Taking up the industry recruitment challenge

Taking up the industry recruitment challenge

Shyam Suryanarayanan,
Founder and Managing Director,


Recruitment has been a perennial bugbear for the fast growing life science sector sector. While the often discussed ‘pains’ of recruitment continued to frustrate us, a lasting solution seemed elusive. Along with Shrikumar Suryanarayan, Director General, of Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE) I started ABLE C-DRIVE as a vehicle to address all recruitment related solutions to the Indian life science sector. While the starting point was biotech, we decided to extend this model to the entire life science sector given the immense potential to serve the entire life science industry.

Two recruitment levels

The current recruitment scenario needs to be understood at two levels. Firstly, recruiting fresh life science graduates, and secondly, the hiring of experienced professionals. Hiring high quality, fresh life science graduates, is widely acknowledged as a real challenge. Inspite of the large number of life science graduates passing out of various academic institutions; the actual intake into industry is a very small fraction. Students often choose life sciences because it is ‘hot’ in the market. Moreover, the academic curriculum and teaching methods are often not aligned to industry needs.

In the case of experienced professionals, the dynamics are very different. Our experience working with life science companies, suggests that the process of hiring experienced professionals is time consuming and tedious! In the same vein, ground level feedback from qualified, capable job seekers shows us that the process of finding a suitable job is painstaking and time consuming. On average, it takes between four to six months for a quality job seeker to find a suitable job, especially in the biotech sector.

We found this disconnect quite paradoxical. Our process of ‘Discovery’ began here and we uncovered the following realities:

Firstly, companies spend between 50 percent to 60 percent of recruitment time, resources and energy on resume screening, and short listing based on first level candidate interviews. This could be called the ‘Elimination round’. This process is tedious, since most Job Portals are broad-based and not designed to address the life science sector.

Secondly, from a job seeker’s perspective, we found that there is no single specialist life science platform which gave him/her access and visibility across a wide range of life science companies in India. This issue was felt even more acutely by life science researchers. Another segment of the job seeker group which needs special attention is the ‘Returning Indian’ community, largely comprising doctoral or post doctoral students in the US and Europe. They are a valuable target group for hiring, given their strong exposure to global standards and practices. The restlessness amongst this tribe is growing due to the lack of a specialist, reliable platform which can help them smoothly transition into a suitable job back home.

Third, we inferred that confidentiality and protection of identity was another concern– especially for those at the middle and senior levels. As a result, individuals were forced to depend on their personal network and contacts, which do not always work.

Lastly, drawing from our own experience with recruitment, we inferred that a career shift is an emotionally trying period for any individual, and calls for proactive job seeker engagement, and support. Evidence suggests that the primary cause for recruitment failures, post first level short listing lies in the soft factors such as personality fitment, expectations mismatch, etc. As a result, offline candidate and client engagement cannot be ignored.

Having got a clear understanding of the pain points, the ABLE C-DRIVE life science career platform, was designed to resolve each of the pain areas identified.

The ABLE C-DRIVE solution

The ABLE C-DRIVE platform is a specialist online recruitment platform, whose design has been customised for the Indian life science sector. Its categorisation (by discipline) of job seeker profiles and job openings is highly granular and specialised, making it much simpler for individuals and companies to connect.

The ABLE C-DRIVE platform addresses the four primary pain points of recruitment, identified earlier, through its unique approach.

Firstly, it provides companies with access to pre-screened and shortlisted individuals. Each and every job seeker accessible online has been screened, and short listed post a first level interview, by a team of qualified life science consultants (MS in life sciences). This addresses a large part of the ‘Elimination problem’ (50 to 60 percent of recruitment effort) and ensures that companies spend recruitment time and energy only where it is worth the while. The average recruitment cycle time is bound to go down, significantly increasing the productivity of recruitment efforts. Companies may visit www.cdrivecareers.com/life to experience the ABLE C-DRIVE platform. The ABLE C-DRIVE platform is already being used successfully by close to 20 life sciences companies.

Second, the ABLE C-DRIVE platform is a specialist online platform for life sciences careers, where quality professionals get visibility across the entire life sciences industry. and which also connects companies from across the life sciences industry with suitably qualified and experienced jobseekers, thereby increasing the probability of hiring or getting hired.

Third, given the need for confidentiality of personally identifiable information (PII), of a job seeker, the platform protects the job seeker’s identity while still ensuring that his/her profile is visible across various hiring companies.

And lastly, to bring in the human factor in the recruitment proecess, a strong team of life sciences consultants engage deeply with hiring organisations and job seekers right through the process, until the individual joins the organisation. This supports and facilitates the online platform.

So what we have created is a high quality online platform for organisations to access quality individuals in a discreet, managed environment, supported by a strong offline team of specialist life sciences consultants. The probability of an individual finding a suitable job is significantly enhanced and the ‘job search’ cycle time is bound to reduce significantly. We are combining the scale and reach of the online media with the personalised touch of specialist consultants to create a large scale, personalised recruitment solution for companies and job seekers.

Of course, the success of this model depends largely on creating strong awareness amongst job seekers and companies. Marketing efforts are being planned to increase awareness amongst job-seekers about the ABLE C-DRIVE platform. In addition, we are also looking to build strong linkages with leading US universities that have a significant NRI base of doctoral/post doctoral students– who are potentially looking to return home.

The Indian life sciences sector holds huge potential and the time is ripe for solutions that will unlock this potential. One part of the challenge lies in creating the talent pool (supply) at the grass root level. Solutions to this challenge could yield results in the medium to long term.

The other part of the challenge lies in channelising the existing talent pool (within India and beyond) in a more efficient way to industry.

This is what the ABLE C-DRIVE platform strives to achieve and the results are already showing. We hope to make this the industry recruitment standard for all life sciences companies across India.