Written by 1:27 pm Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Operations

Hiring Retail Pharmacists – The Employer’s 3 Dilemmas

A lot of time has been spent discussing the challenge of the current job market for PHARMACISTS.  The oversupply of new student graduates has created a real problem for many as they launch out into the working world and look for a job.  Even experienced pharmacists are feeling the pressure as they are sometimes left competing with younger pharmacists who might accept smaller salaries and fewer benefits in certain markets.

One might think that this is an employer’s dream come true!  Oversupply means they have their choice of great candidates to pick from, right?  A veritable buffet of competent professionals from which pick from in order to decorate their businesses. 

Not necessarily!

No matter how many pharmacists are out there, the employer looking to hire a pharmacist for an open position has a few SERIOUS obstacles standing in their way.

I have worked in the retail pharmacy space for over 2 decades, mostly in retail pharmacy management  In that time I have done my fair share of interviewing, hiring, training and even terminating.  I have also had the privilege of talking to numerous students and pharmacists who are looking for work.  What I have found is that many pharmacists do not fully appreciate the risks and challenges that an EMPLOYER faces when trying to staff a store or district. 

Employers have some real difficulties when it comes to the hiring process.  The 3 biggest ones include:

FINDING great pharmacists 

Where are they?  Where does an employer find a great, available candidate?  Unfortunately there isn’t any single repository of available talent for an employer to cast their net into.  There may be dozens, even hundreds of potential candidates living within the employment area (or willing to relocate) but if the employer doesn’t know about them…it does him/her know good.  Available websites like Monster and others allow employers to search resumes from candidates, but how long have those resumes been floating out there?  They could waste lots of time reaching out to individuals who are no longer looking or interested.

There may be many pharmacists, very good pharmacists, who would love the shot at a new opportunity – but they don’t really know how to search for a new job and therefore are left stuck in a bad job when a new employment opportunity may be just around the corner.  There is no real “match.com” for pharmacists and pharmacist employers.  There are recruiters available to help this process, but no one recruiter has all the employer connections and all the pharmacists. 

SCREENING the pharmacist

Another problem facing the employer is assessing/screening the real quality of the candidate.  A pharmacist, whether they know it or not, has an enormous impact on the overall success of a business.  Having the academic qualifications is only a part of the total screening process.  The employer who hires a pharmacist is, in some ways, biting into a piece of chocolate from a mixed up box.  They are never quite sure what they will get.  Resumes can be exaggerated and references are often very biased.

Not only that, but the screening and interviewing process (when done well) can be time-consuming and tedious.  For managers looking to fill a “hole” in a store they may be tempted to take the path of least resistance and just hire anyone with a license that can fog a mirror.  They have so much other work to do, that they can’t be bothered to invest too much time in this process.  They need a warm body, and they need it fast. 

FIRING a bad pharmacist   

The final dilemma occurs, sadly, after a hiring mistake has been made and the organization is stuck with a bad pharmacist.  Is there such a thing as a BAD pharmacist?  Oh yes.  Ask any employer who has been at this business for a while.  The employer who has hired the wrong pharmacist, is often faced with an expensive and/or inconvenient dilemma if they need to terminate them.  They have already invested in the expense of hiring and training.  They have exposed the new hire to many of their confidential business practices and contacts.  They have other staff that need the assistance and for whom the termination will create greater workplace challenges.  Also, firing someone costs the employer if/when that employee files for unemployment benefits. 

These three things:  FINDING, SCREENING and FIRING a pharmacist constitute a significant dilemma for the potential employer, even in a market that is saturated with pharmacists.  Many great employers have seen their businesses suffer at the hands of an unqualified and unmotivated pharmacist AND/OR by the poor judgment and hasty decisions of a tired hiring manager.

How does the owner, manager, HR leader overcome these dilemmas? 

In my next post, TIPS FOR HIRING A GREAT  RETAIL PHARMACIST I will share my insights into this challenge and offer advice to both pharmacist EMPLOYERS and potential EMPLOYEES.

©Jason Poquette and The Honest Apothecary.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jason Poquette and The Honest Apothecary with appropriate and specific links to the original content. 

Last modified: April 17, 2023