pharmaceutical recruiting by davem2


									                           An Interview with a
                       Pharmaceutical Sales Recruiter

                            Answers to your top 10 questions about
                             Breaking into Pharmaceutical Sales
                                 Featuring Pat Riley, Pharmaceutical Sales Recruiter

This is the revised report for 2005. The challenges of breaking into pharmaceutical sales
have changed since 2001 (date of my first report) and you need to know how you can use
this information to your benefit.

This report answers the 10 most asked questions about pharmaceutical sales, addresses
the issues of new screening technologies pharmaceutical sales companies are
incorporating into the hiring process, the effectiveness of resume blasting services and
the relevance of pharmaceutical sales certification programs.

This report will also give you a quick 3 step action plan for you to follow in order to
Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales.

  Why do so many people want to be in pharmaceutical sales?........................................ 2
  Is the pharmaceutical industry a good career choice? .................................................... 2
  What is the best way to break into pharmaceutical sales? .............................................. 3
  What if I don’t have any sales experience, can I still become a pharmaceutical sales
  representative? ................................................................................................................ 4
  I hear that pharmaceutical companies don’t hire recent college graduates. Is that true? 5
  Do I need a degree to become a pharmaceutical sales representative?........................... 6
  Do I need a specific type of resume to interview for a pharmaceutical sales position? . 6
  What do pharmaceutical companies look for in the ideal candidate?............................. 7
  What is the one most important piece of advice you can give someone who wants to be
  a pharmaceutical sales representative? ........................................................................... 9
  3 Simple steps you must take to Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales................................. 9
  How do you know so much about pharmaceutical sales?............................................. 11

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Why do so many people want to be in pharmaceutical sales?
Generally speaking, working as a pharmaceutical sales representative has a romantic aura
about it. Why? I’m not sure, but the image that comes to my mind of a pharmaceutical
sales representative is an individual that is successful, intelligent, and extremely
professional. You might say they “have their act together”.

Historically, pharmaceutical companies have only hired the best and the brightest people.
For some reason, when you say you are a pharmaceutical sales representative, you and
your abilities are instantly respected ¾ and approved. If someone were to sit down and
really think about the job description of a pharmaceutical sales representative, I think
they would conclude the following: A pharmaceutical sales representative sells a
technologically advanced product to highly intelligent physicians in a very professional
environment. You know what? They’re right. A pharmaceutical representative is
respected for their ability to sell multimillion-dollar drugs to highly educated physicians.

But getting down to the basics, I think people want to be in pharmaceutical sales because
of the excellent income potential, the outstanding benefits, industry stability and the
opportunity to improve other peoples’ lives. Just think about this ¾ as a pharmaceutical
sales representative, you could represent a drug that could potentially save a life or
dramatically improve the quality of someone else’s life. Now, how exciting is that?

Is the pharmaceutical industry a good career choice?
Well, it depends on your career goals. If you want a 9-to-5 job where you have to rely on
the good graces of your boss to receive a 3% annual pay increase and hope that you win
the lottery to obtain financial freedom, then a career in pharmaceutical sales is not for
you. But if want an opportunity for work that is stable, and in a growing industry with
excellent career advancement opportunities, then pharmaceutical sales is a good career
choice for you.

The pharmaceutical industry is a growth industry with a very positive future. I could talk
for days on this subject, but out of respect for your time I’ll tell you just a few reasons
why this is great career choice.

   ·   Did you know the pharmaceutical industry is recession-proof?
       There will always be illness. People will continue to need drugs to assist in the
       healing process as well as to retain a high quality of life. Regardless of the
       valuation of the stock market or political situations, the pharmaceutical industry is
       a solid career choice.

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   ·   Continued investment in drug research and development
       Pharmaceutical companies invest more in research and development than any
       other industry. (Almost 3 times what the auto industry spends). Because of the
       large potential profit, pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars to
       develop and market new products.

       Pharmaceutical companies invest a tremendous amount of revenue in research and
       development. According to PhRMA Pharmaceutical Industry Profile 2001, an
       estimated $30.5 million was spent in 2001 on research and development alone.
       However, the number of drugs that make it to market is very low. It is not
       uncommon for pharmaceutical companies to have only one drug make it to
       market out of 10 drugs in research and development. Most major pharmaceutical
       companies promote 4 to 5 drugs at a time. Over 70% of a pharmaceutical
       company’s revenue comes from only 20% of their drugs (PhRMA
       Pharmaceutical Industry Profile 2001). The financial risk is high, but the
       potential financial reward is higher. Research and development is the future of
       a pharmaceutical company. Thus, with such a commitment to the future, a
       career in pharmaceutical sales is a solid choice.

