If you’ve been another victim of our terrible economy in the last few years, you’re not alone. Thousands of people have been laid off across all industries in a major shakeup of our workforce. Recession-related woes affect medical and health care sales less than other industries, but there has still been a major effect–especially within pharmaceutical sales.
If you’ve been out of work for a while, it can take a toll on your finances, certainly, but also on your morale and your job hunt itself. There’s a stigma that can become attached to candidates who’ve been out of work for a while. Employers think, basically, “If that person is so good, why hasn’t he/she found a job yet?” Obviously an unfair blanket assumption, but there it is.
If you are finding yourself in this situation, there’s a terrific article on CNN.com you should see called In the job hunt, the stigma of being unemployed is hard to erase (and I am thrilled to have been quoted in it!). It talks about the effect that being laid off can have on your job search, but more importantly, it shows you what you can do to overcome it. Very worth the read.
If you’re unemployed, you’re in a defensive position in the job search. That affects what you might normally do or say in the job search, but not by much. Here are some of my strategies you can use to get past this negative situation and land the job:
- Have an explanation ready. Prepare a short but simple explanation about what happened. You don’t want to spend your time defending yourself–you want the focus to be on what you offer the employer.
- Quantify your achievements. Just as in any job search, you want to have the evidence that you’ve done a good job–with performance stats, sales numbers, or specific instances where you saved/made your company money. Improving efficiency or pulling in customers works, too. Just be sure to quantify it with percentages, dollar signs, or other relevant numbers-based stats.
- Gather fantastic references. If you have evidence that someone else thought you were fantastic, then it’s more likely you’ll get a favorable reception. People like recommendations. Personal phone calls are best, but an email or letter you can show in the beginning could work very well here.
- Use creative job interview tools. This is absolutely the time you need a brag book (to show how fantastic you were in past jobs) and a 30/60/90-day plan (to show you have a strategic plan for success at the new one).
- Be strong in the interview. It’s more important than ever that you close for the job. Ask for it. Uncover objections while you’re right there. It could easily turn the tide in your favor. If not, you’ll know what to fix for next time.
No matter what, stay active. Keep reading articles about job searching strategies. Learn to use social media like LinkedIn, and network like crazy. Invest in yourself and hire a career coach who can help you spin your situation and give you strategies for success.
Job hunts can be a numbers game, and you have to keep playing. Eventually, you’ll win. Good luck.
Meanwhile, check out this free training on “How to Get a Better Job Faster”
2: Click here to register for this no charge webinar.
I just found an article covering trends in big pharma that says that eventually, pharmaceutical companies will replace sales reps with websites. Big pharma companies like Merck and Pfizer are under pressure to reduce costs and deliver profits, and up-and-coming physicians are much more comfortable getting their information from the web rather than a live person. In fact, according to the article, Astra-Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson have already instituted some version of web-based education for physicians. The latest figures show a big slide in sales force numbers, with more cuts coming.
It means that if you still want to be in pharmaceuticals, you need to work harder to beat out the competition. That includes a better science background as well as more intense job hunting skills–think about using very effective 30/60/90-day sales plans, and seriously consider hiring a career coach to help you market yourself. You’re going to need to find a way to separate yourself from the candidates who pushed their way into pharma sales jobs with no experience.
If you’re ready to move on, you’ll have to work even harder. Pharma reps are seen as the lower end of the sales by the rest of the medical sales community–both because science backgrounds are often lacking and because the sales process lacks the “closing” requirements of other areas. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Check out this story of a pharma rep who transitioned to surgical sales with the help of a career coach.
Strengthening your career plan and developing strategies to reach the professional and economic goals you have is always a valuable exercise. Whether you have just graduated from college or you are a grizzled veteran with many years or even decades of experience, taking a step back and assessing where you are with your career plan can make for a more rewarding professional life personally and economically. What have you done recently about this?
A great strategy is not developed accidentally. To create the right plan, you have to examine your current career situation along several different major lines of analysis including:
- When you look at the position you would like to have in 5 years or 10 years, what educational background describes the individuals in these positions? This is a critical consideration and should be examined without trying to justify your credentials. You are looking for commonality from as many good examples as possible.
