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I read another article this week that speaks to there being a “concerning global shortage of experienced CRAs”. Drug Discovery and Development published an article last year that stated there are 14,000 open CRA positions on Indeed.com alone.

I understand why people may think there is a shortage, but I believe the information given is misleading.

Here is why: While I will not argue there may be thousands of unanswered open CRA positions posted on Indeed.com (as well as other places), I don’t agree there is a shortage of High Quality Experienced CRAs.

I will let that sink in…and for the sake of saying something controversial will even repeat it – I don’t believe there is a shortage of High Quality Experienced CRAs.

This isn’t an attempt to shamelessly plug our organization’s ability to recruit CRAs (although I can speak to the high numbers of CRAs we have on our books if someone is interested). What I would like to do is redirect this audience from believing there is a shortage of High Quality Experienced CRAs to what I believe to be the real problem.

First, organizations falsely believe that if they post a CRA position, High Quality Experienced CRAs will apply. The “build it and they will come” motto doesn’t work when it comes to attracting High Quality Experienced CRAs. Why? Because this caliber of CRA doesn’t have to look for a new assignment. Their reputations proceed them and they are therefore already engaged. These CRAs seamlessly move from one assignment to another because they are retained by the same companies over and over again or referred by colleagues because of their qualifications. The primary way to engage this level of CRA is to network with them, know when their current project is wrapping up, and snatch them up before someone else does.

Second, it has been our experience that the candidates who typically apply to open CRA positions are either

a. always looking for an assignment (eek),
b. under-qualified, or
c. falsifying their credentials and can’t do what their resume says they can do.

While I like to avoid using the words “never” and “always”, I am comfortable stating that I rarely see High Quality Experienced CRAs apply to our open positions with the exception of those individuals who are dissatisfied with their current company’s culture – which brings us to the third problem.

Third, High Quality Experienced CRAs are passionate about what they do. They love their jobs. They love working with sites. They love making a difference and can’t imagine doing anything else. Companies who respect the role of a CRA and embrace this passion have an extremely low attrition rate. However, there are companies out there with the reputation of treating CRAs as nameless monitors hired to do a job with a key focus on meeting metrics.

When faced with a decision of working with an organization that shares their passion versus working with an organization that focuses on meeting metrics, which company do you feel will attract highly sought after High Quality Experienced CRAs? Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that metrics are important. As a certified PM, I also agree that maintaining your budget and timeline is important. High Quality CRAs understand and are sensitive to these points too – but their passion lies in making a difference and they want to align themselves with a company with this primary passion and focus.

By the way (and as a side note), many recruiting agencies post fake jobs to fish for talent. Out of 14,000 open job posts, I would be willing to bet that a high percentage of them are not real.

In conclusion, if your CRA ads are not being answered by High Quality Experienced CRAs, I challenge you to evaluate two things:

1) What are you doing to engage the “already engaged” CRAs? If your organization doesn’t have the expertise to network within this extremely important group of individuals, hire an agency like ours that does. With currently over 12,000 seasoned, “tried and true” high quality CRAs in our network, we can certainly help you meet your needs.
2) Your brand and reputation as a Hiring Authority is critical when it comes to attracting top talent. What are you doing to show these high caliber CRAs that your passion lies in the difference you make to the patient?

The last point I want to make is an agreement to the industry wide concern that there is a lack of training opportunities for those who want to break into the CRA role. I am aware of several initiatives in this area, including the ACRP’s focus on defining the core competencies for entry level CRAs as well as several degree programs being developed and offered at the university level (more on this in an upcoming article).

As always, let us know how we can help. If you are one of those struggling to find high quality CRAs, what do you have to lose by engaging our firm?

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts
www.craresources.com

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