What makes a successful QA contractor?

When you begin your career within the world of Quality Assurance, it’s likely you’ll start working for a company on a permanent basis, but how do you know the time’s right for you to move into the contract market? We spoke to Daljeet Pawar, Senior Principal Recruitment Consultant, to find out more.

Why is quality so important?

Pharmaceutical companies are regulated across the globe by bodies such as MHRA and FDA; if quality issues are found, the financial and reputational loss could be catastrophic. Aside from losing out on business, high quality candidates could be deterred from working with these businesses in the future. To prevent this, there’s a huge requirement for a range of QA professionals, and demand is outstripping supply.

Perm or contract?

Generally speaking, most people will begin their QA career as a permanent employee of a pharmaceutical company. Quality assurance is such a broad area with so many different facets, and the responsibility to ensure efficiency across quality is huge, so its essential people really know the industry inside out.

Daljeet explains, “Like any industry, there’s obviously huge benefits of working in a contract position. However, within QA, a lot of the most senior, varied positions will be found in the contract market. So before you make that move, you need to be ready.”

Benefits of switching to a contract role

  • Money – when you’re working as a contractor, you’re not a permanent employee. As standard practice, you should receive a much higher pay rate. As a Qualified Person for example, you could receive up to £1,000 a day - for contractors, quality assurance pay is lucrative.
  • Freedom – you’re not restricted by external forces; you can choose your holidays, as well as when and where you want to work.
  • Role variety – generally speaking, contractors working in senior roles will have a much wider spectrum of responsibilities, while a lot of permanent employees will only focus on their day to day tasks.

Advising on your move

Daljeet explains, “A lot of the time, people looking for these contract roles don’t have enough industry experience to be considered. Sometimes, our candidates aren’t ready to make the move into the contract market and it’s our job to advise them on the best choice for their career. There are obviously exceptions to this but generally speaking, it’s better to have a wealth of experience in a permanent position before throwing yourself into the QA contract world.”

So, how do you know when it’s time to switch?

  • Length of service – realistically, it’s beneficial to have obtained a variety of skills that have come from working in the industry for a significant period of time
  • Company loyalty – ideally, your CV should demonstrate that you’ve worked at a company for a good few years, showing that you’ve built up a solid understanding of a company’s best practice, and key protocols.
  • Combination of technical and soft skills – you‘ll likely be dealing with more stakeholders, so strong soft skills are a must
  • Variety of technical knowledge – again, your role will be extremely varied. If you’ve built up experience of assuring quality across a range of products, such as solid doses, creams, liquids, and ointments, all within a sterile manufacturing environment, this shows great versatility
  • Business understanding – it’s likely you’ll be reporting directly to senior stakeholders, so it’s important to make sure you can appreciate overarching business demands, and not just the technical specification
  • Personal circumstances – experience aside, moving to contract can lead to a huge shift in your lifestyle, and you may need to work on location frequently. It’s important you really consider this and think about the impact it could have on your family life; consider your personal circumstances and whether this is a realistic choice for you.

As consultants, we don’t just place candidates in roles - we offer trusted career advice. We understand our market inside-out, and offer a consultative, advisory service. If you’re ready to make that move, then the team at Real are here for you. We’re committed to placing inspiring professionals in roles that really make a difference. You can contact our dedicated team to gain personalised advice about your career within the life sciences. With opportunities across permanent and contract markets, we’re here to find a role that’s right for you.

We're passionate about ensuring skilled professionals understand their worth - when you fill out our salary survey, you'll receive a copy of our 2019 report, which offers invaluable insight into the Life Sciences job market.


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