Boston Biotech: It Keeps Getting Better

Boston Biotech: It Keeps Getting Better

If you’re in the biotech industry in Boston, you couldn’t be in a better place. Well, technically the whole state of Massachusetts is the place to be, but we’re a little biased towards the capital. In fact, Massachusetts, and more specifically, the Boston metropolitan area, has surpassed California and is now the top biotech hub in the world by the metric of a total number of people employed in the industry.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation’s (MassBioEd) most recent job trends forecast reported some encouraging statistics for those currently in or thinking of joining the industry.

Explosive Growth Predicted to Continue

According to MassBioEd’s summary, the industry exceeded 70,000 jobs for the first time and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

  • Since 2014, the Massachusetts life sciences industry has grown at approximately double the rate of both the state and U.S. economies.
  • The total amount of job listings exceeded 27,700 in 2017. Of those, over 16,000 were STEM/Technical positions.
  • The Massachusetts biotech sector will add almost 12,000 new jobs by 2023.
  • Eighty-three percent of life sciences companies reported plans to expand their headcount in the next 12 months.

Growing Pains are Unavoidable?

Rapid growth will inevitably pose several challenges to the industry, including:

  • Longer recruitment cycles: 65 percent of organizations surveyed reported that the average time it took to fill an opening was over 10 weeks; compared to the national average, which is only about 30 days.
  • Clinical research was named by 31 percent of companies surveyed as the hardest area to find qualified candidates in, followed by openings in Regulatory Affairs, Quality, and Research & Development roles—which also happen to be the top four areas that life sciences organizations plan to expand. This means that recruiting candidates to fill these roles is going to quickly become even more challenging.
  • Job openings requiring an Associate’s Degree and Ph.D. saw much higher levels of growth in demand compared to supply.
  • Colleges and universities have improved somewhat, but are still struggling to produce a sufficient number of graduates to fill entry-level positions for certain types of roles.
  • Specialization in these positions means that new workers cannot simply be poached from another industry or sector.
  • Twenty-nine percent of companies said that they had formal diversity initiatives—for either gender or race/ethnicity—at the contributor level, 28 percent at the management level and 17 percent at the board level.
  • Sixty percent of companies reported that they had no formal diversity initiatives.

Largest Life Science Companies in Massachusetts

The Boston area is home to almost 1,000 biotech companies, including both pharma giants and small startups. According to the Boston Business Journal, these are the top five largest life science companies in the state of Massachusetts as of August 2018:

Firm Mass. Employees Total Employees Total 2017 Revenue Company’s Main Product/Service Focus
50 Binney St.
Cambridge, MA
4,800 100,000 $41,088,250,000 Specialty care, primary care, vaccines and consumer health care
Shire PLC
300 Shire Way
Lexington, MA
3,059 23,000 15,200,000,000 Therapeutic areas including immunology, hematology, neuroscience, genetic diseases, internal medicine, ophthalmics and oncology
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
40 Landsdowne St.
Cambridge, MA
2,700 30,000 NA Oncology, gastroenterology, CNS and vaccines
225 Binney St.
Cambridge, MA
2,400 7,200 $12,300,000,000 Therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases
181 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
2,337 129,222 $49,100,000,000 Broad range of medicines for a variety of diseases/conditions

The bottom line? Biotech is booming in Boston.

And if you’re a biotech recruiter, don’t be surprised if it takes a little longer to fill all of your vacant positions. is here to help make that process smoother when you decide to outsource your recruiting efforts.

The Key to Success – Combining Creativity and Knowledge

The Key to Success – Combining Creativity and Knowledge

Combining Creativity and KnowledgeLate night in the lab, staring at the data and the computer screen, trying to come up with a solution to a problem. Been working on this dilemma for weeks on end, toiling twenty hours a day and just can’t figure it out. The next day I decide to leave early from work and go for a long run while listening to my favorite music on my iPod. After that a nice bath while enjoying a novel. My mind is anywhere but on the problem. And then – the lightbulb goes on! I have figured out the solution! It was so obvious, but I was completely focused on overworking that my mind couldn’t think outside the box.