What is the best way to break into pharmaceutical sales?
Some people say only divine intervention will help them get into pharmaceutical sales. I
agree with divine intervention, but I also believe you should get your spiritual life in
order, get your heart right, listen to the gentle nudge of God and work like HELL to make
it happen.

Seriously, breaking into pharmaceutical sales is hard work. Throughout life, you learn
“life rules” like “respect your elders” and “wear a shirt at the dinner table”. Likewise,
there are pharmaceutical job-hunting rules. Only nobody has told you about them.
However, I am going to tell you some of these rules…secrets. How do I know these
secrets? Because as a five-year veteran of pharmaceutical recruiting, I‘m fighting the
same battle you fight every day. Trying to find the open jobs! I’m going to tell you a
couple of my secrets, but not all of them, because I still want to earn a living in my
industry of choice.

   ·   Secret 1: NETWORKING: It’s not WHO you know, but who THEY know!
       Tell everybody you know (family and friends) about your intention to become a
       pharmaceutical sales representative. They might know somebody who can tell
       you about an unpublished job opening.

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   ·   Secret 2: Speaking with a pharmaceutical sales representative or district

         Speaking with a pharmaceutical sales representative or district manager
                        is the best way to break into the industry.

       You want to build a relationship with existing pharmaceutical sales
       representatives and district managers for several reasons. First, a referral from a
       representative to their manager is golden. The referral usually carries more weight
       than a resume from any other source. Second, they know the industry and might
       be able to provide you with a list of contact names (i.e., other sales
       representatives, hiring managers, or recruiters) or existing or potential open

   ·   Secret 3: Job Boards/Career Boards
       Nothing has had more impact on the job search market in the last few years than
       job or career boards. Job boards have changed the way companies find people and
       the way people find jobs. However, job boards are only one small piece of the
       puzzle. You must combine searching job boards with other techniques to conduct
       a thorough job search.

What if I don’t have any sales experience, can I still become a
pharmaceutical sales representative?
This is a great question. Yes, there are sales representatives in the pharmaceutical
industry without the ideal sales profile, but they have had to reposition or rethink what
they could bring to the table.

This is what I tell candidates when they ask me how to overcome their lack of prior sales

   ·   Develop personal relationships with existing pharmaceutical representatives
       This is perhaps one of the best ways to overcome your lack of sales experience. A
       referral from a pharmaceutical sales representative to a hiring manager about your
       character, accomplishments, and desire to break into pharmaceutical sales is a
       great way to secure a phone screen.

   ·   Capitalize on your “transitional” skill set
       A transitional skill is a skill that can transition to different industries. Just because
       you do not get paid to sell does not mean that you cannot sell. Focus on how you
       convinced co-workers or managers to take a particular course of action. Do you
       have a track record of delivering products and results on time? Illustrate to the
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       hiring manager how the same desire to get the job done will work with your
       desire to meet your sales goals. Perfect these stories and use them in the interview

   ·   Reposition your resume
       Try repositioning your resume for a pharmaceutical sales position, not just a
       marketing position for a large company. Focus your accomplishments on your
       ability to sell or meet your goals. In the accomplishment section of your resume,
       articulate how you directly influenced an increase in company profits or reduced
       costs. Highlight any awards or special recognition you received for performance

   ·   Great attitude/rapport
       This is the great equalizer in overcoming your lack of sales experience. If the
       hiring manager really likes you and your attitude, you have greatly increased your
       chances of moving into a sales position.

I hear that pharmaceutical companies don’t hire recent college
graduates. Is that true?
The competition to break into pharmaceutical sales at the recent college level is
extremely high. Only a few of the larger pharmaceutical companies (Merck, Pfizer, etc)
recruit sales representatives directly out of college. The pharmaceutical interview process
is probably the biggest series of exams you will take so don’t just “wing it” and hope that
your winning smile will land you the job.

As a recent college graduate, you have several advantages in breaking into
pharmaceutical sales. Here are just a few:

   ·   Interview schedule
       Some major pharmaceutical companies recruit directly from college campuses!
       Do what it takes to secure an interview and adequately prepare for the interview.
       Many times, the rosters fill up very quickly and only 10 to 15 people will get an
       interview out of a campus of 15,000 students. So, what do you do?

