MSL and medical sales coach

Real strategies for landing MSL and Medical Sales jobs

Leave a comment

Trying to land a medical sales job? The details matter.

How effective is your resume?Competition for medical sales jobs is fierce. If you are trying to land a medical / pharmaceutical sales job, it is important to start by building a strong foundation. This includes creating a job search strategy. Your resume is the foundation for your job search. The strategy is how you approach the job search. When it comes to your job search, details matter!
When was the last time you updated your resume? How confident are you that it is professional in appearance and contains relevant information. Remember, things change. What companies look for in sales reps today is not the same as what they looked for five years ago. The industry has changed dramatically and as a sales rep you should be evolving with it. Take the time to email your resume to yourself. Open it. How does it look on your computer screen? Now print it. If you are using a border around the entire page it most likely won’t print well. Remove the border. Is there shading or boxes that don’t show up well when printed? Change them.

Once your resume is opened, evaluate what you see at a glance – it will be viewed for approximately 10 seconds before a reader moves on. Is the hiring manager going to see the information that is most important in that 10 seconds or are you over whelming them with details that won’t be read?
Double check all of your information. I have found phone numbers and email addresses incorrect on a person’s resume. Is your email address professional? Are you still using your college Hotmail or AOL account? These not only date you, but are often routed directly to spam folders. When you set up your email, be sure the “outgoing name” (which is what a hiring manager will see) reflects your name professionally. Simple addresses like work best.
Define a strategy. The more proactive you are the more likely your resume will be seen by a hiring manager. Less than 10 of every 500 resumes submitted online make it to a hiring manager’s desk. Set yourself apart by focusing on marketing yourself to companies and not just submitting to job postings. Over 40% of all jobs filled are never posted anywhere. Don’t be afraid to market yourself to a high level decision maker in a company. By doing so, you have just demonstrated your ability to get past the gatekeeper. That gets a hiring managers attention!

Questions about the medical / pharmaceutical role or your job search challenges? Ask Elizabeth, the medical sales job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach., co-author of Breaking into Medical Sales – Your Guide to Success.

Leave a comment

Medical Sales resumes – are you telling the right story?

How effective is your resume?I am frequently asked for “tips” on how to write a resume that will get medical sales interviews. Resume writing is complicated. Every person is different and the resume should reflect their experience on an individual level. Below are a few tips that should be factored in with every resume.

Respect the reader’s time. If you make them work to figure out why they should interview you, they will go on to the next resume. Once your resume is opened, you have less than 12 seconds of the reader’s time before they decide to interview or not.

Objectively evaluate your features. Don’t bombard the hiring manager with every feature you possess, instead focus on areas that relate to the job you are targeting. Being a Microsoft Office expert is great, but a hiring manager is more interested in how you sell. Do you identify potential clients? Negotiate contract terms? Break into new accounts? Convert business from competitors? Keep the content relevant so that the hiring manager will spend that 12 seconds reading information that will compel them to interview you.

Avoid being gratuitous – don’t add words just because you think that is what a hiring manager wants to see. If you haven’t done something, don’t try to imply you have.

If you add accomplishments, be sure they are real accomplishments. Being ranked in the top 50% of your sales force is not an accomplishment that is going to make a hiring manager see you as a top performer.

Don’t over complicate your job history. A resume should not be a puzzle where a hiring manager has to put the pieces together. Your history should make sense and be easy to follow. I am not a fan of functional resumes. A well-developed chronological resume shows the path and skills developed that have gotten you to the place you are now.

Questions about your resume or job search challenges? Ask Elizabeth, the medical sales job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

Leave a comment

Who hires medical reps with no experience?

Pic - interview questionHave you found yourself scratching your head trying to figure out which companies hire medical / pharmaceutical sales reps with no previous medical sales experience? Landing that first medical sales job can feel like a daunting challenge, especially in today’s highly competitive job market.

If your strategy is to respond only to job postings, you are fighting an uphill battle because almost all postings will require some level of experience. In reality, almost every company will hire a sales rep with no previous medical / pharmaceutical sales experience (there are always certain positions that require specific experience).

Every company has structured training programs that each rep will go through (experienced or not). Finding companies most likely willing to hire someone with your background is the key to a successful job search. Once you find the right companies to target, it is crucial that you get your resume into the hands of a high level hiring manager. Their focus is on supporting the needs of the sales organization, not matching you against 10 bullet points listed in a job description. Before you approach hiring managers, take the time to ensure your resume is not only professional looking, but relays your strengths and background in ways that are relevant to the job you want. The more you understand what attributes a hiring manager looks for the better you are able to present your background in relevant terms. Don’t let the fact that there is not a job posted stop you from sending your resume to a hiring manager pro-actively. Remember, over 40% of all jobs filled are never posted!

