Reflections on Job Outlook in Life Science Industry, before posting July Jobs……..

I am posting medical device/ biotech jobs for July with a bit of trepidation and some words of advice.

I am still noticing slow job growth in the life science industry. I do not see in this industry, a stronger hiring pick up that is observed in other industries. Also some hiring that is occurring is centered around opportunities that are highly specialized. Strong and deep medical device or biotech experience could land you a job where you utilize your expertise and be productive on day one. Your regulatory experience in Europe could get you another job easily.  And so on.  It is therefore easy to advise that instead of pursuing a broader range of opportunity areas, to develop skill set in a focused area. But at this point, such advise would be a few years too late. Hence, my advise to job seekers, is that if they have broader range of experience and skills, then to capitalize on that, focus on transferable skill set, and pursue opportunities outside the medical area. Especially multitude of smaller medical device companies do not have the time or the resources to train and bring someone up to speed and they will only hire someone with specific and focused experience in a particular area. Of course, what goes down must come up and hiring will also increase. Right?  Well, the question is, in what time frame will life science hiring pick up. To be honest, job outlook in this industry is not rosy, and hiring is not going to pick up tomorrow. Even if you contact the recruiter every week or send several copies of your “recently” updated resume, if there aren’t many jobs then you are dealing with simple supply and demand economics. That is not to say that you should not aggressively pursue the opportunities, if all your experience is in this industry.

But the downside, in becoming desperate, is that very soon your confidence and your concept of self-identity will take a hit. Instead, do some of the following. Consider, if you have any transferable skills. For instance, if you have a degree is computer science and you have worked with medical devices, then your passion for this industry is understandable. But remember, you have a highly valued and transferable skill set and while you enjoyed your work in medical device industry, you don’t have to continue to only pursue an opportunity in this industry. On the other hand, if you are a boot strapped entrepreneur, you may want to consider keeping your IP confidential and filing it away in your desk and getting a job, for the time being. I am sure you believe your idea is novel and addresses a billion dollar market opportunity. The passion that each of you, my entrepreneur friends, feel, is indeed contagious. But ongoingly I see excellent ideas starving and on the brink of death. Life science field is like a graveyard littered with companies with great ideas, but no funding. If you are determined to pursue your idea then lower your expenses drastically and prepare for a long, hard struggle ahead.

My entrepreneur friends get highly encouraged when they get a meeting with a VC. Yes, a VC may meet you, critique your presentation, give you advise, and will certainly make you feel like you have a pursuable idea. But they will not open their pocket book. I will go as far to say that it is sometimes easier to get a VC’s time and attention than it used to be. But that is because they are in search of a winning idea, not because they seek to fund every idea. When I heard Tom Fogarty (Fogarty Institute) and Dana Meade (Kliner Perkins) speak at TiEcon, in May 2012, that there was no funding and it had completely dried up, I was also in denial. I sought out other friends and complained about it. My friends immediately agreed with me, saying that this gloom and doom scenario is not real and is highly exaggerated. But today I am not in denial.

Two of my candidates got offer letters, this week. But, I am not dancing with joy. Many of my wonderful friends with excellent skills, experience, and brilliant minds, are looking for jobs. I am fearful. I see many challenges ahead for the life science industry. My advice is that if you have functionally transferable skill set or geographically transferable skill set, then leverage it.


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