By Stephanie AlexanderHello Seven Client | Founder of Stand Out to Break In
As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you can make $70k to $120k per year—and above. It’s a career that allows you to travel, enjoy lots of variety, and you can work remotely instead of reporting to an office. But what does a pharma rep actually do? And, how can you stand out during a job interview and outshine your competitors? Stephanie, a Hello Seven client, says the secret is…telling your personal story. Here’s the tea about Big Pharma and how to launch your career in this industry.
I spent 15 years working in Big Pharma and now, I educate people who are curious about pursuing a career in this industry. If you want to break into the world of pharmaceutical sales and land your first role, this guide is for you.So, what do pharmaceutical sales reps actually DO?
Working As a Rep
As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you are responsible for educating healthcare professionals about your specific drug, including efficacy, safety, and dosing. It’s your job to inform them about which patients may be appropriate candidates for that drug.
A large part of the job is also helping them handle issues that may arise when the physician prescribes the drug—like insurance denials and authorizations. You’re assigned a territory with anywhere between 100-200 accounts (including hospitals, clinics, and private practices) that you are responsible for servicing and educating about your drug.
Since it is a fully remote job, there is no office to report to, and you manage your time and resources according to the needs of the customers and the business overall. Every day is different, so if you enjoy variety in your work, this definitely fits the bill!
How I Got Started
I got my first opportunity as a pharmaceutical sales intern with Takeda, one of the top 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.I worked for Takeda during the spring and summer semesters of 2006. Little did I know that those 8 months I spent in Illinois would jump start a long, lucrative, and fulfilling career in pharmaceutical sales. So, how can you get in?
Stand OUT to Break IN!
The job search can be a roller coaster, filled with optimistic anticipation and bitter disappointment. Going through the job search and interviewing process requires an immense amount of energy and focus, but with the proper practice and guidance, you can hone your interviewing skills and stand out among the competition. The number one key to successfully landing a role in pharmaceutical sales is TELLING YOUR STORY. If you don’t have experience in pharma, you must use the experiences you do have to craft your story, and convince the hiring manager that you are the right choice. As a hiring manager, my ideal candidate might not have relevant experience in the industry, and that’s OK! However, what I and all other hiring managers look for, whether they refer to it by this name or not, is Learning Agility—the ability to adapt and thrive in unfamiliar situations. It is vital to be able to articulate your story, with specific examples of how you have used your experience, regardless of industry, to learn, evolve, and raise your level of performance.
When pursuing a job, tell a story about how you adapted to an unfamiliar situation, or how you found a way to thrive in a difficult situation.
For example, maybe you spent a year teaching English overseas. You arrived in a foreign country, didn’t speak the local language, plus your iPhone battery was dead, but…you managed to figure out how to get to your hostel nonetheless! That’s a great story that illustrates how you adapted to an unfamiliar environment. It shows that you’re smart, resourceful, and a go-getter who figures things out.
If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have any good stories like that!”…I beg to differ! You probably have plenty of stories you could tell, but you just need help remembering what they are and understanding how to tell them effectively. This is why I created my program, Stand Out to Break In. As your coach, I help you craft specific, relevant examples (I call them“Shooting S.T.A.R.”s) from your previous experience that you can use to answer any interview question. With practice, coaching, and feedback, you will be confident and well equipped going into any interview.
“I Got the Offer!”
Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a client who says, “Stephanie, I got the job!”
Whether you’re still in college, a recent graduate, or an experienced professional looking for a career change, you can launch a career as a pharmaceutical sales rep. And, working with an experienced coach can accelerate the process.
As someone who has worked across different functions in the industry—sales, training, management, and marketing—I have interviewed, hired, trained, mentored, and coached hundreds of reps, ranging from entry level to individuals with 20+ years in the industry.
Over the years, several of the reps I’ve worked closely with have been promoted to high level sales roles, training, marketing and sales management. I’m frequently called on by friends and colleagues to help with résumé review and interview prep, and I’d love to share my expertise with you.
Whether you’re pursuing a career in pharma or another field—HR, hospitality, or anything else—remember, the key to standing out is to tell your story. This is what’s going to make you shine brighter than any other contenders in the room.
About the Author
Stephanie Alexander has more than 15 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has interviewed, hired, trained hundreds of sales reps. Curious about starting a lucrative career in pharma? Wondering if this career path is right for you? Want to know how to stand out during your next interview? Talk to Stephanie. Visit www.StandOutBreakIn.com and book a complimentary 20-minute call to discuss your career goals.