Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

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Linda Hertz


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Question from a new Member:

I graduated college in May of 2011 and spent my whole summer applying for medical sales jobs. I have two years hospital pharmacy equipment sales experience and from that I became very passionate about the industry. I had several recruiters advise me to get my CNPR Certification in-order for them to be able to get me a job. I obtained my certification almost a month ago and have heard nothing. I spent two months working full-time and spending all my free time studying for that certification! I rather not know if this program was a scam or not, but some insight on how to fulfill my dreams and break into the medical sales industry. Reading the responses to this post was already heart breaking enough. I hope to hear from you soon.


great website and great information.....

how can I address me having more jobs than the average rep?  I live in a state with a very low population and my territory was eliminated twice with a very short time during my tenure with the companies.  Thanks

Hello Damacio,

Thank you for your question.  I must say that let's assume the average rep. has at least 3 to 4 years tenure in 1 job out of the past 6 years, with perhaps no more than 3 jobs total (so a couple of jobs with much less tenure).  I picked that type of scenerio randomly from what I usually see in a resume.

If we use that as a marker, and perhaps your average is 5 jobs the past 6 years or worse, 6 jobs the past 6 years...then it is difficult to overcome that UNLESS you had previous HUGE tenure prior to the 6 years of job shifting.  You can always hang your hat with new employers that you are looking for the fit that worked...that previous job of long tenure.

Without knowing the total look of your resume, let me throw out a number of strategies and perhaps you will find one that may work for you:

  1. Under EACH job you can indicate the reason for the departure IF IT was NOT your fault.  That said, NEVER PUT DOWNSIZED on your resume AT ALL.  Downsized means you were cut out as the low person of value and a higher valued person took over your territory or job upon your departure. Respectable description  of your departure can be TERRITORY ELIMINATED if NO ONE took it over.  They just closed it and pushed it to Inside Sales.  If company eliminated the entire sales force, then put that down..Entire Sales Force Eliminated.  If the Company went out of business, better yet, Company Went Out of Business.  In other words, anything is good to put down there if it is clear you were not eliminated because someone else won your territory for coverage.
  2. If you have a repeated departure and tenure that truely is not looking good on the resume, then you must go where you know people and through personal connections.  I suggest getting a letter and contact information from EVERY Manager you have worked for the past 10 years and have those in hand to show a future employer.
  3. If you are finding that the low population of your state is making you vulnerable then perhaps you should re-think your occupation and what IS needed in your area.  It sounds crazy, but I can't tell you how many times when I was a RVP with Smith and Nephew I had to hire and then fire people in the Big Block States when management decided we needed to reduce headcount (ND, SD and etc.).  This one is a tough thing to do, because  you really need to perhaps retrain, more school or etc.,.  The old saying, you can keep doing the same thing and getting the same result..or CHANGE IT!
  4. Speaking of change, if your state is making it difficult to find work...then perhaps the big change, moving may be in order.  I talk to people every day that have moved for work, typically they are people who have specialized skills (like nurses and etc.), but I have had more sales people moving who are unemployed, they said they might as well move to where there are more jobs...being unemployed there is nothing to lose...except extended family (that could be good too I guess, depending!).

I may have written some other Blogs that can help you with your quest.  I will attach the link as I search the Library.

Hi Linda,

   The division I have worked for over the past 5 years was closed due to a change in reimbursement of the product line. This has been recent and I am not certain how to approach the recent change to potential employers. I have a letter from Human Resources stating the dates I was employed and my "separation of employment was the result of organizational restructuring." Can you advise me as to how to handle this transition as I search for a new position?  Any advice would be MUCH appreciated.

All my best,

Sue Leslie

Hi Susan,

So sorry for the delay getting back to you!  First of all, I would go on line and Google the product and see if you can find a third party news release on the product and it's demise.  In addition, if the company is publicly held you can go to Yahoo Finance, key in the company's name or stock symbol and see if you can find articles indicating the financial issues of the company (if this is hitting it hard, it should be able to find news on it).  What you are building is documentation that the company is not doing well from a corporate level and leadership direction, not you, who was more than likely was employed to carry out managements marching orders.

