GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!
Do I need to have a 4-year college degree to become a pharmaceutical rep?
Although many pharmaceutical sales career "experts" state that you must have a college degree; we know differently. As recruiters and reps, we have seen a number of smaller pharmaceutical companies hire individuals with exceptional sales experience/impressive track records and only a 2 year degree. We have also seen experienced, registered nurses easily transition into many of the smaller to mid-size pharmaceutical companies with a 2 year degree.
However, we would be remiss if we didn't tell you that nearly every big pharma company NOW requires 4 year degrees. And, we believe that a 4-year college degree will soon (in the next 2-3 years) be a requirement of smaller, "start-up" pharmaceutical companies, as well.
[Recently Added!] Will Pharmaceutical Sales Certifications Help Me Gain Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs?
What kind of degree is best for pharmaceutical sales rep jobs?
Obviously, a science or biology degree is highly regarded. However, any 4 year degree is good for pharmaceutical sales. We've seen pharma reps with degrees in finance, communication, psychology, education, sociology, human services, criminal justice/law, accounting, marketing, physical therapy, chiropractic, dental, agriculture...you name it! It's the fact that you have one and what you've done with it that's the most important!
Should I apply for pharmaceutical sales jobs that require previous pharma sales experience?
Go for it! You don't know who is going to apply; maybe you'll have the most relevant experience out of all the applicants! And, sometimes your previous experience out of the industry can suffice....if your resume looks THAT GOOD!! Meaning....if you're a superstar there are shortcuts! By the way...click to see an example of a job-winning pharmaceutical sales sample resume, pharmaceutical sales cover letter, or incredible tips for a pharmaceutical sales resume or a pharmaceutical sales cover letter.
Let's say they're sticking to the "previous pharma experience" requirement. If your resume is powerful and enticing, it could lead to other opportunities that do not require previous experience. HR professionals and a good pharmaceutical sales recruiter keep their eyes open at all times for good candidates. If you don't fit this open position, they'll find a place for you down the road. It's in their best interest to do so!
What kind of previous job experience progresses well into pharmaceutical sales jobs?
"Outside" sales and marketing professionals with a history of success definitely have the advantage. Obviously, anyone previously working in the medical field with at least a 4 year degree has an advantage if they are in an advising, training, or counseling capacity. However, we have also seen a fair amount of teachers, counselors, coaches, financial advisors, and entrepreneurs easily transition into pharmaceutical sales.
What should you do if you come from a different field of work - not from one of those previously mentioned? Fortunately, it's not just about your job title! What really matters is the skills and attributes you posessed and utilized in order to successfully "do" your job. Choose the skills and attributes from your jobs that most closely relate to those required in pharmaceutical sales jobs. Highlight those on your resume and in the interview. In that regard, your specific job title becomes less important.
For example: In your job, college career, or volunteer activities....HAVE YOU......
taught, trained, counseled, sold, marketed, lectured, presented, negotiated, convinced, studied or learned difficult concepts, influenced, created, developed, teamed with, or tested?
We're sure you have! Highlight these skills with your experience and you're well on your way!
Do pharmaceutical companies hire new college graduates?
Several big pharma and many small pharma companies actually target new college graduates for pharmaceutical sales jobs. If you were very involved in college activities and "took on" positions of increasing responsibility, then you're a prime candidate. College athletics, student government activities, extensive volunteer work, applicable internships, tutoring - all are highly valued.
What kinds of skills or attributes must I possess to become a pharmaceutical sales rep?
The Number 1 Skill or Attribute: Communication- it's the essence of a good pharmaceutical rep. A good communicator can engage a listener. A good communicator is also an exceptional listener. Good communication involves presentation and negotiation skills, the ability to anticipate needs, empathize, and influence.
Other Important Skills and Attributes:
- The ability to present detailed information in a clear, systematic manner.
- Team player. Ability to work towards a common goal. Gives more than takes.
- Proven ability to learn difficult information. (GPA minimum of 3.0 is required for all pharmaceutical sales candidates)
- Organizational skills and time management skills.
- Positive, can-do attitude; loyalty, self-motivation.
- Entrepreneurial spirit - "outside the box" thinker; thrives without direct supervision; confident.
- Determination - prepared to focus on goals until they are achieved. Tireless worker; mentally tough.
- Sales skills: skilled negotiator, problem solver, and closer. Ability to develop long-term business relationships.
How can I best demonstrate the skills I have that are transferable to pharmaceutical sales rep jobs?
First and foremost, highlight those transferable skills on your pharmaceutical sales cover letter and resume.
Next, utilize a success portfolio within your interview - also known as a pharmaceutical sales "brag book". By collecting data from your previous employment, college career and/or volunteer activities, you will be able to prove that you possess those skills that are essential to pharmaceutical sales jobs. Information to include in your brag book may be sales awards, data showing sales growth, congratulatory notes from superiors, letters of recommendation, thank you notes from customers, college transcripts, exceptional performance appraisals, scholarships, athletic and academic awards, etc.
Within the interview, only speak of the skills from previous jobs that are transferable to pharmaceutical sales. Do not "muddy" the interview with extraneous information. The more you speak of previous experience unrelated to pharmaceutical sales jobs, the more likely a manager will disregard you as a real contender.
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Our Pharmaceutical Sales Interview Coaching Blog is an interactive way to get your questions answered! Learn smart interview techniques and get pharmaceutical jobs. Daily Blogs from your Interview Coach! Get Expert Interview Advice, Now!
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