Where is the young talent?

Where Is The Young Talent?

The BBC have reported what I believe most of us suspected and that is that manufacturing is growing at a fast rate. Activity in the manufacturing sector has actually grown at its fastest pace for three years according to the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

This is great news for all of us who operate in the sector, but it’s also not without its problems. There is still an important question to be asked: will there be enough skills to allow the growth to continue? Trade skills, specifically electrical and controls engineering are at a real premium, with companies fighting over experienced talent. With many people leaving the sector through retirement or progression into other, more lucrative areas, maintenance engineering has struggled to attract the right amount of talent. Data suggests there is a current shortage of 69,000 engineers and technicians entering the sector. I’d argue that there are not many better learning opportunities for a young engineer than working in the manufacturing sector – the degree can come later, should you so wish.

Apprenticeships are on the rise – but is enough being done to ensure we have the talent? With so many different degrees available costing thousands of pounds and with little vocational experience gained at the end of the four years, isn’t it now up to the government to convince more companies and young people with the relevant abilities to consider starting their careers with manufacturing apprenticeships?

Employers and recruiters have a responsibility. We need to ensure the proposition is attractive and is sold to the right people. If all we do is continually search and move the experienced candidates in the industry around, we will not create the environment needed for young people to succeed. We must actively work together to provide young people the opportunity to learn.

There are no quick fixes. However, we as stakeholders in the industry can make a difference if we stop chasing the short-term wins.

Delve work with candidates and clients to create realistic expectations and improve succession planning with our clients. To find out more, feel free to contact a member of our team.

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Candidate onboarding – where to start?

Candidate Onboarding - Where To Start?

It’s reported that one in three people experience poor onboarding when they are joining a new business. One in three. Wow. As someone who is hiring, just think about all the pain that goes with finding that person. All of the time, money, and blood, sweat and tears. Then they start, and due to bad onboarding you have already given them reasons to think that this isn’t right for them.

As a recruiter, I hear great onboarding stories and hear horrendous onboarding stories. I hear vanilla ones as well, the ones that people forget the moment they leave the room. So, how can we combat this and put our best foot forward, I hear you say? Well, say no more…

It all starts with the interview. This will sound crazy, and you may think this is so obvious that it’s pointless to even write it. But here goes… Don’t lie. If you lie to get someone through the door, you are setting yourself up for failure. Simple. Now, understand this: I’m not saying be critical of your business to the point that they think it’s the worst place they have ever seen and would never step foot in the door again. But do tell them about the opportunity to address challenges within their role. “Yes, our business isn’t perfect and we are aware of some of the challenges. We see this role solving some of those challenges by implementing X, Y and Z”. No lies. Just honest, transparent opportunity. 

Right. You operate with transparency and honesty and the candidate accepts your challenge. This is where your induction starts. As a recruiter, I will tell you first-hand that time kills deals. Resigning from a job can be the most daunting thing many people will do. So please, please, please try to be there for your new employee. Give them a call and ask them how they are doing. Ask if they would like to pop in and meet the team? Tell them you’re having a couple of drinks on Friday and it would be great if they could come along. Do anything that would suit you and your company, but keep in contact. The chances are that after a resignation, your chosen candidate will be asking themselves if they have done the right thing – show them that they have.

Next, get your tech and merch ordered ASAP. Laptop, phone, keyboard, pens, papers, phone list, brochures, merchandise, employee profiles, chocolates, mug, business card holder – you name it, get it ordered. There’s nothing worse than turning up on day one and nothing being ready. Then, send diary requests to the people you want your new employee to meet on day one. Plan it in, and make sure you talk to people face-to-face to check that they know what you need from them and that they understand the plan.

Once everything is set, sit back, grab a brew and phone your future employee to check they are okay (again), and then confirm the start time with them. It’s also worth pointing out dress code and what people typically wear. It may sound silly, but people worry about these things.

Day 1, 10.00am, they arrive (always ask them to arrive later than you). Their desk is set, laptop waiting, phone plugged in, and there’s merchandise everywhere. Show them to their desk. Introduce them to people. Walk them around and make them known to everyone who is available. The more the merrier. Remember your first day in a job? You will forget 99% of the names but the face is at least familiar. Show them where the tea and coffee is, how to work the annoying vending machine and the best sandwich shop in town. Make them feel like you actually want them there.