       IDEA: This is an idea of how to get an interview when the schedule is full. This
       technique landed a friend of mine with a job at Xerox. Determine when the last
       interview is completed. Arrive 30 minutes before this interview has concluded. Be
       dressed and mentally prepared for an interview. When the last candidate has left
       the interviewing room, knock on the door of the room (the pharmaceutical
       manager will be doing paperwork) and introduce yourself.

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Sample Script
      “Hi, I’m (your name). I really want a career with your company, but because of
      the sign-up process I could not get on the interview schedule. I feel that my
      strengths would allow me to outperform the other people interviewed and feel it
      would be worth your time to interview me. Do you have a few minutes to talk with

   ·   Career Center Resource Center
       Another valuable resource is the extensive amount of information at most career
       centers. Take the time to get to know your career counselor and ask them for

   ·   Resume preparation
       On your resume, be sure to indicate your specific desire to break into
       pharmaceutical sales as your objective. Limit your resume to one page. Illustrate
       your accomplishments with each of your summer jobs. Remember, you are going
       against other college graduates who have similar work experience. It is also
       helpful to illustrate any life science course that you have taken.

Do I need a degree to become a pharmaceutical sales representative?

A four-year degree from an accredited university or college is required to become a
pharmaceutical sales representative. Pharmaceutical companies prefer candidates with
degrees in life science (such as biology) but, generally speaking, all four-year degrees are
considered. Your receipt of a four-year degree represents your ability to learn and master
new information and shows that you have the discipline to complete a goal.

Do I need a specific type of resume to interview for a pharmaceutical
sales position?
Yes, you need a GREAT-looking resume to break into pharmaceutical sales! The resume
is probably one of the most important components of your pharmaceutical sales job hunt.
You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a good resume can be worth
thousands of dollars. Therefore, the resume must accurately and concisely articulate who
you are, what you have accomplished and what your desired position is. The resume
should be clear, concise, factual and truthful.

There are dozens of great resume guides and books on the market. However, the resumes
that catch my attention (as a seasoned pharmaceutical recruiter) are the resumes in a
chronological order format loaded with accomplishments listed under each job. Let me

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give you a HUGE tip ¾ Accomplishments, Accomplishments, Accomplishments give
your resume a competitive advantage! I discuss why accomplishments are important in
my book Secrets of Breaking Into Pharmaceutical Sales (Sorry for the plug, but it is the

I understand your fear of building a resume. It’s ok to be a little uncomfortable
condensing your ENTIRE career down to a “one-pager”. Writing a resume is not an easy
task. As we say in Texas, this is “tall order” to put together a professional looking, job
getting, stand-up and shout resume. That is why you should think about having a
professional resume writer craft your resume. These guys write resumes all day long and
they have the skills to you get a job so you can pay your bills

What do pharmaceutical companies look for in the ideal candidate?
What does the ideal pharmaceutical sales candidate look like? This is a good question.
Pharmaceutical companies look at a multitude of qualities and traits in the ideal
candidate, but I can honestly say there is not one specific trait that you must have in order
to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. Yes, some companies emphasize one
quality more than the other but, generally speaking, all companies look for the same traits
in an individual.

From my perspective, the ideal candidate’s important traits fall into two categories: the
basic, quantifiable traits and the subjective, more-difficult-to-measure traits.

Basic Quantifiable Traits:
These are the qualities that can be documented and verified.
   · Four-year degree
       A four-year degree from an accredited university or college is required to become
       a pharmaceutical sales representative. Pharmaceutical companies prefer
       candidates with degrees in life science (such as biology) but, generally speaking,
       all four-year degrees are considered. Your receipt of a four-year degree represents
       your ability to learn and master new information and shows that you have the
       discipline to complete a goal.

   ·   Clean driving record
       You must have a clean driving record to drive a company car for a pharmaceutical
       company. If you have trouble getting driving insurance or are considered a high-
       risk driver by your current insurance company, working for a pharmaceutical
       company might be difficult. A clean driving record is important because
       pharmaceutical companies lease company cars from a third party. In most cases
       the leasing company has the liability for the car; therefore, they want safe drivers.

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   ·   Excellent track record of success
       An excellent track record of success in your professional career shown through
       accomplishments is an extremely important quality that hiring managers look for
       in you and your resume. Your success (accomplishments) must be documentable
       and articulated on your resume. Your accomplishments should clearly illustrate
       initiative, creativity, and drive to get the job done. You must show that you have
       achieved or surpassed your objectives, goals, and quotas.

