Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs: How to Get Hired

by Emma Rowlands

Pharmaceutical Sales

The medical device and pharmaceutical industries offer a challenging work environment, geographical flexibility and a competitive salary for the right sales candidate. A job in pharmaceutical sales primarily involves visiting healthcare professionals, hospital management and doctors to sell new drugs, equipment or other medical devices. This means that, should you decide to venture into this area, you need to demonstrate expert knowledge about your products in a confident and informed way.

In terms of the outlook, there is a predicted 16% rise in employment in this area between 2010 and 2020, which is about average, and encouraging for people who are only just getting started in the field.

Given the fact that pharmaceutical sales is one of the best salaried sales industries out there, it goes without saying that each vacancy is highly coveted, and you'll need to really shine as an individual and a professional in order to get a foot in the door. Here's some tips to help you out.

Have Good Rapport

A big part of the pharmaceutical sales job is to build relationships with doctors and medical experts, usually within the setting of a medical office or hospital. Asking a busy doctor to give up his or her lunch break or find time within a surgery to speak to you is a big deal, and requires immediate and confident rapport building in order to engage that doctor in a pitch. Your employer, at every stage of the recruitment process, will need to know that you can develop and nurture relationships with ease. When writing a cover letter, attending an interview or undertaking any skills based competency tests, it’s important you keep this in mind with every person you come into contact with.

Write a Results-Focused Resume

Charles Kreps, a medical sales recruitment specialist for Normyle/Erstling recommends you treat a pharmaceutical sales resume like the back of a baseball card. It should be bullet pointed and easy to scan for facts, achievements, figures and awards. Keeping your resume focused on results proves to a recruiter that you can do your job, while giving you the edge over all of the candidates who sent in long, laborious life-histories.

Remember that when you see a job advert for a pharmaceutical sales role, one in three recruiters will stop viewing resumes once they have enough leads. Therefore, the earlier you get your resume in, the better chance you have of success.

Following are some pharmaceutical sales resume samples and cover letter samples:

Read this article from Leslie Toth, MBA, CPRW, PHR, SHRM-CP, for more insights on how to write an effective sales resume that gets results:

Know What's Involved (and What's Not)

It's all very well understanding the product you're selling and how the industry works. But an employer will need reassurance that you know what makes pharmaceutical sales jobs different from other sales roles. For example, pharmaceutical sales reps work within a prescribed geographical region, which can involve quite a lot of travel. Making arrangements within your own personal life to accommodate this will show your prospective employer that you're serious about the position.

Similarly, it's essential you know what the position is not about. You may have visions of taking doctors out for fancy executive dinners and enjoying fine wine with high profile medical directors, but these images are no longer realistic. An increase in the demands placed on doctors, in combination with a crackdown on what a pharmaceutical sales rep can and cannot do in order to make a sale, means that you'll probably be pitching in a hospital office after having spent an hour in the waiting room. Needless to say, the perks of the job are still plentiful, but an acceptance of the reality is critical.

Do Some Hands on Research

Attending a medical device or pharmaceutical trade show can open you up to the industry and allow you to meet some valuable people.

Linda Hertz, a specialist medical sales recruiter and career advisor, says that many recruiters headhunt for sales representatives at trade shows they attend. If you're in the right place at the right time, you might be able to bypass the application process and score yourself an interview. Finding a trade show near you is only one quick search away.

Pharmaceutical sales offers an abundance of exciting opportunities, and while it can be daunting to apply for such a sought-after position, there are many ways you can stand out and be noticed.

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