how to hire a clinical research associate.

how to hire a clinical research associate.

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With an ever-increasing number of new drugs being brought to market, hiring the clinical research associates (CRAs) vital to developing those drugs isn't going to be easy in 2020. Demand for these specialists is on the rise, with data from labor-insights provider Burning Glass showing there were more than 4,000 job postings for CRAs over the past 12 months. And if your company is on the East Coast in research hubs like Boston and Philadelphia, know that hiring for CRAs is going to be even more competitive.

So how can you attract top-notch clinical research associates to fill your open positions quickly and effectively? Here's a simple checklist to use when looking for the right CRA for your company:

Ready to put this checklist into action? Read on for simple steps you can take to strengthen your recruitment strategy today.

1. speed up your hiring process

CRAs are efficiency mavens who work tirelessly to keep clinical trials moving forward, and they expect the hiring process to keep up with their pace. So if your hiring process is inefficient, you might miss out on candidates your competitors are also vying for — especially given that top life sciences talent can be on the market for as little as 10 days.

And while you don't want to be hasty when making such an important hire, you do want to be efficient. Use this diagram to identify where you can make your company's hiring process more time-effective.

2. develop a competitive compensation package

Do you know how competitive your current salary and compensation package is for today's CRAs? If it's been awhile since you've taken stock of your compensation levels, Randstad's 2019 Salary Guide is a great resource for determining where your organization stands in the national job market. Compensation for CRAs can differ greatly depending on location, so put our salary calculator to use to see the most up-to-date, area-specific data on pay rates for CRAs (not to mention a slew of other in-demand roles in the life sciences industry). 

Keep in mind, too, that salary is only one piece of the compensation puzzle for top CRAs — they also have their eyes peeled for strong benefits and perks. To gauge where your company stands on that front, start by asking these questions:

  • Are our healthcare benefits competitive?

  • Do we offer retirement savings contributions or other investment opportunities?

  • Are we promoting a good work-life balance by offering options for telecommuting and flexible work schedules?

Putting these elements together makes for a strong compensation package that will not only help you recruit strong talent, but keep them on staff for the long term.

salary is only one piece of a strong job offer — bring strong benefits and perks to the table, too.

3. identify the top skills for clinical research associates 

CRAs wear a lot of different hats — they're auditors, observers, trainers and more — so the role can be somewhat broad in scope. Therefore, you should expect applicants to have varying levels of education and industry experience. To determine what makes for a best-fit candidate for your business, work with the hiring manager and other leaders on your clinical trials team to define the skills, training and experience that you need from a successful candidate. (And be sure that everyone agrees on these criteria so that you can quickly move forward with the next step in the hiring process.) 

Once you have your list of qualifications assembled, break those down into two categories: the "must-haves" and the "nice-to-haves." 

The "must-haves" are the baseline skills needed for any CRA, including experience with high-level clinical research and knowledge of Good Clinical Practices (GCP) quality standards. The "nice-to-haves" are those unique skill sets that, although not required, will set someone apart as an extra valuable contributor to your organization, like experience with site selection or quality assurance (QA) procedures and best practices.

To get you started, here are some of the skills most often requested of CRA candidates:

clinical research (specific to your industry)

Good Clinical Practices (GCP) quality standards

clinical trial experience

site and study management

site monitoring

budgeting

Don't forget that CRAs have to maintain strong safety and ethics requirements, as well as regular collaboration with physicians and partner organizations, so also consider soft skills and other intangibles — like whether they're a good fit with your company culture and possess the innate leadership and communication abilities you need.

4. write an eye-catching job description

If you're worried about writing an engaging job description, don't be. As long as you know what to prioritize — and the information candidates want to read about — you'll be on the fast track to writing postings that attract the top CRAs on the market. Here are three things to focus on when writing your next job description.

don't write like a robot
Your job description shouldn't read like a dense list of duties to analyze (they already do plenty of that on the job). Simply put, matter-of-fact sentences that only speak to the role's responsibilities aren't going to engage readers for very long. Instead, compose the description that keeps this specific reader in mind.