Most hiring managers want to know if your current company cut all the positions like yours in the country or within your geographic area or if someone was left standing to cover your job or take over your job.  No person left standing with your position and title means it truly had nothing to do with your performance, it was a 100% company issue.  Typically a hiring manager feels that if some people were left in the role, then they kept the best and cut the rest.  Even if you were caught up in that last scenario that could make you vulnerable to that assumption, you need to build your case as to why you were cut and others not and had nothing to do with job performance.  You should weigh in factors that you had less tenure, someone was more geographically desirable and you could not relocate, you may be on the highest paid income range or your area of expertise was not as valued as another (like a disease state, education or etc.).

I do hope some of this may help you and others and thank you so much for posting the question.  I am certainly open to any other suggestions from the Members or your feedback.


Linda Hertz

When will you be doing your Linkedin Training Webinar workshops? 

Hello Austin,

Thank you for your question and sorry for the delay!  First of all, stay out of pharmaceutical sales, it is a great sales job of the past (back when I graduated from college!).  All we have had is yearly downsizing's in that sector.  Medical Device Sales have also had some downsizing's, but not nearly at the same level.  Pharmaceutical Sales and Medical Device sales are actually two different market segments within the Healthcare Sector.

So given that brief background and back to your question.  Go for the money; a job that will start paying you and give you the foundational experience you need to get promoted to the senior sales position vs. an unpaid internship.  You are graduating in the Spring, get a JOB.  

You can get an immediate Associate Sales Role type of sales position right out of college with several large companies, like Covidien.   If you can't get right into a medical company via that route, then get a strong Business to Business Sales position that can make you a top candidate in a Medical Device firm within 4 to 5 years.

Here are the list of articles that I suggest you read that I have written:

  1. 8 Secrets To Picking a Sales Job That Is a Career Rocket to Big Bucks
  2. New College Graduates! A Faster Way To Break Into Medical Device Sales
  3. How To Break Into Medical Device Sales

Lastly, there are a lot of scams out there trying to get your money to get you certified to be a medical device or pharma rep.; RUN, DON'T Walk away from those deals!  I don't have one medical device company I work with who cares anything about those!  Here is an interesting older Blog that one of our Members Posted and boy did he stir up a hornets nest with that one!  The owners of the company tried to defend their business model and those in our medical sales community put them in their place! So do read this too!:

  1. NAPRx National Association of Pharmaceutical Reps. - Real or Scam?

Thanks again for your question Austin and I do wish you the best of luck getting into our Medical Device Sales Industry!  Keep us posted on your progress and if any of these article or advice helped you!


Linda Hertz

Hi Linda,

I have marketing management in Home health.....17 years ago. I also have acquired a misdemeanor assault(deferred) since then. Have strong accounting & training background. BS Healthcare administration.Question: Am I pretty much done for in Healthcare?? I would love to do HR< but when I was doing that we did not have I have no software experience in that.

Your thoughts please


Identity with-held

Hi Linda,

I have been in the Biomedical Equipment Technician field (Biomed) for three years. I have met a lot of people in the sales field and have decided to look into making the switch from repair to sales.

My question to you would be, what is the best way to make the transition, and is my current position as a biomed seen as an asset for a sales job or is it irrelevant?

Thanks for your time.

Linda, you have an interesting position posted for Orlando, FL for Clinical Specialist - Neuro/Spine.  Can you tell me how much territory that covers?  Many positions sited for Orlando I can easily cover in Tampa as the lines usually crossover at some point.  Please advise as I am very interested in further discussions regarding this and any similar position you might have.

Thank you.  SConte

Our recruiter at is handling that position.  In general, when a position is indicating a base location, that is where the company would want a candidate based out of possibly due to most of their current business and service needs.  That positions reads:

Position Location and Coverage
  • based out of Orlando FL 
  • Coverage - primarily in Orlando with travel to Gainesville, Tampa, Jacksonville 
  • possibly up to 50% Travel

So Tampa would be a no go.  You can send your resume directly to the recruiter on our team for review.  Your location would be an issue although. 

