Have you ever worked with a pharmacy recruiter?
Of all the questions I receive I would say the majority these days are about finding a pharmacy job. The market has changed significantly over the past 20 years, and even in the past 2-3 years. Some areas of the country are still under-served, but many areas are experiencing an over-supply of pharmacists which makes finding a job very difficult. To make matters worse, some pharmacists with significant work and life experience are running up against some forms of age discrimination as employers have more options to hire younger (and maybe healthier?) new graduates. A typical job search can sometimes take 6 to 12 months or longer, depending on several factors.
When I set up an appointment to chat about job search strategy with pharmacists, we eventually discuss the question of working with a pharmacy recruiter. Many pharmacists are unaware that such individuals exist. Some pharmacists have worked with recruiters before and have been disappointed in their results. Others have had great success. Today, maybe more than ever before, pharmacists need to utilize every available tool to help them find a job they will love. I personally believe that working with a recruiter, in the right way, is an important part of that strategy.
A pharmacy recruiter is a pharmacy “job placement expert” who may work independently or with a staffing firm to connect the right pharmacist with the right job opening. They are often hired by an employer for this purpose and are paid a commission for a successful placement by the employer. Understand that. They work for the employer, not the employee. You don’t pay them. However, that being said, it is of course in their own best interest to make great connections between employers and employees. Think of a pharmacy recruiter as an extension of the HR department of an employer. Their specific job is to find great prospects and set up interviews. Another analogy is that a recruiter is to an employer what a realtor is to someone selling a home. Not perfect, but you get the idea.
Do all employers use recruiters? No. Some employers simply rely upon word of mouth, recommendations from current employees (sometimes with a bonus for the one who made the connection) or placing ads through internal or external sources. But in my opinion, many of the great jobs are entrusted to seasoned recruiters. Why? It saves the employer a lot of time shuffling through piles of resumes and applications from individuals who are neither experienced or motivated for the opportunity. Also, sometimes it is not a good strategy to “advertise” that a job will be open. That’s just reality. We all know what that means.
To make this article a bit more (hopefully) useful, I reached out to some friends in the recruiting business and asked them a few questions. They were kind enough to provide some thoughtful replies, and I would like to share them with you. I asked them each the same 3 questions.
1) How should a pharmacist go about selecting a recruiter to work with when searching for a job?
2) What should a pharmacist do before contacting a recruiter?
3) Should a pharmacist consider working with more than 1 recruiter when looking for a job?
The 3 recruiting friends whom I reached out to are:
Below are the questions, followed by each of their answers. I hope you will find that format helpful.
1) HOW SHOULD A PHARMACIST GO ABOUT SELECTING A RECRUITER TO WORK WITH WHEN LOOKING FOR A JOB?
Holly: “Pharmacists should carefully choose a recruiter and/or pharmacy staffing firm to work with. My best piece of advice while deciding who to work with is to choose a firm that specializes in pharmacy and has built a solid reputation in the U.S. Some firms just “dabble” in pharmacy but it may not be their core competency. You want to work with someone who has built relationships in the field and can truly help you with your search and career path.”
Ralph: “Normally when selecting a recruiter you should find ONE in your local or regional area. Having the personal relationship in this tight market is valuable. Also make sure they have at least 2 years experience. The more experience – the more client contacts.”
Keith: “You need to choose someone you are comfortable with and who will have your best interest in mind. You need to ensure that your expectations and the recruiter’s style mesh. There are recruiters who will call you all the time and others who may only contact you when there are potential opportunities. One of the best ways to find a recruiter is to ask several of your colleagues to recommend someone. LinkedIn is also a good tool to use to explore a recruiter’s background.”
2) WHAT SHOULD A PHARMACIST DO BEFORE CONTACTING A RECRUITER?
Ralph: “Before contacting a recruiter do your homework regarding agency or recruiter (website, Linkedin profile, personal referral). Have a good resume prepared and if at all possible meet in person. It will separate you from the pack and give you an edge.”
Keith: “It is always a good idea to have a clear plan A of what you are looking for regarding the job type, the location and possibly the salary range you are looking for. Depending on your situation you need to be flexible as what your plan B can and might be. You should also try to project ahead several steps in your career and see how this next job will fit, or not fit into your overall plan. A good recruiter will help you visualize this.”
Holly: “Pharmacist should solidify 4-6 professional references and have a clean and updated resume ready to present a recruiter/firm.”
3) SHOULD A PHARMACIST CONSIDER WORKING WITH MORE THAN 1 RECRUITER WHEN LOOKING FOR A JOB?
Keith: “I think pharmacist candidates would be surprised to know that recruiters share many candidates and positions among themselves. It is highly likely that a recruiter may have a great candidate, but not the right job opening and another recruiter may have the opening but not the perfect candidate. So by partnering we can increase the odds of keeping everyone happy and the potential to obtain a successful outcome. Since most recruiters work on a contingency basis there is no harm in working with more than one recruiter at a time. I would caution about working with more than two since it could potentially be confusing and even redundant.”
Holly: “Working with more than one recruiter/firm can truly help a pharmacist to expand his or her network. It is a numbers game; the more people you talk to, the quicker you will be placed!”
Ralph: “Never use more than 2 recruiters ( if you can find that many good ones ) and keep the information shared private. If recruiters think you are using too many they could shy away from working with you because of the proverbial “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
So there you have it. A few useful tips on working with a pharmacy recruiter. I hope you find this helpful. Got more questions? Feel free to reach out to any of my friends above. Also, please feel free to share any of your own helpful advice or comments below!
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Last modified: April 17, 2023