CRAs are organized and logical, so don't be afraid to get straight to the point in your description. This means using clear, polished language to give answers to a candidate's most pressing questions, like:

is there a robust record-keeping system in place?
CSRs are meticulous record keepers, so let them know if a system exists and whether they should expect to continue using it as-is, improve upon it or look for alternative solutions when they come on board. 

how much traveling will I have to do?
A high volume of travel is difficult for some people, so be honest about travel expectations. Having this information will help them self-qualify (or disqualify) based on if they believe they can handle the travel requirements.

how many drug products are in the pipeline?
Give job seekers a taste of what to expect should they be the one you bring on board by speaking to how large a portfolio of products are in the clinical trial pipeline and how large of a research team there is to support this workflow.

Remember that you're hiring a human — not a machine — so crafting a job description that will excite the most qualified, confident and motivated people to apply will take your recruitment game to the next level.

show how the job is meaningful
Today's workforce wants to find meaning in their work, so shine a light on the value CRAs bring not only to your organization, but to the public at large. They're a vital part of making sure that patients consume medicine that is safe, so speak to that larger sense of purpose. They also oversee each clinical study from beginning to end — making sure everything is done correctly and runs smoothly — so make it clear that your organization values these contributors, who ensure that information garnered from trials is reliable and obtained safely, ethically and in compliance with regulatory protocols. 

CRAs are goal-oriented people, so let them know if there's a clear path for advancement to a senior or management role. This will not only get candidates interested in applying, but will keep those you hire engaged in their work (and your organization) over the long term.

employees want work to be meaningful, so highlight the value CRAs bring to your organization and people around the world.

make it easy to skim
Luckily job descriptions aren't like essays, so don't feel like you have to meet a certain word count or use SAT-style vocabulary to be effective. Given the high demand for CRAs, top candidates will have a lot of job descriptions to look through — so if they have to spend too much time reading through your dry, long-winded text, they'll quickly move on to the next opportunity.

Use short paragraphs and bullet points so the posting is easy to read and more engaging for the applicant. And always use the active voice, not the passive voice, so they can truly envision themselves in the position at your company.

For more in-depth assistance with the writing process, head on over to our guide to writing highly effective job descriptions

5. brush up on the latest industry trends

The biopharmaceutical industry currently employs more than 854,000 people in the U.S., and that number is poised to climb even higher as innovation and growth continue to transform the life sciences sector. And with a relatively small pool of talent available for these highly specialized positions, employers need to focus not only on hiring the best people, but retaining them as well. 

Here are some key hiring trends to keep in mind today:

  • The need for clinical research professionals is expected to increase 10 percent by 2029, with the healthcare and social assistance industries driving the vast majority of the demand.

  • California is the significant leader in CRA job postings, followed by East Coast research hubs across Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, so employers in those markets will need to be especially savvy with their recruitment strategy and compensation offerings.

  • Employers will need to stay on top of their benefits and perks in order to keep their employees on board for longer, given that 66 percent of workers see a strong benefits and perks package as the most important factor when considering a job offer.

To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide to talent trends impacting the life sciences space.

the number of clinical research jobs is expected to increase 10 percent in 10 years

6. choose your channels to find candidates 

In this competitive landscape, employers are having to increasingly look outside of their traditional candidate pool and explore new recruitment channels to land top talent. 

The outlets you choose will depend on a number of factors such as the size of your organization, your recruitment budget, and your specific hiring needs. And while there are many options out there — job boards, employee referrals, LinkedIn searches — not all achieve the same results (or ROI). 

To maximize your efforts, consider working with a staffing firm with deep expertise in the life sciences field, and possibly one with expertise in other industries requesting strong CRA candidates, including healthcare, technology, and manufacturing. 2020 will keep CRA hiring managers on their toes, so gaining access to a nationwide network of top talent — screened, vetted and available on demand — can make all the difference.

Get in touch with the life sciences experts at Randstad today to get one step closer to finding your next great CRA. Or head over to our Find Employees portal and get to know our large pool of screened and vetted CRAs right away.

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how to hire a clinical research associate.

