Are you looking to hire top software developers?
Engineers love making a difference. Writing code that has a meaningful impact in the world is widely cited as the most important objective by prospective job-seekers in software engineering, whether they work in the Medical industry or not.
Engineers endeavour to carry out a noble conquest, using their expertise to architect a better world through innovation and efficiencies. They want to contribute meaningfully. What industries or sectors offer more opportunities to impact the world than Medical Devices?
So then why do MedTech companies consistently find it challenging to source and hire Software Engineers?
Many of my clients have struggled to gain traction with Software Engineers when they have been looking to hire. Below, are 3 common challenges as well as 3 key strategies you can employ to counteract these in order to attract more of the best Software Engineers to your MedTech company.
Challenge 1: ‘We must hire someone with Medical Industry experience.’
Preference for hiring software engineers with prior experience in Medical Devices is the norm and it makes sense. Why? Because engineers with this background already have an understanding of the Regulatory Standards and requirements, namely IEC 62304.
If someone understands the essence of SaMD, EMR, PACS, RIS, DICOM etc, and the architecture of a Health IT department / how to integrate into Clinical workflow it makes their learning curve much flatter, meaning less training and the ability to ‘get stuck in’ to projects immediately.
I get it, developing medical software is different to developing software in unregulated or semi-regulated industries. Standards are higher, quality assurance is higher and producing verifiable and testable code, ensuring traceability is paramount.
However, this strict and rigid requirement creates a challenge.
MedDevice software is niche. In fact, software engineering, in general, is widely considered one of the most challenging talent gaps across any sector, not just MedTech.
Simply put, there are not enough software engineers in the market.
When my clients reach out to me it is often because they are looking for and have not yet found someone that "ticks all the boxes". In some cases, I have a network to be able to introduce individuals that do immediately, however, in many cases it takes time to find them.
Being able to provide the benefit of choice is a useful alternative until that individual is identified, or if they cannot be found.
Solution? Try increasing your options and opening up your pool of software engineers by considering the best talent from other regulated industries.
Many of the best engineers we have placed within MedDevice companies have been from outside the Medical Industry.
Parallels in the Automotive and Aerospace industries make them good industries to consider. Often experts with a background in these areas have a high level of understanding of Software
Quality and functional safety, IEC 26262 for example have very similar principles to those found in MedDevice 62304.
Also, the Tech-Stack and System Architectures, including Object-Oriented Programming and Real-Time Operating Systems within Automotive and Aerospace Industries create systems to process data and make decisions very quickly. Again, highly similar to those in Medical technologies, particularly Injectables, Robotics, Diagnostics, Imaging, and Patient Monitoring.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for 'Medical Device experience only' you risk missing out on some very talented and skilful engineers.
Hiring from a different industry has also proven to be advantageous in diversifying and expanding techniques, approaches, efficiencies. The Automotive and Aerospace Software Development Lifecycle processes are extremely well-defined and Engineers will bring this experience with them adding value to a medical device organization.
Rather than asking ‘what will we have to teach them?’ consider ‘what can they teach us?’
Challenge 2: ‘We have lower Salaries compared to other sectors with Enterprise or Web Application Software experts such as finance, defence etc.’
Another common challenge is that many of the Medical Device companies I work with, particularly those at the infant, R&D, or early investment stage, cannot afford to out-compete other industry sectors in terms of the raw financial package.
Remember, for the vast majority of engineers, the most important criteria for them when considering opportunities is whether it is an ‘interesting challenge’.
You do not tend to attract people purely with money, perks, benefits (although these will likely have an impact further down the recruitment process).
You attract people to engage with your business through a story of your technology and its potential.
A story about the possibility, about scope for development, and the opportunity they could have to shape the future if they joined your business.
This is what is exciting and is what will attract engineers to engage with you.
What is your company and technological story and how is it perceived by your target candidate pool?
The strength of your marketing is key. Over 90% of job seekers will research your company before making a decision as to whether to go forward for one of your positions (and you probably wouldn’t want to hire the ones that didn’t).
If you are a business owner, department leader/manager or in TA, ask yourself the following questions;
What does our website say about us?
What does our LinkedIn say?
Do we have comprehensive Press Releases?
Are we engaging with Industry News to build hype around our technology?
Do we have content to allow prospective applicants to envisage themselves working at our business?
Is there insight into our office space, culture, working environment?
Do we have a one-to-ones with leaders explaining values and the company vision and are these statements/videos accessible?
The best businesses able to attract and capture the best people have all of the above and more. If you are not doing this as a minimum, your competitors will be, and you risk losing out on attracting the best candidates.
Challenge 3: ‘When we have found good candidates they have accepted offers with other companies instead of ours’
When I ask my clients what they have done to attract the best people, the response is usually they have at least ‘advertised the position’ and sometimes ‘engaged with a couple of recruiters’.
The average Software Engineering LinkedIn Job Post receives 120 applicants. A typical Internal Recruitment / Talent Acquisition team takes on average 6 weeks before they begin sourcing, selecting, and contacting applicants for interviews.
It will not surprise you to learn that if you are waiting for the perfect person to apply to a job advert and taking 6 weeks to respond you will be losing out on candidates.
Imagine you are the perfect fit for the position and you apply to a job advert the day after it has been posted but you do not hear anything for over 4 weeks. Would you stop applying and engaging with other interviews with other companies during that time? No.
The number of companies that miss out on the best talent due to a slow process is astounding. It is a well-documented issue particularly for roles requiring niche skillsets. It is an issue that the best Talent Acquisition and Internal Recruitment teams are keen to address.
In my experience, advertising is hit and miss. Proactively headhunting and constantly networking with a passive and active candidate base yields much higher success. You should know candidates that are right for an opening before it goes live. This is the approach specialist recruiters take, and why they are often able to deliver results more quickly than internal recruitment or Talent Acquisition teams.
After advertising a position you may receive one person who ticks all the boxes and that person will often be interviewing already with other businesses as well. Act quickly, and embed them into your company culture and vision immediately. You want them to be bought in from the get-go. This works in synergy with the aforementioned point on marketing your message clearly.
Make them passionate, enthused and excited about your business. They need to be convinced this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and want to see the process to its conclusion.
If that candidate is at the latter stages of a process with another company be flexible and agile with your own timescales. Having a rigid 'we must have 4 Interviews' ethos will create challenges in hiring the best people. Sometimes that approach will work, other times will call for novel fast-tracking of applicants. The best companies are very pragmatic and opportunistic when the right person comes along. If you are waiting for 12 weeks and the right person for the company presents themself why wait another 6 weeks to go through a lengthy process when you can conclude it in 2?
So ask yourself – how quickly are we speaking to the right people? How proactively are we engaging with passive talent in our technology? Are we being clear with our business message to enthuse applicants to commit to our process?
You can increase your Software Engineering candidate pool by applying these 3 methods:
Open your criteria up to other regulated industries.
Market your message and business vision effectively to your candidate base, stressing your technology, strategy and demonstrating immense opportunity.
Check regularly and act quickly to respond to applicants of interest and proactively network regardless of whether you have an open vacancy right now or not, ensuring that you communicate clearly to those in the process to keep engagement high.
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