Tackling the job market —
with a little help

Courtney Chandler
Dec. 5, 2019

As 2019 winds down, you may be taking stock of the past year while turning your sights to 2020. If you’re unhappy with your current job or are just ready for a change, the new year may be motivation to start applying for other positions. The job application process can be daunting, especially if you’re trying to break into a field you’re not familiar with. Specialized advice may be something extra to help you land your dream job or transition careers.

This week, we are highlighting recruitment companies and other businesses that specifically work with life science professionals transitioning into the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Their narrow focus allows for individualized recommendations on everything from résumés to interview tips. Recruiters can even help match you with specific jobs in the field.

Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash

Why use a recruiter? You may not want to, which is totally fine. Recruiters can offer benefits to job seekers of all types and can help find jobs beyond online postings through their relationships with companies and businesses within the field you’re interested in. Although times are changing and more universities are offering career-development opportunities outside of the academic path, many scientists and researchers haven’t received training in professional development or career management. Recruitment firms can help you find that next-level management job or just give you resources and job listings in a new area, such as biotech.

When searching for a recruiter, it’s important that you team up with one who is working in your desired field and understands the kind of job you want. If you’ve been in academia for decades but want to switch to industry, find a recruiter who is familiar with the biotech and pharma fields — they’ll be able to match you with the jobs you’re most interested in and suited for.

Working with recruiters who are specifically focused on scientists and researchers has additional advantages. They’ll know how valuable your skills are and will be able to help clearly communicate your abilities to show this value to employers. They’ll also understand the job market and how make your previous experience applicable to that market.

Listed below are a few companies that may help you start or advance your career in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. While not everyone may want take advantage of them (some services come at a cost), they can sometimes make the transition into industry easier.

Disclaimer: I have not used these companies, and the job application process is different for everyone. The companies themselves have offered no compensation for being featured in the article.

Industry and biotech

CrossOver Search — Founded in 2008, this company is dedicated to job searches within the life sciences industry. They’ve partnered with a range of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic companies and medical device firms in all stages of growth, from startup to global. They help recruit for clinical, research and development, commercialization, and executive positions, among others. Their smaller size and specialization allows for a lot of customization, which may be especially useful if you’re moving into a new job market.

PharmaScouts — Co-founded by a Ph.D. holder, PharmaScouts prides itself as being company in which scientists recruit scientists. They work with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to recruit scientists at all stages of their careers for positions ranging from research and development to management. They also offer long-term services to help you stay on track and advance in your career in biotech and pharma. Even if you don’t use their services, their job openings page is frequently updated.

Strategic Search — This corporation is a recruitment firm that functions internationally to bring people into the biotechnology market. They’ve been active for over 30 years and specifically recruit for jobs related to research and development, engineering, scientific development and leadership, and technology. Their services are broken down in specific categories to help you move into the job market you’re most interested in and qualified for. The additionally offer recruitment services for those outside of traditional life sciences, such as virtual reality and information technology.

Momentum Scientific Staffing — Based in Chicago, Momentum partners with national pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to match job seekers with contract, contract-to-hire, and direct-placement positions. They offer many contract-based positions, which may be a good way to get your feet wet in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.


There are many recruiting firms and job agencies that provide broad services. Despite the fact that they’re not specifically focused, they can still help life-science professionals looking to join the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. I describe a few below.

The Adecco Group is an international staffing firm based in Switzerland that provides services tailored to medical and science jobs. Make sure to be specific about whether you’re interested in part-time, temporary, or full-time work when starting the recruitment process with them.

Aerotek has specialized recruiters devoted to candidates in clinical research, pharmaceutical sciences, research and management.

Job listings

If you’re ready to start the application process on your own, no need to delay. Here are some job listings in industry to get you started.

Courtney Chandler

Courtney Chandler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and an industry careers columnist for ASBMB Today.

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