- Can you identify what the network of vendors, contractors, peers, and managers reporting to this person would often be? Your network development plan should incorporate these kinds of contacts.
- Also, developing a network of recruiters and peer business relationships could prove extremely useful. Exposure to medical and health care sales best practices will prove strategic for long-term success. Participation in industry opportunities builds access and later career opportunity momentum.
- Further, you should have a sense of how long you should be seeking to remain at each point of your career plan before promotions and lateral moves. Also, you should ensure you are aware of the experiences and other factors that may be playing a role in these positions.
Much of this may seem impossible or a struggle to accomplish. However, over the course of years with a clear vision, these objectives become reasonable. However, translating the objectives, roles, responsibilities, and experiences a defined strategy with a defined execution plan becomes a reasonable and achievable goal.
So, are you serious about your career? If so, you need to get started creating a well conceived and detailed career plan. And, you have to put that career plan into action with executable steps, actions, and expectations. Begin today by understanding where you are headed, what the connections you will need are, and what experiences you must have and begin creating your plan.
Get started with your medical sales career today with this kit: How to Get Into Medical Sales.
You might be surprised at how little time many health care sales candidates invest preparing for an interview. Then again, you might be even more impressed with how much time other medical sales candidates do invest preparing for an interview. But the bottom line is, you probably would not want to attend an interview without being as well or better prepared than the individuals that you will be competing with for a given role–especially if you’re trying to land a position in the extra-competitive field of medical device sales. How do you ensure that you are clearly the most-prepared candidate? Read along and you will find out.
A medical sales job interview begins long before you step in front of the interviewer. Wise job seekers will prepare with this in mind. Some important steps to take on the journey to your interview are:
- Research the company. Know about finances, product plans, recent news, noteworthy executives, physical locations, operating challenges, the range of products, pricing, typical sales processes, operational approaches, and anything else you can find out prior to stepping into the room.
- Make the best possible physical impression. Rehearse what you will do if invited to a meal. Refresh your basic etiquette points. Have your hair, nails, suit, shirt, shoes, belt, etc. in the best possible condition – everything pressed, cleaned, trimmed, shined up and ready to go.
- Know the route to the interview. Plan for traffic issues. Ensure you arrive early and are not pressed for time. This is not a time to arrive anxious.
- Spend time rehearsing the interview. Try to anticipate questions. Develop fully your thoughts on various issues impacting the company. Look at the financial, local, and global news to see if issues may be pertinent to this business. Be aware of macro economic and technological trends that may be important to the this business either for future course or already driving action. Work with an interview coach to role-play questions.
- Have your 30/60/90-Day Plan plan ready to go. Ensure you are prepared to take control of the interview and set it on a course where your profitable value to this company is clear and well-defined.
- Network. Reach out to contacts, check blogs, and try to get the inside story on what is happening at your prospective company. Be prepared to be conversant on these points.
- Have a plan to follow up once you leave the interview. Write appropriate thank you notes and email them quickly (try not to use your phone, though). Be sure to say a kind word to the receptionist, the assistant, and other folks you may meet. Be clear about any post-interview actions you may have. Ask your references to follow up reassuring the hiring manager that you are a great fit.
As you can see, an interview is a major event that should be supported with a full range of well-considered actions providing the best possible likely endpoint–your hire.
Of course, wouldn’t we all be hiring machines if every added employee increased profitability? I know I sure would. So, if YOU are the prospective hire, the closer you can come to this magical being–“the profit machine”, the closer you are to being hired.
The problem is most employees don’t turn out to be profit machines. Even when they are, their contribution may not be quite as clear as the owner or manager would like to see. Herein lies opportunity for your job search and your interview.
What am I implying? What am I saying?
Very simply, the smart job hunter should be thinking about more than simply finding a job. Suppose you land a job where your contribution to the success of the company (and for medical and health care sales, this means profits) is not so very clear. Maybe its worse than that. Maybe the hiring manager or owner has concluded that your role is a loser for the business. Your job security just went out the window. You can expect soon, and perhaps very soon, that you will be searching for a new position yet again.
The cure for this condition is to get ahead of the curve on the process. Place yourself in the role of the “magic profit machine”. You have to come to the party with a plan that says:
- I am going to hit the ground running.
- I am not going to waste any effort.