If you are serious about landing a medical sales job take the time to build a good foundation (resume) and develop a strategy that will get you noticed. I have coached 100s of people with no existing medical sales experience into medical sales jobs. It can be done. Learn more about how to market yourself in my easy to understand job search guidebook for medical sales professionals. Everything you need to know to conduct a more effective job search is laid out with easy to read illustrated instructions in “Breaking into Medical Sales – your Guide to Success”. Available only through my website –

Recent success stories include:

  • A B2B rep landing their first medical sales job
  • Insurance sales rep landing medical sales position with major medical device company
  • An experienced pharma rep landing a job in medical product sales
  • A customer service rep (minimal sales) landing a pharmaceutical sales job

Do you have questions about your job search or the medical / pharmaceutical industry? Ask Elizabeth, the medical sales job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

Leave a comment

Scary medical sales interview questions – “What is your greatest weakness?”

Pic - interview question

“What is your greatest weakness?”  This simple question can send tremors of fear through even the most confident of candidates.  Why is it so scary?  People try to make answering this question harder than it needs to be.  Most people fear that admitting a weakness will reduce their chances of landing the job.  The reality is just the opposite.  Properly answered, you gain the hiring manager’s respect and differentiate yourself from the other candidates.  Let’s face it, everyone has a weakness. 

You can make this question work for you.  I don’t recommend trying to outwit the interviewer by giving him a worn answer like “I don’t have a work / life balance.”  Hiring managers are smart and view that type of answer as a way of avoiding the question.  A hiring manager is looking for self-awareness – weaknesses can only be managed if you recognize them. 

This simple process will help you understand the question and answer it in a productive way.

  1.  Identify your weakness. WEAKNESS:  You are a control freak and don’t always trust others to do their part of a project as well as you could.
  2. Evaluate how that weakness can or does impact your job performance.  IMPACT:  You try and take on too much work and are not viewed as a team player.    
  3. Identify how you manage your weakness so that it does not have a negative impact on your job performance.

Revised answer to the question:  “My greatest weakness is that I am too much of a perfectionist and tend to want to control all aspects of a project to ensure it meets my quality standards.  I’ve learned that this is not only unrealistic, but also unfair to other team members because it limits their ability to learn and contribute.  I now manage this by focusing on doing my part of the project by my standards and supporting other team members as needed.  I have come to respect the fact that they are qualified or would not have been a part of the team.  Other people’s methods and views are as equally valid as mine.”

The above answer shows self-awareness, deals with the weakness head-on, and demonstrates maturity in the acknowledgement and management of the weakness. 

What are your job search challenges?  Connect with Elizabeth Danford, Medical Sales Job Search Specialist, Interview Coach, Resume Writer, & Candidate Advocate.

Leave a comment

In a job search, everything matters – starting with your resume.

Picture of resume good and bad formatsYour resume is the foundation of your job search.  Once it is opened, the reader will spend less than 12 seconds deciding whether to interview you or move on to the next resume.  I’ve discussed the importance of content every time I write about resumes, but what about appearance?  How does your resume compare to your competitors (the other candidates applying for the same jobs)?  Take a quick glance at the two resumes pictured and decide which makes the more professional first impression?  First impressions matter.  Would you walk into an interview or client meeting wearing a suit that was not up to date and professional looking?


E-mail yourself a copy of your resume.  Open it.  Can you view the entire document without adjusting your screen settings?  Are the fonts large enough to read even if your vision is not perfect?

Keep in mind that if you make someone work to read or understand your resume, they won’t bother.  They will just go to the next resume.

View your resume at a glance.  What are your eyes drawn to?  Over use of all CAPS, italics, and underscore can create a level of resume chaos.  Do you see red and green editing lines?  These are major distractions from the content you want the reader to review.  Be strategic with the areas you highlight.

Print your resume.  Does the content remain in the same format you see on the computer screen?  Do you have borders that aren’t printing?  When you hit “print” do you receive a message that you have to address before it will print? (Margins are too small, etc.)  Shaded boxes may look pretty on the computer screen, but they look terrible when a resume is printed.

Read your resume!  This may seem obvious, but the number of significant errors I find when reviewing and writing resumes indicates that candidates do not take the time to do this.   Fairly common mistakes include errors in e-mail addresses, wrong phone numbers, wrong dates of employment, and spelling errors throughout the document.

