Career advice

What lessons for April 2021 did we learn from IR35 preparations in 2020?

The changes to IR35 are due be introduced in April 2021 and are set to have a large impact on the UK contracting market. The changes were initially scheduled to take place in March 2020 but due to the global pandemic they were put on hold. The delay has provided contractors and companies extra time to ensure they were prepared for the change in how a contractor’s IR35 status will be determined. Companies were already preparing for the initial April 2020 deadline and through working with numerous life sciences companies, we have been able to see a range of approaches. As 2021 quickly approaches and companies need to revisit their IR35 preparations, we want to share some of the key lessons we learnt from 2020. What are the changes? The legislation itself is not changing, however, the parties responsible for assessing a contractor’s status and deducting/reporting the tax has been revised. Under the current legislation: Where a contractor is operating via their own personal Service Company, they are responsible for making the Status Determination and confirming if they are in or outside of scope of the current IR35 rules. The liability sits with the contractor. Under the revised legislation: The client will be responsible for assessing and providing the Status Determination on whether the contractor falls within scope of IR35. The liability would shift to the client who will be responsible for communicating this decision down the supply chain until it reaches the “Fee Payer” i.e. the entity paying the PSC, which is usually the agency. Once a status determination has been received by the Fee Payer, they are responsible for applying this decision. Where the assignment is out of scope, the Fee Payer will pay the PSC gross and the contractor will be responsible for paying the correct tax to HMRC. There the assignment is in scope the Fee Payer will be responsible for:  Deducting PAYE and NICs and paying the PSC the NET valuePaying the Employers NICsReporting the deductions made via Real-Time Information                                                                                            Lessons learntHaving worked with a broad range of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies and CROs throughout the preparations for IR35 in late 2019/early 2020, we had a unique insight into the various methods, successes and pitfalls in the planning. These are some of the core lessons learnt from 2020: A Team Approach Many companies had delegated one core lead for their IR35 preparations, but the ones that saw a more successful preparation process where those that had multiple internal stakeholders involved. “It’s definitely not too late to start making changes and to start implementing what has to be done and one of those key things is undoubtedly ensuring that you have a robust IR35 project team internally, where everyone within that project team understands what their responsibilities are. In terms of the project team, we found out very quickly that it’s too much for one individual to take on themselves…”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior Communication was a core influencer in determining successful preparation. Knowing how many contractors will be impacted, contacting each section of the supply chain and ensuring all parties were aware of their responsibilities and decisions being made should not be underestimated. It was the companies that were willing to invest time and resources to these processes and engage their contractors, consultants and their peers in the market. “From the approaches that were good from our clients and the industry, in particular, were those that were open and transparent and shared not only their concerns with us, but with each other, whether it be forums or conferences – those that were open to their concerns and then their solutions definitely fared better than those that didn’t.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior                                                                                             Communication channels crossed With many variable unknown and several businesses at different stages of their preparations, there was a lot of rumour regarding how contractors may be impacted in comparison to their peers within the life sciences contracting market. As is the nature of contracting, there is a level of separation with the end client they are providing services for and contractors, which led to contractors questioning their recruitment agencies, different stakeholders within the business as well as their peers to try and find answers. Without a clear line of communication, this caused problems, as described by Interim Biometrics Team Lead, Mike Masoomi: “Lots of contractors are used to liaising directly with their consultant or their agency that they go through. Others have a more direct line of communication with their line manager or in some cases other stakeholders in the company that they’re contracting with."And what I experienced last year is that a lot of contractors are having half of their conversations internally with the client that there providing services to and the other half with us and that causes a lot of issues and what we need to make sure in 2021 one is that the agency the end client and the contractor all set a clear channel of communication so we can all reach the same objective and that is that all parties are happy and well informed.”Michael Masoomi - Team Lead for Interim Biometrics Recruitment at Hobson Prior This lack of consistent communication ultimately led to frustrated contractors, who were unclear if they were now in or out of scope, how this would impact their income and livelihoods, as well as how and when they would receive this information. This was particularly frustrating as more companies revealed their plans and contractors engaged within the market were receiving mixed messages from their industry peers.                                                                                            Blanket statements cost more than they saved The biggest area of contention we saw in the IR35 preparations in 2020, was how companies dealt with determining the status of their contractors. In order to save time, some companies decided to use a blanket approach of defining all their contractors as in scope, however, as we witnessed first-hand, this often caused more problems than it resolved. “With the disputes process, one thing that we did see and that we’ve learnt from the process last year, was that the organisations that made blanket determinations actually received more disputes than any other that we saw so retrospectively the idea of maybe saving time, worked as a hindrance and actually cost them time net in the process when you look at it as an overall.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior We saw more disputes regarding status determination from contractors working with companies that had used this blanket approach. Whilst this was a helpful test for the 45-day review process, the time and resources required to deal with the influx of unexpected appeals from contractors challenged the initial reasoning behind taking a blanket statement approach. As well as an increase in disputes, there were other impacts to this method of determining all contractors as in scope of IR35.                                                                                             Reputational impact Another unexpected backlash from companies that took a blanket approach for determining contractor status under IR35 was the impact this had on their reputation across the UK life sciences contracting market. “The organisations that made blanket determination […] actually started to deter candidates from applying to contract projects there as they wanted to ensure that if they did have the possibility of operating outside of the legislation, then they at course could.” Many contractors we worked with were concerned that the determination process was being transferred from their control, so it is unsurprising that there was frustration when they were not being included in the determination process. “What I found most interesting was that it wasn’t just contractors that disagreed with the determination, it was actually contractors that didn’t feel listened too or valued and that was the biggest reason for them looking elsewhere.”Michael Masoomi - Team Lead for Interim Biometrics Recruitment at Hobson Prior There are numerous factors that can impact a status determination position and with contractors’ payment on the line, unclear communication and neglect complicated many previously amicable working relationships.                                                                                             Opportunity to impress Conversely to the above, Hobson Prior found that the companies that engaged their contractors throughout the process and ensured clear and timely information raised their profile within the industry. “Those organisations and those that we partnered with that were really open and transparent to help and that consulted with their contractors on a one-on-one basis actually became hubs for talent. People that were in the industry recognised those organisations as ones that did treat IR35 with the seriousness that it deserves and then they wanted to work for these companies.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior With a lot of uncertainty and rumours across the life sciences market, organisations that could provide an organised process and engaged contractors were more appealing and many contractors we worked with were actively seeking opportunities at companies which has a robust IR35 plan in place.                                                                                            Adapting for 2021 The core lessons we’ve seen from the 2020 deadline preparations revolve around one core aspect of the changes to IR35: making status determinations. From this, the advice we’ve been emphasising with our life sciences clients with contractors in the UK is: Ensure your IR35 team has the resources and support neededEstablish transparent communication channels for contractorsEngage contractors throughout the process, adopting a case-by-case approach if possibleEmphasise your understanding and awareness of the impacts to contractors and demonstrate this support with clear guidance and timely updates Of course, collecting all contractors and exploring each of their status factors on a case-by-case status is not to be underestimated, which is why Hobson Prior has developed a Status Determination Tool. This tool allows organisations to determine status and utilise IR35 experts to ensure all factors are considered when determining whether a contractor falls in or out of scope of IR35. Backed by a specialist, award-winning team, the tool provides more than an algorithm and allows our clients to provide contractors with timely and accurate determinations, which in turn promotes better communication and more support in their preparations for April 2021                                                                                        See how Hobson Prior’s IR35 status determination tool can help life sciences companies best prepare for changes to IR35 by contact our team at IR35@hobsonprior.com

