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:1. ensure your hiring process is efficient 2. look for competitive compensation options for the role 3. identify the core and specialized skills you need in a CRA 4. write an engaging job description 5. know the hiring trends for this role and relevant industries 6. find the best channels for attracting top candidates
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:
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.
employees want work to be meaningful, so highlight the value CRAs bring to your organization and people around the world.
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.