How to succeed as a recruiter in the life sciences sector

26 May 2016


What is the secret to success for a life sciences recruiter? This was the topic of discussion at the latest REC Life Sciences sector group meeting at the swanky offices of LinkedIn’s London Headquarters. The room was made up of people ranging across the whole spectrum of the life sciences recruitment sector, from directors to managers to consultants. If you missed the event, do not fret: here are some of the key take away messages.

Professional development is key

The REC’s Ros Milton, who works on our Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP), spoke about the ‘professional recruiter’ and the importance of development, training and compliance for our industry. Many recruiters struggle to see themselves as professionals – but with 103,225 people now working in recruitment, earning an average salary of £41,180 and with established career routeways, qualifications, and professional standards, our industry is striving for the same status given to other areas such as law, accountancy or science. Recruiters transform lives and have a responsibility to stay up to date with the legal and economic developments which influence our industry. One way to do this is through joining the IRP.

Empowerment and perseverance

Jonathan Wright, speaking with 30 years of experience in recruitment, stated the importance of empowerment: both managers empowering their teams and consultants empowering themselves. He explained this using the example of ‘Vic’ who went from being a good resourcer with no experience to running a 400 man resource centre in a foreign country. The key to Vic’s success was that his manager told him at each step along the way that they believed in him and that they would give him what he needed to succeed. This shows the importance of managers encouraging their staff but also recruiters motivating themselves and persevering until they succeed. Jonathan ended his talk by saying: “in your career you will make thousands of decisions, but in truth you will only make 10-20 life- and business-defining decisions; success is about getting these ones right”.

Similarly, Ricky Martin emphasised how perseverance and motivation were key to his own journey into recruitment and throughout his past endeavours: from being a professional wrestler, to winning Total Wipeout to pay for a mortgage, to then winning The Apprentice and starting his own life sciences recruitment business, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, with Lord Sugar.

Know your market

One of the topics discussed by the panel was the importance of knowing your market and how best to do this within life sciences. Ricky Martin stressed that talking about the market with clients is vital to keeping abreast of current trends. Another suggestion was to get involved with life sciences trade bodies – some of the most important being the BIA, ABPI, Science Council, Royal Society of Chemistry and the Chemical Industry Association.

The REC’s Life Sciences sector guide can help you know your market: it provides an overview of developments and policy priorities in the sector. Additionally the Life Sciences sector group put on an event or webinar quarterly. Some key areas to be aware of within life sciences recruitment include the recent removal of travel and subsistence expenses for umbrella workers, proposed changes to the tax rules (IR35) for contractors and new restrictions on skilled Tier-2 visas.

So what’s the secret to success for life sciences recruiters? There doesn’t seem to be one definitive answer, but continual self-development, perseverance and self-belief, and a good understanding of the market will get you a long way.

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