The first working week of January saw 547 companies operating in the pharma industry post 7,610 jobs, according to the GlobalData Intelligence Centre’s jobs analytics tool. This is a 112% increase on the previous week, 27 December to 2 January, during which only 3,591 jobs were posted.

Of the jobs posted between 3 and 9 January, the majority (5,262) were for entry or junior level jobs with only 479 posted being classified as senior level. Examples of senior-level postings during the week include Evotec, which is hiring for a vice-president of regulatory affairs, while GlaxoSmithKline is advertising an open position for chief of staff for development.

The most common themes across the jobs posted include roles related to regulation as well as social and digital media. The data shows that social and digital media jobs have been consistently posted in the past few months. The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged the pharma industry to rethink how it communicates with its end customers and protects its reputation; social and digital media are an obvious solution to help pharma engage better.

The pandemic has also prompted many new regulatory guidelines, so it makes sense that pharma companies are focusing on hiring people to focus on the evolving regulatory space.

Top pharma recruiter of the week: AstraZeneca

The company posting the highest number of jobs between 3 and 9 January was AstraZeneca (AZ) with 451, up by 121% from 204 in the previous week.

Although the obvious assumption might be that this hiring spree is linked to the approval of AZ’s Covid-19 vaccine in the UK at the end of the December, the data shows that the majority of the jobs posted were in Asia-Pacific where the vaccine is not yet approved. Of the 451 jobs posted, 279 were posted in Asia-Pacific, and the vast majority – 244 – were posted in China.

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By GlobalData

Despite being present in China since 1993, AZ has dramatically increased its presence in the country in the past two years, including with the launch of a global research and development centre and an artificial intelligence (AI) innovation hub.

In addition to many jobs posted in regulation – China has its own unique approach to pharma regulatory affairs, so operating in the country requires considerable expertise around national laws and guidelines – there are also a few jobs looking at AI and big data, presumably linked with the AI innovation centre.

According to GlobalData, AZ is the eighth-largest global pharma company by market cap. How do other big pharma companies compare in terms of hiring?

J&J, Roche and Novartis: job trends for pharma’s top three

Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which is the largest global pharma company by market cap according to GlobalData, only lagged slightly behind AZ with 376 jobs posted between 3 and 9 January. This is a 461% increase from the week prior, during which J&J only posted 67 jobs.

Of the 376 postings in the past week, 160 were for the US market and 18 for China. Of the 160 US jobs, 70 were advertised at the mid-level and 24 were for the senior level. Examples of senior jobs J&J are hiring for include a global regulatory leader of global public health and director of global strategic marketing for vaccines. The latter is particularly interesting as J&J is currently carrying out a Phase III trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate and looking towards marketing authorisations in the next few months.

The second-largest global pharma company is Roche. In the first working week of 2021, Roche posted 124 jobs, up from 30 the week before. Of these 124 jobs, 35 were for the US market, 12 for Switzerland where Roche is headquartered, 14 in China and 6 in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is where Roche carries out its services and solutions operations for the Americas; in mid-2020, the pharma giant announced it was doubling its operations in the country, according to the Costa Rica Star.

Novartis is the world’s third-largest pharma company. Between 3 and 9 January, Novartis posted 114 jobs of which the geographic picture is mixed. The majority of postings are for junior and entry-level roles,. However, senior positions being advertised include a senior director of precision medicine in lung oncology and a director of the company’s Patient & Speciality Services team.