Qu: How does a rookie break into Pharmaceutical Sales?

If you’ve been fancying the idea of a medical sales role but have zero experience, then you might be wondering how on earth you could possibly land that dream role and break into pharmaceuticals as either a GP rep or a Specialist rep? If that sounds like you then this blog could be the first step in your exciting journey!

First though, let’s talk about what you’re going to offer in terms of your qualifications and/or experience. As I’ve discussed previously (, most employers would prefer that you do have a degree before considering you for such roles. It’s not an absolute deal-breaker if you don’t have one, but then you’ll need to show some strong and successful sales experience in a professional selling role, before they’ll give you any serious consideration.

Next, you’ll need to do some research! It may surprise you, but you’ll find that prospective employers and recruitment agencies will expect you to talk about this role as if you’re already doing it, i.e. they will be asking you lots of questions that are all geared towards pulling out your understanding of the role and how to do it well, so it’s a little different to other jobs where you might expect to front up and be told what to expect. If you’re not prepared to do the research, then your prospective employer won’t be willing to take any risks on you, no matter how great you think you are or how good you might look on paper?

Research begins with understanding the industry and the role, much of which you can learn right here and here, but you can also push the envelope to do a few other things too. For example, you should try to negotiate shadowing a real-life pharmaceutical rep for a day on their territory, giving you a birds-eye view of what’s typically involved and learning about it first-hand. Since this is quite hard to achieve then it’s also one step that can speak volumes for your potential with prospective employers, so it’s well worth doing.

Finally, get a professional resume done so that you can really sell yourself in as this is so important. You never get a second chance to create a first impression and, amid possibly hundreds of applications for the same role, you really do need to ‘sell yourself in’ at the first opportunity – and that’s what your resume provides. Please don’t underestimate the importance of this one small piece in the puzzle.

Pharmaceutical sales is probably your most obvious start as a rookie – it’s also the very best training ground for your career in medical sales, so take the time and the effort to do the groundwork and you’ll be home and hosed!