Execute your well-planned induction covering the history of the business, future growth plans, and in what way their role and team is crucial to your success. 

The small details count. If you’re a line manager, give them your mobile number, take them for regular one-to-ones and set an appraisal date three months from now. Engage your new super hire. Create the environment where they will motivate themselves.

The detail behind the actual onboarding is a different blog all together, but hopefully this highlights that you have the power to make that candidate journey brilliant from the second they sit in that first interview, or even beforehand.

If you’re keen to ensure your onboarding runs like clockwork then I’d be delighted to hear from


International recruitment

International Recruitment

I am often asked by my candidates and clients why I am based in the UK but support the European and American market. It always brings a smile to my face and being honest, there are a couple of reasons why we have this offering.

Beyond the Paper

It’s our mantra. It drives us to do what we do every single day. We constantly ask one another, “have you got the detail?” Or in other words, do we understand what we can’t see on a job profile or CV? This process doesn’t change for roles that are based in the UK, Europe, USA or even on the moon! We have a strict way of operating that enhances our success rates for candidates and clients alike. Taking this process to other countries and utilising technology platforms means that we can be successful wherever we recruit.


Our clients love to work with us and after doing so, they love our process and best practice. It helps them to organise diary availability and have assurances that once we have taken a brief, we have a deadline for delivery. In essence, once you have spoken with us, you can remove the role from your radar for the coming days. Similar to our work in the UK, these processes don’t change wherever you are based.


We found that lots of our UK clients were asking us for European support on their requirements. The growth and next step seemed logical and like something we could do to offer a wider selection of services to our growing customer portfolio.


Sourcing top talent is just as tough wherever you go within the engineering and technical community. In this quest to find great people, we were searching globally for talent, thus building up a unique and desirable network of contacts. It made sense for us to engage with like-minded people and organisations worldwide, with the goal being to support their needs.

Overall, we have found that blending our uniquely designed and proven recruitment processes with our well-defined and established network allows us to have a global offering without compromise.

To learn more, contact Gareth directly at


Is your recruitment partner working for your business?

Is Your Recruitment Partner Working For Your Business?

Sometimes, relationships can break down and one party starts to provide more than the other. This is true in all aspects of life but in business it can be particularly damaging to your bottom line. When you are trying to scale your business and move forward, hiring the right people is often the most critical aspect, but it can often be time-consuming and
effort- and resource-intensive to secure the right person. Ask yourself the questions below in order to work out whether your recruitment partner is the right person to meet your business needs.

1 – Are they attentive? Ultimately this is a partnership and you don’t want to create a master – slave relationship. However, the recruitment company you engage with are providing a service, and they should therefore be prompt, clear and open about what they will do by when. If you feel like you are getting five-star service, that really is a great starting point.

2 – Do they actively listen? This is really important. Sales is a tough gig and I often hear examples of recruiters wanting to sell to customers rather than listen. The key to success with your recruitment partner is for them to listen and understand your problems and then challenge you to create solutions.

3 – Are they timely? Look, a thorough recruitment process takes time. A no-stone-unturned approach is not a quick fix. However, your chosen recruitment partner should outline timescales for delivery or at least provide a review on how they are progressing. This gives you peace of mind that the process is working towards a deadline but also allows for any issues to be captured and dealt with in a timely manner.

4 – Do you like dealing with them? This is purely down to individual preference but you have to like who you work with. If you are finding it a slog and see the recruiter you are working with as a necessary evil, then it should be time to consider your options.

5 – Do they deliver? Ultimately it all boils down to delivery. Do they solve your problems by delivering great people who fit the brief on time and in a professional way? And if not, do they add value by telling you what to do to solve your problems? In a candidate-short market, it may not be down to the recruiter you are using, but the proposition you are asking them to take to the market. If this is the case, you need to know so that this can be addressed.

There are numerous things to consider when choosing your recruitment partner or reflecting on the one you are working with at the moment. My advice would be start with the above and if you are still in a position of questioning the results, then perhaps it’s time to consider a new option. For an open discussion call Gareth Foden on +44 1606 212 020.


