Developing Your Career in Medical Sales- Career Planning

Are you seeking a new position for the right reasons? Often, as a recruiter, I get calls from candidates “wanting more”. Some of these callers want more of a challenge, while others want to make more money. All good reasons to make a change, but stop right there…is there more to it than that?

What I have come to realize over the years is the importance of planning your career. While it is not always possible to do this in a poor economy, often we make changes in our career without thinking of the overall impact. When looking to make a change, it becomes an excellent time to consider your future relative to earnings potential and overall net worth to an organization. This prudent self-evaluation helps outline your own thoughts relative to your own personal career growth, thereby avoiding unnecessary job changes.

I am not talking about “job hopping” and the impact it has on your career. Most people are well aware of the impact in changing jobs too often. No, what I am speaking of is lacking continuity in your career moves. What I have come to realize is that most of the individuals who are making higher incomes have one thing in common, a career path. These individuals manage their job moves strategically and because they did, it paid off for them financially. When it came down to negotiating a salary, they had the upper hand because they had the skills, knowledge or contacts that the company was seeking.

Career planning is defined as “1) a deliberate process of becoming aware of oneself, opportunities, constraints, choices and consequences; 2) identified career related goals and 3) programming work, education, and related developmental experiences to provide the direction, timing, and sequence to steps to attain a specific career goal. Viewed this way, career planning is an activity performed by the individual to understand and attempt to control his or her work life.” (Werner, Jon M., and DeSimone, Randy L., 2009, p. 533)

As a sales representative, it is important to think about your skills, contacts you have, and your overall knowledge in a particular industry or specialty when doing your career planning. For example, if you have experience selling wound care products; think about what value that experience would bring to another employer. What companies would benefit from the relationships you established during your tenure selling wound care products? Does it make sense to be selling wound care and then move to cardiovascular device? While a good sales person can sell any product, you have to realize that there are other sales people that may have knowledge and stronger contacts in the cardiovascular industry thus making it sometimes difficult to get the job. While I think it is important to try for all positions that interest you, it is also important to your skills so you can better market yourself to employers. By knowing your strengths, you can more confidently interview and you may then be able to negotiate a higher salary because you meet the employer’s needs. There is no doubt about it, during an interview, you are selling yourself and your abilities to do the job.

Some areas to think about are the products you have sold in the past. Were they disposables or capital equipment? Did you sell to physicians, hospitals or businesses? What specialties did you represent? What is your education level?

So, before you look for your next job, spend some time thinking about what value you bring to an organization. Find what makes you special; this will help you sell your skills and abilities to the right employer. Focus your job search on companies in which your past experience would benefit the most. I would encourage you to find more than a job during your next job search, find a career that will help you excel to the next level! For more information on planning a career in medical sales, visit our Career Center.

Werner, Jon M., and DeSimone, Randy L., “Human Resource Development”, 2009, South-Western Cengate Learning.