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With a growing trend for organisational restructuring and a shift from a candidate to job-led market in some technical areas of the Life Sciences market, 2013 has been a challenging year – and 2014 looks to be no different. Péter Sitte, Section Manager, Hays Life Sciences, Hungary, gives a breakdown of the key factors that influence recruitment in the sector.

Updated: 22 Feb 2014

With the legislative changes and increased tax burden that have occurred during the last couple of years in the pharmaceutical industry, companies in the field have been forced to rethink their strategies and roll out structural changes.

In pharmaceutical organisations, a large number of staff are typically involved in marketing and drug promotion activities, which is the area that has been most affected by increased registration taxes (known as ‘rep fees’). Most organisations have therefore had to consolidate their sales and marketing teams, either by combining regions or product lines. The result of this is that the number of available professionals has drastically increased, which has kept salary levels constant in the commercial sector of the pharma industry.

Péter Sitte, Section Manager, Hays Life Sciences, Hungary

However, the excess supply of medical sales professionals has slowed as most experts have either managed to secure employment in alternative roles within the sector or reverted back to the healthcare field. However, the competition for talent has started to intensify once again, with companies willing to offer higher remuneration to acquire the best candidates for their key positions.

While salaries in medical and regulatory affairs have largely stayed at 2012 levels, the non-financial part of rewards packages, such as company cars, for regulatory affairs and quality assurance, can make a significant difference as to the attractiveness of the remuneration offered. Professionals, particularly in non-field positions, increasingly value flexible hours and homeworking, which, along with other non-monetary benefits, are becoming ever more important in attracting top talent.

Clinical research edges ahead

While there are limited opportunities in the commercial area of the pharmaceutical sector, Hungary is still an attractive location for clinical research, which continues to be a strong growth area. This is followed by the medical device sector and other technical areas such as medical and regulatory affairs as well as quality assurance.

There are currently 60% more ongoing clinical trials in Hungary than in neighbouring Romania despite the latter having a population twice the size. Nevertheless, the dramatic increase in salaries that we witnessed in the past years has slowed down in 2012 due to an excess supply of qualified candidates.

The only marginal salary increases in clinical research in Eastern Europe is also a result of the transition period of some clinical outsourcing global agreements between pharmaceuticals and Clinical Research Organisations (CROs) ending during 2012. These have balanced out supply and demand with employers having the luxury of choosing from a larger pool of candidates, which has helped keep average salary levels flat in 2013.

However, salary levels in this area have remained competitive in the region and still increasing, albeit at a slower pace, in contrast with salaries for pharmaceutical commercial operations positions, which have plateaued or even slightly decreased due to a higher unemployment rate in this area.

Medical device capitalises on flexibility

The organisational structure of medical device companies is different to pharmaceutical companies, and the functional verticals are often covered regionally, which means more regional career advancement opportunities open up for professionals.

This segment is also more open to cross-industrial career moves, showing readiness to consider professionals with pharmaceutical or consumer goods backgrounds. Contrast this with the pharma sector, which in most cases, rigorously insists on hiring candidates from within that particular segment, and also struggles with succession planning in some specialism areas. Medical device companies tend to be traditionally more flexible in terms of taking on fresh graduates for junior roles.

While medical device salaries have also stayed constant at 2012 levels overall, professionals working with high value products, such as imaging diagnostics, are rewarded with higher remuneration packages than those working in the consumables and disposables sector.

To find out more about how Hays Hungary can help your organization with its recruitment needs in Life Sciences and other sectors, call +36 1 501 2400 to talk to one of our expert consultants or visit