4 Life Sciences Recruitment Challenges Facing Employers in 2024

Time to Read: 6 minutes

Updated: April 4, 2024

The past few years have been defined by disruption – the rise of generative AI, a monumental transition to remote work, ongoing economic fluctuations, talent shortages, and societal shifts. This has meant employers have had to get to grips with these challenges and how they approach life sciences recruitment.

Breakthroughs in life sciences have such an impact on individuals and on society, that companies are constantly competing for creative, innovative, and highly skilled talent. That means that a recruitment strategy that works – that attracts top level talent and keeps them engaged – is more than a necessity. It is essential for any organization that wants to stay competitive.

In an industry that changes so quickly, understanding the latest trends and transformative developments is key to building that strategy. Join us as we explore the biggest recruitment challenges facing the life sciences industry and how you can develop and implement a talent acquisition strategy to get the skills you need for business success and growth.

Challenge 1: Generative AI

The increasing use of generative AI in all aspects of medical and pharmaceutical research has the potential to change how companies approach life sciences recruitment. A recent study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has found that over 90% of biopharma and MedTech experts believe that generative AI will change the way they work in 2024. Around 70% of biopharma experts already prioritize using generative AI for research and significantly 25% of biopharma leaders have set up oversight for generative AI, and another 50% plan to do so within a year. In the MedTech field, the focus is similar: 20% have governance in place for generative AI, and 57% plan to do so by 2024. of biopharma leaders have set up oversight for generative AI, and another 50% plan to do so within a year. In the MedTech field, the focus is similar: 20% have governance in place for generative AI, and 57% plan to do so by 2024. have governance in place for generative AI, and 57% plan to do so by 2024. of biopharma leaders have set up oversight for generative AI, and another 50% plan to do so within a year. In the MedTech field, the focus is similar: 20% have governance in place for generative AI, and 57% plan to do so by 2024.

This new focus on the use of generative AI to support research in the field highlights the need for companies to look for specialized skills in future hires. Going forward, staying competitive and driving innovation will depend on attracting, keeping, and nurturing talent skilled in generative AI alongside other digital and technical expertise.


  • Outline the skills and knowledge required for positions related to generative AI in your job descriptions. Consider both foundational skills (e.g., machine learning, deep learning) and specific expertise.
  • Include your existing generative AI experts in the interview process. They can provide valuable insights and ask technical questions that specifically assess a candidate’s understanding of generative AI concepts.
  • Offer clear pathways for career growth and development to attract early career talent and high-level candidates from outside the life sciences industries.
  • Create skill development programs for existing employees to meet the demands of AI-focused roles.

Challenge 2: Economic Turbulence and Inflation

Changes to drug pricing by the IRA’s Medicare negotiation mandate alongside the approaching ‘patent cliff’ in 2023 are putting pressure on resources and budgets that threaten to make recruiting and retaining talent challenging. However, the IRA’s influence on larger biopharmaceutical companies presents opportunities, leading to investments in middle-market life sciences firms, opening growth prospects and job opportunities.

Add to this a troubled economy and rising inflation which raises concerns for potential hires around pay and benefits while causing existing staff to fear job insecurity due to potential restructuring. According to the same Deloitte study, in 2024, 36% of life sciences experts and 43% of MedTech manufacturing leaders think the economy and inflation will have a significant impact on their strategies. With candidates more hesitant to change roles in times of economic uncertainty, these changes mean longer time to hire, tighter budgets, and tougher competition for talent.


  • Review your compensation and benefits offerings and make sure they are in line with your industry competitors.
  • Offer clear pathways for long-term career growth and development opportunities to reassure candidates and retain talent.
  • Get feedback from candidates and existing employees on their concerns and regularly work to ensure your compensation packages meet their needs.
  • Shorten time-to-hire by streamlining your recruitment processes and focusing on candidate experience.

Challenge 3: Skills Shortages

Technology continues to affect the skills and knowledge employers need from their workforce. The digital transformation has meant that employers increasingly need candidates with basic digital literacy skills and the rise of new technologies, like AI and machine learning, has meant the skills employers need are constantly changing.

These changes threaten to widen the already existing skills gap in life sciences. In 2020, 80% of pharmaceutical manufacturers were experiencing a mismatch in the skills they already had available with the skills they really needed for success. More recent research shows that 75% of employers across various sectors continue to face difficulty finding skilled talent. Many employers say that training and upskilling staff, finding qualified talent, and redefining roles as their primary challenges regarding new technologies.


  • Think about using skills-based workforce planning to anticipate future talent gaps and reduce their impact.
  • Invest in ongoing learning development and upskilling initiatives to make sure your current workforce has skillsets that meet your needs and improve retention keeping valuable knowledge in the company.
  • Use technology like Learning Management Systems (LMS), video and internal knowledge bases to create personalized training plans and streamline employee training.
  • Craft an attractive employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP) highlighting career growth and competitive compensation.

Challenge 4: Employee Health & Wellbeing

Like many high stress industries stress and burnout are significant concerns for life sciences employees. Tight deadlines, heavy workloads, and the pressure of working in an industry where results can change lives all contribute to high levels of stress among biotech and pharmaceutical workers. In fact, research conducted by the O.C. Tanner Institute found that 48% of pharma employees found their work exhausting and 38% were frustrated by the lack of support.

However, one recent study on burnout in the biotech industry found that those companies that put in place support process that help employees manage their wellbeing experienced positive outcomes including increased productivity, higher levels of employee satisfaction and increased workforce morale; all things that can contribute to better talent attraction and retention. What is clear is that employee health and wellbeing should be a key part of your life sciences recruitment strategies.


  • Develop tailored well-being and safety initiatives designed to protect employees at work.
  • Show your commitment to employee health and wellbeing by offering mental health support and stress management tools.
  • Create a supportive and positive workplace culture that attracts new employees and improves retention.
  • Develop competitive work-life balance benefits including offering hybrid, flexible and remote working models. This gives employees the time and flexibility to manage their workloads and work in a way that suits them, reducing stress.

Pierpoint can help you craft tailored pharmaceutical and life sciences recruitment strategies led by expertise and industry insights. To discuss your specific hiring requirements, book a call with one of our experts today.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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