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Covid & Life Science Hiring- MassBio

Life science companies are in the limelight these days. Vaccine developers (Moderna , J&J, and AstraZeneca) diagnostic/tool companies such as (Illumina, Thermo, Qiagen, LabCorp, and Quest) not to mention therapeutic companies (Eli Lilly, Gilead and Regeneron). They are a bright spot in the news as they work to combat Covid 19. So what does this mean for hiring in the life science industry?

Earlier in June, Mass Bio Workforce held their Life Science Workforce Conference via Zoom. Karla Talanian, Director for Talent & Workforce Development for the Life Science Industry did a great job presenting hiring trends in 2020. The data included trends in job postings which seem to suggest that hiring is not overly impacted by Covid (or it's too early to tell). The report is interesting and you can check it out here.

There was a panel discussion with representatives from Pall, Abbvie, Stratacuity, Third Rock and Thermo. Positive notes included Rita Smith of Abbvie who said they were doubling their hiring for positions like Virologists. Tracy Nicholson from Third Rock made the point that they closed a ~$800M fund last year and have a key need to hire/spend now. Most of the panel felt hiring was moving forward with speed.

Panel takeaways:

-Hiring managers were using video conferencing more, hoped to continue that but not as a replacement for onsite interviews in the long term.

-Hiring process was smoother. Candidates were not commuting or traveling thus available for interviews.

-Utilization of new methods for on boarding included Go Pros in the laboratory and introducing new employees by leveraging virtual rooms to present personal hobbies and stories to build relationships.

Overall, the panel was upbeat but communicated their employees want to get back to the office/lab to see each other. One company was modifying 60 min Zoom calls to 50 min to combat Zoom fatigue. A representative from Northeastern University said that only ~50% of her STEM students had internships which was concerning. There were comments that perhaps hiring for lab-oriented jobs in research and development and clinical positions may be delayed in the long run.

The take home is there is uncertainty regarding how Covid affects the hiring ecosystem. From an venture start up perspective my thoughts are that normally, Q1 and JP Morgan are for funding pitches/due diligence and often Q2 for closing. Many Newcos essentially missed Q2 whether that meant hitting technical or commercial milestones or closing on a financing round. Since commercial people cannot see customers or travel and labs are not at full capacity those areas may be impacted negatively. And lastly, not everyone is working on Covid cures and clinical trials in other disease areas may be stalled since patients are not actively going to medical settings.

The good news is science is what is needed to end this pandemic and we are all in a good position to contribute to that effort.

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