Senior hires in biotechnology and life sciences

Senior Hires In Biotechnology And Life Sciences

Let’s face it, regardless of the industry or sectors you operate in, recruiting senior executives is a complex task that requires a big investment of time, money and energy equal to the stakes at play. Every sector faces its own challenges: if you speak to anyone working within the turbulent sphere of recruitment they will stress “it’s as hard as it’s ever been”, that there’s a “war for the talent” and I am inclined to agree with them.

However, there are several factors which make this hiring process particularly difficult for organisations operating in the life science and biotechnology industries. Applying my trade as a senior search professional in the aforementioned sectors, I have observed a number of these factors but two seem especially prevalent… hear me out.

  1. Knowhow and experience come at a price (and it’s not cheap)

Start-ups or smaller organisations looking to grow and take the next step to biotech domination will pursue top executive-level candidates with experience of operating at a level they aspire to, who are typically employed by large, successful multi-nationals. This means that, frustratingly, matching compensation requirements quickly poses an issue.

Start-ups combat this by offering more intangible benefits as well as offering executives’ compensation paid as stock options, meaning that joining a successful start-up at just the right time can prove extremely lucrative and generate bonuses above and beyond those offered by well-established organisations. But inevitably with higher reward comes higher risk, and since the base salary is usually much lower, many candidates prefer to take the safe option and decline an offer that does not meet their salary expectations.

  1. Expert executives required – Apply within

The activities of companies operating in the biotech or life science industries are often extremely niche, as are the skills and experience needed to work within them, meaning that new executives cannot simply be cherry picked from other industries or sectors. Potential candidates must already possess an in-depth knowledge of the recruiting company’s specific field of specialism or service offering.

This problem will become more prevalent as the global biotechnology market alone is expected to be valued at $727.1 billion by 2025, supporting in excess of 4.7 million jobs. As the life sciences and biotech industries continue to grow, so does the need for specialised executives, increasing pressure on an already limited pool of individuals.

So, you are a small growing biotech or life science business looking to attract great senior talent to support you on your continued path to success. How can you overcome these challenges?

Think outside of the biotech box

Although many of the challenges faced by companies recruiting in this competitive space are out of their control, biotech companies do have several tricks up their sleeve to attract and retain talented executives. Whilst competing with sizeable pharmaceutical giants to offer the best salaries may not be an option for smaller start-ups, other benefits can be added to the overall package making these appear more lucrative. Ingenuity is the key in these instances: this is a chance for smaller organisations to think outside of the purely financially motivated box and offer appealing alternatives. These could be generous PTO allowances or more intangible benefits, like the ability to build something they are passionate about without experiencing the bloated hierarchy and red tape of a large multinational.

Cultivation culture – build it and they will come

Whilst North America may not be able to compete with Asia on the financing front, their workplaces can boast thriving corporate cultures where flexibility, connection, engagement and personalised recognition are king. Elevating the power of employer branding and marketing can do wonders in terms of helping to resolve attraction issues. Several executives who make the decision to leave well-established firms to join “riskier” business ventures do so because they feel aligned with and motivated by the company’s mission and vision and share its morals. Making these aspects known to potential candidates is crucial to attract like-minded individuals who will significantly contribute to the company’s future.

Engage a great recruitment partner

Last but by no means least, working with a recruitment partner who has built an extensive network in the sector is key to sourcing and engaging those specialised executives who are not on the active market. Working with a trusted and experienced partner guarantees access to the best talent whilst sifting out the others. Good recruitment partners will have a structured interview and assessment process and they will take the time to build relationships with passive candidates, thus gaining an understanding of what is important to them when considering their next career change. Having a similar understanding of the type of culture and organisation dynamic a start-up is trying to cultivate means that making the connection between both parties is much more likely to be successful.

The future for the global biotech and life science sectors looks enormously promising. As more opportunities are created and more companies join the already competitive search for talent, it’s the organisations that can adapt to the ever-changing candidate landscape and ultimately attract the right experience that will more than likely succeed.


