Stock market impact on hiring in biotech and biopharma

As the pharmaceutical landscape alters drastically following huge changes in global health and developing technology, the biotech and biopharma industries are consistently at the forefront of innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic saw interest rise in the development of new drugs and vaccines as the whole world tried to come to terms with a rapidly spreading virus with no cure. This meant that there was an increase in the stock market for biopharma and biotech companies, meaning that many could get off the ground. Unfortunately, this has projected disaster for more recent times as interest has dropped due to high risk and many companies are now struggling to continue their operations.

These are all things that we discussed in part one of our special blog series covering the stock market impact on biotech and biopharma, which you can go and read now if you haven’t already to catch up. In part two of the special blog series brought to you by CNA International, we will be looking at how the stock market has impacted hiring within the biotech and biopharma industries. As an executive search firm, we work with international clients to place the best clients in executive positions within biotech and biopharma, so we are experts when it comes to the ins and outs of hiring.


At the beginning of the pandemic, the medical sector became massively overvalued on the stock market as people became enthusiastic about the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine being made. Everyone wanted to have shares in the biotech or biopharma start-up company producing the world-changing drug that was in the highest demand and commanded the highest profits.

However, as much of the world’s population now has access to the vaccine, venture firms are now being more selective over who they invest in.

This means that fewer startups are able to get to an IPO and move from private to publicly traded, meaning they are unlikely to begin the lifecycle of new drugs and/or cannot sell new drugs. This results in them often suffering from very low market valuations and low expectations going forward with little funding, as investors search for lower-risk shares to invest in.

How has this impacted the job market?

You could be forgiven for thinking that this must spell complete disaster for the job market in the biopharma and biotech industry going forward in 2022. After all, with fewer new companies appearing, it would surely make sense for fewer jobs to be available and for biotech and biopharma firms to have lower hiring rates.

This may be the case, but the job market is actually booming at the moment. Professionals with the knowledge, skills and qualifications to work in biotech and biopharma were in demand even before the pandemic, as a growing worldwide population calls for better drugs and the technology develops to support this, requiring specialised skills. As investment in biotech and biopharma increased during the pandemic, so did the hiring and the interest in getting into this sector. During the boom, a trend began of hiring recent graduates even without the usual 3-5 years of experience expected of biologists, chemists and technicians. All of this means the job market is showing no signs of slowing even now.

With so many new biopharmaceutical jobs appearing in modern times, it remains possible for people to find their calling within biotech and biopharma. This is reflected in a wider variety of qualifications becoming available for students that could potentially lead into this sector. With this comes a higher level of competition in hiring as the tussle to hire the best candidates gets more vital, more varied and more competitive.

Of course, this only applies where there is an existing company. Small to medium firms and those struggling to start up are less likely to have high hiring rates, and due to the fall in the stock market driving lower levels of new companies, there are fewer jobs available at this point in 2022 than we were seeing in 2020. However, because of the vastness of this industry, this is not of major significance.


However, this relatively good news doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Over 30 biopharma firms announced layoffs from October 2021 to April 2022. Three major gene therapy companies decreased employee numbers by 30% or more earlier this year (Orchard Therapeutics, Taysha Gene Therapy and Bluebird Bio). Furthermore, the large firm Biogen has also cut staff numbers following the poor launch of its drug aducanumab, an Alzheimer’s treatment. In January 2022, Daiichi Sankyo announced it would be closing its Plexxikon R&D operations, leaving many staff members without jobs.

These big companies cutting staff shows a trend of disappointing performances for many biotech and biopharma firms who have had to match lower profits and stocks with lower wages to pay. This is worrying to see and increases competition as laid-off chemists and biologists enter the job market.

Despite this, existing companies looking for ground-breaking drugs continue to look for talent, meaning there is limited risk for those thinking about entering the biotech or biopharma world. As we mentioned in our previous blog, there will always be venture capitalists willing to give funds to the industry as it grows despite its struggles, meaning the potential for work is always there for the right candidate.

At CNA International, we provide a high-level service that helps the right candidate find a senior position in the company perfectly suited for them. Whether you’re a recruiter or a professional, contact us today to find out how we could help you through our comprehensive worldwide searching methodology that can assist you to navigate the complicated job market of the biotech and biopharma world.

Leave a comment