“You need more industry experience” – How to secure a life sciences job with an academic background

You’ve worked hard to secure your degree, or maybe even an MSc or PhD. You managed to secure a job at an established and well-regarded academic research institution. You’re working tirelessly on complex projects, often alongside professionals from the commercial sector. It’s time for the next step in your career, an opportunity to work directly for a sponsor. You’ve gained a lot of skills through your education and previous work, so you enter the job market, feeling excited about your career prospects and proud of your achievements.Only to find that it’s not enough.You get rejection after rejection, informed (or more often not so) that you need more commercial experience to secure a job in the commercial sector. But how can you get that experience if no one will give you a chance?Sound familiar?Don’t lose heart. In my line of work as a life sciences recruiter, I’ve seen many candidates with similar stories and there is a way forward.Here are my tips:Play to your strengthsMany of the companies within the clinical space originated within academic institutions, so academic  experience is well regarded, especially by biotech’s; it’s just about finding the best suited company to you, where you can add value. It’s important to consider your strengths: What therapeutic areas and phase of research have you been most heavily involved with?Where could you apply your knowledge base?What was your degree in, your MSc, your PhD?Really take time to consider this. Manager’s love to know that you’re passionate about a particular area of research (ideally this is in line with the company you are applying to) and where you might be able to add value.Pay attention to the finer detailsJob roles in an academic setting are often broad and varied, comparable to a biotech setting. You’ll likely have collected experience across a range of areas, so fill out your CV with as much as you can – even the little things that you think are self-explanatory. It all counts, and it could be the difference between an interview or a rejection. Some top tips:Be specific about your project experience (phase of research, therapeutic area, whether you were in a support or lead role). A clear summary of this can be useful, as well as details in each role entry. A sentence or two summarising your key achievements in each position can be really helpful – where did you go above and beyond? Detail any sponsor exposure you’ve had through your projects – have you worked on a commercial study? What interactions have you had with sponsors?Keep realistic expectationsDon’t jump too soon – make sure you’ve gained as much as you can from your current role and place of work before launching your career into industry. The industry is competitive, there will be other candidates applying to the position, so the more related experience you’ve had, the better.Think about whether now really is the right time to be making a move, what else could you do to expand your skill-set? Could you push for that promotion? How could you build your knowledge base?Persevere and stay curiousBe persistent – don’t lose heart. Applying for jobs can become a full-time job in itself, but don’t be discouraged (as best as you can) by rejections.Chase up your applications, ask questions – ask your colleagues, your ex-colleagues, your brother’s girlfriend’s Dad, who you heard works for GlaxoSmithKline. There’s always something to learn. Ultimately, those who are more persistent and eager to pursue opportunities will be more likely to find what they’re looking for.So, to recap:1.      Play to your strengths2.      Pay attention to the finer details3.      Keep realistic expectations4.      Persevere and stay curiousRemember, everyone has to start somewhere in their industry career. There will be an opportunity when the time is right, for yourself and for your future employer. I have helped numerous candidates with this move, and it is worth the wait!If you have any other questions or would like to discuss this further (and the opportunities that I have on at the moment) then please contact me on Rachel.hayes@hobsonprior.com.

