Rethink Recruiting

Six Hiring Trends Impacting Pharma

Like nearly every other industry, the pharmaceuticals industry is evolving rapidly. It’s one of the primary industries affected by changes in legislation, like the passage of the Affordable Care Act.


Economics, regulation, and demographics affect every aspect of the pharmaceutical industry.

Countless other trends affect pharmaceutical hiring, and while there’s some uncertainty associated with these trends, identifying them is the first step toward accommodating changes that may result. Here are six of the many hiring trends affecting pharmaceuticals.

1. Lean Sales Forces with More Emphasis on e-Marketing

Pharmaceutical sales forces are becoming leaner and are operating under different structures than they used to. More flexible, specialized regional sales teams are gaining prominence. E-Marketing is being emphasized by many pharmaceutical companies due to the ever-increasing demands on physicians’ time and the addition of formulary managers to many larger healthcare organizations and hospitals. The result is that pharmaceutical recruiters are looking for job candidates with flexibility and technology skills.

2. Reps With Broader Product Knowledge

Pharma sales reps will have to understand and talk about more products than they in the past. The idea is that these reps, with their broader product knowledge, can take a more instinctive, in-the-moment approach to a sales situation, offering more options while still remaining within the boundaries of what they’re allowed to discuss. (They’re not, for example, allowed to discuss off-label uses of drugs with doctors.)

3. A Shift Away from Primary Care Sales Reps

Pharma reps with certain specialized skills are expected to be in higher demand. A rep may specialize in certain cancer drugs and have encyclopedic knowledge of how various insurers reimburse their costs. A rep who calls mostly upon family medicine practices may need to be skilled in knowing which drugs are reimbursed under which insurance plan formularies. This is important information for physicians and their patients. The pharma sales rep who makes solely traditional sales calls to family practitioners is becoming less common.

4. Convergence Between Tech Giants and Pharmaceuticals


Tech and pharma businesses are interacting.

The confluence between technology and pharmaceuticals is no surprise, but now companies like Google are hinting at intentions of engaging at the consumer level by developing healthcare products for consumers. Wearables, like the Apple Watch and FitBit, are examples of the tech-health partnership. Expect more convergence over the next year or two. Ultimately, this could result in additional competition for some biotech and pharmaceutical firms and it could mean more demand for workers with a combination of tech and pharma skills.

5. More Emphasis on Long-Term Relationship Building

Ethics regulations in pharmaceuticals have become tighter in recent years, so practices like providing “incentives” for physicians in order to gain their attention are no longer standard. Pharma reps will have to rely on the old-fashioned skill of building strong, long-lasting relationships with clients. Some of these relationships will be built on highly-specialized knowledge from specialist reps, but overall, the goal is for pharmaceutical reps to position themselves as prime educational resources for doctors.

6. Partnerships Between Big Pharma and Startups

Big pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups are expected to become partners more often in coming years. It usually begins when a big pharma company recognizes a start-up with a promising product and develops a partnership based upon that product. In some cases, it will involve pharmaceutical companies investing seed money into startups. It may well move to a scenario where pharmaceutical companies heavily influence how startups spend that money and will typically end up with an acquisition. The end result is expected to be increased hiring in 2016.

It’s not easy for today’s hiring manager or HR specialist to stay apprised of the latest trends in pharmaceutical and biotech hiring, yet understanding these trends is necessary for developing a strong hiring strategy. Many hiring managers conclude that working with a specialty recruiter with a strong network in biotech and pharmaceuticals is the most effective means of hiring well and hiring quickly. We invite you to contact us at any time to learn more about the possibilities available to you when you need to attract top pharmaceutical and biotech talent.

About Rethink Recruiting

The recruiting landscape is changing as a result of technology, culture, and the increasing demands for unique skills and experience in emerging fields. Rethink Recruiting provides insights about trends and strategies to maximize your talent potential.

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