- This is what your business does.
- This is what I can contribute.
- This is how my contribution is going to make money for you each and every day.
Coming with this plan is not such a simple task.
You have to really understand your own skills. You need to clearly dissect how those skills can be applied to increase revenue, decrease cost, increase the client base, improve client retention, incrementally increase client revenue, improve the company’s capacity to grow, and so on.
You have to then get inside the hiring manager’s specific company and change the application of your skills into a real deliverable action plan that is compelling, simple, clear and enticing. Cause the hiring manager to feel urgency about making you a part of his team. Place yourself in a position that leads to increasing value and satisfaction from the hiring manager, owner, or company. As a result, earn support for more compensation in the future and growing job security from before you even take a seat on the first day at your new role.
What’s the best way to do this? Create a 30/60/90-day plan for your interview that’s detailed, focused, and as comprehensive as you can make it. It will show the hiring manager that you’ve carefully considered the needs of his company and how you can use your skills within the first 3 months on the job to make money. This kind of written outline will make a fantastic impression in the interview. Once you land the job, work your plan to be a magic profit machine.
If you’ve spent much time on LinkedIn, you may have stumbled on the term “Open Networker” and perhaps seen the term “LION”. A LION is a LinkedIn Open Networker. There are thousands and perhaps millions of LIONS on LinkedIN and you may not know any of them personally. However, if you are serious about your job search, you need to devote a portion of your allowed invitations to these networking beasts. Some of the LIONs have tens of thousands of first-level connections. Connecting to a just a few of these allows you to reach far across and deep into the LinkedIn network to reach your networking and job search goals.
What exactly am I proposing and how do you go about this?
- Google Search “LinkedIn LIONs”. You’ll find some well-put-together websites where simply joining will allow you download these folks’ information for LinkedIn networks. Return to LinkedIn and upload the list and reach out to these new network contacts. They will universally add you to their networks. As soon as they do, you will see your first level grow by 100, 200, 300, or even more from the LION list, but the real effect will be on your 2nd and 3rd level network. You may jump from tens of thousands of connections to millions in a few days’ time. Your ability to reach folks in your industry, in your skill set, from your alma mater, or from any other criteria you can imagine willl blossom.
- As you move around LinkedIn, you will notice certain individuals who include their email address in their profile or even in their own name. These people are likely LIONs as well. Consider adding them to your network and magnifying all the benefits and network power described in item 1 on a smaller more incremental basis.
Once this is completed, I suggest taking a look at the LIONs you’ve connected with. Search on industry or profession. A few may turn out to be from the medical or health care sales industry. These folks are a wealth of resources within that industry and deserve special attention. For example, my brother is in the rental property business and has a network that includes hundreds of real estate professionals. Also, you will notice a lot of these same folks are executive recruiters (not surprising, really). Find out their specialty and what they have available. You may have already stumbled on to the job lead or source that will be your next career step.
Want more advanced LinkedIn job search tips? Check out LinkedIn Ninja Tricks for bypassing HR and getting the job.
Hiring the right employee if you are a sales manager or an owner can be the key to your career success. Hiring the right employees can create a great work environment. Choosing the right team and creating the right environment can have everything to do with building a great place to work. Effectively selecting new employees to bolster profitability, customer service, revenue generation, risk mitigation, and so on is a critically important task and successful career determinant. Preparing to do this successfully could be the most important career move you make.
Often times, when we consider this task we leap directly to selecting candidates, interviewing, and making offers. The successful business leader recognizes that the task is much more complex and challenging than this. The truly savvy business executive knows that the issues involve a more complex range of planning and an ongoing effort along additional focus areas.
From a broader business perspective, the most successful businesses have not only accomplished the task successfully, but they have consistently selected not only employees who were a fit, but business people who performed with a capability and focus that was superb. In effect, they managed to select people who fit their culture and were a perfect solution for the role they played in the company.
How did this occur? Several reasons come to mind:
- The business leader or management team effectively worked out what the culture of their company would be (or defined what it is) and put mechanisms in place to reinforce the culture. They then very effectively went about selecting role players who were a reinforcing and superb selection for their business. Assessment tests that identify desirable characteristics of your key players are often a great tool for this.
