Dear entry-level sales candidate…


Today’s guest post is by Peggy McKee, The Medical Sales Recruiter

I just finished up searching for four specific jobs where the company wanted to find someone with an undergrad science degree (biology, chemistry, etc.). But really, they could live without the science degree if they found the right person with the kind of personality, drive, desire and presence they needed. So, the upshot is that for some areas of medical sales, a science background is a plus, but not always required.

But, even with flexibility from employers on background, there’s still a lot of different ways people can shoot themselves in the foot in the interview process — and I ran into a few this week. (These are not unusual, either…I get responses like this with disappointing frequency.)

For example, after one person had described her background and experience, she summed up her desire to be in medical sales as “medical terminology makes me happy.” As a recruiter, that kind of statement makes me want to run in the other direction (laughing, but still running).

You could say that that’s not such a big deal, but it sounds a little goofy, it doesn’t show a lot of maturity, it doesn’t show a lot of thought, and it’s an additional thing she just said to fill space. So, if you’re trying to get a sales job, DON’T FILL SPACE. Usually, you’re going to fill it with something that’s going to hurt you.

Another guy with a very strong lab background wanted to get into pharmaceutical sales but complained that “they just want so much sales experience.” If you’ve read my blog, you know that I don’t think that pharmaceutical sales requires reps to be all that skilled in sales: they don’t ask for a close, they don’t place orders, they have no power over pricing, and they have no power in the relationship…so, when he said that to me, it made me think he hadn’t done his research about the different types of sales jobs, or really put that much thought into it at all.

When I told him that with his background, he should think about laboratory sales or field applications, he said to me, “All I want to do is get off the bench.” Well, a lot of scientists will say that, and I can appreciate that… but as a recruiter, I don’t want to hear it.

When you’re interviewing for a sales position, I want to know that you’re running to something, not running from something. I’ve had managers comment to me about that to me, too: “I’m not sure they wanted THIS job…I think they just didn’t want the job they have.”

So, when you’re in the interview process, be running TO something. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is to hiring managers. (Really, all hiring managers want to know that you’ll be enthusiastic about the job they need you to do.) They’re going to spend somewhere between $25,000-$50,000 training you in the first six months, and they don’t want any questions about whether you’ll be successful.

Which leads me to the next point: Don’t ask your recruiter if she thinks you’ll be successful in medical sales. If you’re not confident, I won’t be confident, and my hiring manager won’t be confident… and I won’t present you for the job.

These are just some things that you want to think about as an entry-level person in the medical sales field and what you need to do. The top things you can do: be flexible, be available, be honest, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

So when I ask you, “What have you done to prepare for a sales job?” don’t say what one person said to me this week: “Why, nothing. I don’t have a sales job yet, so how would I prepare?” That’s not what I want to hear. I want to hear someone who’s creative in their thought process, has looked on YouTube for instructional videos, has read some books, and has done a ride-along or a job shadowing.

I want to see someone who knows why he wants a job in medical sales, laboratory sales, biotech sales, medical device sales, or pharmaceutical sales. I want to see someone with energy, drive, passion, and a desire to do something more, and different, and to make themselves better, more and different.

Good luck,

Peggy McKee

The Medical Sales Recruiter

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.