The MedZilla Report: December Employment Outlook for Biotech/Pharma/Health

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Even though several medical and pharmaceutical companies announced plans for layoffs and restructuring, The MedZilla Report shows little change in the amount of people searching for new jobs.

December can be a slow month for job searching

December was a generally-flat month for job searches in the medical arena, with searches for the most part swinging only one percent in either direction. Searches for sales jobs dropped by nearly one percent from November, which -- given the popularity of those searches -- was a surprising finding. On a state-by-state basis, California and Pennsylvania saw 1.2 and 1.1 percent drops, respectively, in searches performed, but eight of the other top ten states for searches changed no more than half a percent either way.

As for jobs applied for, dermatological sales remained at the top, commanding more than 11 percent of applications; however, business development positions broke into the upper echelon of national jobs applied for, taking in about two percent of all applications.

Research-minded candidates -- including those who sought positions in clinical research and those who work in product development -- searched for jobs slightly more in December than November. However, companies actively searched for personnel to fill those jobs up to three percent less often.

On the whole, posted jobs experienced greater change, with companies looking for more management, office, and marketing candidates than November; each of those categories jumped by more than one percent in postings. Massachusetts- and Florida-based companies were most active in looking for new employees, increasing their postings by half a percent; that, though, was offset by 0.6 percent drops in postings in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Companies on the whole searched resume databases more in December than November, with Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut seeing applicant search increases of more than two percent apiece. The largest negative changes in that area came from New Jersey and North Carolina -- both off by 1.1 percent.

What Does It Mean?

"December can be a slow month for job searching," said Michele Hopps, MedZilla's director of marketing and development. "The major gift-giving holidays occur in December, and applicants can be leery of changing jobs during such a time. Also, many people take vacations in December, which could have contributed to the noted fall-off."

Companies, meanwhile, are looking to fill any last-minute positions before the new year, and while they are sometimes eager to hire, their potential employees may be put off by the high-speed hiring.


More than 20 companies announced in December that they would be participating in restructuring or layoff programs in the coming months and years. The largest of these were Abbott Laboratories (1,200 layoffs), Bristol-Myers Squibb (4,300 layoffs), and Dow Chemical (more than 1,000 layoffs). These three companies, along with many others, cited increasing costs, efficiency issues, and too much competition within the market. Also, some companies that put their research team behind specific drugs that failed to win U.S. approval were left with no product to sell and were forced to announce job cuts to compensate.

Where Do You Stand?

The number of information technology jobs continued their gradual decline -- one tenth of one percent -- though management positions in that area were searched for more in December than November. This speaks to the restructuring being performed by so many companies; new Chief Technology Officers (as well as other managers) are often hired with the intent of making their departments more efficient while also cutting costs and personnel. This is not limited to the medical and pharmaceutical industries, but those are two of the most visible.

Additionally, with the wide swath of outplacements announced in the month of December, it is no wonder that companies have spent less time searching for sales representatives. However, more troubling are the drops in searches for research personnel -- 1.7 to 2.7 percent off from November to December. This may indicate companies are becoming less willing to take chances and develop new drugs, especially if there is a greater chance the FDA will not allow the product to be sold in the U.S. As research positions often have great longevity throughout the development, testing, and approval processes, this bodes ill for medical researchers.

Without new products, sales representatives are left with nothing new to pitch to physicians and hospitals. Though the number of sales jobs posted remained more-or-less static from November to December, the number of sales representatives actively searched for by companies fell slightly. That could be a harbinger for steeper declines in 2008, especially in light of the research findings. However, as MedZilla's President and CEO Dr. Frank Heasley noted, "the weak employment picture simply means it will take longer to find a position."

Established in mid-1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. The MedZilla jobs database contains about 7,500 open positions. The resume database currently contains over 285,000 resumes with 16,800 less than three months old. These resources have been characterized as the largest, most comprehensive databases of their kind on the web in the industries served.

Medzilla® is a Registered Trademark owned by Medzilla Inc. Copyright ©2008, MedZilla, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this text in its entirety, and if electronically, with a link to the URL For permission to quote from or reproduce any portion of this message, please contact Michele Hopps, Director of Marketing and Development, MedZilla, Inc. Email: mgroutage(at)


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