Transitioning Military Job Candidates Can Break Into Pharma Sales Only by Demonstrating Their Value

Pills resting on a stack of money.

Everyone wants to land a job in pharmaceutical sales. How can I get my job offer?

Many transitioning military candidates such as Junior Military Officers (JMO) are interested in pharmaceutical sales careers, and think that they can land a job easily. What's the real story?

Many pharma sales recruiters devote a good deal of time to military recruiting. But you'll need to learn what a pharmaceutical sales representative does before you meet with a corporate recruiter or hiring manager.

When you state that you want to be a sales rep, you are asking the recruiter or sales manager to take a risk by hiring you. But if you know what a successful rep does, you'll be able to compare your similar successes and why you will have a successful impact on the company's bottom line. Now you are minimizing the manager's risk and increasing your chances of landing a job offer.

What are some of the things that a JMO can do to give himself the best possible chance of landing a pharmaceutical sales job?


Research what a pharmaceutical sales rep job is, what sales reps do, and why they are successful. Read books on sales jobs and research information about drug companies. Look up local pharmaceutical sales rep organizations and make some phone calls to their members. If you can arrange it, meet for coffee. Show up professionally dressed and on time. Treat the meeting like a formal interview. Bring your resume with you and ask the rep to share it with his manager. Now you have a mentor in the business. If the person is open to it, ask to accompany him on some sales calls. This is a great learning experience called a preceptorship. List this on your resume and document in your brag book. It sets you above other candidates.

Emphasize Abilities

Emphasize science and communication course work and leadership abilities on your resume. Pharmaceutical company recruiters look for course work in the sciences so make sure to accentuate good grades in related coursework and your ability to learn science related material. List books and outside reading that includes anatomy, physiology, diet and exercise. Demonstrate your power of persuasion. After all, sales is persuasion. Use stories about working in a team environment to persuade people to follow your ideas. Prove the stories with documentation. Track your accomplishments and collect references letters from everyone you have worked with including supervisors and peers.

Create a Brag Book

You will need to create a brag book (a portfolio of your accomplishments.) Your brag book is a must for successful sales interviewing. It is as important as your resume and substantiates the resume's claims. Practice using your brag book too. Refer to the book as you role-play answering interview questions.

Be Lively

Lastly, but very importantly, don't be boring. Use animation in your story telling when you answer interview questions. It has been my experience that military recruitment is very BORING. Stand out, be personable, friendly and likable. Always close by confidently asking for the job and demonstrate your follow up skills by voice mail and e-mail.

About the Author

Lisa Alexander is the author of the book "PharmRepSelect- Your Complete Guide to Getting a Job in Pharmaceutical Sales" and creator of Interview Insight audio CD series.

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