5 Ways NOT to Get Hired as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

By: Ryan Stewart


Over the last few years, I've helped hundreds of people successfully land jobs as pharmaceutical representatives. But there's still work to be done! If I've learned anything over the years, it's that some people learn differently than others. It is said that the great inventor Thomas Edison failed nearly 25,000 times before he created the battery. When asked what he thought of all his failures he replied, "I haven't failed. Over the last 20 years I've learned 25,000 ways NOT to make a battery."

So, in the spirit of Thomas Edison, I bring to you, 5 ways NOT to get hired as pharmaceutical sales representative.

1. Send your resumé hopelessly off into the neverland that we call the Internet.
Before you go ballistic and tell me that job sites work, hear me out. Job sites do work. Sometimes. The majority of all jobs, however, especially pharmaceutical sales jobs, are filled through referrals. If you want to give online submissions a shot, go ahead. If you really want to make strides toward getting a pharma sales job, spend your time networking and get a referral from a current drug rep or district manager.

2. Be a scrooge about self improvement and promotion materials.
Are you listening? The pharmaceutical industry is rather infamous for its ability to create kick-butt marketing campaigns that generate results. Make no mistake, your job search is a full on, all out, high intensity marketing campaign. The product is you. Pharma companies create awesome campaigns because they aren't afraid to spend a little money to generate maximum results. Be reasonable about how much you can (and should) spend while looking for a job as a pharma rep, but don't be so darned determined to do it for free! Spend some money on a book or two to improve your interview skills, to learn a little bit about companies you might be interviewing with, or on a professionally written resume. Consider it an investment in your career. After all, why wouldn't you spend $300 bucks to make $50,000 - year after year after year (plus bonuses)?

3. Be a liar
You want to prevent yourself from getting any job? Just lie. The pharma industry is under intense scrutiny from consumer watchdog groups and the federal government. They don't need a liar to complicate what, in many cases, is already a delicate relationship. Be honest, be yourself, work hard, mind your P'S and Q'S and you'll be fine. There's no need to be a liar.

4. Don't prepare for the interview
It's not a stretch to say that a pharmaceutical sales interview is one of the toughest, most competitive interviews you will ever face. There are a boatload of other people out there Jonesing for the same job you want. And they want it BAD. If you don't prepare for your interview, they will beat you. Study the industry. Study the company. Review common interview questions. Most importantly, know yourself and know your [from the heart] answers to those interview questions backwards, forwards, and in your sleep.

5. Don't follow up with your contacts
We've already discussed how important networking is in this search. What's more important than knowing someone who is in a position to help you? Being able to remind that person of his/her ability to help you and encouraging him/her to do so! Practice saying this to everyone you talk to about business. "OK John, I'll check in with you in a few weeks to see if you need anything else from me?" It's low key. It's low pressure. But it gives you a reason to follow up with your contacts and hold them accountable for any action you've requested on their part.

There probably are 24,999 ways not to get hired as a pharmaceutical sales representative, but these should get you off to a good start!

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Ryan Stewart has coached hundreds to pharma sales success (and he's done it all for free). To jump-start your pharmaceutical sales career go to pharmaceutical-sales-representative.com

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