Hi Linda,
My question to you is: how can I break into Medical Device sales?  I've been very successful in my sales career with both Wells Fargo and GEICO. 

Companies always require experience. But how can I get experience without experience?

I'd really love some insight on how to break into this industry. 

Sincerely, Jim

Dear Jim,

There are several clear pathways to break into Medical Device Sales, unfortunately working at a bank or selling insurance is not one of them.  I have written an in-depth article on the subject that I update as needed called How to Break into Medical Device Sales.  Now I did say "clear pathways", there is always a way or let's say a road less traveled?  So I suggest looking for people with your background that are currently in Medical Device Sales and that is very easy to do with the power of LinkedIn.  In fact, I suggest anyone with a background different to what we usually pick from as the preferred B2B sales companies (ADP, Paychex, Copiers, Enterprise Rental and the others mentioned on my in-depth article) perform a search for people as well.  Why not find out for yourself how many people were able to transition over into medical sales?  let me explain further.

To be specific Jim, I went to my Premium Account on LinkedIn and went to the top of my profile page where you will find a white search box with the faint grey words "Search for people, jobs, companies and more....."  to the left of that white box is a little grey one that has three lines and a toggle arrow; click on it.  You will see a list of items you can search for, "People" is the top button; click on that. Then go ahead and put in that white box that now reads just "Search for people" the following:

"Wells Fargo", "medical device sales"  

That's it!  There are more advanced search methods, but let's keep this simple.  Do note the quotation marks and the comma in between the search terms.  This is so those words must show in that exact order and together within the quotations.  The comma means you want to find people who have both phrases in their LinkedIn profile.  When I did this, 23 people showed up.  Wow, not many, but 23 people did it with your background from at least one of the companies you have worked for!  So now what?  Put your research hat on and get busy looking at those 23 people and their profiles to see what companies they hired into or if there was a company after their Wells Fargo tenure that was a "transition" type outside sales position.  Frankly, I see a couple of people who went to Ethicon and Applied Medical right from Wells Fargo!  You must be thinking, "Where do I go from here?"  Let me give you some suggestions.

First of all, you probably will need to purchase a LinkedIn package of some type.  I have noticed that they keep reducing what use to be "free" in the past.  I suggest trying this before approach first and see how far you can get with your free account if you have not purchased a package yet.  If you run into some barriers, then you may want to cough up some money to do the following:

  1. Look at all 23 profiles that are showing both Wells Fargo and Medical Device Sales
  2. Determine those that are in the company you desire to work for (a short list)
  3. If you feel comfortable then InMail them directly (and if you know someone in common, rare, but it can happen, reference your mutual friends name).
  4. Your InMail should be short and concise (do mention your mutual contacts name in the entry of the sentence); "I currently work at Wells Fargo and I see you successfully transitioned into to Medical Device Sales; could I trouble you for your advice on the subject? I would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom!  Also, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know."  Realize that many people are tired of all the InMails on LinkedIn and they may ignore it, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
  5. If you are fearful of approaching a stranger on LinkedIn, then try another approach or you can also do both; go directly to the company that person is working for and see if they have any jobs posted on their site you are qualified.  You can apply on line or better yet, go back to LinkedIn and see if you can determine who the District Sales Manager is for that position in an attempt to make a direct connection and resume send.

Lastly Jim, if 23 people don't get you the traction you need or if you want to do further research (which I always suggest), you may want to cast your net wider on the search phrases we used to:

"banking", "medical device sales"

When I used that more general search term 83 people showed up in the overall search.  Searching first with the name of the company you currently or previously worked is that it gives you a better chance of people responding since you have a bit of a common bond coming from the same company vs. the same general industry.  Also, look to see if any of the original 23 or even the 83 people (at the time of my search) share the same alma mater as you for an added reason for them to respond to you.

Remember, most people want to help others, especially when they see you are faced with the same challenges they have overcome.  People also like to talk about themselves and how they "made it."  So you may surprised on how many helping hands come back to reach out for yours.  All the best to you and good luck on breaking into medical device sales!


Linda Hertz



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