Many Pharma Companies have been suffering silently from shortage of suitable candidates to fill up vacancies in the field, and also of high attrition rate, leading to terrible but avoidable loss of business due to vacancies. In this article, let’s discuss various avenues available for sourcing of candidates, ways to retain them, and also how to enable them to contribute their best to the organizations.
From College campus: We can visit the Science, and Pharmacy Colleges in the vicinity where the vacancies exist, talk to the Placement Cell and then finalize a date which is convenient both for the final year students who are awaiting results and also for the HR and the Line Managers concerned of the organization. The HR Department and the Line Managers concerned should prepare well for the campus interview, which should include introduction about the organization, its promoters, its other businesses, if any, product profile, what exactly is the job requirement, career growth in the job for consistent performers, salary range for the job, scope for earning incentives, answers to questions if any from the students, etc. through a powerful power point presentation. Language of presentation should be ideally English, local language, and also Hindi. This is because nowadays students from North comes to South, and students from South goes to North to pursue studies of their choice. When I went for such a campus interview recently to a Pharmacy College in Chennai, I used both English and Hindi, in addition to the local language (Tamil), which was appreciated by the Principal and the students as well, because many of the students were from North, and they were quite comfortable listening to the presentation in Hindi. Such a professional presentation will make a good impact on the young minds and quite a number of them may show interest in the job. The organization, as well as the College, must ensure that the occasion should not be simply used as a platform to collect resumes from students without any discussion and presentation.
In addition, we can also collect the mobile numbers of students of last year who had passed out and get in touch with them to see if they are still available and are interested in our job.
Print Advertisement in leading newspapers of repute in the area where we have vacancies.
Select popular newspapers – English as well as local language – which are the best in terms of circulation in places closer to where we have vacancies, and advertisements can be released on ideal dates and place in the newspapers. For example, if we decide to release the Ad in Times of India, then Wednesday is the ideal day when we can release the Ad in the specific pages meant for job advertisements. If the vacancies are in Rajasthan State, then one can prefer Rajasthan Patrika for Hindi (a local newspaper with a wide reach) and Times of India for English. Besides these, one can also release the same Ad in any reputed neighbourhood (local) weeklies which have a wide coverage in specific localities.
The Ad can be brief but should contain vital information about the organization, the job, ideal qualifications, skill sets required, range of compensation, career growth possibilities for consistent performers, etc.
Field Force like Medical Reps, Area/District Managers, normally keep their Retailers and Stockists informed if they are looking around for a change. Therefore it will also help if we seek their assistance in filling up of vacancies. Besides they also act as reference givers for selected candidates with local work experience. If they help the Companies in getting good candidates, they also get rewarded through better business, therefore better earnings for them.
Line Managers can seek help from their friends in other Companies, and also from their own team members for suitable candidates to fill up vacancies. While waiting in the Clinics, they can also pick up conversation with Medical Reps of other Companies to see if any of them are looking for a change. Medical Reps in the team can chip in with their help like if any of their batch mates are still looking around for a job who may be suitable for the job, or any of their relatives or friends with necessary qualifications and skill sets are available for the job, etc. Employees can be rewarded for suitable candidates referred to by them and got selected.
HR along with the Line Managers concerned can organize ‘Walk ins’ to fill up vacancies. Release an Ad as discussed above on the ideal day and call for ‘walk ins’ in a decent hotel in the town on a holiday so that the candidates don’t have to take leave from work, therefore better response to the Ad.
Help of manpower suppliers/recruiters can be availed where and when necessary. Ads can also be released in reputed ‘online’ platforms like Naukri.com, etc. Ads can also be released in ‘social media’ apps like Whatsapp, Linkedin, etc. Can also participate in job fairs if conducted in places where we have vacancies.
Normally resumes/applications for jobs in good numbers are received by many Companies through post, e-mail, online, etc. However, these are not taken seriously or discarded often. If such applications are organized and kept properly, in times of need these can be a source for candidates.
