I have been a pharmaceutical sales representative for nearly twenty five
years. It's a great job and I love it. People trying to enter the industry
often ask me what is the typical profile for a pharmaceutical sales
representative. They want to know about tips on how to find a job
as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Here are some pointers on how to find a pharmaceutical sales
There is no one profile - Pharmaceutical companies look for outstanding
people to represent their companies. Some prerequisites of a good
candidate for pharmaceutical sales representative include a four year
college degree, a strong work ethic, proven track record as a team
member and good verbal and written communication skills.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives are about 50% women. There is
a trend to diversify the sales force these days with regard to cultural
backgrounds - this is not only fair, it makes good business sense.
Corey's recommendation: Resume Writer; The man who I think is the
best resume writer in the industry - He did my resume (twice) and I
recommend him highly. Scott Burke of TCA has 25 years experience
writing pharmaceutical resume's and cover letters. Click Here for Details
Corey's recommendation: Pharma Resume Blaster: Submit your
resume to more than specialized 750 recruiters who deal only with
pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Click Here For My Review
Here are some practical pointers on how to find a pharmaceutical sales job:
Word of mouth -- Pharmaceutical companies only advertise a position
when they can't fill it on recommendation. The best way to find a position
is by asking current reps if they know of any openings. Ask a doctor's
receptionist for some reps' business cards. Contact the reps and ask them
if they know of any openings. Better yet, if you are friendly with a doctor
or his/her receptionist, have that person ask the reps for you.
Resume/Cover letter -- your paperwork should be up-to-date with no
gaps in employment. Keep the florid language to a minimum. Remember
that a good resume is designed to get you an interview, it is not a
pre-filled out job application.
If you use a resume writing service, ask to see examples of that service's
work in the industry you are applying to. Ask for references so you
can speak to customers and get their feedback. My recommendations
for resume writer
Recruiters - Recruiters are a valuable tool - do not ignore them. That
being said, many people who land jobs through recruiters would have gotten the jobs all by themselves if they knew how and where to look.
Newspaper Ads -- go to the library and search the newspaper want-ads
for the past 2 months. These positions are very hard to fill. We would
rather leave a position open than hire any less-than ideal candidate.
Sales experience -- Sales experience is desirable. It shows that you
have a track record and can handle rejection. It doesn't have to be in
outside sales -- retail or telephone sales or fund raising is a good
Life experience -- Pharmaceutical companies look for outstanding people.
If you have experience in coaching or experience as a teacher or were in
a sports team (or student government) it shows that you can work with/in
a team environment to achieve results.
Science background -- Pharmaceutical sales representatives are
required to read reams of scientific training material. Take some life
science courses. Scientific background is not necessarily required but
it is helpful. If you don't have an aptitude for science, or don't like
science this job will not be fun.
Health - You will be tested for the use of illegal drugs. If you take
recreational drugs, don't waste your time applying for a job with
a pharmaceutical company.
Drivers license -- is a prerequisite for obtaining a position as a
pharmaceutical sales representative. You should have as clean a license
as possible. Avoid having many moving violations or DWI's.
Preparation for the Interview - if you are fortunate enough to land
an interview with a pharmaceutical company, it is very important that
you are well prepared. You will never get a second chance to make a
good first impression.
It is essential that you go into the interview knowing everything you can
about the company that you are interviewing with. You should know
the company's products, its competition, where it is located, the relative
size of its sales force, its share price. Much of this data can be learned
by surfing the company's web page and by communicating with
pharmacists, doctors and other pharm-reps. [ See : Drug Co. Research Database]
Other resources are available in the form of books that you can find in
the library or on the internet. Click here to read my recommendation f
or a book that will help you prepare for your pharmaceutical sales
Currently, there are more about 8,000 pharmaceutical sales
representatives in the USA. The number of pharmaceutical sales
representatives expands and contracts in a cyclical fashion depending
on the number of new drugs that are released.
Salaries for pharmaceutical sales representatives start in the mid 40's
and top off at about $120K a year (not including bonus
which can reach 50% of your base salary or more in some companies).
You won't make the big bucks until you have ten or fifteen years tenure
and prove you can drive demand.
Perks include a work environment that is 2nd to none, full benefit packages, 401K, tuition reimbursement, company car and expense
account for entertaining clients, cell phone or blackberry allowance,
high-speed internet allowance, storage unit allowance, use of a company
laptop and color printer, up to eight weeks vacation, family leave,
maternity leave, paternity leave, life insurance, long-term disability
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