Moving from contract to permanent employment in life sciences

Contracting is a popular choice for many professionals within the life sciences industry and many use the variety interim working offers to move from company to company as they move from contract to contract. However, there are occasions where you maybe offered permanent employment at the end of their fixed term, either in the same role or in a different capacity, leaving them with a big decision to make. With aspects such as the introduction of IR35 to the private sector in the UK impacting the contracting opportunities within life sciences, what should a life sciences professional consider when moving from contract to permanent employment in life sciences? Naturally, the choice to move to a permanent position after contracting is a personal one that will be impacted by many factors. As recruiters for both the permanent and interim markets of life sciences, these are some of the core elements we discuss with candidates:Salary vs wages Benefits and flexibilityCompany culture vs. contractor independenceCareer development and job stabilityWhat is the company offering?How will moving from contract to permanent employment impact your income? Contracting jobs generally equate to more income per hour than permanent positions. There are numerous reasons for this: To secure an expert consultant’s time in the competitive contract marketTo cover costs contractors will have that would be covered by an employer in a permanent roleTo match the high expectations of a contract employee to meet deadlines and work to chargeable hours Although a base salary may be less income, permanent companies may offer additional benefits such as sick pay, pension scheme contributions or a bonus incentive. It is important that a proposed salary is in line with your expectations and you’re able to maintain financial commitments and living expenses. It is likely when considering a move from contracting to permanent that you will need to consider if you are willing to lower your salary for the benefits of a stable income and other company-funded financial perks such as sick pay and pension contribution.How do the company benefits weigh up to your contracting freedoms?There is a lot of rigidity within a contracting as hours are chargeable. Yet, contracting provides a great deal of freedom as well. Contractors have more control over the roles they take, the type of work they accept and can often negotiate their contracts around family and life commitments outside of the work place. This flexibility and ability to define their schedules is a common reason that keeps contractors from moving back to a permanent career. However, this independence also means contractors have very limited support, and with IR35 changes soon to hit the UK, clients are even more cautious of the benefits they can extend to contractors. When weighing up the option of taking a permanent opportunity, there are a few benefits to consider: Training and resources – Contractors fund and schedule their own training. Some roles within life sciences, such as biometrics or other digital-based areas, require consistent upkeep with in-demand technologies to keep their skillsets relevant. Would your permanent employer be able to support your personal development through courses and training as part of your employment? Financial schemes and healthcare support – Sick pay, healthcare, maternity or paternity leave, long-term illness cover, and pension schemes are benefits that permanent employees may be entitled to as standard from their employer. It is key to understand the benefits your potential permanent employer offers and how they impact your current or future plans. Holiday and flexibility – While we are seeing demand for flexible working hours and working from home, most life sciences companies, are still adapting to introducing these benefits across permanent employment. What are your current flexible benefits with contracting? Will you be able to transfer these to the permanent opportunity?Could you see yourself in the role permanently? The benefit of a contract to permanent move is that you essentially get to trial your future job before you commit. At some point within your contract period, you have likely questioned whether you could see yourself working in the role or at that company long-term, but it is important to take the time to reposition your thinking and review those thoughts in closer detail. Knowing the temporary nature of contracting, it is easier to appease frustrating aspects or monotonous daily tasks while working through your contract period, subconsciously knowing it is only temporary. Similarly, it’s easier for colleagues and the company to maintain some form of distance knowing the temporary nature of your employment. Inviting contractors to company events can have an impact of their IR35 determination so there can be less opportunities to identify how you’d fit into the team.   Once you start considering a permanent opportunity, take the time to reframe your thinking over the aspects of the job that you may have taken for granted: The team – How close are you with your current colleagues? Would you find yourself fitting into the culture? Would you be comfortable working as part of that team permanently? The management – Will you keep your current reporting structure? What support and development is offered? Where will you fit into the management structure? The company – What are the growth plans for the business? Do you like their ethos, their message and their employee considerations? Would you enjoy being part of their company mission? The role – What is the future of that role? Is it something you could do everyday? How much diversity in the role is there and is there opportunity to create more diversity? What do you dislike and is there room to carve out your ideal role? What is being offered and how does this fit in with your career goals? Before any of these considerations take place, it’s important to know what the company is actually offering you and why they want you to move from a contracted specialist to a permanent employee. Are they offering a permanent role or the opportunity to apply for the permanent position? Policy may dictate that they need to formally interview you for the role. This could be an opportunity to reframe your thinking about the position and get some answers to these questions, or it may be a red flag that you have been offered out of convenience. Perhaps an interview is required because the role on offer is not exactly what you’ve been doing under your contract. Are they offering the same role on the same project or a permanent opportunity on a different team/project? If your responsibilities are going to change, it is key to assess if your reasons behind undertaking the contract job initially still balance with the new opportunity. Similarly, do you want to continue with the project? Is there room to negotiate what type of role you want? Are they creating a new position to keep you? Undoubtedly a flattering offer; these types of moves imply that your skillset and expertise is so invaluable that the company wants to work with you to find you a place on their team. This is a great opportunity to discuss your career aspirations and how this company could help you achieve them, potentially building your ideal job through negotiation. As an independent contractor, you are responsible for your career progression, so it is important that you communicate your future plans and aspirations with your contracted employer and they know what you are expecting, where you want your career to go and the reasons behind you not moving to a permanent position sooner. There are many variables that will impact your decision, whether circumstantial or personal and ultimately, deciding whether to move into permanent employment or continue contracting is filled with many ‘what if’ scenarios. With IR35 impacting the UK and many uncertainties in the global life sciences industry, the option to move into permanent employment may be more prevalent. However, developments across the life science industry continue to create more contracting opportunities amongst employers – demand within the industry is still high, particularly for niche expertise. If you would like to talk to one of our recruiters about the hiring trends and stability of your sector within life sciences or discuss your interest and options between contract and permanent positions, please contact our team here.            Find a recruiter       