Posted by Michael Cirigliano on Sep 27, 2019 2:46:05 PM

With an ever-increasing number of new drugs being brought to market, hiring the clinical research associates (CRAs) vital to developing those drugs isn't going to be easy in 2020. Demand for these specialists is on the rise, with data from labor-insights provider Burning Glass showing there were more than 4,000 job postings for CRAs over the past 12 months. And if your company is on the East Coast in research hubs like Boston and Philadelphia, know that hiring for CRAs is going to be even more competitive.

So how can you attract top-notch clinical research associates to fill your open positions quickly and effectively? Here's a simple checklist to use when looking for the right CRA for your company:

Ready to put this checklist into action? Read on for simple steps you can take to strengthen your recruitment strategy today.

1. speed up your hiring process

CRAs are efficiency mavens who work tirelessly to keep clinical trials moving forward, and they expect the hiring process to keep up with their pace. So if your hiring process is inefficient, you might miss out on candidates your competitors are also vying for — especially given that top life sciences talent can be on the market for as little as 10 days.

And while you don't want to be hasty when making such an important hire, you do want to be efficient. Use this diagram to identify where you can make your company's hiring process more time-effective.

2. develop a competitive compensation package

Do you know how competitive your current salary and compensation package is for today's CRAs? If it's been awhile since you've taken stock of your compensation levels, Randstad's 2019 Salary Guide is a great resource for determining where your organization stands in the national job market. Compensation for CRAs can differ greatly depending on location, so put our salary calculator to use to see the most up-to-date, area-specific data on pay rates for CRAs (not to mention a slew of other in-demand roles in the life sciences industry). 

Keep in mind, too, that salary is only one piece of the compensation puzzle for top CRAs — they also have their eyes peeled for strong benefits and perks. To gauge where your company stands on that front, start by asking these questions:

  • Are our healthcare benefits competitive?

  • Do we offer retirement savings contributions or other investment opportunities?

  • Are we promoting a good work-life balance by offering options for telecommuting and flexible work schedules?

Putting these elements together makes for a strong compensation package that will not only help you recruit strong talent, but keep them on staff for the long term.

salary is only one piece of a strong job offer — bring strong benefits and perks to the table, too.

3. identify the top skills for clinical research associates 

CRAs wear a lot of different hats — they're auditors, observers, trainers and more — so the role can be somewhat broad in scope. Therefore, you should expect applicants to have varying levels of education and industry experience. To determine what makes for a best-fit candidate for your business, work with the hiring manager and other leaders on your clinical trials team to define the skills, training and experience that you need from a successful candidate. (And be sure that everyone agrees on these criteria so that you can quickly move forward with the next step in the hiring process.) 

Once you have your list of qualifications assembled, break those down into two categories: the "must-haves" and the "nice-to-haves." 

The "must-haves" are the baseline skills needed for any CRA, including experience with high-level clinical research and knowledge of Good Clinical Practices (GCP) quality standards. The "nice-to-haves" are those unique skill sets that, although not required, will set someone apart as an extra valuable contributor to your organization, like experience with site selection or quality assurance (QA) procedures and best practices.

To get you started, here are some of the skills most often requested of CRA candidates:

clinical research (specific to your industry)

Good Clinical Practices (GCP) quality standards

clinical trial experience

site and study management

site monitoring

budgeting

Don't forget that CRAs have to maintain strong safety and ethics requirements, as well as regular collaboration with physicians and partner organizations, so also consider soft skills and other intangibles — like whether they're a good fit with your company culture and possess the innate leadership and communication abilities you need.

4. write an eye-catching job description

If you're worried about writing an engaging job description, don't be. As long as you know what to prioritize — and the information candidates want to read about — you'll be on the fast track to writing postings that attract the top CRAs on the market. Here are three things to focus on when writing your next job description.

don't write like a robot
Your job description shouldn't read like a dense list of duties to analyze (they already do plenty of that on the job). Simply put, matter-of-fact sentences that only speak to the role's responsibilities aren't going to engage readers for very long. Instead, compose the description that keeps this specific reader in mind.

