Hiring Trends in Middling Times

The pandemic hit businesses and sectors in radically different ways. Some sectors — those with a strong online presence, for instance — thrived while others, like brick and mortar retail, wouldn’t have survived without a bailout.

Healthcare, the industry at the eye of the Covid storm, was another that actually thrived from a business perspective. The population in general was focused on their health and staying alive. The daily news made us all hyper aware of our own mortality and many of us took stock, perhaps focusing on our general health more than in the past. While provider burnout hit the healthcare industry hard and many of those that stayed in the field are left to grapple with grief, anger and PTSD, we can’t ignore the fact that the pandemic boosted the bottom line of the broad healthcare industry.

Life science companies — those working in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices and other products that improve our lives — became the hero of the Covid story, deploying their vast resources to save the day (and millions of people). There wasn’t a disease, therapeutic brand, patient, or physician who wasn’t impacted by Covid. New protocols were developed and then communicated to the population across the broad spectrum that is healthcare. Money rushed in from all directions to get on top of a dangerous situation, because it had to be done.

Covid looks like it will be with us from now on, just as the common cold and flu are, but the storm that hit the healthcare industry so hard seems to have passed. Now we are in middling times. The deployment of resources worked, but now what? The healthcare industry is left with a post-pandemic hangover, stuck in a posture of wait-and-see. That said, middling times don’t mean boring times. In fact, we are seeing some interesting trends in healthcare services that will position some life science companies better than others for an interesting future.

  • Leadership Upgrades: Middling times require extraordinary leadership. Growth-oriented, hungry business drivers are replacing emeritus-type, corner-office seat warmers.
  • Career Check-ins: Folks are evaluating and re-evaluating. We are fielding increased numbers of calls from our networks wanting to talk about career strategy pointing to a potential second exodus in the near future.
  • Business Development Teams: Why wait for the RFP to show up when you can win the business without an RFP going out? With account leaders focused on the day-to-day, agencies are bringing on teams focused on helping find and secure leads with organic growth opportunities. There is renewed dedication to staying aware of new opportunities, tracking pipelines, and emerging needs across a broad and ever-changing healthcare landscape.
  • Private Equity Roll-ups with a Soul: Bringing a diverse group of service companies together can be a nightmare. We have all seen the examples. Great companies like Campbell Alliance are shadows of themselves a few years after acquisition. We are seeing a trend towards evaluating Founder fit as a key to a successful integration and hiring functional leaders who have integration experience.
  • Future of Service Talent: Some agencies are looking to tomorrow and proactively hiring talent to develop and deliver new future-focused services harnessing talent, ideas, data and next-gen technology to deliver better human experience; turning customers into real people providing solutions at the time of need.
  • Service Collaboration Coalitions: Instead of a merger or acquisition, agencies are developing complimentary service agreements with each other. Some are formal and public while others are one-off opportunities to improve customer experience and outcomes.
  • Talent Scarcity: It’s hard to believe, but middling times means people hunker down. Especially strong performers. Recruiting outreach metrics go way down across the board, especially for talent ranked at the top. The engagement hook needs to be well crafted and the engagement channel is critical. We ditch the in-mail and email channels, focusing on reaching top performers through referrals and warm introductions. Much greater effort, which leads to much better outcomes.

So there you have it. Middling times aren’t so bad after all. It’s a time to take a breather, take stock, align your values and mission, and go after the big audacious goal there wasn’t time to address while the pandemic raged. Exciting times are on their way!


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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash



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Ciera is a born-and-raised Duluthian who recently graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. When she isn’t designing the Salmela website or sending emails, she doubles as an actress! With over 15 years of acting experience, Ciera brings her creative artistry and understanding of people to her work at Salmela.

Madison is a marketing maven with a mastery of magnificent messaging. She brightens every room with her positive attitude and joins Salmela to explore the digital corners on every search. If you’re having a first conversation with one of us, Madison is probably the reason why!

Ryan is an Emmy-award winning news producer with a strong history in the performing arts. Funny and outgoing, he’ll meet you with a journalist’s curiosity and actor’s joie de vivre.

Meghan brings her previous advertising agency experience to Salmela. She is a natural-born conversationalist and delights in every interaction with candidates and clients alike. Meghan can find something in common or a shared interest with just about anyone. (No really, it’s AMAZING.) She is also a foodie, loves cooking, and is always looking for the next opportunity to try an adventurous recipe.

Kate joins Salmela after a decade of non-profit arts leadership, where she shared her passion for building community, education, inclusiveness, and arts access. Her superpower is helping professionals identify their strengths and set them on a course for greater success. After work, she can be found reading Shakespeare, doing yoga, or prepping the next generation of theatre stars for college.

Cory spends his day advising senior leaders on talent acquisition strategy. He is happiest on his bike, skis, or helping his daughters rehearse lines. He began his career as a National Team Coach for the U.S. Ski Biathlon Team, followed by experience in pharma sales. In 2005, he founded Salmela. Today, Salmela places leaders across the healthcare industry. Salmela is the go-to vendor across marcomm disciplines in healthcare and beyond.

Chief Financial Officer, Olympian, and Health Coach, what can’t she do? When Kara is not managing the Salmela Financials, she spends her days educating and supporting people as a health coach. If that wasn’t cool enough, she also competed as an American biathlete at the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics.

Megan focuses on individual career wellness and team development for the healthcare advertising industry. As a natural networker, and with a career background in health/wellness and international corporate project management, Megan has the experience necessary to understand your needs. She enjoys being outside with her family, volunteering in the community, trail running and practicing yoga.

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