Writing a manager CV for pharmaceutical companies

Updating a CV is consistently considered one of the more tedious parts of securing a job, but as the first step and the first impression to potential employers, it is important that it reflects your aptitude and successes appropriately. This is especially key if you are writing a manager CV for more senior roles within the pharmaceutical industry. When writing a CV for managerial role, there is often a temptation to mimic and loosely adapt an existing template. However, a CV for a senior role must reflect different attributes that are not often present in CVs for lower seniority roles. There are some core elements to consider when updating a CV for senior-level jobs that hiring managers and HR will look out for during the initial selection process. By adapting your CV to take these tips into account, your manager CV is more likely to stand-out and be considered for more senior-level positions as part of your career progression through the life sciences and pharma industry. Show results with quantitative data The life sciences industry grounds itself in evidence-based data and this mentality should continue through to a CV for a manager job in pharma. A key differentiator from an early career CV and a CV from someone applying for a senior role is whether they “show” or “tell” their employment achievements. Rather than simply listing your responsibilities in former jobs, hiring managers want to see your results. A CV will stand out if it includes quantifiable data that show examples of achievements. 20% increase in efficiency 12% reduction in costs Delivered over 30,000 units on-brief and within the deadline Phrases like these are much more impactful than a list of daily tasks and demonstrate how your work supports the wider business goals. Remember who will be reading It is key to keep the reader at the forefront of your mind when writing it, especially for more senior positions. Listing tasks you were assigned is useful, but does that tell the hiring managers that they need to hear for a management role? With senior roles likely having a tough application competition, a strong CV will help a strong candidate stand out. If you are writing a CV for a manager job in pharma, then you will likely be looking to lead a team or project. It may sound obvious, but it is important that your CV shows demonstrable leadership experience and thinking beyond your daily tasks to be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process. Keep the content relevant and honest Ambition and enthusiasm are great traits for a potential employee, but it is never advisable to falsify information on your CV. This is particularly important when writing a CV for senior roles as senior managers will be expected to represent and be accountable for the pharmaceutical company that hires them. It’s cliché advice, but in nearly every recruitment process, there are instances where great candidates miss out on opportunities due to inconsistencies in their CV. Exaggerations are much less likely to be tolerated by hiring managers for senior roles and whilst it might make a CV may stand out, it will likely have a negative impact on the remainder of the hiring process. Prioritise your CV space allocation When writing a CV, it is important to keep the reader – HR’s talent acquisition of hiring manger - at the forefront of your mind. Therefore, it is important to consider factors such as the formatting and weighting of a CV. This is particularly key for the large-scale pharma companies, they will receive a lot of applications and may employ a strict initial vetting process to highlight core candidates to consider. CVs for manager jobs in pharmaceutical companies will likely come from professionals with a developed employment history; especially in the pharmaceutical industry, where academic success and external contributions to the field may hold core relevance. CVs are generally about 2 pages long and with potentially hundreds of other applicants, it is more beneficial to focus the relevant experience towards the beginning of the CV. Listing your core achievements and technical skillsets in an executive summary, alongside quantitative achievements and perhaps some testimonials if you have them, will immediately emphasise to a hiring manager the key elements that show your suitability for the role. Early career positions and academic history arguably show growth and career development; however, they should not be prioritised over the recent roles and contributions that will help make you stand out as a desirable candidate. These can be included as bullet points towards the end if you have space or listed within an accompanying appendix.  Tailor a CV to the position By applying for a senior position, you’re looking for more responsibility within a business. If you can tailor your CV to ensure it is representing key points of the initial job description, your CV will not only immediately tick boxes for your relevance to the role, but it shows an attention to detail that many employers will value. When applying for a senior role, showing the difference between a default CV curated for multiple early level positions and a manager CV where you have dedicated time and effort to tailor your CV to the specific role/company highlights your understanding of the recruitment process, experience within the industry and commitment to secure this job as part of your career development. Promote your personal brand in the industry When it comes to senior positions within a pharmaceutical company, it is likely the hiring managers have a strong idea of the experiences, skillsets and personality traits they are looking for to fill the position. Senior roles will still like to see potential in candidates, but experience and specialism are more important to stand out in the application process. Your experience and your successes are all part of forming your place within the industry. Whilst you don’t have to be a key speaker at several events or an award-winning pioneer, promoting your unique qualities and specialist expertise is very important, particularly within pharmaceuticals. Niche skill sets and specialisations such as specific experience within oncology or a unique background in the medical field help make candidates stand out. Clients have a specific brief in mind of what they need so if you can promote your specialisation, you’re in with a much better shot of progressing to the next stage. List technical skills separately Depending on the type of management position you are applying for, your technical and practical skills are not the only qualities hiring managers are looking to find in your CV. If you will be leading a team or project, your leadership, people management and operational experienced will also hold high weighting in the application process. It is unlikely that you will be competing with candidates that do not hold the technical knowledge to succeed within the role, so listing your technical skills separately is a useful way to ensure you have space to highlight your leadership experience within your employment history. In large pharmaceutical companies, there are often multiple stages in recruiting senior-level positions. The initial screening is usually to determine whether your CV contains key buzzwords that make you a relevant candidate. This checklist is not always conducted by a line manager or someone with the same scientific knowledge for the specific, niche role so a list of technical skills is a useful way to highlight your experience and training for anyone who reads your CV to understand and acknowledge.  For life sciences professionals looking to advance their careers and move into management, ensuring their CV is targeted for these level positions is key to getting noticed and moving through the interview stages for more senior roles. The CV writing process for management positions varies from non-management positions mainly in the balance between promoting skillsets, as well as promoting leadership and management qualities. By prioritising quantifiable achievements and demonstrating specialist experience within the life sciences sector, candidates can stand out in the recruitment process and will be more likely to be considered for senior management positions within the pharmaceutical market. Our recruiters work with several candidates looking to climb the career ladder and move into more senior roles. For more information on opportunities within the industry to advance your career, you can contact our specialist life sciences recruiters here.            Send us your CV       

