Everyone knows that it is customary to send a cover letter with your resume when applying for a position as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Unfortunately, many people have no idea how to write a compelling letter that not only highlights their skill, but calls for action on the part of the reader. All too often those seeking a job as a pharma rep write a boring letter that tells the reader the same thing as the resume that came with it. When your cover letter lacks meaningful information, it may cause the hiring manager who reads it doubt about your ability. A poorly written cover letter can actually work against you, even if your resume is perfect!
Since it is essential to creative a favorable impression, you want your cover letter to be effective. This applies to cover letter s sent for specific pharmaceutical sales rep job openings, networking within the pharma industry or submission to a major pharmaceutical company to explore any opportunities. Effective components that must be present in a cover letter include:
- Your name
- Your contact information (be sure to provide as many ways to get in touch with as possible and always have an answering machine hooked up to each number).
- Your ultimate objective (why you are writing).
- A reference to any previous conversations or meeting you have had with this person. For example: “When we me at the Seattle Pharmaceutical Conference, you informed me of a pending launch date for a new drug aimed at alleviating congestion. In my current role, I have assisted our product launch group with the introduction of 3 new drugs within the past 8 months. As a result of my efforts, sales of these new products have set records within my defined territory since introduction.”
- State your relationship to the recipient or how you were referred and why.
- State a good reason for your interest in that particular pharmaceutical organization. That will require research, but will set you apart if you are thorough and sincere.
- Request network referrals. If you are writing a blind networking letter, try something like: “I would appreciate any referral you can give me to those within the pharmaceutical industry who may benefit from my skills and experience as a sales representative.”
- Always request follow-up from any letter you send. State the action you want or will take, like: “I will call you next week to discuss the available opportunity further”.
- Never, ever forget to thank the reader for their time and consideration!
- Always include a copy of your resume and a business card.
Here are some other Do’s and Don’ts that are helpful to ensure your targeted pharmaceutical sales cover letter makes the right impression:
- Do: State your message clearly and concisely. Keep the cover letter to one page.
- Do: Send an e-mail cover letter , BUT always follow up with a hard copy.
- Do: State your position objective (why you are looking for a new opportunity, but use your judgment here).
- Do: Provide specific examples of your achievements pertinent to the job posting, description or stated needs of the pharmaceutical company.
- Don’t: Use cute or risqué e-mail addresses. If you have an e-mail address like babycakes98 or hotpants, get another one for professional use.
- Don’t: Be cute on your voice mail greeting. Rerecord it to be generic and professional.
- Don’t: Use a PO Box as a return address. It sounds too impermanent and that can scare some employers. Many postal stores have street addresses and suite numbers for your mailbox.
- Don’t: Write your letter as though you are the end-all-be-all of the pharmaceutical sales reps. Be honest about your achievements and do promote them, just don’t come across as too heavy handed.
If you find this site helpful, please send a link to your career services department so your fellow alumni know about PharmBoard too! I've already written the message for you. :)