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Moving Markets: Commercial Jobs in the Life Sciences

The life science talent market is full of twists, turns, and dips (particularly in 2023’s case), but amongst all the commotion, commercial talent has remained a key target for many companies in the Pharma and MedTech landscapes.

For those wishing to take on a new challenge in the wonderful world of life sciences, the commercial space offers up a wealth of unique opportunities. Making the switch from a more technical role might not be as difficult as it seems – areas like medical affairs have a strong connection with commercial, and many employers are on the hunt for commercial candidates with a strong scientific background.

If you’re hoping to make the switch, here are a few considerations worth checking out.


Love or hate the lab work, it’s a foundational aspect of the life sciences. For anyone who falls into the latter category, commercial roles represent an opportunity to explore the positive impact of science outside of the laboratory’s confines.

  • Travel – Whether you’re attending conferences as a business development lead or you’re halfway around the world on a client meeting as a sales manager, travel opportunities are there to be taken advantage of.

  • Working with Diverse Teams ­– The life sciences are an increasingly globalised industry. Commercial roles thrive on communication and stakeholder management, resulting in plenty of opportunities to collaborate and build meaningful connections with diverse teams.  

  • Intellectual stimulation – You will have a chance to combine the best of both worlds: scientific rigour and creative communication. Brand Management jobs are an ideal example of this.

  • A Fulfilling Role – Piloting new medicines and life-saving devices to the market (and beyond) is a rewarding day job. Professionals in the commercial space play a unique role in the development of the life sciences, be it their ability to communicate science to the consumers or commercialise new treatments, there are boundless opportunities to create a wide-reaching impact.

Skills and Experience

While scientific literacy isn’t always a must-have, particularly in the marketing space, we are noticing that employers are prioritising those that do have a more technical background (experience in oncology remains an outlier in high commercial demand).

Typically, employers will be looking for:

  • Business-Minded Candidates – business fundamentals are a strong set of strings to the bow. Market analysis, strategic planning, sales, and negotiation skills are highly valued in commercial candidates.

  • Communication and Soft Skills – the world is in a customer-centric era. Alongside their technical counterparts, communication and soft skills such as empathy will continue to shine the brightest on the resume.

  • Relationship Management – conveying complex scientific research and methodology in easily digestible terms is an incredible skill and one that’s used to foster relationships between stakeholders and patients alike.

  • Adaptability – Commercial roles evolve in the blink of an eye, as proven by the ongoing digital transformation. Candidates will need to have demonstrable experience in adapting to unfamiliar environments under pressure.

On the educational side of things, it’s not too uncommon to see employers request post-graduate degrees in disciplines such as marketing, economics, business, or finance, although if you’re switching over from a science-based technical role, this might not apply.

Employers are having to widen their lens to keep up with the rampant demand for commercial talent – this doesn’t mean lowering the bar, it means they are expanding their possibilities.

If you’re hoping to make a switch into the commercial space, but you’re worried about whether or not you have the right skill set, the team at BioTalent is here to help. Reach out to us today, we’re here to nurture change makers, and that means finding you a career opportunity that lets you thrive.