Meet The Consultant... With Amy Hayer
For our next 'Meet The Consultant' spotlight blog we speak with Amy Hayer, global head of healthcare at Hanson Search. With over ten years of recruitment experience, Amy is an expert in the healthcare communications market, offering invaluable insight into the talent landscape and state of the industry. She is an active ambassador for the healthcare industry, collaborating with healthcare leaders to tackle the major issues they’re facing.
How did you get into Executive Search?
After graduating in History and Politics I wasn’t sure which career path to take and I ended up ‘falling’ into interim and freelance recruitment for office and secretarial staff. After five years at a great company where I built a temp’s desk from scratch, I felt the desire to move to a specialist field where I could work with senior level talent. I wanted to work at a more strategic level, where I could feel part of another industry outside of recruitment.
When I met with the team at Hanson Search I was immediately impressed with how passionate they were about the industries they worked in. It was far less sales-focused and much more about building long term relationships. I was offered an opportunity to work within the healthcare team which I immediately accepted - despite science being my weakest subject at school. This was 11 years ago so I think it’s safe to say my science was good enough!
Can you tell us a little about your current role?
I am a Partner at Hanson Search where I specialise in senior placements within healthcare and pharmaceutical communications. I think it’s really important to keep on top of industry insights and I love meeting with both candidates and clients, either for a coffee, or at industry events.
Outside of building relationships within the industry I also conduct research, manage the recruitment process, and provide strategic counsel to both clients and candidates. I really enjoy building teams from the top down, watching individuals and companies grow. I also love international projects where I have worked with candidates helping them to relocate with their families. During my time at Hanson Search, it’s been fascinating watching the candidates I place grow over the years.
What talent challenges/trends is the healthcare comms industry are you currently seeing?
Healthcare comms has always struggled with a talent shortage. When I joined the industry over 10 years ago my clients were asking for scientific qualifications before considering a candidate in healthcare PR. This has certainly changed over the years with comms becoming far more integrated, with a need to look for talent outside of the typical profile.
With a rise in digital comms, and more flexibility around working remotely there is certainly a greater talent pool, but those hiring need to make adjustments around their expectations of people coming in. For those candidates who aren’t from a traditional health PR background, they may take longer to grasp the science or need additional training around regulations. I can see some companies really embracing this and hiring talent based more on individual behaviours and values, rather than a particular skill set. As an example, they may interview candidates and asses how proactive or solutions-orientated they are. They may look at how easily adaptable and agile people are, rather than just matching up previous work history.
As the war on talent continues, what techniques have you seen businesses operating in healthcare communications industry use to attract and retain talent?
Previous incentives that would attract people - such as competitive compensation packages including salary and bonuses -are no longer enough. People value work life balance, culture and leadership as either equally, or more important than salary. I’ve seen businesses in the healthcare comms industry really ‘think outside the box’ and come up with policies and incentives to attract and retain talent. Companies have looked to promote a positive company culture, whether that’s ‘making space’ policies for people to have an hour a day dedicated to their own mindfulness. It could be a no meetings over lunchtime policy, or reduced working hours. There also seems to be a real attraction allowing people to work in global locations, extended holiday leave and sabbaticals. Companies are taking more responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff beyond mental health, with lots of companies looking at how they can support employees around cost of living.
What one piece of advice would you give to hiring managers in healthcare communications?
My advice to hiring managers in the healthcare comms space would be to look outside the typical profile. Really assess the needs of the role and include candidates who have the desired behaviours and transferable skills to meet the criteria. This will allow greater diversity of thinking, while increasing the numbers of people in the industry.
That said companies also have a responsibility to make sure the right training, induction and culture is in place that will give people the right tools to flourish. It’s vital in this current climate to prioritise building a positive company culture and investing in employee development, as this can be a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent.
How can companies within healthcare comms benefit from working with a recruiter for their talent hiring process?
Working with a recruiter within the healthcare comms is beneficial as there is a small candidate pool who are constantly being bombarded with messages and calls about job roles. As we already have great relationships with a network of candidates, when we approach them, they trust that the role is right for them.
A recruiter also acts as an ambassador for a company and manages the narrative around the hire. A recruiter will be able to invest the time to build up a rapport with candidates and can share vital insights on what candidates like/dislike when looking at new opportunities.
Additionally, outside of attracting and finding talent recruiters can provide valuable insight into the job market and help companies stay up-to-date on the latest hiring trends and best practices.
Where do you recommend candidates look for opportunities in light of a potential economic downturn – inhouse v agency?
I always recommend candidates look for roles they are passionate about that provide opportunities for growth and development. The healthcare and pharma industry is fairly robust during an economic downturn so my advice would always be to look for roles that are exciting and challenging. Culture and leadership are important factors to consider and. I always suggest candidates listen to their gut feel during the interview process and question if they feel inspired by the people who are interviewing them. I see a lot of candidates go from agency to inhouse roles and then back again. Many people start early on in their career inhouse and move agency side. It really does depend on the individual as to whether inhouse or agency roles are right for them.
Posted on 01.02.2023