What Employers Really Look For in Medical Sales Candidates

Breaking Into Medical Sales: What Employers Look For

Sales jobs are often known to be high-stress and high-pressure. But for those who are passionate about healthcare and have a knack for sales, a career in medical sales can be immensely rewarding, both professionally and financially.

If you're the kind of person who loves a challenge and isn't afraid of hard work, then a career in medical sales might be the right fit for you. You'll get to work with cutting-edge technology and products, and you'll have the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives.

But to be successful in medical sales, you need more than just a great product. You need to be knowledgeable about the healthcare industry, have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to sell yourself as much as you sell the product.

So what are talent recruiters looking for when they're hiring for medical sales jobs? To help you get an idea, we spoke with Jay Johnson, the Director of Talent Acquisition for Orthopedics at Stryker, a leading medical technology company in the U.S., to find out what it takes to land a job in this competitive field.

Johnson said that contrary to popular belief, you don’t need experience to be hired by a reputable company. You just have to be willing to learn.

“You don’t have to have experience in this space,” Johnson said. “I think that’s a misnomer.”

Johnson said that at his company, the best entry role for someone without previous experience is an associate role. At Stryker, associates can expect to go through training, which takes between 12 and 18 months. When that training is over, each new sales representative should be knowledgeable enough to pinpoint the needs of the doctors they sell to and recommend products to help them and their patients.

Even though prior experience isn’t required, some previous knowledge doesn’t hurt. Johnson said that coming into the role with some prior healthcare or medical experience can make the training process easier.

“Anybody who's got healthcare or prior healthcare experience will be great,” Johnson said. “It’s not required; we offer all of that training. But it might make things a little easier for someone coming in.”

Johnson works in orthopedics, which requires his team to spend ample time in the operating room. This differs greatly from positions in other sectors, which is why he said doing your research before you apply to a job is so important. 

Johnson said that before you apply for a medical sales job, look on the company’s website to see exactly what will be expected from you. Then, try to connect with other sales representatives, either online or in your community, to get as much information as you can about what the job is really like. Being knowledgeable about the position will not only impress your interviewer, but it could potentially save you from wasting your own time. 

Above all, Johnson stressed that the most important attributes he looks for in candidates are their soft skills.

“If you can build relationships, if you can learn quickly, if you can be adaptable and you’re willing to put in the work, we will talk to you,” Johnson said. “We want to understand your story.”

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