The Top 5 Myths Keeping You From Being a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

By: Ryan Stewart

I hear excuses every day. Reasons people can't get a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. If you're in this situation and can't find your way out, know this - 90% of the time the "reasons" you can't get a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative have been planted in your head by someone who doesn't want to see you succeed. I'm here to tell you, if you want a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, you can have it.

Here are the top 10 myths keeping you from getting a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

1. You don't have a science background.
If you're letting this hold you back, you just haven't done your research. While a science background could certainly be beneficial as a pharma rep, one is definately not necessary. I've known many successful drug reps who have degrees in Literature, English, Political Science, Economics, Marketing, Art, and History. A four year degree is almost always a necessity. A degree in science most certainly is not.

2. You're too old
What a bunch of garbage! I can tell you that this, often self enforced, roadblock comes from the perception that all pharmaceutical sales representatives are often young, attractive, fresh-out-of-college-go-getters. Again . . . not true. For more on good lucks, please move forward.

3. You're not a supermodel
This one really gets under my skin. A recent New York Times article pointed out that pharmaceutical companies look to hire young ladies who have recently turned their spirit fingers after long careers as cheerleaders. As a pharmaceutical rep, I knew over 500 other reps - by name. I can tell you the name of one who was a cheerleader in college. I've got nothing against cheerleaders. The ones who cheer in college or professionally work very hard to get where they are. In my view, that's why the make good pharma reps. As far as looks go, I think you'll be hard pressed to find a sales person of any kind who isn't nice looking. Professionals take care of themselves. They rely quite heavily on first impressions. If you take care of yourself, have good hygeine, eat right, and exercise, you will be nice looking. If you currently don't consider yourself to be nice looking, please take care of your self image before you start your job search. It sounds harsh but you'll thank me for it later.

4. You don't have any sales experience
These words often come straight from the horses mouth - the interviewer. I would guess that 80% of the time, this is an excuse. It's a way for the interviewer to let you down softly. We all have sales experience, we just have to portray it in that light. Kids sell the idea of a new pair of shoes to their parents. Teachers sell the excitement of learning and knowing. Nurses sell treatment compliance, hope, and healthy living. We all sell something. Spend some time determining what you sell and relate that to the job you're seeking. With a bit of practice, the ideas and words will flow like crazy.

5. You must know someone (or at least know someone who does)
It's not exactly true but it's a whole lot easier if you do. I'm not going to let you off there though. There's good news. You do know someone! Legendary networker Harvey Mackay said it best, "Networking is not a numbers game. The idea is not to see how many people you can meet; the idea is to compile a list of people you can count on." Spend some time working with the list of people you know you can count on. Pay attention to the objections they have and ask them to help you think about how you can meet someone who can, and will, help you get where you want to be.

As with most things in life, the search for a job as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative is 99% attitude. Keep working. Keep improving. Keep moving forward and you will get hired!

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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

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