My Medical Device Sales Career
Actual email sent to me last week for the Ask Linda Forum: all identity has been removed.
I hope this email finds you well. I was given your contact information by my resume writer/career counselor. We just spent the last hour or so on the phone and she suggested I ask you a question that she was unable to answer with certainty.
I am in the process of trying to get into medical/device sales and she said you have extensive experience in the industry. After discussing my background and prospective chance of landing a position (which she said is very do able), she did inquire about my driving record. I recently pled no contest to a DUI (I am unable to fight case because I am moving within 1 month, so I plead within 2 weeks of actual pull over) as soon as possible after the actual occurrence (it is my first and will be my only DUI!). My career counselor had thought that there is no way for me to break into the field with this on my record and she suggested I ask you to see if there were any possibilities for me as you may know what different companies might consider. I understand the liability and know this can be a major deterrent in the application process, but are there companies or positions that this would not limit me from? I am a small business owner and I have a clinical background degree that is very desirable in the medical sales industry, but I have a huge desire to achieve a sales position. Is this out of my reach due to this being on my record?
I do appreciate you taking the time to read this email and would very much appreciate any response you may have. I look forward to your response.
Heartbroken Job Seeker, with a DUI, trying to get some answers
Dear Heartbroken DUI,
I must tell you that I have handled the question of a DUI and it's impact on one's career from many different perspectives, although fortunately not as a recipient of one! My perspective comes from being a Medical Sales Hiring Manager trying to hire someone with a DUI, a Recruiter trying to place someone with a DUI and a close friend receiving one 2 years ago in the state of CA and lastly my eldest daughter getting hit by a drunk driver and her car thrown under the 405 bridge near LAX airport while returning from college 4 years ago. The last event was scary and yes the driver was so drunk he could barely get out the car with police assist. By the way, my daughter and her girlfriend were ok, but my daughter still has back problems from the injury (they were stopped at a light and he barreled through them at full speed with no breaking).
I always understood the devastation a DUI creates on one's career and certainly the limitations is creates on trying to switch careers, but getting the call that early evening from the scene of my daughter accident was another perspective. Just when I thought I made up my opinion on the whole DUI matter I watched my friend attend court hearings, penalties, roadwork just because he had 2 glasses of wine at dinner! So I think what appears to be missing from this very varied perspective that I now have, is that it appears we treat the 2 glasses of wine person the same as the person who is severely drunk and driving and certainly when it comes to getting a job that involves the use of a car for a living.
As my friend attended the aftermath DUI classes I was appalled at the detail of what he can't do now as it relates to CA state law and even other countries. He was even informed in class that he can NEVER enter Canada or Switzerland due to their countries rules! I know this goes beyond the scope of answering this question, but it may be interesting for others to see how it can change the scope of one's life thereafter. It is enough that even though I know I am at risk in CA drinking one glass of wine at dinner and getting behind the wheel, that is ALL I will drink now..period. If I were still employed in corporate world, I have learned from my friends experience and have NO DRINKS at dinner if it involved driving afterwards. It is not worth it. Sorry, I digress Heartbroken, but if your experience and question prevents someone else from going through this pain then the question will be a blessing to others!
Now to the heart of the matter, personally in EVERY situation I have encountered as Sales Manager for 17 years and an outside recruiter for 6 years with major Medical Device Contracts I have NEVER been able to get a person with a DUI an outside sales position.
In fact, I found a GREAT resume from a woman who was about 28 years old living in Southern California and was in one job since college working for Enterprise Rental Car. I found her old resume posted on a job board; I called her right away. She informed me she was still at Enterprise Rental Car, I asked her, "What in the world are you still doing working in THAT job since college?". She replied in a matter of fact voice, "I need to be up front, I am heartbroken over this (yes she used that word), I went out the night before I had to fly to a business meeting for our company and had too much to drink and I got a DUI the next day on the way to the airport". I was like, WHAT? You were drinking the night BEFORE the meeting and got a ticket the next day? She said, "Yes, I am very small, about 5'3" and around 105 lbs. I drank the night before around midnight, went to bed, got up, showered, had coffee and then got stopped on the way to the airport around 6:30 am in the morning and stopped her for speeding". She also went on to tell me that she has left the old resume on a Major Job Board thinking one of the outside sales jobs would still hire her; the DUI happened 3 years before and not one company would let her proceed to the interview. THAT shook me up, a young woman who could not continue with the career she wanted and literally stuck at Enterprise Rental car.
At that time I told her to UNSTICK herself from Enterprise and look at other career options; train up to be an Accountant, yes you can be an Attorney I understand and get a job with a DUI, you can be a teacher or a professor BUT difficult getting a job that involved the use of an automobile and driving as part of the job responsibility. I am sure it has something to do with Insurance risk for the deep pockets of a large company.
Lastly Heartbroken, I have put this question out to 40 Groups on Linkedin to get the response from others in our industry to see what their response may be. I know this is not great news and you need to look at the laws in the state you reside in to see how they handle DUI's and employment. I understand there is a way to expunge a DUI off one's record after a period of time, but I will tell you that they always seem to appear on the employee background checks when my former company would hire a third party agency to do the check.
Let's see what others say. When there is a will there is a way and perhaps that way is with a small DME firm or smaller company that is willing to take the risk; most fortune 500 companies just don't want to deal with it when they can hire top talent that does not have a DUI.
I found this topic interesting as well - one I can't relate to, but felt compelled to revisit several days after reading it. It is difficult to accept that one indiscretion (I'm assuming) could be the sum value of a person. Interesting that you point out other professions allow grace to override judgement/risk management. Npr radio ran a story a few weeks ago that might be worth listening to. It's a discussion on David DeSteno's book Out of Character. People are fluid and unpredictable as revealed most recently in several political stories of men who were seen as otherwise having impeccable character.
I'm heartbroken for him/her.....and agree that UNSTICKING oneself from prejudged limitations is the place to focus!