Most of us professionals today have the mentality that the harder we work, the more results we produce. However, that is absolutely not the case.  I compare that to a racehorse running with their blinders on – all you do is go full steam staring straight ahead at the finish line without looking around and opening your mind to other alternatives for the solution.

Meditation for Brain Health

The brain needs diverse activities for plasticity and proper stimulation. Different creative activities stimulate various parts of the brain. For example, exercise increases the heart rate, thereby providing more blood flow to the brain and enhancing its activity. Exercise stimulates brain plasticity by increasing growth factors that are crucial for the formation of new connections in the cortical areas of the brain (1). Studies show that meditation helps preserve the aging brain. Compared to non-meditating counterparts, the participants who meditated retained more gray matter and increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus which governs learning and memory (2-3).  Meditation has also been shown to decrease activity in the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering.  Hence, meditation improves concentration (4).

Art, music, and literature have just as significant positive effects on the brain and, in turn, on one’s productivity. Whether you are looking at art or creating it, listening to music or playing an instrument, writing for enjoyment or reading, the effects are tremendous. (5-6)

In addition, all of these activities increase attention and concentration while decreasing anxiety and depression. These are, of course, only a few examples of creative activities.  You find what your passion is and pursue it whether it’s taking a walk in nature or cooking a fantastic meal (watching TV doesn’t count!). Every time you perform a creative activity, it will improve your brain plasticity, relax your mind, and take your thoughts off the problem at hand, which in turn, will help you think outside the box.

An excellent example of the importance of the effects of creativity on utilizing knowledge is the Finnish school system. Although a small country that not many know much about, students in Finland consistently score high on the PISA test which includes 72 countries and measures the level of knowledge in science, math, and reading. 93 percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational schools, and 66 percent go on to pursue higher education (7-8).  Yet Finnish schools have little homework, short school days, and children don’t start school until seven years of age. How is this possible?

Part of the explanation is: that’s exactly why. Besides the excellent quality and training of the teachers, the children get to be children. In other words, they get to be creative.  Emphasis is placed on arts, music, sports and playtime just as much as academic subjects. One might think that this would have a negative effect on learning, but it’s quite the opposite. Children are more focused in class, can concentrate on acquiring knowledge, and learn to be problem-solvers rather than memorizing material.

The Importance of Play

As an adult, we often get so overwhelmed by work, bills, family, and life in general that we forget the importance of ‘play’. Due to all the things we have to accomplish during the day, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy, to relax. This is detrimental, not just to one’s health and mental status, but also to succeeding in one’s career. We all need to take some time out of the day to enjoy a creative activity of our choice.  There is absolute truth to the old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.


Common Mistakes Made By Entry-Level Applicants

Common Mistakes Made By Entry-Level Applicants

Common Mistakes Made By Entry-Level ApplicantsThe definition of an entry-level position has morphed into an entirely different meaning. No longer does entry-level mean you have translatable skills, you are certainly teachable, and you seem willing to stay at this job long enough for the time we invest in you to pay off in the long term. It simply means a lower tier position that requires not as many years of experience; it comes with the promise of upward mobility and weekend work hours. Floods of college seniors apply to industrial biotechnology and pharmaceutical positions only to be rejected because they have only worked in academic labs or merely taken relevant courses. You don’t just need the experience to get experience; you need the exact right experience.

Almost all of the resumes that I come across for junior roles either consist of lab experiences at the same university the students attend or summer internships at a prestigious academic research institute. Then, there are those rare resumes that include internships or cooperative education (“co-op”) programs adding up to more than one year of industry experience. So why do the latter resumes stand out more? Why is a student performing PCRs at a university viewed as less competitive for the same role as a student who performed PCRs at a biopharmaceutical startup? Isn’t a PCR a PCR?

The Difference Between Industry and Academia

The difference has its roots in the larger perspective: industry versus academia. To put it simply, academic focuses on the research side of Research and Development and industry emphasizes the development aspect more. There are distinctly different rules, regulations, hierarchies, and most significantly, objectives. Any scientist will tell you whether in industry or in academia that lab work is never just about the hard skills you accumulate. Co-op programs have a significant upper-hand as they are usually formally set-up agreements between universities and companies. But, the true benefit of co-ops comes from their structure. Students can complete academic research while attending class that semester and then hold a several month spanning job in an industry. Moreover, those industry positions come with the opportunity to perform the exact skills in the exact environment that entry-level positions are looking for in applicants.