10 Tips to help your CV stand out in the life sciences industry

Your CV is often the first impression a hiring manager has of your professional career. It is important that it reflects your experience to demonstrate what you would bring to a specialist life sciences position. Mastering the art of writing a CV can be difficult enough, but how can exceptional candidates like you make your profile stand out when applying for a role? Hobson Prior recruiters are specialised within the life sciences and see thousands of CVs from professionals with varying experience across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices. We know what hiring managers are looking for, so we’ve collated 10 of our top CV writing tips to help you secure an exciting new job where you can thrive. Our top 10 life sciences CV writing tips Start with a summary With hundreds of CVs on their desks, having a short, impactful summary is a great way to grab their attention immediately. Bullet point your successes, qualifications and experiences. You can explain in more detail further down. Proofread Even if you’ve read it 40 times, read it again and get someone else to take a look. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask them to check it too. You want to present your best foot forward and demonstrate your attention to detail. Keep formatting simple Creative CVs are a unique and memorable way to stand out amongst the crowd, but they are risky. Multiple fonts, text sizes and sporadic use of CAPITAL LETTERS, bold and other formatting make your CV stand out for the wrong reasons. Stick to two pages It can be tempting to include as much detail as possible in your CV to prove why you are a must-have hire. However, hiring managers do not want to read an essay about your career, especially when they have a pile of other CVs to get through. Focus on results Your resumé should demonstrate how your actions led to positive outcomes; that’s what makes you stand out as an efficient and desirable candidate. Including figures and statistics immediately shows a hiring manager the impact you will bring their company. Promote yourself This is your opportunity to let potential hiring managers see that you are a skilled, educated and driven candidate. Many job seekers find it uncomfortable talking about themselves, but that’s the job of a CV. Avoid arrogance or lying, but don’t be afraid to highlight your wins. Ask a recruiter It is always useful to get a second opinion on your CV, especially from specialists. Recruiters help job seekers find great roles every day. They know what hiring managers are looking for and can give you advice on how best to optimise your CV. Plus, once updated, they can make sure hiring managers see your CV. Send us your CV Target your CV Whilst it is logical to list all your previous jobs, it is key your CV focuses on the role you are applying to. Including the fact you used to work at a café isn’t a negative, but be sure to prioritise relevant experience. Get your CV seen  The CV is usually the first round of the job stage process so it important that it gets in front of the right people. The best way to improve your chances of having your CV seen by the hiring managers at pharmaceutical, medical devices and biotechnology companies is to share it with specialists recruiters.  Hobson Prior recruiters work exclusively within the life sciences sector. We partner with upcoming and industry-leading companies to find them top talent like you. By sharing your CV with us, you'll get advice from life sciences recruitment specialists as well as the latest job opportunities from our clients. .find-recruiter, .snip-button-container { justify-content: left; }

The demand for work life balance in quality assurance jobs

Work-life balance is a core value for many of us and its recognition amongst employers is increasing. Silicon Valley figureheads, such as Google and Intel, have implemented various wellbeing schemes and allowances to keep their staff happy and healthy. Whilst some industries have been fast to adopt, the pharmaceutical industry has been slower to offer flexibility. A recent study conducted by the global unified communications company, Fuze, 95% of workers say work-life balance is an important factor when searching for a new job. Similarly, a report from Virgin highlighted that 76% of workers don’t work as remotely as they’d like. With life sciences job seekers looking for more flexibility and pharmaceutical companies aiming to attract and retain talent, is flexible working in quality assurance jobs possible? Hobson Prior’s lead quality assurance recruiter, Steven Fuller, shares 5 core insights into how the quality assurance job market is being impacted by the increasing demand for flexible working and how quality assurance job seekers can make the most of this trend. “The demand is there; I’ve seen candidates reject jobs that don’t offer flexible working hours” Modern life is demanding. The traditional 9-5 doesn’t always apply to QA roles as is, but the ability for QA professionals to balance the demands of work with the stresses of modern life, like appointments or missing their children’s bedtimes, would certainly be well received. As a lead quality assurance recruiter, Steven has seen many senior quality assurance managers and responsible quality persons reject high-paying jobs at global pharmaceutical companies. The head of quality may have parent’s evenings to attend. A QA analyst might have elderly parents to care for. Your quality assurance team leader might have to pick the car up from the garage. “Almost every other industry is offering it; why shouldn’t a quality assurance manager have the same flexi-time as their friends in finance or marketing? I’ve had candidates turn down well-paid roles at world-renowned companies because there is no flexibility offered”. “Start-ups tend to be more receptive, but the larger pharmaceutical companies are listening” It’s always harder to establish a consistent company culture in a global company: if you allow flexible hours for your offices in Cambridge, you’d be pressured to do the same for your site in Basel. Pharmaceutical start-ups are less restricted and more open to flexible working to attract top talent. That said, large pharmaceutical companies want to remain competitive to attract top talent in quality assurance positions. “When a global pharmaceutical company offers flexible working hours for a quality assurance job, the others need to adapt their offerings to be more appealing to attract the best candidates. There’s more opportunity to negotiate work life in quality assurance than you may think”. Plus, with work-life balance becoming an expectation of millennial culture, pharmaceutical companies are promoting flexible hours in quality to encourage the next generation of QA managers, heads of QA and QA auditors more. “Some quality assurance jobs offer more flexibility than others” Whilst many would appreciate the opportunity to adapt our contracted hours to suit our busy schedules, it may not be possible to offer the same work-life balance structure for all quality control and quality assurance positions. “It depends entirely on the role: a QA systems engineer may be able to access the eQMS systems from home, so working from home in QA can be an option. "Alternatively, a senior manufacturing GXP needs to be onsite where the manufacturing and distribution take place. Their company may not be able to offer working from home, but may be able to negotiate flexible hours or a shift allowance to increase work-life balance for their QA team.” Some quality jobs can be fully home-based, such as a GxP quality assurance job that focuses on eQMS and CAPAs. That said, a GCP QA manager would need to visit sites from time to time to ensure quality best practice. Travel commitments are often unavoidable in QA careers, making it difficult to secure a fully home-based role; different GXPs have different options. If flexibility is what you are looking for, a QA recruiter will have the right connections. View the latest quality assurance job opportunities “Pharma companies are being creative to offer more work-life balance” Homeworking is a popular trend across the life sciences job market, but it is not always a feasible option. Pharmaceutical companies have needed to be creative to create opportunities for their QA teams to make sure they can still tackle the demands of QA job with work-life balance. “Benefits packages, such as shift allowance offer an alternative to the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5 that may suit some QA professionals better. Shifts allow for more control over what days in the week they work, with potential financial benefits for traditionally unsociable hours, whilst also allow QA professionals to have slightly more freedom and flexible working”. “A quality assurance recruiter can help secure flexible benefits” Flexible hours and homeworking in quality assurance are growing, but it is not always as readily available to job seekers. “As the lead quality assurance recruiter for Hobson Prior, it’s my job to understand your career requirements and make sure I connect you to roles that tick those boxes”. Just because a job doesn’t overtly offer flexible working, does not necessarily mean it cannot be included. QA recruiters build relationships with pharmaceutical hiring managers, HR and talent acquisition teams and have a unique insight into which companies offer flexible working and which are more reluctant, saving you time in your job search. “It is often the senior QA jobs that allow flexibility. A senior QP holds a great deal of responsibility and will often need to be available onsite. It can be tricky to negotiate flexible hours in QA management jobs, but it is certainly possible.” Securing a work-life balance Defining a balance between managing demands of work with family and social life is hugely for personal wellbeing. The life sciences industry is adapting to these demands and many businesses are offering new and inventive benefit packages to help keep their employees motivated and healthy. As a quality assurance recruiter, Steven has seen the rise in childcare allowance, flexi-time, shift allowance, gym lunches and working from home opportunities. These are not specific to the quality assurance job market, but we are seeing more requests from QA job seekers and an understanding from companies hiring quality assurance professionals. If flexible hours and a strong work-life balance is something you’re looking for, contact our quality assurance recruitment team who will help you find a QA job that suits your requirements. View the latest quality assurance jobs here.

