Med device sales: how to get your first industry job
  • Posted on: 03/01/2020
  • Category: Graduate Advice

Med device sales: how to get your first industry job

So, you’ve graduated, you’re looking to break into the commercial world of medical device sales, but you don’t know where to start, or maybe you’ve worked in sales for the last few years and want to test your skills in the competitive and challenging medical devices area. No matter what the scenario, a question that keeps cropping up over and over again is often the same: ‘how I get into medical devices sales?’

In a nutshell, there’s no ideal background or profile for guaranteed success; medical devices recruitment – as with most other industries – comes down to the person. However, there are some competencies you can develop and steps you can take to put yourself in the best possible position to get the offer you want.

How to get into medical device sales: Shadowing

It’s very hard to look an interviewer in the eye and say ‘medical device sales is definitely for me’ when you haven’t seen for yourself what the job entails day to day. This goes without saying for all jobs, but in medical devices it’s even more important to understand the dynamics of the role in detail. From the extensive travel, the squeamish feeling you’ll experience while witnessing different types of surgery, and the impending pressure you’ll get from essentially running your own business – there’s a lot to consider before you pursue the career you’ve dreamt about.

The only way to confidently assert that ‘medical device sales is definitely for me’ is to shadow a Medical Device Representative while they’re out in the field. This works twofold; you’ll confirm – or not – that it’s the lifestyle for you, but most importantly it shows a hiring manager or interviewer that you’re there for the right reasons and that you fully understand and accept the realities of the job.

Getting this invaluable experience is not easy, but don’t give up! The best candidates succeed by tirelessly networking with industry professionals, using friend and family contacts in the industry, and some people have been known people to wait at hospitals for Reps to arrive and approach them directly.

There’s no set process or easy way to get this done so be resilient, don’t take no for an answer, and above all remember it’s just as important as interviewing well – it gives you credibility.

How to get into medical device sales: Understand and play to your strengths

Every client has a different take on what makes a good trainee. Some want graduates fresh from university with a science-related degree whom they’ll train at the sales front and introduce them to the commercial world in their own way. Others want their candidates to already be knowledgeable about the NHS and the way it operates. Their view is that selling to the NHS can be quite frustrating and people that have worked within it in a patient-focused role can get to grips with sales cycles and frustrations that little bit quicker.

The final ‘type’ – if it can be called that – of candidate that clients ask for is somebody who has worked in sales for a number of years and is keen to transfer their commercial skill to medical devices. They’re more than willing to speak with high-performers from other sales sectors that are looking for a fresh challenge in a new environment that can pick up to their new role at the same standard.

All three types have their own benefits and drawbacks. As a general rule graduates lack work experience but bring technical knowledge from their education. People with NHS experience understand the challenges and motivators of the people they’re selling to – a huge advantage – but lack commercial know-how. Then you have those people that have successfully sold products for a number of years in various sectors, but they have practiced sales tendencies that don’t necessarily suit medical devices, and correcting those tendencies can be costly and time-consuming for the client.

Whichever category you fall in to, you must be resilient, aware of weaknesses and spin to strengths – whether that’s sales, NHS experience or a science-related degree, and don’t take no for an answer!

How to get into medical device sales: Work with a medical device recruitment specialist

There’s no doubt that finding a new job or securing your first ‘real’ job is daunting. To help, the final and most important piece of advice to give is to work with a medical device recruitment specialist; it’ll increase your chances of finding your ideal role, but most importantly, shortens the time it takes to secure it.

Some highly talented and experienced candidates can take years to secure their dream role because they went it alone. Compare that to candidates we have worked with who haven’t been as well-equipped initially but had stacks of potential and enthusiasm, who’ve managed to secure their first role in under three months. A good relationship with your consultant is fundamental to a successful process – they have the knowledge and they’re willing to share it!

In summary, it takes people from all walks of life to be successful in the industry, but it often comes down to who stands out the most. Working with your consultant will equip you with networks of good relationships with your ideal employers, methods to help you build your brand, and shadowing experience will help you stand out against the masses.