Using your current resume, practice the “take me through your resume” question.  Do it out loud and time yourself.  This overview should take less than 3 minutes for a two page resume.  Do you find yourself jumping around to explain your experience?  A well written resume should make the interview easier.  It should tell the story of your job history in a way that demonstrates the progression of how you have built your skills and how you apply those skills in doing your job.  Always have a complete understanding of what is included in your resume.  I have found statements included in resumes that were unrelated to a candidate’s experience or simply made no sense.  When I ask for an explanation on these types of statements, I often learn that even the candidate doesn’t know.  Explanations include that they “copied it from a friend’s resume and don’t know” or “I paid someone to write it and that is what they came up with.”  If you don’t know what something means, don’t include it in your resume!

Is your resume getting the results you want in your job search?  A well written resume should easily serve as the foundation for your LinkedIn profile.  In addition to traditional resume writing services Clinical Strategies now offers detailed editing services with content and format recommendations included.

Questions about your resume or job search strategy?  Contact, resume writer, job search strategist, and interview coach specializing in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and healthcare industries.

Leave a comment

Medical sales interviewing 101 – Why should we hire you?

Picture - question mark

This very basic question sends fear and panic through the hearts of even the most confident candidates.  It is really very basic and most candidates will over complicate it.  Why should they hire you?  The default is to answer the question by listing how you believe you match the job description.  The problem is that repeating the same information that has already been covered in the interview will not add anything new to the hiring manager’s evaluation of you.  This is a great opportunity to set your-self apart from the other candidates by delivering an answer that has impact and is memorable.

An impactful answer will be concise and focused.  You will deliver it with confidence.  It should be built around what the company needs (did you gain insight into their pain?) and not what you want.  Never start with “because I really want this job and have the experience you are looking for”.  Every candidate sitting across from that manager is likely going to recite the many ways they match the job description.

First, as a candidate, be sure YOU understand why he should hire you.  What makes you better than the other candidates?  How are you different?  What is it that you bring to the table that will compel him to hire you?  There is a reasonable chance that you may be evenly matched with the other candidates, use this moment to differentiate your-self.

Impactful answers might include:

  1. You should hire me because I refuse to be second best and will do whatever it takes to become your number one sales rep.
  2. You should hire me because I do not consider meeting my goals to be acceptable, I always strive to exceed them.

AND I possess the experience and knowledge to make this happen.

After delivering your answer take a breath, smile, and wait for his response.  Over talking is one of the top reasons managers shy away from a sales candidate.  Don’t sabotage the interview by continuing to talk once he has heard your answer.

This is the first in a series of articles to provide tip for a more successful medical sales interview.  If you enjoy this article, please follow Elizabeth at

Looking for solutions to overcome your job search obstacles?
Ask Elizabeth, the Medical Sales Job Search Strategist, Coach and Resume Writer.

Leave a comment

You apply to every posting you find – why aren’t you getting calls back?

picture for resume submission on computer

Regardless of your experience level, if your job search strategy consists mainly of applying to jobs online, you have probably felt that you are submitting your resume into a giant black hole.

For most job seekers, that is exactly what is happening.  With 100s of candidates applying for every posted position, it can be a challenge just to have your resume opened. Some companies use software programs to route resumes into folders based on information submitted during the on-line application process.

How are you evaluated when you submit your resume?

First line screeners – recruiters and human resources, focus on finding an “ideal” candidate based on the job description they have been given to recruit for. You may receive a call after the candidates who seem like a perfect fit on paper have all been screened.  The frustrating part of this is that you can spend hours on these submissions, knowing you are perfect for the job, and still not get a call.

There are ways to substantially increase the odds of getting an interview. Start by deciding to control your job search, not be controlled by it. View yourself as a product and identify what you are selling about yourself and how you will sell it. Equally important is WHO you sell your product to!  Does your resume reflect you accurately and are the features highlighted the ones that hiring managers are really buying?

Key reminder – a poorly written resume will get even the strongest candidates ignored.

Next, analyze your strategy. Identify companies that hire medical sales reps and market yourself to them pro-actively, regardless of jobs posted (remember, at least 40% of all jobs filled are NEVER posted anywhere).  When a company has a job posted, focus on getting your resume into the hands of a high level decision maker as well.  Just applying on-line is a very passive approach to the job search and likely to double the amount of time it takes to find a job. The chances of your resume being reviewed will increase almost 100% by getting it into the hands of a true decision maker.

The strategies used to find jobs just a few years ago will not work in today’s highly saturated market.

What are your job search obstacles? Candidates are welcome to e-mail me with questions about their specific search challenges.