Who’s competing?

With more than 234 biotech companies and 10 life science incubators in the Bay Area, it’s a hotbed of recruiting for technical and non-technical positions of all kinds.1 Career site Indeed.com lists more than 1,800 biotech jobs currently available in our area, and that might not even represent the full scope of opportunity.

Here, big players – including Genentech, Gilead, BioMarin, and satellite locations for Amgen and Bayer – list a collective 730+ local FTE positions (as of this writing) on their website, translating into 40% of the regional hiring heft. Add in a couple high profile mid-cap companies — Exelixis, Genomic Health, and Nektar – and you’ve got another 245 jobs in the region totaling more than 54% of the hiring market. This tilts the scales of hiring in favor of just 8 companies.

So, with that kind of “buying power” and in-house recruiting machines swooping in on talent and capitalizing on marquis name recognition, commercial allure, and near-certain stability, what’s a smaller company to do? How can the next generation of up and coming biotech companies compete for Millennials in their career prime and appeal to biotech-inclined Gen-Z’ers who are entering the workforce?

Competing for talent starts by embracing the fact that Millennials and Gen-Z’ers care more about purpose and the opportunity to make an impact than almost anything else. Coupled with an acute focus on pay equality, flexibility, and diversity and inclusion, these generational groups are driving a modern take on company brand – where corporate and employer brand meld into one to lead with purpose.

How to compete: a fundamental shift from what to why

When it comes to brand, most biotech companies have historically led with who they are and what they do. As for results, the generic “transforming lives”, “changing lives”, “improving lives”, or “improving patient outcomes” has become so overused as to be considered trite. Companies must work harder now to articulate their “why” — a core purpose and desired impact that truly differentiates the company’s reason for being. Simply describing your company’s innovative technology platform or therapeutic opportunity is not enough. It’s more than developing the next great medicine, it’s the mindset your company has that will capture hearts, lead to recruiting success, and keep employees engaged in your cause.

Roadmap: 3 steps to building your company brand into a talent magnet

  1. Understand your company’s people challenges
    • Per my last post, forge an HR-Corporate Communications alliance that is well suited to ask and answer fundamental questions about your company brand reputation:
    • What problem are we trying to solve? Is it recruitment, retention, or both?
    • Is our brand mission, which we define as purpose in action, clearly articulated?
    • Is our brand well known in the scientific and technical circles we need to infiltrate (i.e. drug discovery or cellular biology)?
    • Is our culture healthy and are our core values conducive to a multi-generational mindset?
    • Is our company brand built to last for all audiences?
  2. Articulate and amplify your company’s “why”
    • Get distinctive — dissect the language you use to describe who you are, what you do, and why it matters
    • Expand your narrative to resonate across all audiences, linking back to your business strategy
    • Identify and develop stories that bring your company brand to life
  3. Formulate a go-big company brand strategy
    • Create an authentic campaign that inspires action to engage corporate and employer brand audiences
    • Develop a right-sized channel strategy that meets your audience where they are and to maximize reach
    • Activate your roadmap and measure results

With these actionable steps, know that building your company brand into a talent magnet is an inside-out job that takes concerted effort over time. Trust your instincts and for more insight, we at Waterhouse Brands are here to help you navigate the competitive waters.

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