A pink piggy bank standing beside two lab beakers with blue liquid, representing salaries in life sciences.
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Is your life sciences salary where it should be?

14 Nov 2018

The life sciences sector is booming, but does your salary reflect this? Hays’ Paul Strouts is here to help you evaluate your situation.

Perhaps you’re back from vacation after a well-deserved break away from auditing, data processing, clinical trial supervising or submitting drugs for regulatory approval. You’ve had precious time to take stock of your job situation and something’s not right.

It’s been dawning on you for a while now that X months (or years) without a pay rise is quite a stretch and you now feel compelled, inspired, motivated and/or brave enough to do something about it. But what to do and where to start?

A common misconception

One of the common assumptions employees in the pharma, biotech and medical device industries make is that pay rises and promotions (the two are obviously linked) occur naturally over time. This may be true for some companies, such as those with a fixed pay scale or career development programme, but the reality is that most pay rises (aside from perhaps index-linked ones) are not automatically handed out.

Instead, it’s up to you to be proactive and fight your corner, provided that you have no reason to suspect that your employer is not in a financial position to provide a pay increase. In the current climate this is unlikely, with worldwide pharmaceutical industry revenues showing excellent growth, and continuing to support well-paid jobs. Even during difficult financial times for other industries, the life sciences sector is typically resilient.

Assess your position logically

Look at the reasons why you believe you should be paid more. Have your duties or responsibilities increased since your pay was contracted? Have colleagues around you been awarded pay rises? Has the value you add to the bottom line increased in a demonstrable way to justify a wage increase? One strategy might be to look back at your job description and appraise your activities against the list of performance criteria. If you’re ticking all the boxes (and then some) you have every reason to seek redress.

Prepare a case

Prepare a cogent case to present to your manager. Be clear about how much you want and why. At this point, it is worth considering other forms of reward aside from just money. For example, would delegating some of your existing responsibilities, working from home a day a week, a car allowance, a change of job title, a promotion, or a combination of one or more of these also satisfy your needs?

Present your case

Usually, your manager is the best person with whom to discuss the subject of money but not always. Depending on your circumstances, you could be faced with negativity from a manager who would view your ambition for greater remuneration as a threat – they might not perceive your prospective pay increase as being to their advantage! If you are not entirely confident that your manager has your best interests at heart, seek out a colleague with sufficient authority who can review your request for a pay rise or package enhancement objectively.

Consider other pharma companies

If your clear and genuine request is met with resistance (or worse) despite you having made a logical case, perhaps it is time to think about moving on to an organisation where your talents would be better appreciated and appropriately rewarded. At a company level, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis and Sanofi are among the biggest players but, as the industry evolves, there are plenty of opportunities across smaller innovators and start-ups.

Consult an expert in life sciences recruitment

Life sciences recruiters can connect you with a choice of employers who will welcome you (and your reasonable salary expectations) with open arms. Many of these organisations offer excellent rewards for bright, hard-working and ambitious science graduates, laboratory technicians, clinicians and candidates with industry experience. Recruiters can also help you with benchmarking your salary expectations before you present your case for a pay rise to your employer.

By Paul Strouts

Paul Strouts is the global managing director for Hays Life Sciences. Strouts looks after 27 countries within the group’s portfolio, spanning from New York in the US to Sydney in Australia.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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