Subjective traits that are equally important:

   ·   Professional image
       Professional image is important for a pharmaceutical sales representative because
       you are representing a respected multi-million dollar company. Expectations have
       been set over the years that pharmaceutical sales representatives have a
       professional image, so you must meet or exceed existing expectations.
       § Men
           I suggest the “IBM look”. The IBM look is conservative and traditional in a
           dark blue, black, or charcoal single-breasted traditional suit; white button-
           down shirt with a button-down or straight collar; and a silk tie. Regarding
           grooming, it is highly suggested that men are clean-shaven (no facial hair) and
           have a short, fashionable hairstyle.

       §   Women
           I also strongly suggest a traditional and conservative look for women, such as
           a dark blue or black skirt suit, white blouse, hose, and closed-toe shoes. Hair
           should be groomed professionally. Make-up should accent the face and not
           overpower it. A pharmaceutical sales person’s image should be classic and
           fashionable, but not too trendy. Jewelry should be kept at a minimum.

       §   Men and Women
           Absolutely no cologne, perfume or scented hand lotions should be worn
           during the interview. Remember, you are interviewing for a job in corporate
           America, not a date!

   ·   Desire
       How badly do you want to get into pharmaceutical sales? Your desire can be
       demonstrated in the mastery of the following areas: company research, attention
       to your professional image, resume knowledge, interviewing skills, positive
       attitude and follow-through.

   ·   Personality match with your manager
       This is a difficult aspect to determine. You must feel comfortable enough with
       your boss to trust your career to them, and you must be able to work for and with
       the hiring manager. Your personalities must “click” with each other.
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   ·   Personality traits
       The ideal pharmaceutical sales representative will be: self-motivated, goal-
       oriented, knowledgeable, personable, professional, positive, accountable,
       teachable, persistent, ethical, a team player and trustworthy. When interviewing,
       you must exude these traits (this will happen if you have adequately prepared for
       the interview).

What is the one most important piece of advice you can give someone
who wants to be a pharmaceutical sales representative?
Deciding and committing to finding a pharmaceutical sales position is a career choice.
The question to ask yourself is, “How important is my career?” If you are serious about
becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative, it is time you learn the rules of how to
find and interview for a pharmaceutical sales position. The days of “winging it” are over.
The competition for a pharmaceutical sales position has never been greater. Become a
student of searching for your career.

  Above all else, remain positive and persistent throughout the entire process.

3 Simple steps you must take to Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales

   Step 1             Evaluate your current situation:

   Ask yourself the hard questions: Am I good at sales? Can I handle the stress of a
   monthly or quarterly sales quota? Do I work well with others on a team? Is this
   something I want to be doing in 5 years?

   Determine why you are happy or unhappy in your current job, don’t jump out of the
   frying pan into the fire. Ask the who, what, why questions of your career search.

   Go to to determine if you are being paid the right amount money at
   your current job and see how much pharmaceutical sales reps are making in my area.
   Check out the “personal salary report”. This report provides you with an excellent
   perspective on the most important person in the job market…YOU, and can give you
   salary negation information.

   Step 2      Learn the industry and learn how to specifically interview for a
               pharmaceutical sales position.

       It is not uncommon for a pharmaceutical company to interview over 30 people for
       one sales position. This number will jump to over 200 if you are interviewing at a
       career fair. You must become an expert on the industry and specifically the
                                          9 of 13
   company and the drugs they are selling, so you must separate yourself from your
   interviewing competition. KNOW the interview questions and HOW to answer
   them before you blow your first interview. (Interviews are hard enough to get in
   the first place.)

Step 3     Invest in a professionally written resume and get to know a local

The absolute first step in the interview process is having a perfect attention getting
resume. Your resume has 15 seconds to impress a hiring manager. If you don’t pass
this first screening, your opportunity with this hiring manager is done. My e-book
and website provide excellent examples for you to follow, but if you want someone to
help you find the gold in your career, go to a professional. I am continually amazed
at how many candidates understate vital aspects of their career on their resume
because they are too close to their career or they do not know what to say or how to
say it with power. Three resume writers I recommend:

Don’t forget to tell them that Pat Riley recommended their services.

   Get to know a Recruiter (Headhunter)
   Recruiters are an excellent way to maximize your resume exposure and limit your
   resume risk. Most recruiters will know of several pharmaceutical sales positions
   with multiple companies in your area. Unlike human resource managers from one
   company, who work a very limited number of jobs, recruiters can handle several
   jobs from multiple companies.