Reviewing candidate profiles: why every minute counts

Reviewing Candidate Profiles: Why Every Minute Counts

We recently talked to Client Manager Louise Shorrock about how important it is to offer feedback on candidate profiles in a timely manner when working with a recruiter. Here are her thoughts on the time-sensitive nature of recruitment and how hiring managers can make this work to their advantage.

How can time become an issue in the recruitment process?

As recruiters we often find ourselves in a catch-22 situation: the hiring manager is overwhelmed with work and desperately needs to hire another team member in order to be able to focus on their own role, but because they are so busy, they are unable to invest the time needed to play their part in the recruitment process. 

What kind of difficulties can this lead to?

Candidates can become frustrated with a slow hiring process to the extent that they disengage completely. Conversely, the faster you are able to provide feedback on candidate profiles, the more likely it is that you will hire a top candidate, as those candidates know their worth and will simultaneously be looking for roles in different companies. The most sought-after candidates are more likely to be snapped up quickly, so time is of the essence.

Are there any other consequences that hiring managers should be aware of? 

Yes. Any delays in the early stages of a search can and do multiply: waiting several days after the agreed timeframe to send feedback on an initial presentation of candidate profiles could easily lead to a delay of weeks or more, as some or all of the candidates presented may no longer be available, which means your recruiter will have to begin their search again and find new candidates.

It’s also important to note that delays in the review process have an impact on candidates’ perceptions of both the hiring company and the recruiter involved. As your recruiter will be communicating regularly with candidates and keeping them informed of their progress, when a delay occurs, their correspondence with candidates effectively becomes a series of ‘no-update updates’. This creates a bad impression for both parties and ultimately this could cause a candidate to question whether they would want to work for you as an employer.

Can all of this be avoided? How?

The key is in the communication between the recruiter and the hiring manager. I personally will discuss and agree on expectations at the beginning of a search campaign, including an agreed-upon time limit for profile reviews. Once that time has elapsed, I then know to follow up with the hiring manager to remind them to give feedback. This works as a kind of unofficial Service Level Agreement between both parties to make sure the process keeps moving forward. I would also always make sure that I have the contact details of more than one person who is involved in the hiring process in case delays occur as a result of unexpected absences.

Is there any other advice you would offer to hiring managers?

From our perspective, any feedback on potential candidates is good feedback. Even if the feedback is negative, this can help your recruiter home in on what’s important to you, and it can shape discussions on whether the salary offered is going to match the skillset needed, for example. I will always aim to find and present one or two candidates relatively early in the search process, as the feedback helps me to gauge the parameters and allows me to find better suited candidates.



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Are you ready to commit to your recruiter?

Are You Ready To Commit Your Recruit?

At this time of year, commitment and relationships might be at the forefront of our minds, but have you thought about how commitment (or a lack of it) affects your relationship with your recruiter? Search Consultant Nathan Falconer is here to explain:

Are there really any similarities between romantic relationships and recruitment?

[Laughs] Possibly. There seems to be a parallel with the early stages of dating, when you might have a short-term mindset and date several people simultaneously, as it’s common for clients to engage more than one recruiter on a search campaign. But as happens with this kind of dating, there comes a point where you might decide that this isn’t working in the long term, and that’s when we would recommend talking to your recruiter about other options.

What options do those looking to hire have?

Here at Delve we work with clients on both a retained and a contingent basis, dependant on the circumstances. Contingency recruitment works on a no-win-no-fee basis, in which the recruiter is only paid if they succeed in finding a suitable candidate who the employer is willing to hire. This is the most common arrangement in recruitment, so clients aren’t always aware that there is an alternative. Retained search, on the other hand, involves paying a non-refundable fee for the undertaking of agreed search services. This fee represents a percentage of the overall cost, usually around a third.

What is the impact of these two different models?

In contingency work, the recruiter has no guarantee that they will be paid for the work they carry out on any given project. Recruiting firms which work on this basis therefore often take on more projects than they can expect to successfully complete, which in turn means that their recruiters have less time to work on any given assignment. A recruiter working on a contingent basis will therefore choose to work on roles which will be easier to fill or where they think they can beat the competition, which means they won’t necessarily be prioritising your assignment.

But aren’t two (or more) recruiters better than one?