The other issue is the overwhelming amount of entry-level applicants who only have academic experience. Why wait until after college to gain industry experience? Well, there is a minority of industry internships as compared to the abundant academic research volunteer and paid positions. It is just easier to find an academic position when you’re in an academic institution. It’s also just as easy to receive no guidance or mentorship regarding a career in industry when the potential mentors surrounding you have already established academic careers. There is a burgeoning difference in how young professionals approach their careers and the job market than their predecessors. So, apply the principles of good science to your own life. Formulate questions that you gather research on to answer. What is a career in academia or industry look like? Which would I prefer? What is the difference? What are the positives and negatives of each? Reach out to a wide range of people who occupy jobs that you could see yourself enjoying. If they cannot provide you with what you need, ask them for a reference to another professional who can. You deserve to make an informed decision.

Seeking the Best Job for You

The job market is both specialized and diverse for junior roles. You can always forge your own path and there is sure to be a position out there that suits you. How do you find it? Apply to a plethora of positions – but be job-specific for each one. Sending the same resume for five different jobs is an inefficient, and quick way to eliminate your application from four out of five of those roles. For each application, compare and contrast the job description with your own skills and experience. Put all the matching components at the beginning of the resume or make sure it stands out – whether highlighted or underlined – throughout the resume.

Gathering information and networking is preliminary to the action step. Structure your college years in a way where you can provide yourself with the most options later. If you’re working during the semester at a professor’s lab, then consider spending the summer completing an industry experience. But, most importantly, ensure that you are getting the absolute most you can out of both experiences: learn, observe, and expand your skill set to match the job you want later on in your career.

Finding a job after college in the Pharmaceuticals & Biotech Industry

Finding a job after college in the Pharmaceuticals & Biotech Industry

5 Steps to get your career started in the Pharmaceuticals & Biotech Industry!

There are many recent graduates that are entering pharmaceuticals and biotech workforce every year. Embarking on a new journey and opening a new chapter of your life can be challenging and overwhelming… this is completely normal and you are NOT alone.

Finding a job and kick starting your career is no easy task. It involves hard work, research, commitment and patience. Here are 5 steps to jump start your career!

Customize your resume 

Many headhunters and pharmaceutical recruiters today use applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for keywords. This means that if you do not have specific job related keywords built into your resume you may never receive this opportunity. Finding a job

In order to set yourself up for success it is important to edit your resume to incorporate specific job description keywords into your resume. Take a look at the job requirements and required skills and align your resume to match keywords within these two sections.

Check job postings daily

In order to put yourself in the best position for a job – try and check biotech or pharmaceutical opportunities daily and apply to a job within the first 48 hours after it’s posted. To get into a good routine, start off your day by searching for new job openings each morning. There are different job boards that allow you to set up daily notification based on a custom search that best fits your interests, qualifications and location.

If you have specific companies in mind that you are looking to join follow them on social to make sure you are staying on top of all career opportunity updates.

Use your network

Finding a jobMost colleges maintain an online alumni database that grads can use to get contact information. Other medical colleges set up different graduate programs to assist in career building and education.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your high school or college network. Utilize these connections to learn more about a specific industry or about a particular company.

NOTE: When contacting alumni you are reaching out for information and/or advice. It’s important to remember you are not reaching out to land a job right away. Instead, if the alumni is local, ask to meet up for coffee to chat about questions that you have prepared. Always be organized, professional and appreciative of their time.


You may not have a job just yet – but it’s important to understand what’s going on in “your” field. Making sure you are always up to speed on industry related news could be important in future interviews or once you actually start a job. Join different social groups, read different online publications or blogs, be active on social media channels.

Expanding your knowledge will only help you with you future career search!

Being prepared

To actually get the job you will need to have a great interview. In order to put yourself in the best position you should be prepared. If you research common interview questions and prepare ahead of time this will give you the confidence you need when these questions come up.

Make sure you research the company and do your homework. Have questions prepared, read the company’s website, follow them on social media and make sure you are doing your due diligence on all ends.


