How to get noticed as a medical writer – advice from Lucid Group

Article written by Paris Taylor, Head of X4 Communications.

Following on from my previous article of my interview with Angela Young, HR Director at Lucid Group, I have more fantastic insights to share. This time, we delved into how to impress in an interview and stand out, what medical writers should expect when joining Lucid Group and how Lucid Group gives its employees exactly what they need to succeed.

Check out the full interview below.

How do you make sure you get the most out of interviews?

Like most other medcomms agencies, we do test our writers and these tests vary by role and skill level. Our tests are reviewed regularly by our in-house experts to make sure they are relevant and we’re continuing to test at the right level. We check the test level against our internal capability framework, which is a document that outlines the skills and competencies required for every role within our client teams.

Like most things, you get out what you put in. So, for us it’s all in the preparation of an interview to ensure we give our candidates the best possible candidate experience. From the outset, we work closely with our hiring managers to make sure we get the best possible brief for the role, including the type of candidate we’re looking for.

We then make sure that we screen applications thoroughly, which all too often involves a telephone call; this gives the candidate and the company an opportunity to understand each other and the role more. Pre-interview, we make sure that we select the right person to lead the interview and that they have thoroughly reviewed information relating to the candidate’s application, including the outcomes from any assessment we may have previously conducted (e.g., writing test, psychometric). All our interviewers have also received in-house training on how to conduct interviews, which makes for a better experience all-round.

What advice would you give to a medical writer wanting to stand out when applying to a medical communications agency?

They need to demonstrate their experience with communicating to audiences with different levels of scientific knowledge. It’s also great if a candidate can convey their experience of non-scientific writing and communicating. We have some superb examples of people getting involved in blogs or setting up their own website (blogs about food and music have all stood out in the past).

It’s important to showcase the creativity around their communication. Anything they can draw on that talks to this is a real passion of mine.

Also, it’s so important that you just be yourself in the interview and you show your own personality. I’ve interviewed so many people over the years and when you get that person who’s incredibly polished, do you really meet the real person? We want to see confidence and self-belief that shows the real you in that conversation.

Paris: That’s a good point – agencies don’t want all of their medical writers to be from the same page. A lot of the agencies I work with are made up of medical writers all with their own therapy knowledge, ideas and creativity. Medical writers aren’t robots doing the same thing and that’s something we’ve had to occasionally remind people.

That’s absolutely right, and by us really understanding you, it helps us make the right decisions in terms of your alignment into the organisation. We want medical writers across most of our business, but ensuring we make the right alignment and give them the right opportunity is really important, so the more we learn about you, the better decision we can make around that.

What should a medical writer expect when joining Lucid Group?

Based on the outputs of the interview, if you’re successful, we’ve really thought hard about your first placement into the group. It’s certainly something that we decide on as a collective rather than just the hiring manager, to make sure we get that alignment right.

On day one, we run a formal induction programme and then you’re transitioned into your team. We encourage the team to put socials into the diary, even in this remote world we’re living in now, because we’re all about the people connection and encourage it even from pre-day one.

Then it’s about working alongside your line manager and team, getting to grips with the projects they’re focusing on and, if relevant, meeting with clients and really getting immersed into the different projects. We want to make you feel part of the immediate team, as well as the broader company.

You’ll also get access to our learning and development tools and programmes, so you can plan long-term how you want to develop yourself, whether that’s therapeutic areas, soft skills, etc.

Paris: Quite a unique thing about you guys is the way you immerse and introduce your medical writers to clients from early on. I’ve had feedback before where people feel part of the family but not involved in projects with the end clients. I think that makes you stand out against other agencies, for sure.

A worklife balance, how flexible is Lucid Group on that?

Great medical writers are the lifeblood of our industry. Attracting and retaining talent is therefore business-critical. We know flexibility is important to many of our writers, which is why we offer tailored work contracts; designed to create the best work–life balance for them. We have been big advocates of agile working for around four years now – we were probably one of the first agencies to really embrace this way of working.

This means we know how to equip our teams with the right tools to make sure it works throughout the organisation. It also meant we were able to switch to a totally remote workforce during lockdown with ease.

Our flexible approach and tailored work contracts have also helped us to switch some of our fabulous freelancers to in-house team members, as they are able to get the best of both worlds – flexibility combined with rewarding work and being part of a team (without any of the hassles of chasing contracts and invoices). However, we understand that needs can run deeper, and this is why we are constantly working with our medical writers to make sure we understand and deliver what they need to be the best at what they do – essentially we are creating a community of medical writers whose ambitions are as big as ours. Our commitment to them is to help them fulfil their ambitions in any way we can, which is why we hold specialist medical writing advisory boards so we can help build and create the tools our community of medical writers need.

It’s clear there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why we are constantly reviewing our benefits package to make sure we are competitive, alongside providing the best learning and development opportunities. Growth is at the heart of #LucidLife; we not only want to create the best employee experience, but we also want to make sure they have a career that fulfils them.

You mentioned on another occasion that when it comes to medical writers you ‘give them what they need to succeed’ – what do you mean by that?

We want to transform the industry from the medical writers’ perspective. We can only do that from working with them.

We’ve done a lot of work recently to create a medical writing community to connect our writers across the business who have diverse skills and experiences. We’ve been having lots of conversations with the community, asking them what they want and need and, unsurprisingly, it’s flexibility. We do a lot in this space, so it’s making us push the boundaries to drive that flexibility and think about what else we can do.

We’re an agile organisation, offering tailor-made packages, and we constantly review our pay and benefits to make sure we’re competitive.

Learning and development is another common theme, so we’re talking to medical writers to find out if there are any gaps or perhaps other plans such as fast-track programmes that we can put in place. We want growth at the heart of #LucidLlife; we want our writers to feel fulfilled that their role is fresh and diverse enough. We work with our clients to enable more internal mobility of our talent, so they can get exposure to different therapeutic areas without having to go elsewhere. Ultimately, we want our medical writers to feel they have a career here and they don’t have to job-hop.

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