Funding positions a company for growth, and Recursion Pharmaceuticals is no exception. But, like a number of life sciences companies today, it will face its share of challenges pursuing growth -- particularly in terms of recruiting top talent.
Recursion’s home is a fly-over state: Utah. While Utah boasts one of the most incredible landscapes around and a thriving tech industry, a move for any top life sciences executive to an all-new culture can seem less appealing, particularly if the candidate perceives the geographic move as having potential to slow down a career path.
Why Recruiting Executive Candidates Is Harder in Fly-Over States
Frequently, life sciences companies far removed from big-city culture and bio-pharma hubs have a tougher time recruiting from outside their own geographic locations. Concerns for candidates include possible disruptions to their family and personal life, as well as the physical requirements of moving. Lifestyle for a candidate from New York City, for example, can make assimilation in cities like Little Rock, Sioux Falls and Salt Lake City more challenging.
Organizations in the more remote geos must also address compensation factors: it costs considerably less to live in Salt Lake City, for example, and compensation packages often reflect this. But does an executive candidate see only the number or is he or she balancing that against Utah’s lower cost of living? These are not ideas or features to be sold, rather they are issues which must be discussed in a consultative manner with the candidate.
Lastly, the growth potential within a specific geo may also make a position less appealing: candidates hoping for continued career progression could see a role in a fly-over state as a guaranty of TWO moves rather than one: the first move to the more remote geo for the role and a second to their next role after that (companies must address this too: no matter how great the role is, an executive who is dissatisfied with his or her personal life won’t last long).
Recruiting Challenge: Motivating Passive Life Sciences Candidates to Move
Across all industries, the average tenure for a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), for example, is only three years. A life sciences CFO, on the other hand, has an average tenure of 5.1 years. Even a 50-year-old candidate could be facing 3+ moves before retirement.
In these instances, identifying a slate of appropriate executive candidates should start with a deep dive into each prospective candidate’s work background, naturally, but should also include assessment regarding cultural fit. In most cases, this means spending time with the candidate far beyond “are you interested and how much do you want?” For life sciences companies outside mainstream bio-pharma hubs, it’s critical to recruit the entire family. This level of candidate care extends to knowing the school systems and working with the right realtors. Life sciences companies in fly-over states should be training themselves to look at their opportunities and the relocation challenges through the candidate’s lens.
Simple, right? Not necessarily. Without a deep understanding of the industry and a time commitment to allow an hour or two for each interview, companies like Recursion and others that need to find the right staff while also meeting a timeline for progress, may be presented with a slate of candidates that miss the mark. Task a junior recruiter with the job and the organization may never even get the role in front of the right prospects because he or she may not understand the nuances required to convince someone more senior to at least consider the role.
Boutique Life Sciences Firms’ Understanding of the Candidate and the Company
Boutique retained executive search firms that specialize in the life sciences industry can often provide a solution to geographically challenged companies. Because boutique firms are often owner-operated, they’re not up against sales quotas so they can devote the time required to understand the hiring organization and its culture. This is required to develop strategies that motivate passive candidates, especially executive-level ones.
Companies usually only seek help from a retained search firm after they’ve tried to fill the role on their own. Therefore, to be successful in retained search over time, consultants learn to practice the art of search at a very high-level, and they develop expertise motivating passive candidates to consider change. They also have significant and relevant experience consulting with executive candidates about both their excitement and fears concerning relocation. Boutique specialists understand the difference between selling jobs versus consulting on career development opportunities. If a life sciences recruiter can’t reach the right candidate, the message doesn’t really matter. If that same recruiter is too overwhelmed to slow down and consult or too junior to know the difference, then your company just lost another potential new -- and amazing -- hire.
Read the whole story about Recursion Pharmaceutical’s series B funding in FierceBiotech.
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