Clinical Staffing Reviews

A site which compares Clinical Recruitment Firms so you are able to select the best Recruiting Company to fit your staffing needs.

Would you buy Sushi at the 7-Eleven™?

As a hiring manager, it sure would be great if I could go to one agency and have all of my hiring needs met through a single point of contact.  Let’s call it the 7-Eleven™ approach.

After all, pretty much every company is going to need secretaries, janitors, accountants and IT staff, so having one agency that can provide staffing in all of those areas can sure be convenient.


But should you trust these “soup to nuts” companies when it comes to recruiting highly skilled team members who will have the ability to make or break your company?  We aren’t talking about hiring a greeter at Wal-Mart, we are talking about hiring quality clinical research professionals.  Said differently, if a recruiter just submitted a qualified accountant to you this morning, does that mean she is capable of finding a competent Clinical Research Associate for you this afternoon?

The question isn’t whether these “soup to nuts” agencies will recruit CRAs in their 7-Eleven™ approach…the question is should you ask them to.

I am a huge proponent of working with Niched Clinical Research Recruiting Agencies for my clinical staff and here are three main reasons why:

  • They have knowledge of our industry.  When you watch the Olympics, do you notice the judged competitions use field experts to evaluate the competitors?  You would never see a gymnastics competition being judged by someone who has little or no experience in that niche.   Sure, you could give a novice gymnastics judge a checklist to go by and they could muddle through it…but wouldn’t that destroy the credibility of the competition results?

Using that same train of thought, you could certainly give a “soup to nuts” recruiter who has little or no experience in the clinical research field a checklist and she will “muddle through it”.  But what level of confidence should you have in the end result?

  • They understand industry trends.  Because these niched companies will only work with companies conducting clinical research, they will have a pulse on what your competition is doing.  They can inform you of industry trends which can be critical for you when it comes to attracting top talent.  For example, they will know what the average hourly rates and salaries are and can help you identify which compensation is reasonable yet competitive.
  • They have history with clinical candidates.  Because Niched Recruiting Agencies focus all of their efforts into networking for their specific skill set, they will build ongoing relationships with their candidates.  A great Niched Clinical Recruiting agency will re-use quality candidates because they know their work ethic and abilities.  Just as importantly, these niched agencies will also be able to track the negative history of poor quality candidates too and keep them far-far-away from your studies.

As someone with my neck on the line, it is nice to know I can leverage someone else’s network to quickly find great quality candidates.

Signing off,


fred_elmore[use AT symbol here]

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9 Responses to “Would you buy Sushi at the 7-Eleven™?”

  1. CL

    In my long career I’ve worked with both niched recruiters and your all in one’s. I honestly felt I had more individualized attention with the niched recruiters. They kept me in the loop of what positions they had but didn’t bug me like crazy. With the huge all in one recruiting agencies I kind of felt like I was on the back burner. And one recruiter had my information mixed up with someone else in their database who was in IT. Even after that was sorted out, another recruiter from the same company called me for another position outside of clinical research.

  2. Fred

    CL, it is really a shame that you weren’t given personalized attention by the “soup to nuts” agency. The lack of personalized attention could happen with any type of recruiting agency, though.

    However, I have found the niched or “specialty” agencies seem to care more about networking and growing long term relationships. And as it relates to offering you positions, niched companies will have more positions in your specific field. I would compare it to shopping for a specific car. If you want a Honda, you can guarantee a great selection at a Honda dealership. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a great deal on a well kept Honda at Carmax – but you may have to search harder and longer.

    Thank you for sharing CL.


  3. Sara

    Another great article – I had a similar situation with a recruiting agency that was ‘soup to nuts’ but I was assigned with a recruiter that worked in the clinical research team. This particular recruiter did not provide me quality candidates most of the time and this person came off as more interested in her commission and placement rather than finding the right person for the position.

  4. Fred

    Sara, the first issue I have with your statement is “I was assigned a recruiter”. As a hiring manager, you should only be working with seasoned account managers.

    For any of you Hiring Managers out there reading this post – I would recommend you *refuse* to work directly with recruiters and only work with seasoned account managers.

    Sara, thank you for sharing. It is a shame you were assigned a recruiter more interested in her commissions rather than truly understanding how important her role is in the clinical research industry. A good recruiter will understand that their performance can have a positive or negative impact to your clinical trial. Regardless of whether or not they work for a niched recruiting agency or a “soup-to-nuts” one – passion for making a difference in our clinical research industry absolutely has to be there or no one wins.


  5. Steven H

    Fred, let me tell you about a scenario that happened to me. First, I may be the only one in the universe to say this, but I have a great relationship with my recruiter. Her team provides excellent CRAs to us and she is quick to handle issues. However, my senior leadership also requires us to post our positions on our website and therefore, I am often plagued with tons of applicants (I like to refer to them as “crazies” as it is rare any of them are qualified).

    For one particular position I received a pretty good CRA resume. I contacted the candidate and interviewed her – she seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. I called my recruiter and told her the good news – my recruiter was happy for me (genuinely happy – I told you I may be the only one in the universe to be pleased with my recruiter!).

    And this is when the magic happened (and finally my point to this long winded story) – my recruiter offered to give me background on the candidate I had selected. She told me that because they were a niched agency focusing on placing CRAs that it was likely they had already vetted that candidate out before and therefore had previous history on her.

    I shared the candidate’s name and sure enough, the recruiting agency had worked with this individual before. They had two other versions of the candidate’s resume and we did a quick comparison. The company names and dates of employment for her positions varied from resume to resume. Additionally, the recruiting agency had records of where that particular CRA had missed several scheduled interviews.

    Needless to say, using a niched recruiting agency gives you HISTORY. A candidate’s past performance is a strong indicator of what their future performance will be and by using an agency that is niched as well as disciplined in maintaining their records will give you a huge leg-up in making candidate selections.

  6. Fred

    Steven, what an impressive story. It sounds like you use the same recruiting agency I use – the account manager I work with at my *favorite* agency does the same thing.

    Sometimes the reviews on the candidates are excellent and sometimes (like in your situation) they are not.

    I love that niche recruiting agencies have the ability to have and leverage this “history” (as you call it). And agree – this is a big perk of using companies who only recruit in the clinical research field!


  7. Tammy

    I am a new Clinical Manager for a medium sized pharma and desperately need a Medical Writer. The recruiter I was told to work with is from one of those large agencies that do everything.

    He talks big and told me that he had several candidates in mind and would get their CVs over to me ASAP. When I received them, they were Clinical Scientists.

    So I agree – you should use recruiters who are experts in their field.

  8. Fred

    Tammy, thanks for sharing! I hope you were able to engage a recruiter who could actually help!


  9. Susan

    Fred, I have 16 years in the industry as a hiring manager and agree with your comments.

    I am not sure I always agreed, thinking there is a level of stability with larger agencies. However, niched agencies offer incredible stability. Why wouldn’t you want to work with an agency who has the confidence to only work in one field?

    If they screw up in their one field, they are no longer in business. Survival alone means they know what the heck they are doing.

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