What are pharma and biotech employers looking for?

While there are differences between pharmaceutical and biotech companies, the similarities are what matter most when it comes to recruiting fresh talent. Both types of company work at developing new drugs and other health products and goods.

What are pharma and biotech employers looking for?

While there are differences between pharmaceutical and biotech companies, the similarities are what matter most when it comes to recruiting fresh talent. Both types of company work at developing new drugs and other health products and goods.
Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs through empirical screening, looking at natural compounds and screening them for their effects.
On the other hand, biotech companies harness technology originally based on molecules and research focused on DNA, RNA and other biological areas.
What both employers are looking for are people with the talent and ambition to grow and thrive in a pressured but rewarding environment.

Skills and Roles

There are elements that form the fundamental foundation to a career in pharma or biotech. Graduates, for example, need to have a certain level training, including traditional skills, even if they are looking to enter a specialised, niche area, or are expecting to work with new technology.
Using computers is not a substitute for being able to demonstrate hands-on lab skills. Also, numeracy is another basic requirement, as there will be large amounts of data to process and analyse.
Pharma and biotech rely on people being able to work effectively together in groups, at each stage of product development. This means candidates must be able to work in a busy team environment, and display acute financial awareness for working within tight budgets.

 The types of prospective candidate include:

  • people with biology or biochemistry degrees;
  • chemists, who can develop compounds;
  • engineers for designing production equipment, including engineers with IT backgrounds;
  • specialised candidates with research masters or PhDs, who will eventually lead research teams and contribute to business strategy through product development.

Work experience is a vital way for candidates to demonstrate a commitment to working in this sector, and a good indicator of their suitability.

Career Paths in Pharma and Biotech

This business sector is broad, and encompasses a range of industries that work with life-science technologies. Pharma develops, tests and manufactures drugs to combat diseases and their symptoms. Biotech involves biological processes in developing foodstuffs, industrial chemicals and breeding varieties of plant and animal species for research purposes. It also involves emerging nanotechnologies, manipulating materials at a molecular level.
Career paths generally begin with research, and then progress onto leading teams, and managing and coordinating them as part of business strategy through product development.
Starting out, the potential recruits should have core strengths around carrying out practical experiments, analysing results and clearly communicating these results to others.

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