Five tips for writing a clinical project manager CV and other senior clinical roles

Your CV is often the first impression a hiring manager has of your professional career. It is important it reflects your experience to demonstrate what you would bring to a senior clinical operations role. Mastering writing a CV for a clinical research associate job can be difficult enough, but how can exceptional candidates make their profiles stand out when applying for a senior role, such as a senior CRA, clinical project manager or even a clinical trial manager job? Hobson Prior’s clinical operations recruiters are specialised in helping candidates find permanent and contract CRA, CPM and CTM jobs across Europe. They see CVs from clinical operations professionals with varying experience and understand what makes a senior CRA CV stand out to hiring managers at leading pharmaceutical companies. We’ve collated 5 of their top CV writing tips below to help you secure a senior clinical project manager job. “Put your recent clinical operations management jobs first” Many CV templates recommend you lead with your contact information, followed by your education. In the life sciences industry, a scientific degree or doctorate is often highly valued so is important to include. That said, why would you lead your CV for a senior clinical project manager job with the degree you completed over a decade ago, when you have a wealth of recent industry experience to share? “Most candidates applying for a clinical trial manager job will be educated. Hiring managers will want to know what you’ve done in practice within the industry; make it easier for them and put your recent, relevant experience at the top of your CV”. Morgan Hearty, Clinical Operations Recruitment Specialist at Hobson Prior Key Takeaways Lead your CV with your most recent job and achievements at the top List your experience in chronological order and spend more detail on the more recent and relevant roles Include your education after your previous employment “Focus on showing your results” If you are looking to secure a promotion from clinical research associate to senior clinical research associate or clinical project management, your CV needs to highlight your successes. Your previous experience should demonstrate how your actions leads to positive outcomes; that’s what makes you stand out as an efficient and desirable candidate. Including figures and statistics immediately shows a hiring manager the impact you will bring their company, as well as demonstrating your ability to report effectively, a skill often required in senior clinical positions. “I see lots of CVs for clinical project manager jobs where candidates list their tasks. It’s important that you don’t just tell me what you’ve done, but you demonstrate how your actions lead to positive results. Percentages and successes always stand out more than paragraphs of explanation”. Rachel Hayes – Clinical Operations Recruitment Specialist at Hobson Prior Key Takeaways Add list of bullet points showing the top results you have achieved Percentages and numbers quantify your experience – 220% increase in productivity vs. “I improved productivity” Avoid “telling” your skills, let your results show your successes. “Keep it to the point” If you’re applying for a senior clinical position, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge and experience to discuss. It can be tempting to include as much detail as possible in your CV to prove why you are a must-have hire. However, hiring managers do not want to read an essay about your career, especially when they have a pile of other clinical project manager CVs to get through. Your CV is a snapshot of your career so be sure to keep it focused on the key results and responsibilities. You can include links or an appendix for additional documents and papers that support your career, but don’t overload it with information. Your CV is an overview, plus, you’ll want to reserve some details for the next stages of the hiring process. “Aim for around 2-3 pages maximum for a clinical CV. If you’re applying for a clinical project manager job, focus on your recent CPM or senior CRA experience rather than your very first clinical research assistant experience. This will save you space and keep your CV relevant and will keep hiring managers focused on the experiences core to the job you’re going for”. James Inwood – Principal Consultant at Hobson Prior Keep the CV as an overview of your career A CV for a senior position should be around 2-3 pages long Include an appendix or link to online papers to save space “Make sure your CV targets the right job” A senior CRA job CV should prioritise your experiences as a clinical research associate. Whilst it is logical to list all your previous roles, it is key your CV focuses on the senior role you are applying to and its targeted to supporting your application. Your experience as clinical research assistant is a useful display of your progression, but does not require the same detail as your current role. Weight the descriptions accordingly, ensuring you prioritise direct experience and results over previous, less relevant jobs. “I’ve seen clinical trial manager CVs that still include a write up on their first job. It’s not a bad thing, but if you focus too much on the junior clinical trial jobs you’ve had, you’re wasting space that you could have used for the jobs that promote your suitability for a senior role”. David Chipp – Sales Manager (Clinical Interim) at Hobson Prior Key takeaways Weight your CV effectively to prioritise recent clinical experience Junior jobs require minimal emphasis, you may wish to avoid including them Make sure you highlight the elements in your previous experience that tie into the job your applying for “Keep your format clean and simple” Creative CVs are a unique and memorable way to stand out amongst the crowd, but they are risky. Hiring managers will have to sift through a pile of clinical project manager CVs so adding some colour, your headshot and lots of stylistic choices can sound like a great way to be noticed, but it is crucial not to get carried away. “What hiring managers really want to see from a stack of senior CRA CVs is an easy to read summary of your achievements and career; it makes their jobs much easier to see your CRA experience if it’s well laid out”. James Inwood, Principal Consultant When apply for senior