CRAs are organized and logical, so don't be afraid to get straight to the point in your description. This means using clear, polished language to give answers to a candidate's most pressing questions, like:

is there a robust record-keeping system in place?
CSRs are meticulous record keepers, so let them know if a system exists and whether they should expect to continue using it as-is, improve upon it or look for alternative solutions when they come on board. 

how much traveling will I have to do?
A high volume of travel is difficult for some people, so be honest about travel expectations. Having this information will help them self-qualify (or disqualify) based on if they believe they can handle the travel requirements.

how many drug products are in the pipeline?
Give job seekers a taste of what to expect should they be the one you bring on board by speaking to how large a portfolio of products are in the clinical trial pipeline and how large of a research team there is to support this workflow.

Remember that you're hiring a human — not a machine — so crafting a job description that will excite the most qualified, confident and motivated people to apply will take your recruitment game to the next level.

show how the job is meaningful
Today's workforce wants to find meaning in their work, so shine a light on the value CRAs bring not only to your organization, but to the public at large. They're a vital part of making sure that patients consume medicine that is safe, so speak to that larger sense of purpose. They also oversee each clinical study from beginning to end — making sure everything is done correctly and runs smoothly — so make it clear that your organization values these contributors, who ensure that information garnered from trials is reliable and obtained safely, ethically and in compliance with regulatory protocols. 

CRAs are goal-oriented people, so let them know if there's a clear path for advancement to a senior or management role. This will not only get candidates interested in applying, but will keep those you hire engaged in their work (and your organization) over the long term.

employees want work to be meaningful, so highlight the value CRAs bring to your organization and people around the world.

make it easy to skim
Luckily job descriptions aren't like essays, so don't feel like you have to meet a certain word count or use SAT-style vocabulary to be effective. Given the high demand for CRAs, top candidates will have a lot of job descriptions to look through — so if they have to spend too much time reading through your dry, long-winded text, they'll quickly move on to the next opportunity.

Use short paragraphs and bullet points so the posting is easy to read and more engaging for the applicant. And always use the active voice, not the passive voice, so they can truly envision themselves in the position at your company.

For more in-depth assistance with the writing process, head on over to our guide to writing highly effective job descriptions

5. brush up on the latest industry trends

The biopharmaceutical industry currently employs more than 854,000 people in the U.S., and that number is poised to climb even higher as innovation and growth continue to transform the life sciences sector. And with a relatively small pool of talent available for these highly specialized positions, employers need to focus not only on hiring the best people, but retaining them as well. 

Here are some key hiring trends to keep in mind today:

  • The need for clinical research professionals is expected to increase 10 percent by 2029, with the healthcare and social assistance industries driving the vast majority of the demand.

  • California is the significant leader in CRA job postings, followed by East Coast research hubs across Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, so employers in those markets will need to be especially savvy with their recruitment strategy and compensation offerings.

  • Employers will need to stay on top of their benefits and perks in order to keep their employees on board for longer, given that 66 percent of workers see a strong benefits and perks package as the most important factor when considering a job offer.

To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide to talent trends impacting the life sciences space.

the number of clinical research jobs is expected to increase 10 percent in 10 years

6. choose your channels to find candidates 

In this competitive landscape, employers are having to increasingly look outside of their traditional candidate pool and explore new recruitment channels to land top talent. 

The outlets you choose will depend on a number of factors such as the size of your organization, your recruitment budget, and your specific hiring needs. And while there are many options out there — job boards, employee referrals, LinkedIn searches — not all achieve the same results (or ROI). 

To maximize your efforts, consider working with a staffing firm with deep expertise in the life sciences field, and possibly one with expertise in other industries requesting strong CRA candidates, including healthcare, technology, and manufacturing. 2020 will keep CRA hiring managers on their toes, so gaining access to a nationwide network of top talent — screened, vetted and available on demand — can make all the difference.

Get in touch with the life sciences experts at Randstad today to get one step closer to finding your next great CRA. Or head over to our Find Employees portal and get to know our large pool of screened and vetted CRAs right away.

Topics: phase:explore, industry:life sciences / pharma, topic:problems