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Therese Keohane, BUL at Fastnet, discusses recruiting for the Life Sciences sector during COVID-19


Our professional and personal lives were transformed by Leo Varadkar’s announcement on March 13th. Working in recruitment, I constantly have discussions with clients and candidates on traits such as flexibility, being adaptable or a self-starter, dealing with difficult situations; but I never would have thought that in the space of 24hrs we each of us would be relying on these behaviours to get us through the day.

Fastnet recruit for the Life Science sector, and therefore need to ensure a seamless, uninterrupted service for our clients. I’m lucky. I still have a job to go to – I have a daily routine to keep up, a supportive team to interact with, and in some very small way I am helping the COVID fight by assisting our Pharma clients in placing candidates. Others are not so lucky. By March 18th, less than a week after the first announcement, my friend had to close her business, and another had been let go meaning that her apartment, provided by her then-employer, would also be gone by the end of the month. There is a certain type of guilt that comes with being busy at work at the moment knowing so many others have been left with an uncertain future.

Uncertainty is something we are all grappling with – when the news first broke my team were looking to me for reassurance, I, in turn, looked to my managers who, I’m sure, spoke to clients and industry leaders for advice. Our candidates were also anxious about how the changes would impact them. Those at late stages in a process or others who had just accepted a position and were waiting to start their dream job were suddenly faced with the possibility that these roles would not go-ahead

As I said though, I’m lucky that my job supports the Pharma sector. The necessity for Pharmaceutical products means manufacturing must go ahead, QC departments are still required for sampling, Supply Chain is key to keeping everything afloat, and leadership teams are busier than ever planning for when restrictions are fully lifted. New roles are still coming in. Clients are illustrating their own flexibility by completing the entire recruitment process digitally and delivering induction remotely where possible. For the Pharmaceutical Industry at least, thankfully, there is a sense of “business as usual” – albeit a slightly altered usual.

Resilience. Adaptability. Innovation. Creativity. These are competencies clients and recruiters quiz candidates on, hoping to secure the type of employee that will drive their company, achieve targets, problem solve difficult situations and motivate their teammates. No wonder then that these are the types of attributes that we will need to get through these challenging times.

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