clinical trial jobs, your CV needs needs to match the seniority of the position you are going for. Multiple fonts, text sizes and sporadic use of CAPITAL LETTERS, bold and other formatting make your CV stand out for the wrong reasons. A messy CV layout gives a hiring manager a free pass to discard your resume, regardless of how strong clinical trials management experience is. “You can be one of the top clinical project managers in Europe, but if your resume is hard to read and messy, a hiring manager will likely ignore it to help reduce their pile of CVs.” Morgan Hearty – Clinical Operations Recruitment Specialist at Hobson Prior Key Takeaways Creativity is encouraged, but remember who has to read your CV and how many they have to read There’s a difference between standing out and putting off Keep formatting simple: one font, remove italics and flashy colours BONUS: “Share your CV with specialist recruiters” Senior clinical trial management positions can be difficult to come by and require experienced CRA, CPM and CTM experience. To get the best candidates possible, many pharmaceutical companies and clinical CROs will use a specialist clinical operations recruiter to aid in their search. Senior CRAs and clinical project managers are often headhunted, so it is advantageous to make sure a reputable recruiter has your name on file, whether you’re actively looking for a clinical trial promotion or not. “Many of our pharmaceutical clients use recruiters exclusively to fill senior clinical operations positions so they won’t appear on public job boards. By sharing your CV with a recruiter, you’ll have access to these lucrative and desirable jobs. Plus, we do all the tedious job hunting work for you to find the most suitable senior CRA, CPM and CTM jobs for you.” David Chipp – Sales Manager (Clinical Interim) at Hobson Prior Key Takeaways Many senior CRA and CPM positions are exclusive to recruiters Recruiters have strong relationships with pharmaceutical companies and can connect you A specialist recruiter can help you get headhunted into a senior clinical role that suits you Overall, the key to securing a senior clinical job through your CV is to make viewing it as easy as possible. A hiring manager should be able to look at you CV and see exactly why your current role and former experience makes you the perfect candidate for the senior clinical research associate, project manager or clinical trial manager position. For top tips and guidance on how to perfect your clinical operations CV and make it stand out, you can share your CV with our Clinical recruitment specialist team. They will be able to provide unique insight and experienced knowledge into elevating your CV for senior clinical operations and development positions. View our clinical operation jobs here.

Optimising your LinkedIn profile for job offers

LinkedIn is the perfect channel for employers and recruiters to find out more about you and get in touch. So if you’re looking for your next role, or if you just want to be contacted when a perfect opportunity comes up, it’s important to optimise your profile. There are three key stages a recruiter or HR professional takes when visiting your LinkedIn profile: Finding you Qualifying you Researching you There’s a lot you can do to ease their experience at each of these stages – making it more likely that you’ll get relevant, attractive job descriptions straight to your inmail box. Finding you Recruiters and HR professionals often search LinkedIn for potential candidates, and there are several things you can do to appear in the right searches. Firstly, make sure that your job descriptions and summary include keywords that you want to be associated with. Pick several that are connected to what you’re good at and what you want to do in your next job. Secondly, get connected. You’ll appear higher on employers’ search results if you share connections or groups with them. Thirdly, be active. Comment in relevant industry groups, like posts and update your profile regularly. This will help you catch the eye of recruiters and employers. Finally, make sure you’re easy to identify. Use your full name as it appears on your CV, and your current job title or a concise summary of what you do as your professional headline (e.g. “Bio-Statistician specialising in Osteoporosis”). Qualifying you If you’ve contacted a recruiter or employer about a vacancy, they’ll almost certainly visit your profile. It’s important that job titles, dates and descriptions support what’s on your CV, or you’ll lose their trust. Any gaps in your employment history should be explained, either in your summary or a job description (i.e. “I left this role to travel for six months around Asia”). Recommendations are great for giving you credibility, and much more valued and personal than endorsements for skills. You can ask for recommendations from colleagues, managers and clients by going into your settings and clicking ‘Manage Recommendations’ under the Profile tab. Researching you You’re not confined to a few pages of A4 on LinkedIn, so it can be a great place to expand on projects and achievements mentioned on your CV. Give examples of your best work in the projects section, making sure to include a concise description of the context, goals, actions taken and outcome. You can also add team members to demonstrate collaboration. If you have an interesting report or presentation to share, upload and attach this to the relevant position. The publications section is perfect for listing and linking to articles and papers. However, bear in mind that many people won’t be able to follow links to subscription only journals. Finally, all LinkedIn users can now post blogs. If you have the time to write something valuable, this is an ideal place to show off your knowledge and expertise. It will also increase traffic to your profile and improve your visibility on LinkedIn. Quick tips Always use a professional looking photo Don’t treat LinkedIn like Facebook. Keep updates work or industry related Create a personal URL. Post relevant news articles to show you take a real interest your industry Never leave your job summary blank. Use it for your ‘elevator pitch’. Want to make the most of your LinkedIn Profile? We see a lot of CVs and LinkedIn Profiles so we’ve become experts in how to optimise yours to help drive your career in the right direction. Get in touch with our experts

