The 8 Most “In Demand” Skills for Validation Jobs

what is a validation engineer

There are 4 main areas to consider when you’re analysing your suitability for a job:

  • Education
  • Employment history
  • Technical Skills
  • “Soft” (or Transferable) Skills

It’s usually pretty easy to see if you stack up against the first 3. But what about soft skills? That’s not always so clear cut.

So whether you’re considering Validation as a new career option and want to know if you’re suitable, or you’re job hunting for a new Validation role and want to know what employers are currently looking for – this article’s for you!

We’ve analysed 35 validation job adverts in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. So let’s take a look at the 8 most “in demand” soft skills…

8. Attention to Detail

About this skill: Paying attention to the smallest details, working with precision and accuracy, and taking great pride in doing things right first time are all components of this skill.

Why it’s important in Validation: Validation professionals play a key role in ensuring that equipment and processes function as they are meant to. Any deviation from this could reduce the overall quality of the medicines or devices produced. This could have severe consequences for the health of the public who use them. Individuals in these roles must follow strict rules and protocols, paying close attention to the smallest details and be confident taking corrective measures when necessary. 

Example wording from a real job advert:

“Excellent attention to detail”

(Almost all employers really were that explicit in the wording for this skill!)

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you have experience working in a regulated environment?
  • Have you had to follow strict rules and protocols before?
  • Have you noticed when something wasn’t right and taken corrective measures?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you have a hobby that requires close attention to detail?
  • Has your “right first time” mindset saved you time, money, or prevented an accident?
  • Is there an area of your life where you have to stick closely to rules or regulations?

7. IT Skills

About this skill: Many jobs now require a level of IT literacy and validation roles are no exception. While the level required varied across job adverts, most highlighted the need for familiarity with Microsoft Office.

Why it’s important in Validation: Creating and maintaining a paper trail to show that validation activities have been done is an extremely important part of the regulatory requirements within pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. All validation professionals should have an expectation that their work will regularly involve the use of computers.

Example wording from a real job advert:

“Excellent technical skills including proficiency in Word, Excel, PowerPoint & MS Project”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Have any of your previous roles required the use of Microsoft Office?
  • Do you regularly use computers within your current job?
  • Have you completed any courses or training on IT or Microsoft Office more specifically?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do any of your hobbies rely on the use of computers or IT?
  • Is there a project you’ve completed that needed the use of Microsoft Office?
  • Can you demonstrate a previous desire to improve your computer or IT skills?

6. Results Orientated

About this skill: Employers talk about this skill in several ways – solutions focused, ability to prioritise own work based on requirements and maintaining adherence to project delivery. More than most of the other on the list, this is a mindset or an approach rather than a traditional skill. But it’s one that is highly valued by employers.

Why it’s important in Validation: Validation teams work to ensure everything within a manufacturing process is ready for use, and can be relied upon to produce consistent results. If their work is delayed then manufacturing is also delayed. But even more importantly, if their work is not of the highest standard, patient health might be at risk. Validation professionals work with a strong “right first time” mentality.

Example wording from real job adverts:

“Drive for results”

and

“Shows good judgment to achieve a balance between cost: benefit, quality and safety”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Can you demonstrate previous success for an employer?
  • Where can you show that you met or exceeded workplace expectations?
  • Are there examples of you changing approach to a problem as a result of your focus on the end goal?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Are there areas you can demonstrate personal success?
  • Have you achieved something unusual or after a lot of work?
  • Do you have examples of goal setting and achievement?

5. Organisation

About this skill: Organisation can be seen as a rather generalised skill that encompasses a lot of other soft skills such as time-management, task prioritisation, and multitasking.

Why it’s important in Validation: Validation tasks often occur on a project basis. The validation team has to be able to keep an eye of the “big picture” outcomes as well as managing the day-to-day tasks and priorities to make sure that deadlines and objectives are met. Delays in validation can mean delays in manufacturing product – this comes at a significant financial cost.

Example wording from real job adverts:

“Excellent planning and organisational skills”

and

“Able to manage multiple priorities simultaneously”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Have you taken charge of organising a project?
  • Do you have responsibilities around scheduling?
  • Have you had to consider a “big picture” using smaller deliverables to track progress?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Have you organised an event?
  • Or taken part in a fundraiser?
  • Do you participate in any committees or groups that work on projects?

4. Problem Solving

About this skill: Problem solving is the ability to take an issue or unforeseen circumstance and figure out a novel way to make it right.