The Cover Letter Makes a Comeback

The Cover Letter Makes a Comeback


The advent of online job board and e-applications in the early to mid 2000s all but killed the cover letter. The impersonal nature of applying online for pharmaceutical or biopharma positions led many to believe that cover letters did not improve or enhance a person’s hireability or them an edge in landing a job. However, the cover letter is making something of a comeback in today’s highly competitive job market.

Pharmaceutical recruiters and biotech headhunters have begun to read cover letters again because in today’s fast -paced business environment. Hiring decisions must be made carefully and quickly. To that point, job applicants who actually take time to carefully read job descriptions and craft cover letters to introduce themselves to biotech & pharmaceutical recruiters are likely to be more qualified and interested in the jobs that they are applying than those those who simply attach a resume to an e-mail message and hit the send button. Also, cover letters offer candidates opportunities to make a strong first impression but injecting some of their personality into a job application.cover letter

So, what should a strong cover letter contain? Besides including keywords (taken from the job descriptions) and action rather than verbs, job candidates ought to infuse cover letters with engaging and memorable dialog. Also, applicants must include descriptions of their skill sets, career goals and previous experience that may help to differentiate them from the hundreds of other people who may have applied for a  particular job. For example, rather than writing “I’m writing to apply for the open position at your company” try offering something like ”  My name is ____ and I’m looking for a change. After that opening, then explain why your background, skill sets and career focus are in line with the company’s needs that were outlined in the job description. Biopharma head hunters pore over hundreds of job applications and tend to remember the ones that stand out.

There is no doubt that writing new cover letters time consuming and often difficult. It is much easier to just hit the send button because you may believe that volume will trump quality. That said, pharmaceutical recruiting firms and biotech head hunters no longer have the job to carefully evaluate potentially qualified job applicants. These days they are looking for any edge to quickly identify and separate right fit candidate from the thousands of job applications that they receive. Remember: taking time at the front end of the job application process will often pay off with success on the backend!

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!



In the Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, it takes more than a big salary to attract, and keep, better candidates.

Finding candidates

A successful pharmaceuticals recruiting strategy is essential when it comes to finding more, and better, candidates. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But finding a candidate with the skills that fit current vacancies and who also aligns with corporate culture can be a challenge. Nothing feels better than getting it right. And nothing seems more frustrating when it doesn’t. Unsuccessful placements impact morale and are costly to the company.

And while there isn’t a secret formula that can guarantee every placement will be a success, you can stack the odds in your favor. Enjoy successful placements with these tips for finding more, and better, candidates.

A Better Job Description for A Better Candidate

When you need to find better candidates, you need to start with the job description; it’s critical to your success. By taking the time to craft a detailed, attention-grabbing job description you’ll see more, and better, candidates send in their applications come across your desk. And a job description that contains relevant job-specific terminology and speaks the language of biotech and pharmaceutical job seekers will help attract top professionals.

Painless Application Process

One-touch applications, from a mobile device, is one convenience that you can’t afford to overlook. Want top technical talent? Then you’ll need to advertise you’re relevant and up-to-date with technology as well, and nothing says that better – or easier – than a mobile application process. When the biopharma recruiting process is mobile-friendly, you’ll not only let job seekers know you’re on trend, but you’ll attract more and better millennial candidates.

Good on The Job? Or Just Good During the Interview?

There’s a big difference between acing the interview and excelling on the job. Did a candidate sail through the initial screening with ease and get top marks in the interview? That’s great, but it doesn’t always mean that will translate into job success. Taking a little extra effort to evaluate technical skills and abilities will help you differentiate between candidates who not only stood out during the interview process but who will also be top performers in the role.

Social Media

If you’re not using social media as a regular part of your pharmaceutical recruiting process, you’re missing out on talent. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all outstanding resources when it comes to finding better candidates. With social media, you can

  • promote current and upcoming vacancies,
  • reach passive candidates who might not be actively searching for new jobs,
  • reach a wider audience than just posting on your company’s job board,
  • gain insight into whether a candidate will align with a company’s corporate culture.

And best of all, social media is free for both recruiters and job seekers to use.

With a little attention to these tips, you’ll be attracting more, and better, pharmaceuticals and biotech candidates than you ever expected.