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Pharma Companies in JPAC are searching for the Goldilocks Candidate

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Recently I was sitting with the Japan and Asia Pacific (JPAC) Vice President of a leading American Pharmaceutical Company as she describe the ideal candidate for Regional Medical Affairs Director. She outlined what I would call the “Goldilocks candidate,” a candidate that is not too experienced or too inexperienced, someone who has not had too many job changes. A candidate who can communicate effectively while not oversharing, and at the same time be open and correct. A candidate that is just right!

She explained that she was looking for a candidate that has grown their career at one or two companies and has shown evidence of internal promotion. She suggested that there should be a linear and logical narrative to the resume and that the best candidates usually have these characteristics. “There should be clear promotions and accomplishments every two years or so. This indicates that their present employer sees the potential and probably indicates the person is an effective communicator.” She paused and explained, “in terms of red flags, if the only time the person got a promotion is through a job change then this is a deal breaker.” She suggested that this type of candidate interviews well but may not deliver. The greatest predictor of future performance is past achievement.

This got me thinking. What are the ideal number of job changes? What is the typical academic profile of candidates? We looked at candidates placed in European and American pharmaceutical companies’ throughout JPAC. We should note that the following data is primarily based on Japanese candidates which may be different to APAC. The data is taken only from past placements made by Morunda and not the market overall. It should also be noted that the suggestions how many number companies are ideal is not prescriptive, there are always exceptions.

The candidates ranged from Manager to Senior Director and Vice President for Commercial, Medical and Development functions.

As indicated in Figure 1, nearly 30% of candidates have only had one company before making the move while over 58% of candidates have only had two companies. When we include three companies at all levels then a whopping 82.4% of candidates fall into these buckets. On the other end of the scale around 17% of candidates have had over four job changes. The evidence is strong for internal and external recruiters that the greater the number of job changes the less likely it is that the candidate will be hired.

Figure 1

A cursory glance at Figure 2 looking at placed candidates in JPAC per job change by gender would indicate females have a longer tenure at their companies before making a change. 65% of females have only two companies before moving to their third versus 55% of male candidates. Male candidates who have three or four companies equal 37%, while only 30% of female candidates have had three companies.

Figure 2

Figure 3

There is no magic formula to find our “Goldilocks candidate.” The data suggests that candidates who have one or two job changes and a science degree are what pharma companies across Asia are looking for.

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Morunda should be your choice of recruiting partner in Japan and Asia Pacific. Why? Because we live and breathe the pharmaceutical industry in Asia and the Pacific—we’re specialists!

  • Morunda has completed over 400 managers to director-level placements since 2001.
  • A cultural understanding of what it takes to secure top talent
    Over one hundred thought leadership articles published.
  • We hold regular seminars for candidates and clients alike with industry experts.
  • We understand the market, not only today, but where it is heading in the next 12 to 18 months

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