- The company developed processes and procedures to develop and to hire upward from within, recognizing that the well-prepared person with the right attitude and the right skills from their own ranks was sometimes the best hire.
- The business leadership developed core values, simple strategies, and strong supporting goals that simplified and reinforced the concepts leading to quality results from employees.
- They had their radar up around the industry looking for talent that would magnify results for the business. They developed their talent-collecting network and they ensured that the flow kept coming. Niche recruiters who specialize in medical sales are a natural resource for pre-screened talent.
- The executive and human resources teams developed processes to identify quality prospects from revenues and contacts, interviewed for fit and capacity, and set new hires on a path leading to success.
With all of these items in place, the hiring process began to predict and reinforce improvement that continually improved business results.
Your job search is one of the most significant tasks you’ll ever have. What job you end up with determines how you’ll spend the majority of hours in your day, how much money you’ll have, and how satisfied you are with your life. It’s worth making the effort to end up where you’ll be happy. Whether you’re currently employed or not, here’s how to put everything you’ve got into your medical sales job search–and it will bring you great results, whether you’re in laboratory sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, or any other health care sales arena:
1. Create a great elevator pitch. You need to be able to summarize what you are bringing to the table. Make it short and sweet, but compelling enough to capture the attention of your listener/reader. Not only can you use it at networking events or casual meetings, you can use it in place of a traditional objective statement, and you can use it in your LinkedIn profile.
2. Write a killer resume. You must tailor your resume for what’s relevant to the jobs you’re applying for. You shouldn’t have to rewrite the whole thing…just tweak it according to the job description. Organize it so that it’s clear and easy-to-read–bullet points and white space are fantastic things. Keep it down to 1-2 pages, and fill it with keywords that will get it noticed by computerized tracking systems as well as sales numbers and other performance statistics that show you’ve been able to make (or save) money for the company.
3. Create a professional LinkedIn profile. You MUST utilize social media in your job search. There’s just no other way around it. Facebook and Twitter are also useful, but LinkedIn is the most important place to be for business networking. A great profile includes your job history, a business professional picture, and a summary of who you are and what you do. See this LinkedIn profile tutorial for expert guidance.
4. Use your LinkedIn membership. Don’t just create the profile. Participate. One of the things that makes LinkedIn so powerful is the connections you can make and the recommendations you can acquire. You make connections by joining groups (like Sales Cafe), participating in discussions, and getting introductions to people you need to know. Your recommendations say that other people think you’re great, too, and give another perspective on your talents. But remember to give good recommendations to others as well. LinkedIn is also an amazing resource for information on companies, hiring managers, and industry trends–and you can contact hiring managers directly for jobs.
5. Develop your online brand. Your online reputation is the sum total of what an employer will find out about you when they Google your name. It’s the comments you make on LinkedIn, Facebook, and blog articles. It’s your Tweets. If you’re really serious, seek out opportunities to guest post on blogs or write articles for online newsletters. Make sure that every time you say something online, that it’s professional and relevant.
6. Network the old-fashioned way, too. Get out there and meet people. Attend networking events and tradeshows. Keep up with your contacts with the occasional email (it’s more personalized than a Tweet) and give them something: a bit of information, a job lead, a great website, or an article you found. You can absolutely let them know what’s going on with you, and ask them to keep an eye out for job leads you’d be interested in. Most people are happy to help.
7. Spend some time and effort prepping for your interview. I don’t think it’s possible to over-prepare for a job interview. Research the company. Know what their issues and challenges are in the marketplace. Make an effort to dress properly and project friendliness and enthusiasm with your body language. Have stories ready that demonstrate how you’ve handled difficult situations or met a challenge. Practice your answers to interview questions, and seriously consider role-playing interview questions with a coach. If pro athletes use coaches to gain a few extra seconds that make the difference between first and second place, you should, too.
8. Bring a 30/60/90-Day Plan. There’s no better way to show how you’ll be able to hit the ground running and contribute to the company than by creating a 30/60/90-day plan. A well-written plan is divided into 3 parts: the first 30 days, you’ll focus on training and settling in (the more specific you can be, the better); the 60-day part expands your duties (say, by getting to know all your accounts and orienting yourself); and the last 30 days (the 90-day part) is your plan for bringing in new business (which you’ll know because you’ve researched and analyzed the company’s position in the marketplace). This plan is impressive because it shows the hiring manager your drive, commitment, enthusiasm, and knowledge of what it takes to be successful.
