Q. Why are pharmaceutical sales jobs in such high demand?
A. Pharmaceutical sales careers have consistently ranked among the most rewarding careers in America. It is common knowledge that pharmaceutical companies treat their sales representatives exceptionally well. Most offer excellent salaries with commissions and outstanding benefits packages including company car. The extra perks include bonuses, incentive prizes, and all expense paid trips to wonderful cities. The fact that you don’t have a boss to report to on a daily basis is an added perk!
Q. I have no sales experience/I am a recent college graduate. Do I still have a chance?
A. Yes, you do have a chance. Approximately 15% of all new hires have no sales or medical industry experience and some will hire recent grads with impressive resumes. They hire from all backgrounds including accountants, teachers, nurses, office managers, computer programmers, and marketing professionals to name just a few. Some companies and managers prefer sales experience but it is not a requirement. Generally, most companies allow their managers to make most of the hiring decisions. They usually hire the proven leaders and achievers as well as people who can converse well and listen well.
Q. How do I go about my job hunt?
A. The key to breaking into pharmaceutical sales is to work hard at getting in. Remember that you have a lot of competition. If you want to succeed, you have to work at getting noticed and you must cover all your bases. First and foremost, start with an outstanding resume. Consider professional assistance if this is not your area of expertise: I have seen a lot of resumes and minor changes can make a big difference. If you produce your own resume, be sure to ask family, friends, and professionals in the business to critique it for you. Once your resume is the best that it can be, get it out there. It’s got a lot of work to do! Post it on job boards. Send it to recruiters. Bring it with you to career fairs. Reply to ads with it. Mail it out to the human resources departments of companies that interest you and don’t forget that newspaper classified ads still exist. Tell everyone that you are pursuing a pharmaceutical sales position (you never know, a friend of a friend might have a great lead for you). And last but not least, follow the advice in my book, 3 Days to a Pharmaceutical Sales Job Interview. It will show you exactly what you need to do to secure interviews.
Q. I have posted my resume on career websites and I have not gotten anyinterviews. Why?
A. Impactful, online resumes require you follow a separate set of rules from the traditional, printed resume. Refer to the e-resumes section of my book, 3 Days to a Pharmaceutical Sales Job Interview, for advice. If you follow the suggestions for online impact, you will have more success arranging interviews than if you were to simply post your resume online. In this industry, posting your resume on jobsites is necessary but that alone is not enough. You can’t assume that companies and recruiters will come to you.
Q. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Will my business experience compensatefor my lack of degree?
A. There are pharmaceutical reps with less schooling than a bachelor’s degree but not many. In general, pharmaceutical companies can afford to be very selective simply because of the number of applicants per opening and many are required to hire degreed applicants for liability reasons. Most companies have a four-year degree requirement. In some instances, managers will consider sales achievements in lieu of the degree but this is much more often the case in openings that offer more of a commission based salary. If you feel you have an exceptional resume and decide to pursue this field with less than a four-year degree, keep in mind that your job search may take longer than the norm and you may have very limited success.
Q. Am I too old to break into pharmaceutical sales?
A. Pharmaceutical companies hire from all age groups. Some of the top reps are experienced professionals. Keep in mind that most of the physicians you will be calling on are in their 40’s and older. The philosophy of some companies and managers is that an older rep can relate on a more personal level with the physician and can also hold a more mature and meaningful conversation. There are many reps out there who are in their twenties but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Q. Do I need a science degree to break into pharmaceutical sales?
A. No. Pharmaceutical companies hire people with backgrounds that range from accounting to zoology. As a rule, all of the science that one needs to succeed in this industry is taught during the initial training period.
Q. Why will pharmaceutical companies hire English majors over Biologymajors at times?
A. A science background is great but it doesn’t guarantee that the person can sell. An English major with an exceptional GPA and an outstanding personality is a great potential hire. Chances are that she or he will excel in sales training and their personality will help them reach their sales goals.
Q. What are the entry-level requirements for a pharmaceutical sales rep?
A. To find out, take my five minute quiz "Do you have what it takes to be a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep". This will give you a good idea as to whether or not you might be a good fit for pharma sales.
Q. How important is my resume?
A. Your resume is a critical component of your job search: It is not uncommon for managers to receive more than 500 resumes for one advertised job opening. You have to give some time and attention to your resume if you want to get attention in this sea of applicants (see the resume tips in my 3 Days Book). If you are going to hire a professional to prepare your resume, do your research before hiring one.