Finding the candidate with seemingly impossible criteria

Our client, a large international pharmaceutical company, was opening a new office in Basel, Switzerland after acquiring a number of rare disease products from another company.

The challenge

The client was trying to scale up their rare diseases business during the covid pandemic, this meant the need for a number of senior and specialist people across regulatory, QA, medical as well as legal, admin and HR . In addition to the challenge of hiring during a pandemic, the market for candidates in rare diseases was highly competitive due to a sharp rise in new companies entering the rare diseases space over the previous five years, creating a candidate shortage.

While we were able to help with 15 of the 30 roles they hired for in the time frame, there was one role that initially seemed impossible: a Chinese-speaking project manager who could live in Switzerland, had an understanding of both Europe and China, and who had experience in building up a pharma company in China.

How did we do this?

Initially, we conducted 12 different searches, and talked to over 200 people in the hope of getting that perfect referral.

Seeing the difficulty of finding a candidate with the relevant skills, we extended the search to the wider NonStop team across Europe, allowing us to tap into a much larger network.

We learned we had a Spanish candidate in China who had applied for a role we had in Spain. He spoke Chinese and really had the perfect skill set we were looking for so we approached him with the simple question: would he be open to moving to Switzerland instead?

The candidate had never really considered Switzerland, but with a bit of information on the benefits of living there, we were able to convince him to be open to talks, and eventually accept the job, allowing us to fill the impossible role within just two months.

In addition to helping this client fill this seemingly impossible role, we were able to fill 50% of their positions within the following two years. This was a variety of quite specific roles such as regulatory and quality.

How did we do this?

NonStop has been in Switzerland since 2012 and as a business, we are quite unique in that we have a very wide client portfolio. From 2020 to 2022 we have placed with 2512 different clients within Europe. This has allowed us to grow into many areas and take on a large variety of roles, giving us experience in placing all the types of roles this client needed help on, combined with having consultants who are experts in each niche to call upon to help, rather than needing to work in a generalist manner.

As well as this, we were able to able to supply both temporary contractors and permanent members of staff. Ultimately this allowed the client to grow quickly and hit their own targets for growing internationally with the help from their Basel hub.