Conquering Quality Assurance Recruitment in 2022

2021, where do we start?!

Locked down during the height of the pandemic. Not being able to travel. Uncertainty around the job market. Furlough. Employee burnout… the list goes on.

However, slowly but surely we saw light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the vaccines and the incredible efforts by all involved from the Life Science Industry, it allowed us to return to some normality.

In light of this, the Pharma and Biotech industry has thrived and job vacancies are at an all-time high (great for recruiters!). Well, great in some circumstances but it has also proved challenging in others.

After several years specialising in Senior QA/QP recruitment, I’ve seen a huge shift from a client driven market to a candidate driven market.

Let’s look at QP recruitment

QP’s are often receiving multiple job offers, not only from your competitors but also in the form of counter offers as businesses try to hold on to top talent. Nonetheless, it’s not just about salary, but the whole package. Culture, brand, reputation, hybrid working and of course full career development.

Furthermore, nurturing talented trainee QPs and supporting their journey to pass the Viva is also integral to the industry. Digging deeper on the journey to becoming a QP, I spoke with Alex Hall who owns QPQuandary and is a highly regarded QP trainer. Alex provided her thoughts surrounding the application process and potential struggles of trainee QP’s passing the Viva.

“The pass rate for QP Vivas has remained steady over the pandemic as far as I can tell at this time.

However, what we did see in the first months of the pandemic was that all QP Vivas were cancelled due to lock down and the difficulty in transitioning to a video link format. Some people really like the remote option, others are keen to get back to face to face, which is planned for later in 2022 depending on the COVID situation.

The application process is where I have seen most QP applicants struggling over the last few years. In my view, based on my experience as an ex QP Assessor and trainer who supports a wide variety of different applicants there has been a marked increase in the expectations in 3 ways-

  • Requirements for Sponsors
  • Requirements for applicant experience in areas other than their expert arena
  • Requirements for detailed academic/technical discussion in the application form

In particular, my experience is that those with unusual products and process experience such as ATMPs are asked for information about experience with traditional manufacturing that they are unable to provide easily.

In addition, a new requirement related to Sponsors has been expected and formally added to the guidance in Oct 2021. From my perspective, impact of these changes has seen an increase in the number of questions / queries being asked of applicants.

This may mean a marked delay in the application process depending on the type of query.”

Considering Alex’s thoughts; a combination of cancelations, virtual Viva’s, difficulties in demonstrating broad technical experience and a new guidance for the application process, may have delayed the entire process for trainees at the last stage of becoming a QP.

This is another potential factor which may have contributed to the difficulties in recruiting QP’s, however, ultimately there has been numerous moving parts which have changed the recruitment landscape in the last couple of years.

The approach for 2022

Attracting Quality Assurance Professionals is high on the agenda for many forward-thinking businesses in 2022, especially in the niche areas of ATMP’s. It’s to be expected that candidates will leave roles through natural attrition, but how do companies attract the premium QA Professionals that will really add value and move their department forward?

  1. Don’t hang around- a diligent interview process is always necessary when hiring key stakeholders into your business, however, make sure your interview panel are prepared to act fast. Furthermore, work with your recruitment partner to coordinate the interview process before you go to market, otherwise be prepared to lose out on talented candidates.
  2. Create a comprehensive job specification- don’t cut corners on the job description. Sounds simple but an attractive and comprehensive job description could be the key to obtaining more interest from the market, especially for contractors who require project deliverables for IR35 compliance.
  3. Brand recognition- your company brand and values can be just as important as the job itself and this starts from the very first conversation. The agency/agencies that you partner with are an extension of your organisations reputation, are you confident they understand your brand? Displaying your companies values does need to be recognised by the candidates at all stages of the recruitment process.
  4. Reward and conquer- don’t fall into the trap of advertising unattractive salaries because you have out-dated salary bandings. Change structures and reward your talent internally, which will demonstrate that you have your employees interests at the forefront of your mind, subsequently allowing you to increase your salary offering to the market to remain competitive.
  5. Move with the times- it’s not possible for every company and every role but where possible, allow working from home. Work life balance and family time will be top of the list for most candidates. Showing trust and flexibility around your working practices will keep you competitive.
  6. Utilise contractors- they may come at a premium but securing a QA/QP consultant with a technical understanding of the intricacies to match business needs is invaluable and highly recommended. You could see your businesses/team flourish by hiring influential contractors who can add a wealth of expertise!

The suggestions aren’t a quick fix but could be paramount to attracting top talent in a competitive market.

For support on your Quality Assurance recruitment plans for 2022 please Contact AssureBio and if you are a trainee QP requiring guidance on the Viva application Contact QPQuandary.