Do you deserve a rate increase?

As a contractor, your professional identity is a strange mix of business and individual. Unfortunately, this can cause confusion when it comes to rates. While businesses are expected to maintain the same rate for the same service, individuals are paid according to skill-level (meaning their pay increases as they improve). So if you’re both a business and an individual, when is a rate increase a reasonable request? Since you aren’t an employee, you’re unlikely to get a raise for length of service. (Think about a relationship you have with a freelancer, such as an accountant: it would seem silly if they started charging more simply because they’d provided a good service for two years.) However, there are some perfectly good reasons to bump up your fees – here are our top three: #1 - Providing different or additional services Is the scope of your role different to what was originally specified? Perhaps your responsibilities have changed or you’ve taken on more projects? If the nature of your work has changed, it’s entirely reasonable to renegotiate your fees accordingly. #2 - Increase in demand for your services The laws of supply and demand apply as much to people as they do to products. So if your skills become increasingly sought-after, it’s only sensible that you charge higher rates. Changes in supply and demand can be brought about by a variety of factors: Industry trends: for example, new ISO standards have created demand for experts in IDMP and HL7 Organisations: large, multinational companies can have a big impact on the talent market when making cuts or doing a recruitment drive Your own progression: you can change demand for your services by improving your skills and developing new ones #3 – Changes to working arrangements Are your working arrangements as expected? Perhaps you’re having to take fewer homeworking days than originally agreed, or maybe you’re being required to travel frequently all of a sudden. It’s only fair that the client compensates you for lost benefits, or for complying with extra demands. The next step If one or more of the above apply to you, then good news! You probably deserve a rate increase. The bad news? Actually securing it is another matter. Don’t panic though – we have a whole article devoted to this. Take a look at our six tips for securing a rate increase. Need further advice? Contact our recruitment specialists.

Six tips for securing a rate increase

Many contractors happily work with the same client for year after year. However, you’ll eventually find that you’ve outgrown the rates of the original contract. A lot of contractors feel awkward or uncertain about asking for a rate increase – but armed with the right reasons, evidence and tactics, a pay raise is absolutely achievable. With this in mind, we’ve set out six top tips for securing a higher rate: #1 Have a good reason It’s absolutely essential that you have a good, solid reason why you deserve a rate increase. Without this, your request is likely to fall flat, no matter what negotiation techniques you try. Good news though – we have a whole article devoted to reasons why you deserve a rate increase. #2 Time it well It’s best to time your request to coincide with contract renewal, since the client will be most open to negotiation at this point. As a rule of thumb don’t ask before 12 months into your contract, as you’re unlikely to have enough bargaining chips (these being the client’s trust, strong internal relationships and in-depth knowledge of the business). If you’re using an agency, discuss your requirements with them around two months prior to renewal. This gives your recruiter plenty of time to lay the groundwork, negotiate with the client and obtain sign off. It also ensures the client can factor your rates into their financial plan. #3 Arm yourself with evidence It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove. Have you taken on more responsibilities? List and compare them to those specified in your contract. Has the client asked you to travel more? Calculate how much that time is worth according to your hourly rate. Increased demand is tricky to prove, so ask your recruiter for their market insights. Persuading the client to reassess your value can be the hardest task of all. It’s helpful to quantify your achievements, such as calculating the time you saved by finishing a project early. However, qualitative information can be useful too – for example, you could print out an email containing positive feedback on your work. #4 Use an intermediary Rates can be a touchy subject; if it’s not handled with sensitivity by both parties, there is a risk of damaging your relationship. However, you can minimise that risk by using your agency. By acting as a buffer, a recruiter can protect the relationship. Furthermore, their people skills and market knowledge will improve your chances of success. #5 Know what you’re asking for Rate increases are normally around 3-5%. Whatever you’re aiming for you, be clear and consistent. You should also be able to explain the number – if it seems arbitrary (or based on your needs rather than your worth) you’ll lose bargaining power. Finally, remember that advertised vacancies rates aren’t always a realistic benchmark; the actual rate is highly dependent on skill level and contract terms. #6 Use leverage sensitively Threatening to quit can create negativity and even leave you without a contract. But that’s not to say you can’t use another job offer as leverage – you just need to handle it correctly. Avoid getting personal, and simply show the client that you have to make a sensible business decision. Once again, a recruiter can help you use this leverage to the best advantage. Need further advice? Contact our recruitment specialists.

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