Why it’s important in Validation: If validation professionals come across an unexpected result or a process that is not functioning as it should, they are the ones tasked with figuring out why and how it can be resolved.

Example wording from real job adverts:

“Problem solving ability”

but also phrases like

“Creative thinking”

and

“Logical, practical-minded”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Have you identified an issue with a process and found a way to resolve it?
  • Have you suggested a new way of doing something that has successfully been adopted?
  • Do you have responsibilities within your current role that require ongoing problem solving?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Have you had to find a new way to approach a problem?
  • Was there a time where you found a solution to something that others couldn’t?
  • Do you any of your hobbies involve logic, problem solving or creative thinking?

3. Self Motivation

About this skill: Self-motivation is often closely linked in job adverts to initiative, drive and the ability to work on your own.

Why it’s important in Validation: Depending on the specific project, a validation team may not be that large. Individuals must be able to take their workload and ensure it’s completed successfully. The success of the validation project requires that everyone take responsibility for their own tasks.

Example wording from real job adverts:

“Ability to work without direct supervision”

and

“Self-motivation and drive”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you have examples of where you’ve gone “above and beyond” within the workplace?
  • Can you describe times where you’ve been set goals and shown self-motivation to achieve them?
  • Was there a time where you showed initiative to make sure a positive outcome was achieved?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Do you have any hobbies that take lots of practice and self-motivation?
  • Have you ever taken the lead to initiate change within a group?
  • Can you talk about any successes that took a long time to achieve or required you to overcome many obstacles?

2. Interpersonal Skills

About this skill: While many other roles talk about “team working” skills, validation roles talk mostly about “interpersonal skills” instead – and that’s an important distinction.

Why it’s important in Validation: While some validation roles require work within a larger validation team, it’s more typical that a validation professional will come into contact with a wide variety of people from many different disciplines. It’s important that they can work effectively with this diverse range of people, to achieve a successful outcome.

Example wording from a real job advert:

“Interpersonal skills for working across multi-functional teams”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Do you work with a range of different people?
  • Have you found yourself having to quickly adapt to different teams to achieve something?
  • Does your role require you to explain technical information to people of different skill levels?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Can you show participation in groups with a range of different people?
  • Have you worked with others to organise an event or fundraiser?
  • Do you participate in any committees or groups that require you to work closely with others?

1. Communication Skills

About this skill: Verbal communication skills are about how well you can verbally explain your point to others or persuade someone to your way of thinking. Written communication skills refer to the ability to clearly and concisely relay information in writing. Successful communication usually requires that someone can achieve these things with a wide range of people, adapting their communication style to fit the audience.

Why it’s important in Validation: Validation professionals have to work with a range of different people from many different disciplines. To have the greatest success, they must be able to adapt their communication style as required. Interestingly, while many other roles highlight verbal or written communication, validation roles overwhelmingly and specifically request both. Additionally, most roles are looking for “excellent” communication skills from prospective employees.

Example wording from a real job advert:

“Excellent written and verbal communications skills”

How you might demonstrate this (employment examples):

  • Have any of your previous roles required you to communicate in writing?
  • Do you have examples of a successful project that required clear written or verbal communication?
  • Do you have examples where you’ve had to change your presentation style or level of detail to match different audiences?

How you might demonstrate this (extra-curricular examples):

  • Can you show any examples of achieving a successful outcome as a result of written communication?
  • Do you have experience talking about/explaining a complex matter with different groups of people, requiring different approaches?
  • Do any of your hobbies require you to relay information verbally in a clear and concise way?

So I know the soft skills… now what?

It’s just as important that you can demonstrate soft skills to employers as it is that you are able to discuss your technical expertise or education background.

As you write your CV to apply for a job, you should keep the above soft skills in mind (as well as any others mentioned in that specific job advert). You need to highlight these throughout your CV so that someone reading it can easily see the soft skills you have. Use the words and phrases used by the advert wherever you can to make it clear that you meet their criteria.

And when it comes time for interview, have clear examples of how you can demonstrate those skills. Employers are most likely to ask about soft skills using competency based questions. You can read more about that style of question and the format you should use to answer, in our Guide To Interviewing.

Validation Training & Courses

If you’re considering a career in Validation and think you have the necessary soft skills, you’ll still need to get your technical skills up to scratch.

If you don’t have any previous experience in validation, check out Commissioning & Qualification (IQ OQ PQ).

If you already have some validation experience (and can comfortably read P&IDs), check out eValidation.

Further Reading

You might also be interested in reading the following articles: