busy in-house recruiter.


While 70% said that social media is very important for the future of recruitment, only 25% are actively using social media to promote jobs. The reason for the low use is two-fold.

a) Time Return on Investment: Most are not using social media because they find it hard to measure the ROI for the amount of time they spend on it and haven’t so far been able to justify the time investment.

b) Filter Failure: Some tried using social media while cutting out recruitment agencies in the past, but the result had been a bigger response from hopeful job candidates but of much lower overall quality.

The lack of a quality filter and proof of a return on time investment meant they have been unable to justify the use of social media.

That being said, 60% thought a solution, in the form of an effective filter, would be found in the next five years and that social media (especially LinkedIn) would play a much larger role. For now, social media is mainly used to run background checks on potential candidates and create passive candidate networks, ready for harvest at a later date.

The report found that there is a giant opportunity for someone to make the filter process easier for in-house science recruitment as the current investment of time makes social media a daunting method to use.


The 2007 CIPD report highlighted that more than 70% of organisations engaged recruitment agency services to help fill job vacancies. With the new report, we discovered that although the sample size was too small to be conclusive, 20 out of the 20 of the companies we spoke to were using outside recruiters – with 70% saying that they use 1 – 3 recruitment agencies all the time.

The two key points we heard more often than not, desired from an outside recruiter, were:

a) Fully outsourced recruitment: A number of the HR professionals suggested the future for HR departments could be to fully outsource their recruitment functions to outside agencies. They said that these agencies would have to know their company and culture incredibly well for this to work. They would also need to have a strong database of candidates, who they also know well, so as to put forward the appropriate candidates. Our impression was that companies want to build a strong, long-term relationship with a single agency as opposed to employing a large number.

b) More specialist agencies: The other option that was brought up was that recruitment agencies will need to become more specialist. This would allow companies to work with individual agencies to fill specific skilled positions. Again the emphasis was that the agency should develop strong relationships with the companies and that they are seen as a member of the team as opposed to an ‘external’ recruiter.


For Recruiters: In an effort to label where effective recruitment is heading we put it under the term, Recruitment 4.0 and define it as: the mixture of recruitment agencies partnering with HR departments, the use of Social Media to promote vacancies, and the development of a network of ‘passive’ candidates for both agencies and companies.

For Job Candidates: Using job boards and maintaining a professional public social media profile is recommended even if the majority of companies do not use it to advertise jobs. Try to be on the radar of niche-specific recruitment agencies because they are used by almost all UK science companies and are probably your best bet for landing a job if you don’t have an existing sector network.

scientific recruitment methods

Filip Matous is the editor of Enviable Workplace – a blog providing insights into the new world of work.

Related: Content Marketing on Social Media for Recruiters

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