COVID-19 and our “virtual world” has taken the challenge of hiring within the life sciences industry to an entirely new level – especially recruiting college graduates and interns. In-person career fairs are out, and travel to college campuses – definitely out.

Life sciences organizations must recognize the opportunity within the limitations imposed by the pandemic – opportunities to completely reinvent their approach to the campus recruiting and hiring process, become more in tune with the needs of early-in-career job seekers, and leverage technology to make the recruitment process more efficient.

Roche Diagnostics used the pandemic as an opportunity to implement a 180-degree change in the way it connects with early-in-career recruits. My colleagues and I with Roche Diagnostics’ Human Resources created a University Redesign Team to overhaul the company’s recruitment process, creating new ways to connect virtually, yet in meaningful ways, with recruits. The redesigned process also allowed Roche to cast a wider net for recruitment to ensure our workforce represents the patients and communities we serve.

Some of the processes our University Redesign Team implemented include:

  • Developing “Your Future @ Roche,” a custom virtual event to introduce diverse internship candidates to Roche – immediately followed by an invitation to interview with Roche representatives. Your Future @ Roche resulted in four participants receiving 2021 Roche internship offers soon after the virtual event.
  • Using the Modern Hire platform to send pre-recorded interview questions from Roche business leaders to job candidates. The candidates were then able to record and upload their own video responses to the questions.
  • Allowing candidates to self-schedule their live, virtual interviews with the Roche People & Culture (HR) team at times that were convenient for them.
  • Investing in partnerships with multicultural centers at colleges and universities, and with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Roche also conducted focused paid digital campaigns to establish a presence with students and new graduates from these institutions.

After reviewing and evaluating the results of this re-imagined recruitment initiative, we were thrilled to achieve some encouraging outcomes:

  • In 2019, Roche Diagnostics reviewed 1,809 applications and screened 304 candidates for 55 opportunities. During the current recruitment initiative, we’ve reviewed more than 2,000 applications and screened more than 600 candidates. We expect to hire 62 interns for the 2021 class.
  • 57% diversity represented by Roche’s 2021 new graduate hires, compared to 43% in 2020.
  • Roche’s 2021 interns represent 28 colleges and universities nationwide, including seven colleges from Indiana.
  • 42% of Roche’s 2021 internship cohort are diverse students, compared to 29% in 2020.

In addition to advancements toward Roche’s intentional recruitment outcomes, we have experienced valuable learnings that apply to any life sciences business – or a company in any industry:

  1. Provide virtual opportunities to experience the look, touch and feel of your company culture throughout the entire interview process.
  2. Put your job candidates in the driver’s seat by letting them set the cadence for the interview process and connecting with them at times and in ways that are convenient for them.
  3. Practice intentional inclusion at each level of the talent attraction process and consider any and all perceived barriers for under-represented minority groups.
  4. Incorporate a diverse recruiting team to ensure talent is evaluated objectively and appropriately.
  5. Create platforms within your organization to provide a sense of community, affinity and development for diverse employees.

Like all other business practices during the pandemic, recruiting and hiring continue to evolve. However, by applying the agility and innovation the life sciences industry is known for to our recruiting efforts, Indiana’s life sciences community will continue to build its reputation as a destination for the Midwest’s best and brightest talent.

Jamie Wright is the Manager of Talent Acquisition at Roche Diagnostics.

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