QP recruitment basics – internal investment pays

There is a gulf that’s growing between QP employers and QP talent.

Yet in all my years of working within pharmaceutical recruitment, I’ve often found one basic recruitment rule works to consistently attract the best in class talent, and help create sustainable channels of recruitment and talent curation – that redoubling investment in internal skills development does, in fact, pay when recruiting QPs.

The eternal mismatch

Here is my most frequent pain point in QP recruitment – employers want to hire permanent staff, or contractors within IR35. But most QPs want to work outside of IR35 as fully-fledged contractors. Although, after the recent government announcement on IR35 legislation changes from April 2023, this battle will no longer take place.

However, the eternal mismatch within my niche is, seemingly, a never-ending one. It’s now causing minor, but increasing havoc across product development timelines, and employers who are unwilling to meet contractors’ demands end up in a sort of recruitment counter offering trench warfare – the entire relationship breaks down into an attritional battle of who blinks first.

While it cannot be ignored that the QP recruitment market as it stands is immensely candidate-led, take it from me – candidates want meaningful employment, they want to join an enterprise to make a true difference, and they know their worth – and development is key.

And far from QP recruitment being a linear choice, I urge my HR and recruitment readership to go back to recruitment basics – assess your recruitment strategy and refocus your efforts on internal development as your hiring USP.

My view on the battle for perm QPs

To some, my focus on the value and critical recruitment benefit of internal investment and skills development may go against my business model of supporting contractors within the QP space. But there is no contradiction – through significant internal investment and better internal channels of talent curation and skills development, you will hire more people, better people, and more long-term hires. I’m sure majority of my network agree.

While my view isn’t exactly controversial, and many commentators and reports show internal investment is one the most attractive workplace perks for candidates (plus they’re essential for the development of critical digital skills), the reason I lean on it is that offering internal skills development is to remind my readers of how important development is as a long-term recruitment and retention tool.

The assurance that an employer will develop employee skills is an incredibly attractive element of the candidate experience, and it shows that an employer understands that there is no product development, in fact no pharma industry at all, without well-developed leaders and a streamlined skills pathway for emerging talent.

The bottom line

I’ve mentioned in other blogs about how the QP contractor market is stepping into the talent shortage fold as a viable solution for pharma companies seeking to meet market demands for more output.

But that doesn’t mean worthwhile investment in skills development won’t help your chances of engaging that same talent pool on a perm basis. They work hand in hand. Contractors want to know they can develop, too, if the option is there.

Investment in skills development is more than a work perk – it fundamentally helps people thrive in a more secure, more trusted and more meaningful place of work. It’s as much a cultural commitment – one that candidates are actually looking for and who want to work in – that attracts the full spectrum of talent, from contractors to graduates to perm job seekers.


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