Recruitment and Pharma Outsourcing: What’s Changed, and What’s Next

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Recruitment and Pharma Outsourcing: What’s Changed, and What’s Next
Behruz Sheikh

3 mins

Recruitment and Pharma Outsourcing: What’s Changed, and What’s Next

Find out how to leverage pharma outsourcing in recruitment to strengthen your business strategy with Behruz Sheikh, Pharmaceutical Sector Head at SRG

Pharma outsourcing is critical to powering performance in today’s market.

75% of the new drugs pipeline is currently outsourced, consuming two-thirds of annual development spending. 

While the majority of this percentage can be attributed to CDMOS or insourced scientific services, outsourced recruitment in pharma has a foundational role in bridging critical skills gaps and powering the potential for innovation. 

However, despite innovation being key to progress, funding new ventures has become increasingly challenging in the face of ongoing supply chain issues, cost pressures, and stock market performance difficulties over recent years.

Analyses from PwC show that divides in stock performance for the top 50 pharmaceutical companies have widened. While leading organisations in the top quintile have increased shareholder return by 29%, returns for the bottom quintile declined by 11%. Meanwhile, an upcoming wave of patent expirations and declining gross margins for novel treatments are powering a focus on developing new treatments, heightening the competition for funding. 

In this article, we’ll explore how to leverage outsourcing recruitment in pharma to help strengthen your business strategy and equip you with the insights you need to stay competitive.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Why pharma companies outsource recruitment
  • Key drivers of change in pharma outsourcing
  • How to prepare your recruitment strategy for what’s next


Why pharma companies outsource recruitment

Outsourcing involves utilising the capabilities of an external organisation for your own business objectives, whether that be working with a contract research team or a cohort of expert recruiters to feed your own talent pipelines - external collaboration is at outsourcing’s core.

Today’s pool of digital pharma talent is 14% lower than demand, making technical talent increasingly challenging to find and hire. These ongoing talent shortages in the pharmaceutical industry continue to motivate pharmaceutical leaders to invest inwards in training and recruiting the expertise needed to future-proof work. 

Outsourcing pharmaceutical recruitment helps lift the burden of recruitment from internal teams, particularly when internal resources are unable to support the capacity of roles required. Even when faced with more challenging-to-hire technical roles, outsourced recruitment teams can utilise their pre-established candidate network to rapidly and effectively find and onboard the talent required.

Case study: When QIAGEN approached SRG with the vision of expanding their team during the pandemic, SRG had the expertise and resources required to support and strengthen their recruitment initiative. SRG partnered with QIAGEN to video-interview both candidates that SRG sent across, as well as QIAGEN’s own direct candidates – helping to return time to QIAGEN’s own staff and maintain project continuity and efficiency. 

Case study: Partnering with Quay Pharma, SRG provided an onsite recruitment business partner (RBP) to develop a strategic recruitment plan to support long-term expansion. SRG’s RBP worked directly on-site to proactively manage the recruitment project from brief to offer, resulting in every vacancy being filled (apart from one internal promotion). Coming away from the project itself, Quay Pharma has found itself better streamlined and equipped to manage future recruitment due to new processes being implemented and onboarded through the project. 

While the right support external provider can contribute to strategic relationships that return time back to core competencies and provide access to specialised expertise, third-party collaboration can entail risks. 

Risks to outsourcing recruitment in pharma can include:

  • Selecting the wrong outsourcing approach
  • Loss of control
  • Expectation and goal mismatch

Mitigating the risks and leveraging opportunities relies on strong lines of communication around expectations and costs – key factors that come along with an experienced provider.

Companies that successfully expand their business in overseas markets have a reliable outsourcing partner. While it might feel tedious investing the time to find the right partner for your outsourcing needs, failing to do so is one of the common outsourcing mishaps that many companies face. Without following a proper background check on the vendors, you may be at increased risk of achieving lower-quality outcomes.


There are a few checkpoints that you can consider while selecting the right vendor such as the experience of the firm, the number of projects and clients the firm has handled, the average project size, ranking and reviews of the company, access to the latest technology, and so on. However, the list varies from one company to another. Frame your questions and be prepared before you choose your outsourcing partner.


Key drivers of change in pharma outsourcing

Despite the hurdles faced by the pharma industry, new modalities, including cell, gene, immune, and mRNA therapies, have increased from 11% to 21% of the drug development pipeline- a record rate of growth. 

This trend is indicative of the fact that many organisations are continuing to drive forward new strategies, methods, and unique product cycles while navigating high rates of inflation.

Joanne Beck, Chief Operating Officer at Boston Pharmaceuticals spoke to OutsourcedPharma on the inflation issue. “Inflation has certainly impacted our near-term (12-18 month) plans and decisions. As a small company, seeing our biologics manufacturing costs increase by 40-50% has resulted in us prioritizing our activities and focusing on the must-haves in order to conserve cash.” 

Continuing to power a high level of innovation in a way that supplements performance means creating a cost-effective but high-quality strategy. 

Outsourcing recruitment in pharma today plays a critical role in maintaining the level of quality needed to futureproof capacity for innovation and technological capability.


How to prepare your workforce for what’s next

As the fourth industrial revolution takes hold in pharma, building a high-quality internal team is critical to business competitivity.

However, broader labour market changes, heightened costs, supply chain shortages, and operational disruptions can make it challenging to focus on creating a high-quality workplace. Yet, neglecting this key factor will be of major detriment to organisations tomorrow.

Successful pharmaceutical industry leaders of the future will have invested in data analytics and a technologically equipped workforce – resulting in a workplace where batch release processes are automated, manufacturing processes and yields are optimised, and risks are minimised while quality is heightened. 

Additionally, preserving efficacy will also come down to retaining high-quality partners and relationships across outsourced functions. Cybercrime remains the most widespread and most disruptive event experienced by businesses over the past two years. Working with outsourced partners who are prepared against ransomware attacks will remain a fundamental objective for future partnerships. 


Interested in growing your workforce?

SRG have over 30 years of experience providing expert outsourced recruitment support across the pharmaceutical sector.

Our expert consultants are on hand to support your recruitment strategy and help secure the talent you need to future-proof your talent pipelines and strengthen your organisation.

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