HR and recruiting functions can vary greatly across sites depending on factors like organizational structure and the size of the research program. As a professional working for a staffing and workforce solutions provider, I’ve seen it all. In some cases, recruiters are overseeing allied health positions with clinical research opportunities mixed in. Other sites might be lucky enough to have clinical research recruiters who are designated to focus only on these niche skill sets. Yet, even in those cases, recruiters are most likely still spread thin. At any given time, most internal recruiters are assigned to an average of 60 active requisition requests!
That’s why it pays to invest in your relationship with your recruiting team. Here are five keys for developing a strong relationship with a recruiting partner or your internal HR team:
- EDUCATE them on everything you can’t put in the job description. I understand managers are very busy and cannot always have a launch call with recruiters for every new position. However preparing them with a few key details can have an immense impact. Consider the following:
- What does the clinical trial portfolio look like? Include information such as therapeutic area, phase of trial, high enrolling vs. low enrolling, volume of studies and what IRB experience is required.
- What is the micro-culture of the team? Do you know the preferred working style of the PI they’ll be paired with?
- What are the key selling points for why a candidate should join a specific team? Go beyond the high-level organizational selling points to highlight the benefits of joining this particular team.
- LISTEN to what the recruiter is telling you about the market and do your best to adjust expectations when necessary (pay, training or upskilling opportunities, years of experience, etc.)
- SET EXPECTATIONS around approximately how long to anticipate needing for resume and interview feedback. Ensure that your recruiter knows which key stakeholders will be involved in the interview process and how many touchpoints there will be so they can notify candidates. It may be tempting, but do not push your weekly call with your recruiter; prioritize hiring top talent even when you are busy!
- STRATEGIZE together. Have you considered a referral program? What about investing in higher level job postings on industry pages like ACRP or SoCRA? Are there conferences approaching that HR will have a presence at?
- CLOSE the loop. Most of the time, recruiters only hear the negative feedback. Going beyond bad news alone can provide helpful direction for your recruiting partners. The more detailed feedback, the better your recruiter can tailor their search moving forward – that includes sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Examples of less helpful feedback: “Hire him/her!” “They do not meet our qualifications.”
- Examples of constructive feedback: “Candidate did not meet our qualifications. Candidate is only supporting 1-2 studies in X therapeutic area and does not have any screening & consenting experience. We are looking for a candidate who has overseen at least 5-10+ studies in a complex therapeutic area and has independently screened, consented and enrolled patients.” “Candidate does not have experience submitting to a Central IRB. When asked what IRBs they work with, they could not name any.”
The same care and attention to detail that goes into the operations for clinical research sites must be applied to the team building process. Taking time to cultivate your relationship with recruiters, internal or external, will pay dividends down the line. You’ll get back what you put in, and in this case, that means a clinical site’s most valuable resource – skilled, passionate teammates.