   Most pharmaceutical recruiters are contingency recruiters, which means they do
   not get paid unless you accept a job that they present to you (in contingency
   recruiting, the hiring company pays the recruiter’s fee). Therefore, it is in the
   recruiter’s best interest to place you as quickly as possible. Recruiters also bring
   industry knowledge, territory knowledge, and resume expertise to the table for
   your benefit.

   It is not uncommon for a recruiter to work with the candidate to “spiff-up” or
   improve their resume and coach the candidate through the interview process. I
   recommend that you get to know several recruiters in your area. Set up interviews
   with the recruiters, meet them, and build professional working relationships with
   them so you can trust them with your resume and career

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A few thoughts on Pharmaceutical Sales Interviewing Certification programs and
Resume Distribution Services.

Pharmaceutical Sales Interviewing Certification programs
Over the last few months, I have seen several Pharmaceutical Sales Interviewing
Certification programs come into the market. They have information on how to break
into pharmaceutical sales with a “certification” or series of tests at the end of the
program. They charge at lease 50% more than the current information on the market.
Hiring managers and more importantly pharmaceutical companies have not formally
endorsed these products. Just because a certification website has the logo of a company
on their website does not mean these companies have formally endorsed these programs.

    I have not found one hiring manager who says he/she would hire someone with a
 “certification” over someone with out the “certification”. Don’t believe the hype, unless
                                 you want to pay more.

Resume Distribution Services:
A few years ago, resume distribution services were great services, however dozens of
newer similar sites are bombarding recruiters and companies with resumes. Recruiters
are receiving hundreds of “blinded” resumes per day and do not have the time to go
through each email. In most cases your resume is directed to a resume folder and when
the recruiter or secretary has time they will go through the resumes. Yes, your resume is
getting out in the market, but it is now buried in the crowd.

Look to work with resume distribution services that create custom resume distribution
services and include the list of recruiters in the distribution list. This way you can follow
up with recruiters and not be just another email in their mail-box.

On most pharmaceutical company websites, you cannot simply submit your resume to a
position. Most company websites require you to go through an online screening and
ranking test. Pharmaceutical companies receive hundreds of resumes daily, so they have
incorporated technology to prescreen or rank each resume. Bottom line, the human
resource departments only want to talk to candidates with the highest scores.

Best solution is to find contact names and use direct email addresses to send your resume
and or score high on these tests. (Some companies only allow you to test once every six

How do you know so much about pharmaceutical sales?

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5 years of corporate sales and 7 years of pharmaceutical sales recruiting experience. I
have been in the recruiting trenches. I know the battles you fight to break into
pharmaceutical sales. Through my recruiting efforts I have interviewed thousands of
candidates and worked with the majority of large Pharmaceutical Companies. After a
while I (as a pharmaceutical sales recruiter) learned what the hiring managers hire
…otherwise I didn’t get paid. That’s how I know so much.
Pat began his sales recruiting career with a leading Houston-based search firm. While at
this firm, he worked with two world-class pharmaceutical companies to build and expand
their national pharmaceutical sales teams. Whether directly or through an affiliate
program, he worked with the majority of major pharmaceutical and medical companies.
Pat earned awards for top performance in the placement of candidates on a national basis
and, in the process, built one of the nation's leading pharmaceutical sales and medical
sales recruiting practices. In October of 2001, he started "10 Abbott Street" an executive
search firm specializing in pharmaceutical and sales staffing.

Pat Riley is the author of three top selling e-books on how to Break Into Pharmaceutical
Sales and can be found at

                                               "I love the information you sent me. It is
                                               extremely on-target and specific. If I cannot
                                               get a job after reviewing your sample
                                               questions and answers, then I don’t
                                               deserve it! For someone without
                                               pharmaceutical sales experience it really
                                               helps me understand the pharmaceutical
                                               interviewing process better."
                                               -- Michelle V., Texas

                                               An industry overview and interview questions

                                               "The interview questions were invaluable. I
                                               was so well prepared that when I had my
                                               crucial interview, even though I was
                                               seriously struggling with a cold, I received
                                               an offer!"
                                               -- Susan. B., California

                                               Interview questions and answers

                                         12 of 13
                     "The 'Ultimate Interviewing Tool' is unique
                     and will set you apart immediately from
                     other interviewees. I think the guy from
                     Pharmaceutical Company "X" was bored by
                     the time he got to me after talking with
                     about 20 other people. This would have
                     made a difference!"
                     Tom H., Wisconsin

                     PowerPoint Resume presentation
               13 of 13

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