Positioning Yourself for Success in the post–COVID Job Market
As a Search Consultant in the BioPharma and Med Tech industry I’m already seeing certain trends emerge that point to the kind of commercially oriented positions that will be most valuable in the post – COVID-19 job market, where we will all spend the rest of our careers. Until diagnostic testing, vaccines and treatments are widespread there will continue to be a strong demand for customer communication plans that don’t rely on personal promotion. The relative success of new non-personal promotional programs will determine the type of commercial positions that will be most valuable in the longer term. But for now it’s become clear that certain job functions are becoming more popular.
As access for direct sales reps has plummeted in every industry the need for customer-facing, “downstream” marketing professionals to plan and execute non-personal promotional programs has risen. I’m seeing organizations add more positions in fairly conventional functions like Peer-to-Peer marketing roles based on Key Opinion Leader talks and Medical Education programming. Medical Congresses are still being held, albeit virtually, and Healthcare Professionals are still required to maintain CME credit hours so it stands to reason that KOL driven marketing initiatives are increasing.
In a related trend BioPharma and Med Tech organizations continue to add Medical Affairs positions to provide the advocate development needed for successful peer-to-peer programming. Non-promotional Medical Science Liaisons and Clinical Specialists are needed to educate thought leaders about current trial results, as well as assisting in speaker training and content development, all of which can be done remotely.
The other functional area where I’ve seen significant growth recently is in dedicated digital and online marketing positions. Following the lead of the Pharmaceutical industry, Medical Device and Clinical Diagnostic manufacturers are now investing more heavily in areas like CRM database marketing initiatives, search engine optimization and management, and the all-powerful social media tools. Marketing teams are deploying new methods of reaching decision makers online, including use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to connect with Healthcare Professionals in a more personal manner, as if they were consumers. We might view this as a clever Business-to-Consumer-to-Business type of strategy, but whatever it is there is an increasing need for people who can do this well.
I anticipate other trends emerging that may also displace reliance on personal promotion, including more DTC advertising in markets like In Vitro Diagnostics (particularly for COVID-19 and whatever the next superbug is to evolve) as well as genetic testing for infectious diseases as well as for cancer. As hospitals and Integrated Delivery Networks continue to struggle financially I foresee a future where they look to partner with drug and device companies to provide on-site “sponsorship” opportunities for various areas within the hospital and affiliated treatment centers. Also, as more mid-size and large employers opt to develop self-insured health plans for their employees the HR departments of those organizations will become increasingly important customers for Biopharma and Med Tech marketing teams, and they’ll have to decide whether to engage with employers directly or through benefits brokers.
The reality is that workforce demands are much less predictable then there were just six months ago. Like it or not, marketing professionals who are concerned with long-term career management will have to monitor these trends more closely than they have in the past due to the dramatic changes thrust upon us by the global pandemic. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.