It will always depend on the situation, but the short answer is not necessarily. Firstly, if recruiters know that they are competing to fill a role, then working quickly will become more important than doing good work, as they are in direct competition with other recruiters to find the first suitable candidate. Secondly, multiple recruiters will discuss the same role with the same candidates, and as a result may even put forward the same candidates for the role. This can lead to candidates having a less than optimal impression of the hiring company

What about the alternative: exclusivity?

It may not be right for every role, but deciding to pay a retainer and work exclusively with a recruiter comes with a number of benefits. Working on a retained basis means that the recruiter can take the time to prioritise your hiring assignment and to focus on the role in question. They will also improve the way in which they present the role to prospective candidates because they are able to work in a more focused manner, and as a result they are more likely to find better candidates.

Retained search results in a more engaged process from both sides: it allows the recruiter to really get to know the employer and their business culture, which means they are more likely to find a candidate who is a good fit, and it means that you, the employer, are more engaged in the process. Working on an agreed basis means that you are kept informed of developments in the search process.

 But isn’t there additional risk in paying a retainer?

Although the upfront cost of retained search is an obvious concern, it’s worth noting that the overall cost remains the same as working on a contingent basis – the only difference is that a percentage of the recruiter’s fee is paid prior to the introduction of the new employee to the employer’s company. Some might also worry about whether the recruiter will take the retained fee without following through on finding a suitable candidate, ‘will they take my money and run?’ The reality is that this would ultimately do more harm to the recruiter in the long run, and that not completing the agreed search would do serious damage to the recruiter’s reputation and their relationship with you, the employer.

If you’re now questioning whether your hiring strategy is really working for you, feel free to get in touch.


Three steps to ensure a successful hiring strategy for growth

Three Steps To Ensure A Successful Hiring Strategy For Growth

Growth can be exciting, but it can also present a number of challenges. Over the past two years, some businesses in the life science sector have had to scale up rapidly due to increased demand relating to the coronavirus pandemic. However, no matter how urgent your hiring needs, we suggest that taking the time to develop a well-thought-out hiring strategy is crucial to successfully bringing onboard additional team members, whether they number in the tens or in the hundreds.

Here are three points to consider when planning hiring strategy in the context of a growing team.

  1. Use organisation charts to visualise growth

The first step is to create an organisation chart that represents your business as it currently stands: it could include just you and a partner, or you and a handful of employees. Present your chart in such a way that it includes details like names, positions, and the reporting structure.

The second step is to develop a second chart which reflects how you would like your business to look in the future. You could use a colour system or dashed boxes to show who and where you would like to hire, and don’t forget to use and expand the existing structure to show where each new position would fit in the organisation. This gives you a high level overview of where you want your organisation to be.  

  1. Think about seniority levels

Has creating an organisation chart identified new senior positions which need to be filled? In a previous blog on senior hires in the life science sector, I acknowledged in the difficulties that start-ups and less established companies can face when looking to hire talented senior staff. However, I also noted that smaller players can be in a position to offer incentives to potential future employees: think in advance about what you might have to offer if you’re planning on attracting more senior candidates.

  1. Don’t skimp on the detail in your hiring plan

It can be difficult to estimate hiring needs, especially when accounting for rapid growth. But putting a plan together should encourage business leaders to pause and reflect on their long-term goals. When developing your hiring plan, you want to cover the four points below: 

  • The general knowledge area of those you are looking to hire
  • Areas of expertise within this which you would ideally like to cover
  • The educational and professional background you are looking for
  • The desired timeline of hiring (particularly important for HR)

Once these details have been put on paper, you can then refer back to this document during the hiring process should things get off track. The process of putting together a hiring plan should also bring together both HR and hiring managers, instigating a smooth collaboration between the two parties throughout the hiring process.

If you’d like to hear more about what we offer when we partner with life science companies looking to grow, please feel free to contact a member of our team.


What is the lasting impact of the pandemic on the life science industry?

What Is The Lasting Impact Of The Pandemic On The Life Science Industry?

