Case History #1 - Network, Network, Network
For 45-year-old Bill Madsen*, the road to a successful pharmaceutical sales career began in church. After choir practice one evening, the retired Army officer struck up a conversation with another choir member, who mentioned that her fiancé worked as a drug rep.
After 22 years of military service, Madsen had planned to take it easy for a year or so before embarking on a second career, but he was immediately intrigued. He was vaguely familiar with the pharmaceutical sales field, since a good friend's daughter was in the industry.
But he'd never seriously considered it as a career option for himself, assuming he was too old. Madsen's acquaintance said her fiancé was in his early 40s, however, which prompted Madsen to reconsider.
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"I was open to several possibilities for the second act of my career," Madsen says. "But the idea of pharmaceutical sales particularly inspired me," he says.
Madsen, who had spent the majority of his Army years in accounting and managerial roles, set up a coffee meeting with his acquaintance's fiancé. At the meeting, Madsen's contact mentioned that he worked with several former servicemen and women at one of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies.
"He said people with service backgrounds are known for having strong work ethics and good teamwork skills," Madsen says.
After the meeting, Madsen was convinced that pharmaceutical sales was the right path for him. Madsen, who considers himself "highly self-motivated," was attracted to the challenge and the intensity of the profession, as well as the opportunity to earn a hefty commission based on how well he performed. "That's something that Uncle Sam never offered," he says.
Madsen threw himself wholeheartedly into learning about the field. He read a book regarding pharmaceutical sales he purchased on the internet, Insight into a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales, cover to cover.
"The book was really good. It offered an overview of the major pharmaceutical companies and their products, and advice on answering industry-specific interview questions".
After finishing his background research, Madsen forwarded his cover letter and resume to his choir acquaintance's fiancé. A few weeks later, he was called in for an interview at the fiancé's company.
"I was somewhat nervous, since I hadn't applied for a 'civilian' job in over 20 years," Madsen says. "But I felt really prepared. I had gathered background information about the company on the Internet and in my guidebook, and I knew a lot about the company's products and competition," he says.
He wasn't thrown any curve balls during the interview, and he felt like he'd established a good rapport with the interviewer, so Madsen considered it a success. While waiting to hear back from the first company, Madsen interviewed with several other companies.
Each interview helped him polish his presentation skills, he says. By the time he was called back to the first company for additional rounds of interviewing, he felt confident and comfortable.
Three months after his fellow choir member hooked him up with her fiancé, Madsen was offered a job at the fiancé's company.
"I really think it helped to have a personal connection with someone who worked in the company," he says. "I think I conveyed to him in our initial meeting that I was enthusiastic about the job and that I would be able to handle the pressure, and that's why he decided to help me," Madsen says.
Madsen admits that his hunt for a pharmaceutical sales job was relatively smooth compared to the hunts of many other people hoping to break into the industry.
"All I can say is: network, network, network. You never know who may be able to help you reach your goal."
* Not His Real Name
See Also>Case History #2 - Newspaper Ads and Brain Picking.
See Also>Case History #3 - Recent College Graduate hits Pay-Dirt.
See Also> 42 Year Old Man -- "How I landed my Pharm Rep Job" -- From Monster.com Message Board