How Abcam “do the basics flawlessly” to recruit highly specialised talent worldwide.

Find out how Abcam have risen to the challenge of hiring & learn more in their success story.

Sector: Life Sciences

Total employees: 1,800

HR team: 50, including 7 TA partners

Location: Global


Over many years of working together, we’ve been delighted to lend our best practice support and advice to the Abcam team. We’ve admired the way Abcam have applied our resources and tools to meet the hiring challenges of a highly specialised and rapidly growing global business. So we’re truly proud to see Abcam’s business succeed, transforming in size and shape to recently hit its £3bn market cap valuation.

Introducing Abcam.

Founded by life scientist, Jonathan Milner, Abcam has journeyed from delivering a handful of antibodies in an ice-bucket in 1998 to employing 1,700 colleagues across the globe today. Having expanded into many new products (100,000 and counting) the business now supplies hundreds of thousands of scientists worldwide.

Over the last five years Abcam has seen a period of particularly rapid growth, with double-digit organic growth compounded by a number of acquisitions.

The challenges of rapid growth within a highly specialised field.

The recent demand for talent has been significant. Abcam’s TA (Talent Acquisition) team of 7 recruiters has been stretched to support over 700 hires globally per year. The team therefore placed efficiency at the top of its agenda

The focus for us has been to be the leading recruitment function in the market and do the basics flawlessly” (Nick Skinner, Senior Vice President Human Resources, Abcam)

Whilst recruiting across a wide range of specialisms, the TA team faced a number of challenges – the 5 P’s:


Driving down time to hire to keep up with the aspired volume and pace of business growth


The team needed to support the business strategy of doubling profitability by transforming its cost per hire


Many of the roles are highly specialised and niche – over 250 employees have a PHD


Operating in a highly competitive market for talent required positioning Abcam as a leading life-sciences employer


Through this challenging and intense climate, to ensure the TA team continues to be supported in their professional development

Quickly rising to the challenges, guided by The Firm.

Quality resources and advice from The Firm enabled the Abcam team to quickly adopt a new strategy:

–   A proactive approach has been the key to meeting the increased demand for talent and for quicker turnarounds. Access to The Firm’s valuable research gave Abcam access to insight that supported longer-term planning. It also informed Abcam’s new early careers strategy, built-in consultation with our experienced team at The Firm.

–   Strategic resources from The Firm led the way in Abcam’s drive for more efficient operations. A focus on internal mobility is a great example of this, which has been a really positive step forward for employees.

–   Sharing consistent processes and best practice across the global TA team is key to delivering under the time pressures of this growing business. The beauty of having The Firm’s templates and toolkits at their disposal has enabled a rapid reorganisation. For example, Abcam’s new recruitment toolkit includes content from our resource library such as ‘The internal mobility insight report’ and ‘The Legal Do’s and Don’ts When Interviewing’.

–   The Firm provided specialist mentoring support to Abcam TA leaders. At a strategic level we informed and reassured the team across a number of topics. Our industry wide knowledge also helped Abcam to set realistic targets using industry benchmarks.

–   Team members have attended The Firm’s events, both virtually and in person in support of their professional development. Inspiration from case studies and resources from The Firm have also been directly built into individual development plans.

I’m a huge advocate of The Firm… The benefit I didn’t expect has been the fantastic personal support from The Firm’s team. Nothing is too much trouble and the team are always happy to jump on a call and offer advice/insights.” (Mark Thomas, Vice President Talent Acquisition & Development, Abcam)

Reaping the rewards of engaged joiners and improved all-round metrics.

Failure wasn’t an option for Abcam’s TA team:

The transformation was critical in enabling Abcam to have the people capability needed to increase sales by 15%, despite the challenges of Covid, and profitability from 15% to over 30%.” (Nick Skinner, Senior Vice President Human Resources, Abcam)

Efficiencies gained using a combination of The Firm’s strategic and practical tools and resources have been transformative.

Despite the same number of talent partners, Abcam increased hires by 36% without relying on agencies and whilst maintaining the same excellent quality (according to tracked stakeholder feedback). Time to hire has surpassed targets alongside a 46% reduction in cost per hire.

At The Firm, we’re thrilled to see Abcam reap the rewards of implementing specific initiatives such as internal mobility practices. Not only has their rate of internal hires doubled, but the company is seeing a fifth of the attrition typical across the industry within an employee’s first 12 months.

Alongside this suite of improved efficiency metrics, Abcam continues to rank as one of the best companies to work for (of any size or sector). The business sits among Glassdoor’s top 5 companies to work for as it continues to expand. That’s why we’re so delighted to partner with them to fuel their business with exceptional talent.

The Firm have been instrumental in supporting the creation of our talent strategy at Abcam through the sharing of both strategic and practical best practice. This in turn has helped power our growth through our people.” (Mark Thomas, Vice President Talent Acquisition & Development, Abcam)


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