9. Ask questions during the interview. Here’s another sure-fire method to impress your interviewer. Be interested in the job. Asking questions in the interview shows that you can think strategically and it also gets you quite a bit of information you can use while answering questions and in your follow-up. It turns the interview into a conversation and highlights your confidence and appeal.
10. Follow up. A great follow up plan can cover everything from providing great references to writing a substantial, timely thank you note. The best references are past managers or other high-level people, but they should all be willing to speak to the interviewer. Make sure you prep them for the call by giving them the information they need to speak intelligently about you. Thank you notes should be sent as quickly as possible (within 24 hours, so send it by email) and should refer back to what you discussed in the interview if you have something great to say, or it should add something new to the discussion. It’s also a great opportunity to revise your 30/60/90-day plan based on what you talked about, and you can attach it to your thank you note.
If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know how important a 30/60/90-day plan is to your job interview success. In most cases, we’re talking about sales jobs in the medical sales arena. But I often get questions from people who aren’t in sales jobs and they want to know if that kind of plan can help them, too.
The answer is absolutely YES.
A 90-day plan is critical to bring to every job interview. It works for any marketing or technical support role in medical or health care companies–not just for the sales jobs.
Watch the video and I’ll tell you:
- How the 30/60/90-day plan demonstrates that you understand the job and can do it
- Why the 30/60/90-day plan makes you stand out from the pack and showcases your drive and initiative
- A hiring manager’s secret fear and why a 30/60/90-day plan makes him much more comfortable hiring you
I would never go into any job interview without a written plan outlining for the hiring manager how I would attack the job and be successful at it. It’s that important. I’ve worked with hiring managers for over 10 years now (and been one myself), and they never fail to be impressed with a candidate who can create a good, well-thought-out plan.
As a medical sales recruiter, I specialize in placing sales and sales management professionals, and I’ve seen tens of thousands of resumes throughout my career. Since I often sift through them quickly, it takes a great resume to stand out from the crowd and get my attention. And job seekers in health care sales, medical device sales, laboratory sales, and pharmaceutical sales always ask “What can I do to get my resume noticed?” Beyond the basics of an easy-to-read, error-free, well-structured resume, there are qualities that catch my eye and cause me to consider candidates more closely, and I’d like to share them with you. Here are some easy changes you can make to your resume:
1. Highlight your performance. If you’re in sales, it’s vitally important that you demonstrate that you can ring the cash register. You show the hiring manager why he wants you on the team by highlighting your sales numbers, number of closes, key influencer sales, expense budgets, revenue, profit, growth, sales rankings, goal attainment, and so on. You can list that as numbers, dollar amounts, percentages, or whatever is appropriate. I have seen some eye-catching resumes that incorporate colored graphs to illustrate, but be careful not to overdo it. Use whatever style that best represents your growth.
2. Write a well-crafted objective statement. Think elevator pitch. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a resume objective statement will limit your opportunities. It won’t. What it will do is capture the reader’s attention and lead him or her into reading the rest of your resume. (So make sure it’s compelling and not a canned filler statement.) It’s entirely appropriate to tailor your objective statement to the job opportunity so that you can highlight what you can bring to that particular organization. Once I’ve read the rest of your resume, I might see that you’d also be a great fit for another opportunity.
3. Add something special. If you’re new to the field, try a preceptorship, and put that experience on your resume (it’s a great keyword source). It shows that you’re serious, and willing to go the extra mile. And it can go a significant way to answering the “experience” question for hiring managers. Also, I have seen resumes with quotations that sum up their attitudes, drive, determination, etc. Or, I’ve seen others with a list of their recent reading material (although you must be able to talk intelligently about those books). But be careful about listing too much information. For instance, hobbies work only if they’re relevant to the job. Don’t let anything on your resume take away from your message: you have something to offer to contribute to an organization’s success.
Above all, remember that your resume is not about you; it’s about the employer. You’re using the resume as a marketing document that highlights why you’re the person to help them succeed.
If you need more help, check out this Resume Training video from Career Confidential.