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

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Despite the wild economic swings that were the hallmark of January, companies were still looking for employees in medical care, clinical research, and even sales -- the most popular of the jobs in the medical field. But even more interestingly, MedZilla.com, which tracks job postings and applications in the medical and pharmaceutical arenas, discovered candidates weren't necessarily trying to fill those open positions.

Recruiters are simply shifting from a passive approach to an active one in looking for clinical research professionals.

Despite the wild economic swings that were the hallmark of January, companies were still looking for employees in medical care, clinical research, and even sales -- the most popular of the jobs in the medical field. But even more interestingly, MedZilla.com, which tracks job postings and applications in the medical and pharmaceutical arenas, discovered candidates weren't necessarily trying to fill those open positions.

Saving some exceptions, job postings were off pretty much across the board as 2008 began. Only New Jersey saw a significant jump in jobs posted; 2.5 percent more than December 2007. New York also rose almost one percent in the same category. Product development and IT postings went up in January, each by half a percent, though many other categories of posted jobs declined in number. Though it seemed as though clinical research positions declined from December to January, the actual decline was just in posted jobs, not in actual positions available.

Job searches made by applicants did not correspond with the declining numbers of job postings. For the most part, job search numbers remained flat, varying less than one percent up or down from December's totals. Companies, however, increased their efforts to find candidates for open positions; California businesses searched almost three percent more resumes in January than December, and New York and Texas businesses also recorded noticeable upswings in their candidate search activities. Clinical research candidate searches were up 1.4 percent, while other searches remained relatively flat from December to January.

The jobs most applied for by candidates were mostly in the sales arena, with dermatological sales once again leading the charge with more than 15 percent of the applications taken in for January. However, sales management positions and clinical openings also were seen in the top 15 jobs that received applications.

What Does It Mean?

Despite the drop in jobs posted from December to January, it appeared as though companies in some states were still actively searching for qualified candidates for a variety of positions. However, as some companies abandoned certain research efforts or were unable to secure funding for new drug development, fewer positions were posted for new employees to work in that area.

The fact that candidates were not noticeably searching for new jobs any more or less in January than they did in December could indicate a few different things. Employees may be happy in their positions; they may be unwilling to change jobs given the volatility of the economy, especially through the month of January, as evidenced by the wide swings in the U.S. and overseas markets; or there could be other, unknown factors.

Even given the surfeit of layoffs and restructuring efforts announced in January, the fact that job searches by candidates did not swing more than one percent either upward or downward is positive news, as those who were released from their positions may have less competition when going forward with their job searches.

Why?

"Despite U.S. employers cutting jobs last month for the first time in more than four years, gains continue in a number of disciplines," said Michele Hopps, director of marketing and development for MedZilla.com. Hopps noted that more jobs were available in physicians' offices and hospitals (about 24,000 vacancies) in January than in December. Though some hospitals announced layoffs and restructuring activities -- most notably in Inglewood, Calif.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Savannah, Ga. -- the need for qualified care providers remained.

One explanation for the surge in companies searching for candidates in California could be traced back to the departure of doctors and the announcement of more than 300 layoffs at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood. As doctors depart the hospital, they may be searching for employees to take with them to the new locations of their practices. Also, Novo Nordisk (which maintains a facility in California as well) announced a cutback of about 300 employees after they ceased their inhaled insulin project. Astute companies could be taking advantage of the influx of qualified workers into the California candidate pool.

In the pharmaceutical arena, Wyeth announced they would be trimming ten percent of their workforce between 2008 and 2011. That, however, runs counter to the increase in job postings in New Jersey, where Wyeth is headquartered. Though Wyeth is not the only company in that state trying to save money by eliminating positions, they are one of the largest.

Where Do You Stand?

Two companies -- Novo Nordisk and Pfizer -- announced cuts in January after facing trouble with their inhaled insulin drugs; though it is a narrow perspective, joining a company that makes that type of drug their main focus might not be the most advisable course of action. It appears that inhaled insulin has not yet made the impact pharmaceutical companies hoped it would.

All is not lost in the clinical research area, however. "Demand for clinical research workers remains strong, with a steady and healthy increase in January," Hopps said. "Recruiters are simply shifting from a passive approach to an active one in looking for clinical research professionals." Though prospects can sometimes seem grim, there will likely always be a market for researchers, as new drugs that work better, faster, or more efficiently are most definitely in demand.

Given that candidates did not increase their job searches in January, those looking to change jobs might want to take advantage and apply for the jobs they want before those positions are filled. This especially applies in light of the consistent increases in demand for clinical research and medical care employees, and even in the sales arena, where employers are still looking for talented and qualified representatives. Though it seems that bad news is the order of the day when it comes to searching for a new job, candidates should be encouraged by the fact that, though it is generally underreported, there are still plenty of jobs available in the medical and pharmaceutical fields.

About MedZilla.com
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 http://www.medzilla.com. 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)medzilla.com.

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MICHELE GROUTAGE HOPPS
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