Graduate guide: How to get into medical sales

    Pharmaceuticals is one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic industries. There’s also an ever growing need to find talented individuals to work in the industry. This means that for those graduates who do their homework (on the industry), and show a passion to get into the medical sales, then it can lead to the start of an exciting and highly rewarding career. 

    Graduates will find a multitude of opportunities ranging from working in scientific laboratories right the way through to pharmaceutical sales, all of which can lead to tremendous growth, international travel and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to patients and their families across the world.

    In our experience there are three things we look for that determine whether we will work with and represent a graduate to one of our clients. These are; education, insights and attitude.


    Some of the more common degrees of CHASE Graduates include Business Studies, traditional sciences (such as chemistry or biology) and Sports Science. The latter especially is a highly regarded degree as graduates are positively stereotyped as being healthy, competitive and able to use scientific data in their day to day conversations – ideal traits of a Medical Sales Representative.

    However, if you have the passion and commercial awareness, your degree could be in any subject. It is also very important to show that you were actively involved in different clubs and societies whilst at University. For most employers, this is a very important part of your educational experience.


    Education is one thing but it’s not enough on its own to make you stand out as a graduate looking to break into the pharma industry. It’s key that you’ve done your homework and can demonstrate a sustained interest in landing that first role.

    Industry knowledge, online (or offline) learning, work experience or field visits are just some of the pre-requisites any graduate would need to be able to discuss in order to convince employers that they’re suitable candidates to consider giving a first break to.


    If you manage to get the right education and show you’ve done your homework on the industry then the third pre-requisite is ATTITUDE!

    Attitude is all about how you present yourself; what you wear, what you say, how you say it, the questions you ask, how you see yourself.

    To get a job in the pharmaceutical industry you’re going to need to convince employers that you can go out and sell to highly educated customers (i.e. doctors, nurses and associated healthcare professionals) in a credible manner, without coming across like a pushy salesperson.

    During interviews and assessments you’re likely to be asked what your strong points are but also where you believe you have weaknesses too, so a balanced but confident manner is essential.

    If you think you’ve got these three attributes then let’s take a look at what the next steps are to making the move.

    Create Your CV

    The first thing you’re going to need is a great CV. Don’t worry if you don’t have any field sales experience yet, but you are going to have to find a way to make sure you get your message across that you will be good with customers; examples of providing good customer service via a weekend job, entrepreneurism through selling things online, even demonstrating that you’re a high energy person who’s had a lot of different experiences through clubs or charities all count when you’re a graduate.

    If you find you’ve got gaps in your CV and experience go and fill them by taking on a part-time job, volunteering, selling your parents unwanted junk etc. All of these things, when used in the right way, will help you to get your foot in the door.


    Once you decide you want to get into pharmaceutical sales, then start finding a way to network with those people already in it. Tell your university mentors, your parents, their friends, your wider family, even your GP… anyone who might know someone who works in the industry that you want to get into it and you might just be surprised what connections transpire.

    The other way to go about networking is to go onto LinkedIn (or indeed any other social media network you think will help) and start building connections with people in the industry. Reach out to them with a personalised message telling them your ambitions and asking if they have any advice to help you make the break. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be willing to help you when you ask for it.

    One word of advice is to make sure you thoroughly prepare a series of half a dozen questions that you want to get out of any discussion you have. Anyone who does speak to you will be extremely busy so by showing you’re structured, efficient and considered this will help you get the information you need and show you in a good light.

    Start by telling them your background and why you want to get into medical sales. Ask them how they got in, what things they could advise you work on whilst building up your experience and knowledge base and which companies they think you should investigate. You might even ask if they know anyone who is hiring at the moment who might look at a graduate. You never know!

    Apply Strategically

    Once you’re ready to start applying you need to start thinking strategically about which types of medical sales jobs and which companies you’d like to go forward for.

    This is where you can really leverage your recruitment consultant as not only will they be able to advise you on these things, they’ll also be able to speak directly to the hiring manager and coach you through each stage of the recruitment process should you be put forward and be considered for a role.

    Be Persistent

    It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the first job you apply for in any profession, so the final thing you’ll need in your quest to join the Pharma sales industry is persistence.

    Once you get that all important first role then you’ll be working in a great industry renowned for nurturing good people, so all of the hard work and persistence will be worth it.

    CHASE is the only medical sales recruiter that has a dedicated Graduate Division to help those who want to break into the industry find that all important first sales role. For help starting your dream career in medical sales, please get in touch.