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted on all business operations, but the effects have been particularly profound for the life science sector. Pharmaceutical, healthcare and biotechnology businesses have led the response to COVID-19, from drug trials and vaccine development to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. Facing what appeared as an insurmountable crisis, the life science industry acted as quickly as possible to provide vaccines and treatments to the novel coronavirus. As we approach the second anniversary of the pandemic, we wanted to pause to ask what the lasting impact on the life science sector will be.

Vaccine Development

Under normal circumstances, developing and testing a vaccine can take up to 10-15 years due to the complexity of the process. The need to secure funding and await approvals can slow the process down further. However, due to the urgency created by the crisis, the developmental window was dramatically reduced: two of the COVID-19 vaccines were developed, tested, and authorised in less than a year. The speed of these developments has led many to question where inefficiencies previously existed and whether future treatments can match the pace of these vaccines.

Digital Healthcare

Another consequence of the pandemic has been the rapid acceleration in digital healthcare. We saw a spike in the number of virtual doctor’s and other appointments as healthcare providers attempted to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 whilst still maintaining frontline services: in March and April 2020, the NHS reported that 70% of routine appointments were conducted remotely, compared to only 5% of similar appointments for the same period in 2019. Home delivery for prescriptions has also become much more prevalent. Looking ahead, it is predicted that healthcare providers will continue to make investments in digital and virtual healthcare. A hybrid model of virtual and in-person visits is now expected to become the norm.

Wearable Devices

In tandem, there has been an increase in the adoption of wearable devices to monitor certain conditions. These devices make patient self-monitoring in the home possible, which in turn allows patients and providers to promote social distancing and to free up resources for COVID-19 care. Wearable devices come with a number of additional benefits: patients are empowered to play an active role in their own care; there is a reduced need to visit clinical settings in person; cases can be triaged and resources can be directed to where the need is greatest.

Remote Participation in Clinical Trials

Enabling participants to take part remotely in decentralised clinical trials has allowed research to continue whilst respecting social distancing guidelines. It’s expected that remote participation in these decentralised clinical trials will continue to grow in 2022 and 2023, which will facilitate the gathering of crucial data and allow research leaders to retain participants.

Perception and Collaboration

Some have noted that the public’s perception of the life science industry has improved due to its instrumental role in tackling the crisis created by the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, COVID-19 created the impetus for collaborative partnerships where there previously were none, for example between public and private sectors, government, academic research and contract research organisations. These collaborations are set to continue as the sector navigates the beginning of a new, post-COVID-19 era.


What does 2022 hold in store for the life science sector?

What Does 2022 Hold In Store For The Life Science Sector?

The life science sector may have faced numerous challenges over the past two years, but as we look towards the rest of 2022 it would seem that there are also plenty of opportunities for growth. Here are our predictions for how the sector will develop over the year to come.


The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a priority for the industry, but we predict that there will also be a focus on how to best ensure future collaborations with governments and public health organisations in order to provide the best possible response to future pandemics.

Digitisation of Healthcare

As digital healthcare solutions are rolled out, there will be chances for medtech innovators to offer creative solutions outside of traditional hospital settings, into broader care environments including home care. As evidenced by a recent decision by the UK’s NHS, digitised healthcare is set to become a central element of care: the previously standalone divisions NHS Digital is to become part of the centre of NHS England, a move which proves the maturity of digital operations in the NHS.

Big Data and AI

Data will soon become a critical element to the life science industry’s success. Without the large-scale sharing of data, it will become increasingly challenging to develop new drugs and to progress new treatments. However, it is crucial that data is stored and shared in an ethical manner in order to shore up public trust in the industry, with all patient data being de-identified and anonymised.

2022 will also see the establishment of AI as central within the mainstream of the industry, with its absence from areas like treatment discovery or data analysis as the exception to the rule. As reported by the WHO, specialised software can now now be used to identify tuberculosis from X-rays. It seems likely that more developments in this arena will follow later in the year.

Business and Workforce

The pandemic had the unexpected knock-on effect of leading many to reconsider their working lives and careers, resulting in a phenomenon which has been termed ‘the great resignation’. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for virtually every employer, including those in life sciences. The resulting candidate-led market is making it difficult both to make new hires and to retain qualified staff, both of which will prove important elements to the success of life science companies in 2022.