I graduated from college in March of 2002, and had applied everywhere for a pharm sales job. I was contacted by a recruiter at Glaxo, but it never really went anywhere.
I continued to apply everywhere, but knew I’d have to take the first job I could find with the economy being the way that it was. I took a job in marketing for a huge healthcare company, but knew it was only a one year gig at best. I stopped my search for awhile to take a break and enjoy my first “real” job.
About eight months into it, I knew I still wanted to do sales, but I was still interested in the healthcare/medical aspect from my job in healthcare. I kept running across openings for Takeda, and read up on them…I was really, really drawn to their progressive nature, and was interested in giving it a shot. I deluged HR with resumes and never heard anything. I got fed up so I searched on Google for over an hour and a half, and FINALLY found the name of a DM…I had no clue if he was hiring or anything, but I just wanted an actual person to get in touch with. I noodled around their site, figured out how their email addresses were formatted, and sent it off to the DM whose name I had found.
He got in touch with me a few days later, saying he had an opening and had JUST started interviewing. It turns out he knows a cousin of mine (small world) and said he’d be willing to meet with me. It sounded like a combination of a favor and some interest in how I’d found him in the first place.
I wound up having 3 f2f interviews with him, and the third one had another DM there who also had an opening. I left there exhausted….these took place over about 5 weeks and I had to drive 3-4 hours one way to get to his territory (which is also where I knew I’d have to relocate). They called about 2 hours after I left, saying I had been chosen to meet the RM. 5 days later on a Wednesday, I was on a plane to Chicago for a 40 minute interview which went well. I was called with the verbal offer two days later, on a Friday. (Still waiting on my offer package, which I’m guessing will arrive this week due to the holiday.)
During my Takeda interviewing, I was contacted by a Pfizer rep who wanted to meet with me before submitting me as a referral. (When it rains, it pours.) But, I knew Takeda was what I wanted, and I made no bones about it in my interview.
I didn’t network directly, per se, but I jumped through hoops to ensure that I stood out. I hunted down a DM directly a nd didn’t leave him any reason to not at least meet with me once. Just that one thing wound up having me as who they chose, and he assured me the competition was stiff. I had no experience, either, so YES, it can be done. It’s all about getting in front of a PERSON.
I learned a lot about what they needed and what they were looking for by listening a LOT. I listened to what the DM said, of course, but there were certain statements that were “hints” as to what he needed from an employee. They weren’t overt, but they’re there if you listen for them…pick up on them and match them to your skillset.
I read through Knock ‘Em Dead and Lisa Lane’s book. Both were helpful, and I combined advice from both to make it through the rigorous interviewing process. I think pharmboard was a big help, particularly in not knowing how to take things the DM said/did. The experience that people have had here is absolutely invaluble.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have done one thing differently. I think my soon-to-be-DM feels the same way. I magically appeared in his inbox, and they are pretty careful about not posting email addresses anywhere. He was impressed with my patience and tenacity in finding him, and we built a good rapport.
If you don’t get it the first time, keep trying….a lot of the success depends on the chemistry that you have with the person who is interviewing you. I wasn’t fond at all of the Pfizer rep that I was communicating with, and it certainly didn’t bolster my faith in how I’d get along with his boss. Selling is relationships, so make sure they’re good ones!
Your persistence WILL pay off. I have yet to come across someone who tried to get in for years and never made it…eventually, you do. The persistence will make you less and less nervous in the interview process and you will learn a lot. Trust me on this…if I can do it, you certainly can also.
Hang in there, best of luck, and I cannot wait to read all of YOUR success stories!
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