How to impress your clinical research recruiter

Getting ahead in clinical research requires motivation, enthusiasm and diligence. To help, Paula Cameron, one of our senior recruitment consultants with over 15 years’ experience, has outlined her top tips to give you that competitive edge when looking for new opportunities:

Be specific

The single biggest issue when trying to find candidates their perfect new role is the lack of quality detail on their resumes. If, for example, an entry-level CRA were to write ‘monitoring progress of trials’, ‘writing up site visit reports’ and other highly typical duties, I’d expect those as standard. Our clients want to know just what you’ve been doing, not a list of tasks from a job description: which studies you’ve been placed on, which phase, therapeutic areas, how many sites you’ve covered and precisely what you were responsible for. If you can, list which sponsors you’ve worked for or if it’s confidential, state whether it was a CRO or pharma/biotech company as well as its size.

Tailor your resume

It’s easy to create a resume that appeals to multiple areas, but this will actually limit your perceived competence. Resumes aimed at attracting broad interest end up being too vague and of little value. If you’re not sure just what area you want to apply to, create different versions of your resume tailored to each particular area, specifying relevant experience and past responsibilities. You’re far more likely to attract the interest of a company and your resume will stand out from the competition.

Be flexible

You need to really consider how flexible you can be to achieve the right role. Flexibility could be in regards to the amount of travel, your title requirements and/or desire to be home based.

Are you willing to travel a lot?

The typical CRA role will require a lot of traveling and, in some countries, this can mean overnight stays or late evening returns. If you’re looking to cut down on travel, you may find this takes more time to find a role and that you need to be flexible on the role activities.

How important is a title?

Companies have different titles and also different requirements to achieve those titles.  Consider what is important to you – is it the title or is it the activities/tasks and level of responsibility.

Home based

Working from home requires a high level of autonomy and minimal support. Our clients will need you to demonstrate that you have the depth of experience and capabilities to work home based. It is worth considering how much experience you have versus the industry average to understand your suitability for home-based opportunities.

Enhance your social media

Ninety-two per cent of recruiters check social media profiles when assessing a candidate – and I’m one of them! Social media wasn’t even invented when I first started recruiting but now it is a part of my everyday routine. Everyone can Google people now and LinkedIn is my go-to when I actively look for clinical trial talent. I’ve also found great people on Twitter and Facebook – social media has been a real revelation. Our clients sometimes check your presence on social media as well, so it’s vital your profile is up-to-date, appropriate and represents you based on how you want to be perceived in the professional workplace. If you don’t want to share your social presence, make sure your profiles are set to private – but never assume you are totally private.

Explain any job gaps

A key part of our process of finding out more about you will be finding out why you’re seeking a new opportunity and why you left previous companies. Companies don’t want to hire someone who is a job-hopper – honest reasons are always appreciated. They may also be concerned about unexplained gaps on your resume. If you’ve ever taken a sabbatical, it’s important you mention what you did and why. This way, you’ll reveal your personality to the company, which is just as important as your competencies.

Demonstrate initiative

Senior CRAs and Project Managers don’t want to micromanage their team. Typical interview questions asked to CRA candidates involve asking you about how you have managed difficult sites or unexpected complexities in the past. You won’t do yourself any favours by explaining how you informed your manager and left it at that. How did you liaise with the principal investigator? If you can overcome performance, protocol or personality issues without needing to escalate it, it will demonstrate your ability to look after your team and show initiative – a valuable quality in clinical research.

Interview practice

When it comes to telephone and face-to-face interviews, the cliché ‘practice makes perfect’ is absolutely true. Knowing in advance the answers to questions such as ‘What do you see yourself in five years?’ and ‘Describe a time you faced a difficulty at work and how you overcame it’ will enable you to express yourself more clearly and with more confidence.

We’re keen to help you progress as much as possible. We assign you with a dedicated DOCS consultant who will listen to your precise needs, experience and aspirations, while you gain access to a large number of exciting roles across The Americas, APAC and EMEA. Feeling ready? Check out our current clinical research opportunities.