It can be difficult to get your first job as a Clinical Research Associate. Most companies won’t hire anyone without some relevant experience. Luckily there are some shortcuts that most people don’t know about. Recently we asked clinical research professionals about their best strategies to get the foot in the door. We could identify some common strategies, be sure to try them all.
Don’t only apply for Pharmaceutical Companies
So you want to work as a CRA? Did you know that about 50% of all CRAs actually don’t work for a pharma company?
Be sure to check out the Contract Research Organizations, CROs, as well.
A CRO is contracted by a pharma company, or other CRO, to conduct clinical trials. Usually they work with several Sponsors and trials at the same time. To get the hang of what a CRO company is all about, be sure to read about:
Apply for smaller CRO companies
If you’ve just started out, chances are that you only know about the biggest companies. Most people only know about a couple of big pharma companies, like Pfizer, Roche and Novartis. On the other hand most people have never heard about the smaller CROs. Of course each company can’t compare in size and number of employees with the huge organizations, but on the other hand there are lots of these small to mid-sized companies. Taken all together they may offer lots of job vacancies.
Forget about job ads – contact them anyway
Smaller companies usually don’t have their own recruiters or HR department. Chances are that they won’t even advertise when they need to hire. Especially if it comes to an entry-level position. They probably have a “list” of people that have shown interest to work for their company. People that sent their CV before and still shows interest ar more likely to get an interview.
Connect with clinical research headhunter
What is a headhunter and why are they so good for people that are looking for a job?
A headhunter is specialized in finding potential candidates for vacancies. Most of these recruiters get paid once a company actually hires one of the candidates they have proposed. If their client hire someone else, they usually get close to nothing, if anything. That said, they are very eager to put you forward to any potential employer.
Unfortunately, contacting a headhunter will work out best the day you have already one or two years of experience as a CRA . Then they will work very hard for you. However, they have lots of connections and usually know all of the important recruiters in the business. If there’s a potential entry-level or trainee position somewhere, they will know.
Go to e.g. LinkedIn and search for “headhunter clinical research” or “recruiter clinical research associate”. Contact them directly by phone if possible, or send them your Cover letter and Resume, stating what you are looking for. Be sure to tell them that they are very welcome to forward your application to any relevant person within their network.
Get at least some Clinical Research Associate training
If you have no previous monitoring experience, and haven’t taken any CRA training, chances are very small you’ll ever get a CRA entry-level position. According to GCP, all employers working with clinical trials need documented knowledge in GCP. Very few companies will let you work as a “trainee” for a couple of months to gain this experience. They would rather pick someone that already knows the basics. If you can show that you at least know the basics of GCP, your chances are greatly improved.