Interviews must be conducted in a professional manner by evaluating candidates on important parameters like Education (Science/Pharmacy graduates), Fresh or experienced in similar lines for a few years, whether enjoys talking to people (outgoing) or reserved, Communicating (detailing) ability, Feedback from references, etc. and then the right candidates are selected. Nowadays HR people in some Companies also go through the social media pages if any of selected candidates like Facebook, Linkedin, etc to understand them better, before finalising. Once the selection is made, the selection/offer letter in Company’s letterhead confirming the selection, position, Head Quarter, details of compensation, date of joining duty, etc. should be issued to the selected candidates, and their signatures obtained in the duplicate copy as a token of having accepted the offer. The Line Manager concerned should confirm to HR Department at Head Office if the selected candidates have reported for work at the H.Q. as per the offer letter issued.
Our responsibility doesn’t end after having selected the candidates, thus filled up the vacancies. We need to nurture them properly, to ensure that each candidate contributes to the organization to the best of his potential. Detailed classroom training at Head Office, covering topics such as Pharma Industry, Job responsibilities, career growth for consistent performers, Etiquettes, Product knowledge (indications for each product, the right customer/s, Composition, How the product acts and gives relief from the problems/indications (mode of action), How it is beneficial for the patients, Salient features, How it is better than similar products available in the market, Dosage schedule, Detailing practice for each product), Importance of working with Stockists, Retailers, RCPA (to arrive at the potential of each customer for our products), Importance of implementing Sales & Marketing strategies in the field, How to be better organized and disciplined, Dos and Dont’s, Written test after each product is completed, etc. must be covered in detail. At the end of the training programme, those who have done well and come up to the standards of the organization only are finally cleared. No compromise should be made to accommodate below par candidates to somehow fill up vacancies which may be damaging in the long run.
Once the detailed training at Head Office is over, then the Line Managers concerned should take care of On the Job Training for their team members regularly and nurture them properly. They should act as their guide, mentor, and developer, thus earn their respect. Once in a while people from Head Office like Product/Brand Manager, National Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Training Manager, etc. can also come for joint work from whom also the candidates can learn many things for improvement.
The Line Managers need to sit with candidates who are struggling to hit the numbers, identify reasons for the same productwise, explain action plan to correct the same, and ensure that it is implemented by the candidates properly while working in the field, thus they are able to overcome the problems and hit the numbers consistently. Such Line Managers will be highly regarded by their team members, and they may not leave the team that easily even if lured by attractive offers. A few candidates may struggle initially for a few months before settling down. If their working habits are good, and primary and secondary sales are growing gradually, even though falling short of the numbers, it is worth giving them a few months time and guide them to hit the numbers soon, rather than rushing to dump them in the dustbin. However, we should not waste time and resources with people whose work ethics are questionable, and are hard to change for positive and productive.
Disbursement of salary, incentives, reimbursement of expenses, confirmation or otherwise of employees, yearly increments, samples, promotional inputs, etc. on time will help in keeping the employees morale high, and also in retaining them.
It is the responsibility of the organization to take care of consistent performers like giving them good increments, attractive incentives linked to performance, promotions for higher responsibilities, sharing their success stories in the in-house magazines/publications thus appreciating them for the job well done.
If anyone leaves the organization, exit interviews must be conducted in all sincerity without any cover-up, and action taken where necessary so that others do not leave for the same reason again. If ex-employees complete the necessary formalities, their full and final accounts should be settled promptly.
If the things discussed above get implemented in an organization regularly in all sincerity, I am sure human resources will be very happy to work within such organizations, and will not like to leave them that easily – retention level will be high. No vacancies in the field means no sales lost due to vacancies. People will be very happy to join and work with such organizations. It is a win-win situation for both.
About the Author
Mr Srinivasan V has over 35 years of rich experience in Pharma Industry in HR, Sales Administration, and Training functions. He was conferred with the award “The Transformational Leader for Pharma Industry”. He has to his credit over 500 published articles in India and abroad. Author of the book “Reach for the Stars” which is like a Bible for aspiring and already working Medical Representatives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +9972390513