The Most Wanted Employers in The San Francisco Bay Area

Published: Oct 04, 2017

The Most Wanted Employers in The San Francisco Bay Area October 3, 2017
By Jennifer Fink,

Here’s why life sciences professionals flock to Northern California

A bit more than 40 years ago, Genentech , a pioneer in the field of recombinant DNA technology, put down roots in South San Francisco. Since then, the biotech industry has blossomed in the Bay Area. Today, more than 215 companies have a presence in the region. Approximately 11 million square feet of space are devoted to biotech offices and research and development labs. No wonder the biotech workforce in the Bay Area is more than 20,000 people strong!

“Some of the world’s most innovative companies and foremost academic and medical institutions are based in the Bay Area, and it truly is a center of excellence for science, medicine and technology,” says Amanda Valentino, Genentech’s Head of Talent Acquisition and Global Mobility. “This unique combination of factors attracts the best and brightest people from all over the world and helps drive innovation and progress within these industries.”

According to BioSpace’s 2017 Ideal Employer Report, the #1 Ideal Employer—as identified by more than 2400 life sciences professionals—is Genentech, which is headquartered in South San Francisco. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bay Area professionals rated Genentech the #1 Ideal Employer for the region too.) Gilead Sciences , #7 overall, climbs to #2 in the Bay area, likely because its headquarters are in Foster City. Thermo Fisher Scientific , #18 overall, is #11 in the Biotech Bay area, which encompasses San Francisco and Northern California. Other Biotech Bay standouts include Amgen , Verily, Roche , Calico Life Labs and Denali.

See the full list of BioSpace’s 2017 Top 20 Biotech Bay Life Sciences Employers.

Biotech companies—and life sciences professionals—are attracted to the area by innovation and opportunity. The area’s proximity to Silicon Valley provides a steady infusion of technological expertise. World-class academic institutions attract top researchers and grant funding, which fuels discovery. “There’s also an established infrastructure here,” says Sarah Gibson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition Life Sciences Solutions for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “That, coupled with the presence of venture capital firms and a lot of experts in biotech business development, helps to grow a lot of companies.”

Life sciences professionals come to be part of the action. “There are so many excellent career opportunities for people here,” says Genentech’s Valentino. Those opportunities run the gamut, from research and development to bioinformatics, product marketing, regulatory roles and engineering. Thermo Fisher’s Gibson says there’s particular need for clinical scientists and software engineers with algorithm backgrounds. (“When it comes to engineering, not only do we compete within our own industry for applicants; we compete with the Silicon Valley companies,” Gibson says.)

Despite the need, though, it’s not easy to get a job at a top-rated Biotech Bay company. Genentech receives approximately 170,000 job applications each year. Thermo Fisher averages 1,000 job applications per day—or 365,000 annually—and hires about 12,000 people per year.

“We look for people who are mission-oriented, innovative, results-focused and conscientious in how they approach they work,” Gibson says. “We also look for people who are comfortable with ambiguity, because we don’t always know how our business will evolve. Being able to navigate a complex organization is a really critical skill that we look for.”

A desire to make a difference—and the ability to remain dedicated in pursuit of a goal, despite obstacles—is also important. “Across the board, we look for people who are smart, resilient, willing to question the status quo and motivated to make a difference. These are people who love to solve problems, persevere through failure and work collaboratively across teams to drive progress,” says Genentech’s Valentino. “Our scientists are PhDs at the top of their field, passionate ab

Life sciences professionals who are interested in working for a Biotech Bay company would do well to study up on area companies. They should also tweak their resumes as needed to highlight why they’re an excellent candidate. “When applying online, ensure your resume is customized to the role you’re applying for so it stands out among the many we receive,” Valentino says.

It’s also a good idea to forge connections with the company. Follow companies you are interested in on social media, including Twitter and LinkedIn. Attend industry events, networking sessions and conferences.

“We’re always looking for a variety of different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives to help us discover and develop breakthrough medicines for people with serious diseases,” Valentino says.

Follow Ideal Employer news on BioSpace over the coming months as we dive deeper into this multi-faceted research and provide insights valuable to both professionals and hiring managers.

Download the full 2017 Ideal Employer Report for access to detailed insights you can use to build your workforce strategy and attract the best talent.

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