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Sales Job Snapshot: The Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

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A pharmaceutical sales representative is responsible for liaising with doctors, pharmacists, and patient advocacy groups and ensuring that those individuals are aware of the various prescription drugs that the pharmaceutical sales representative's company makes. Ultimately, the purpose of his or her job is to push a product (or products) and increase sales.

For sales professionals hoping to obtain a sales job that affords them independence, allows them to be their own boss, and provides the luxury of flexible working hours, a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative may be the perfect fit. While the number of sales representatives varies at any given time depending on several factors, including the number of new drugs that have been released, there are currently 83,000 individuals who hold the job title “pharmaceutical sales representative” in the United States alone.

If you’re interested in obtaining a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, read on to discover what it is that companies look for when they are looking to hire sales professionals:



Resume — Make sure that your resume and cover letter are both up-to-date. The resume should highlight only the most pertinent information about your job duties for every position, as well as your sales accomplishments. Remember to keep things short: the resume is a brief snapshot of your sales career — it’s not the full-length film.

General Qualifications — Above all else, pharmaceutical companies want to fill their vacant pharmaceutical sales representative jobs with outstanding candidates who will represent the company, and its mission, to potential and current customers. Sales professionals who possess a four-year degree, work well as a member of a team, communicate well both verbally and on paper, and have a strong work ethic would be ideal candidates for the job.

Professional Experience — Due to the fact that these jobs are often sales-based, previous experience in the sales field is desired. Such experience demonstrates to the hiring manager that you are familiar with the sales field and all that it entails, including rejection, and that you have established a track record of success.

Non-Work Experience — Gaining applicable experience, even if that means experience not gained in a sales jobs, is still important. All team activities, ranging from membership on a sports team in college to participating in a student government association, show the hiring manager that you work well with others and are geared toward results.

Science Background — Although it isn’t a requirement for these sales jobs, a scientific background is helpful. Pharmaceutical representatives often read material that is scientific in nature, so a background in the field would be beneficial when it comes to absorbing information. (This also means that if you don’t like science, this probably wouldn’t be the best sales job for you.)

Health — Be forewarned, you will be asked to undergo a drug test. So, if you don’t think you’ll come back with a clean bill of health, don’t apply.

Driver’s License — As with many sales jobs, because this job entails driving to different locations throughout the day, a valid driver’s license is required. This also means that your driving record should have very few, if any, blemishes.

Compensation for pharmaceutical sales representatives, excluding bonuses, ranges from the mid thirties to ninety thousand dollars per year. But in addition to the monetary incentives, which are often tied directly to your performance in the sales job, pharmaceutical sales representatives receive a company car, a full benefits package, reimbursement for tuition, a 401K, and an expense account.
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