Pharmaceutical Sales Hiring Trends

Pharmaceutical Sales Hiring Trends

Five Ways Sales Reps Can Remain Attractive Job Candidates in a Softening Market

Demand for pharmaceutical sales representatives will likely continue to shrink in the near future, driven down by industry mergers; the expiration of blockbuster drug patents; and a shift toward flexible, regional, specialized sales teams, experts say.   

“Net demand is going down and we don’t know when that trend will change,” says Chris Wright, managing principal for the global pharmaceuticals practice at marketing consulting firm ZS Associates based in Evanston, Illinois.

With the industry running on leaner sales forces and moving toward e-marketing, clinical educators and conservative hiring, reps have several options for retooling themselves to stay on top of a declining market for pharmaceutical sales jobs:
  • Adapt their sales skills to better match today’s more intuitive, flexible marketing strategies
  • Focus on a specialty area like oncology reimbursement
  • Shift into a medical-liaison position
  • Move into a related sales field
  • Outsell their peers and cash in at a small pharmaceutical or biotech firm
Adapt Your Skills

One of the biggest changes taking place in the US pharmaceutical sales job market is a move toward a wider product bandwidth for pharma sales pros. The best pharmaceutical sales reps can talk about a greater variety of products than in the past. They’re flexible, instinctive and take a more on-the-spot approach, while staying within the bounds of what they can legally discuss, Wright says.

“It’s tricky for a person already in the industry to claim that they have this ability, because it’s probably been driven out of them by their managers,” he says. To show you have this skill during a pharma sales job interview, talk about a time when you adjusted your sales tactics, perhaps by leaving a podcast for a busy doctor who was tuning out your presentation.

Become a Sales Specialist

Another strategy for making yourself more appealing is to become an expert on managed care, long-term care, a particular treatment area or physician reimbursement, says Kevin Carroll, a partner with Heritage Partners International, a New Haven, Connecticut, executive search firm for the life sciences industry.

“I don’t predict a happy career for reps who just sell in primary care for a long time,” Carroll says.

Shift to Field-Based Medical Careers

If you have a healthcare degree (especially a PharmD), and think you can shift your mind-set from a pharma sales job to one with a more clinical focus, consider a lateral and/or advanced move into a field-based medical-liaison role.

To transfer your pharmaceutical sales knowledge to this scientifically skilled niche, pitch potential employers on your knowledge of the business side of healthcare and your desire to return to your clinical roots.

“Be passionate and committed about serving as an extension of a company’s medical affairs department,” says Beth Price, executive vice president of business development at The Medical Affairs Company, a Kennesaw, Georgia-based outsourcing firm serving pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-device clients. “You’ll be providing education on disease-state and clinical concepts to key opinion leaders, physician and nursing personnel as well as managed market audiences that ultimately can optimize patient outcomes.”

Salaries for field-based medical personnel can range from $95,000 to $145,000. Bonuses can add another 10 percent to 20 percent depending on how well your company does overall, rather than your individual sales, she says.

Move into Related Sales

You could completely retool your career by using your pharma sales skills in a related healthcare field. If you’re a real closer, try the hard-good medical-equipment field, where being able to ask for the sale is important. Typical base salary and bonus run $180,000 a year on average, but can go as high as $400,000 to $600,000 if you can really sell stents or replacement knees and hips, Carroll says.

Selling medical diagnostics to physicians’ offices can be an easier transition from a pharmaceutical sales job because it’s a softer sell than medical devices -- doctors order tests, but insurers typically pick up the bills.

Take Your Expertise to Small Pharma or Biotech

Specialty pharmaceutical and small biotech firms are still hiring, but they’re often looking to lure away top producers from larger firms, Carroll says. “A company introducing a new drug tries to attract the best people,” he says. “They know they’re going to have to lure them over and they will back up the [money] truck in specialty-area salaries. It’s not uncommon for a good rep in oncology to have a salary of $120,000 and a bonus of up to $80,000. It’s all about specialization and deep relationships.”

If one of these options sounds promising, get moving now rather than waiting, especially if you’re in a pharma sales job that’s taken the brunt of industry layoffs -- calling on family practitioners as part of a traditional sales team. “Companies don’t want to hire unemployed people,” Carroll says.

Learn more about biotechnology careers.

Learn more about sales careers.

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/30/2015
Napa, CA, 94558
TalentPro Consulting
Posted: 05/30/2015
Franksville, WI, 53126
Lexicon Solutions
Posted: 05/30/2015
Vancouver, WA, 98682
Information Delivery Systems, Inc.
Posted: 05/30/2015
Washington, DC, 20375
The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.
Posted: 05/30/2015
Charlotte, NC, 28211

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-204