Two macro-trends are crashing together to create unprecedented opportunities for talent in life sciences: Americans are quitting their jobs at a jaw-dropping pace even as capital flows into biotech also set records. The result? Leadership talent has more choice and agency than ever before.

Capital flows spurred by a decade of low interest rates & unprecedented scientific advances (not least against COVID) are leading to company formation at a record pace. The stock market – for biotech – has been rocky of late, but companies have strong balance sheets, venture funds have dry powder, and academic labs are generating translatable science at a furious clip. All of these factors are stretching the sector’s human capacity as never before.

Navigating this environment is not easy. FOMO, exacerbated by LinkedIn or Twitter, make it appear everyone else has a hot new job. Some thoughts to make sense of it all:

1. Decide what you really want to do

The first step in responding to external stimuli is to go internal. Take a moment to reflect on what you enjoy doing: Individual contributor or team manager? Plan-it-all-out or seat-of-your-pants? Puzzle solver or people connector? What you enjoy then combines with your skill set, technical depth, and key accomplishments to lead to the best use of your talents.

I find it helpful to write this out as an essay; others do idea boards; mentorship coffees; or formal coaching. The medium isn’t as important as centering your intrinsic passions. Spouses, mentors, and peers have points of view, but they don’t take the job – you do.

2. Know your worth

The talent market, especially in devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, has changed dramatically. Long tenured folks may have an inaccurate perception of their earning power, usually to the downside. This is the time to check in.

How to do so without wasting time pursuing formal processes? Recruiters, mentors, and databases are all good sources, but each has limits. Benchmarking databases are lagging indicators, and recruiters tend to be upwardly biased. It can be uncomfortable to discuss earnings power with mentors, especially if they are significantly more senior.

I recommend friends recently in market, especially those who interviewed widely. Although past performance is no guarantee of future performance, this is not your parents’ talent market, and it will pay dividends to be up to date.

3. Grow, whether you leave or not

The easiest place to grow the impact of your work is almost always the organization where you work today. Your network, institutional knowledge, and record of accomplishment supports your growth. The era of Zoom can easily disconnect us from our organizations, and even make new internal informal opportunities harder to find than formal, external ones.

To counter that, share your aspirations with your manager or internal mentors. Don’t shoehorn it into a normal 20-minute “to do list” call. Set up some protected time - maybe a mutual walk via Bluetooth – and bring your aspirations framed by team needs and a vision of how your growth will enable organizational success.

Reconnecting with what excited you when when you joined the company can help make this authentic and powerful. Healthy organizations will be thrilled you bought them opportunities to invest in you – whether the business landscape lets them take advantage, or not.

4. Title matters, but bigger is not better

When considering a new role, internally or externally, many career advisors suggest focusing on the job to be done, the culture, and the strength of potential co-workers and managers. With all those factors, it is tempting to think title is just ego. But titles do matter, in a myriad of nuanced ways, and it is human and reasonable to pay attention to them.

Titles provide shorthand for what you do, how the organization is structured, and how it will evolve. For people external to the organization, titles communicate decision making bona fides (especially true of “Chief”). But bigger titles are not better. Be wary of ambiguity or inflation. (My pet peeve: brands which have “CEOs”). Titles which obscure, rather than illuminate, the scope of the contribution you make to the organization will not be helpful.

Your next role – and frankly, your current one – should be labelled to enable success, explain (but not overstate) scope, and demonstrate the business impact of the job.

5. Either internally or externally – now is the time

We are in a unique historical moment. Life sciences and biotech has never been in greater need of impactful leaders. Organizations have never been more willing to take risks on emerging leaders or to train on the job, especially if the intrinsics are a fit. Great opportunities such HBS’s Blavatnik Fellowship abound for those wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial route. If your aspirations are supported by your capabilities – now is the time. Go for it!

Daniel Rosan, (MBA 2009) is the Chief Business and Financial Officer of a venture backed biotechnology company. He recently made his own contribution to the Great Resignation.