What do mass lay-offs mean for Biotechs that are still growing?


The past few months have been very interesting for the Life Sciences industry globally. Most, if not all industries have been affected by lay-offs, and this can create a ripple effect of fear and uncertainty regardless of whether you’ve been directly affected by the recent changes.

Looking at the Biotech space in particular, thousands of individuals have been laid off due to Biotech’s struggling to raise more capital, or simply because they haven’t recovered from the downturn that we experienced in 2022. Zooming out and looking at areas such as Pharma and CDMO, substantial cuts are being made for the same reasons.

However, just like we experienced with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still going to be biotechnologies who are hiring. It may be because there’s an increased demand for something in their pipeline, or it may be because funding isn’t an issue. Even in periods of substantial economic downturn, the demand for talent is still there – and biotechs that are still growing are in a unique and incredibly fortunate position when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Lay-offs in periods such as these, of course, have a strategic logic behind them – but biotechs who are making cuts are unfortunately having to let go of often incredible talent because they have to, not because they want to. This gives hiring biotechs access to potentially niche talent that they otherwise would have had to fight for in a busy market.

You’re in a great position to secure high-quality talent – but you must stay focussed

The key positive for hiring biotechs is that you are going to have access to an unusually large talent pool which will mostly be filled with high-quality talent. But, it also means that you’re going to have an influx of applications for any job role that you post – which creates a longer recruitment process for you if you don’t have the right human resource in place to manage this. Equally, you will now be faced with the paradox of choice, which can delay and affect your decision-making skills due to having too many options out there.

Staying focused and creating a streamlined hiring process should be the first thing that you’re doing in a market such as this. Who do you have in place in your internal (or external) talent team and are you ensuring that your requirements are niche enough that you won’t be faced with an abnormally large shortlist? Do you have the resources in-house to create a comfortable onboarding process for each individual employee? How are they going to be supported?

These are all important preliminary questions to ask yourself. They may seem obvious – but it’s crucial that you have enough structure and focus in place to deal with substantially more candidates than you usually would have.

The candidate experience should be front of mind

The market may be great for you now as an employer, but there will always be an ebb and flow in the recruitment market and you cannot drop your consistency when it comes to the candidate experience. Regardless of whether you hire these individuals or not, they will always remember the experience that they had with your organization – especially if you have provided them with a candidate experience that left them feeling negatively about you. In times like these – where hiring biotechnologies are experiencing an unusual amount of talent showing interest in their organization – it can be easy to try to please everybody and have a mindset of “we need to hire as many and as quickly as possible whilst the market is good”.

However, this mindset can leave candidates with a bad taste in their mouths if they feel like a cog in a wheel of a recruitment process, rather than being treated with care and feeling valued, even if you choose to not hire them.

Always ensure that you’re looking at culture fit and long-term motivations

And finally, your culture is the lifeblood of your organization. Having access to a lot of talent that is good and available to start immediately can naturally make you want to compromise on some aspects to accommodate – it’s human nature and it definitely isn’t something that hasn’t been seen before in times like this! However, you still need to ensure that you have a watertight questioning process when it comes to culture fit and long-term motivations.

Candidates should still feel challenged in an interview process and have to showcase their desires for how they will make an impact in your organization. There will also be talent out there who are simply looking for an opportunity to tide them over until the market returns to a more neutral state – again – this is human nature and shouldn’t be seen as a negative. However, it’s something to be aware of so you can continue to retain talent when the market levels out instead of dealing with a mass exodus because those individuals were never right for your organization in the first place.

Evolve is currently working with a number of exciting Biotech’s in the UK and USA that are actively hiring for great talent. For advice on opportunities or how we can help you with acquiring quality candidates, contact us directly.

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