Clinical Staffing

When Technology Isn’t Enough: The Importance of Personal Connection in the Age of Recruitment Automation

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Steve Matas, SVP of Strategic Resourcing
Steve Matas, SVP of Strategic Resourcing

Building the right team is critical to the success of a clinical trial. CROs and life sciences companies are struggling to fill open positions in this highly competitive job market, which can delay trial start-up, impact trial completion and overwhelm understaffed teams.



In this environment, life sciences companies must amplify the impact of their recruiting efforts to ensure that every candidate has a great experience with the brand and employer.

Many recruiting teams use technology to streamline this process. They rely on automated algorithms and chatbots to seek out passive candidates, respond to applications and sort resumes based on keyword searches. These tools save time and, in theory, they speed access to the most promising applicants, but at what cost to your organization?

These automated processes can be heavy-handed in their assessment process, which often can cause well-qualified candidates to be eliminated from consideration. Even if an applicant makes it through this digital gauntlet, candidates are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of personal engagement in this process.

Candidates often receive little more than a generic “we got your application!” email and are unsure whether they are being considered for a role. One study found that half of all job seekers have had a negative experience during a hiring process, and of those, 50% declined a job offer as a result.

The failure to engage candidates in the recruiting process doesn’t just cause companies to miss out on that specific applicant. Data from Shortlister found 80% of candidates who have a bad recruiting experience share their story with their social networks, which can cause an entire group of qualified professionals to have a negative impression of the brand.

It’s imperative that life sciences companies not lose good candidates to an impersonal recruiting process, which is why they need to ensure their recruiters know how to find the best candidates, and how to nurture these candidates into new hires long before they even start looking for a job.

This doesn’t mean fully eliminating automation to streamline elements of the recruiting workflow, but these tools need to be balanced with a healthy dose of human contact and personalized outreach.

Industry Knowledge is Key

In order to do that, it’s important to work with recruiters who specialize in life sciences. Recruiters who are familiar with clinical research understand the nuances of hiring for clinical trials and know the difference between a nurse who works in a hospital and a nurse with experience in clinical trials. They also know how to evaluate comparable candidates based on experience in a specific therapeutic area and if they have experience managing a trial from early research through drug approval.

These distinctions aren’t easily determined by a key word search or by a recruiter who doesn’t understand the industry. The skillset requires thoughtful consideration of every candidate’s resume and knowledge of the research environment to identify who is truly the best fit.

Getting Passive Candidates to Engage
Recruiters in this space also need to personalize their outreach if they want to engage passive candidates who may be open to new opportunities but are not currently actively seeking new roles. In our experience at Advanced Clinical, generic email blasts to these individuals do not generate any meaningful response.

Before we reach out to a passive candidate, we do our research, reviewing where a potential candidate has worked and what kind of clinical research background they have developed. Then we use this information to craft a personalized message, demonstrating our interest in their work and specific experience. It takes more time, but we have found that approximately one-in-five passive candidates engage with our recruiters as a result of these messages.

Many of them will apply to current open positions and if they aren’t yet interested, we use these first engagements to start building relationships. These individuals become part of our ‘talent pool’ of potential candidates, to which we turn when we have new positions to fill.

In the meantime, we stay connected with these professionals by sharing periodic relevant content that we think they would find valuable, such as project management best practices or news stories about trials of interest. We also send occasional personal messages whether it be to congratulate them on an achievement or to share an opportunity they may find interesting.

This allows us to stay engaged and to prove that we are interested in supporting their accomplishments rather than promoting ours. Sharing content of value without hard selling our services builds trust and forms personal relationships so that when they are looking to take the next step in their career, we are the first people they reach out to.

While we do use some degree of automated algorithms to identify candidates within our talent pool who may be a good fit for a certain position and to update our files when someone is promoted or achieves a new certification, it is crucial that our outreach is always personal, because that is what creates engagement.

Why the Personalized Approach is the Best Approach
When we are actively recruiting for a position, our team ensures any short list of candidates we compile are ideally suited to the role, because we’ve taken the time to get to know them and their skill set.

Our personalized approach to recruiting takes more time, expertise and finesse, but it’s the best way to match great candidates to great projects. We think it’s worth it – and our clients and applicants do, too.

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