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Recruiting for community pharmacy in 2021

Recruiting for community pharmacy

COVID-19 has had enormous effects on the workforce and employment, and changed entire industries. However, there are some reassuring takeaways from 2020 for the community pharmacy job market. Firstly, community pharmacy was considered an essential service for Australian communities during the pandemic and played a significant role in response efforts throughout the year. Secondly, the industry remains resilient—the National Occupation Resilience Scores indicate that ‘pharmacists’ and ‘pharmacy sales assistants’ rank competitively across metrics of pre-pandemic employment growth, COVID-19 impact and labour demand recovery. 

This is good news for employers and jobseekers alike, indicating that the community pharmacy job market remains strong.

The next few years, as we approach 2025, will transform pharmacies into community health hubs, capitalising on emerging technologies and opportunities. It is a period of change for the industry; however, its success will certainly continue to rely on the people and staff that make up a community pharmacy team. This means that recruiting the right people should still be on the agenda for community pharmacy going forward.

Tips for employers looking for staff in 2021

2021 represents a fantastic opportunity for community pharmacies to review their current recruitment strategy or even develop a whole new one. This can seem like a monumental task as the average community pharmacy is a busy environment.

As one of the most trusted healthcare professions, pharmacies across Australia receive approximately 350 million individual patient visits and dispense more than 300 million prescriptions per year! Without a dedicated HR department, it’s no wonder that pharmacies can struggle to devote the time and effort required for effective recruitment processes.

But, 2021 may be the perfect opportunity to develop some quality recruitment strategies that will lay the foundation for building an exceptional team that can drive your pharmacy business into the future.

At its core, recruitment is about working out what role you need filled, advertising the role and finding the right person for that role. As such, the most important components of any recruitment strategy are defining the position, advertising the role and interviewing the candidates.

Defining the position

Community pharmacies are unique environments; patients may rely on their pharmacies as accessible healthcare destinations, but they are also retail businesses. Understanding this can start to inform what kind of skillset and experience an employer will need to look for in their staff. Managers will need to consider a range of experience and skillsets when painting the picture of their ideal pharmacy recruit. The most important of these can include experience around sales ability, store operations, product knowledge and being a brand ambassador. Softer skills include demeanour, communication, empathy, problem solving and overall customer interaction.

These are often demonstrated by an applicant’s employment and results history, so it always pays to take a close look at resumes. Technology is a fantastic enabler of recruitment; platforms like My Pharmacy Career, developed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, allow recruiters to assess and compare thousands of applicant profiles. These profiles highlight previous experience, sales results, career achievements and qualifications, allowing the employer to shortlist and find their perfect pharmacy match.

Advertising the role

Once management has considered their employment opportunities and developed the blueprint of their ideal pharmacy recruit, they will need to go about advertising for the role. This can be one of the most challenging parts of the recruitment process. A helpful approach, according to Merryn Hailes from Recruit2Retail, is to put yourself in the shoes of the applicant.

What are some of the things that they are looking for in a company or business? What sort of role are they interested in? Some of the considerations a jobseeker might have include the culture, atmosphere or ‘vibe’ of their potential workplace, and whether there is a good team environment in place. Some jobseekers are keen to work for organisations that align with their values—some are looking for a business that will support their ongoing training and development. It is important for pharmacies to highlight these aspects through their job advertisements as this will ensure candidates are a great cultural fit. Does the pharmacy work with a charity, run a mental health program or champion sustainability? Ensure this is included in the advertisement!


The interview can be the defining component of the recruitment process. Thankfully, the previous stages can support the preparation of an effective and efficient interview. Having identified the required skillset and advertised the role, managers can distil the most important components into their interview strategy. This may involve identifying some key points that will lead the interview—consider the top two or three selection criteria qualities from your recruit blueprint and position

description. The interview should cover a significant portion of these qualities. It’s also important that pharmacies are decisive and take every opportunity to secure a great candidate. The job market can be quite competitive; prospective employers can ensure success by effectively screening applications based on the position, shortlisting 3–5 candidates, and preparing questions and interview topics in advance. Creating a relaxed, yet prepared atmosphere will assist both the employer and prospective employee.

Recruitment can be a daunting process, but an essential one. Preparing yourself with a recruitment strategy is the first step in getting the right people in your team.

Looking for more information?

  • Check out GuildEd for a guide to getting the most out of your interview questions.
  • Get your job listing out there on pharmacy-specific jobseeker platforms like MyPharmacy Career, as well as the standard sites like SEEK.

Read more here

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