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My Medical Device Sales Career

I'm a Pharma Rep in Europe, How do I get a Job in USA? CNPR Certification?

Dear Linda,

Currently,  I am employed as a pharmaceutical sales rep (PSR) in Europe, in Germany to be more specific. I have over 15 years of experience in the field. We are in the process, my husband and I of moving back to the states  and I would like to continue in this profession, even though I don't have a bachelors degree. After some extensive research, I came across your website and believe this may help me during this transition. 

Would your recommend, I obtain the CNPR Certification?

What option would you suggest, or better yet how to I enter the US market, with my background? 

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Nicole H.

Hello Nicole,

Your overall question is a tough one, "How does one transition from an overseas pharmaceutical sales job to a USA based pharmaceutical sales position?"  My experience is very limited on international job transitions in regards to the pharmaceutical industry so I decided to reach out to my long time contact and medical sales industry expert, Pat Licata, with 37 years of pharmaceutical and medical recruiting expertise who places direct and 1099 medical sales forces within the USA. 

This is what Pat Licata had to say about the overall job transition strategy

I will tell you from my experience that career transitioning from an internationally based pharmaceutical sales position into the USA marketplace is a tough one.  The best route would be through a contract sales organization, like an inventiv HealthorPublicis Touchpoint Solutions.  You will not make as much money, but it could be the transition vehicle you need. It also opens the door for a possible opportunity to be hired directly by the company that has contracted the CSO (Contract Sales Organization).

Pat's additional job hunting tips:

  • Send your resume for sales openings to a CSO that require your clinical expertise.

  • Join LinkedIn and become a member of pharmaceutical sales and pharmaceutical sales recruiter groups to connect and  network with sales reps, sales managers and  recruiters in the pharmaceutical and medical space.

  • Utilize LinkedIn to share who you are and that you are searching for an opportunity in pharmaceutical sales and ask for help. I find LinkedIn members like to help and will refer you to other sales reps, managers and recruiters.

  • Sign up for www.ziprecruiter.com to expand your reach with pharmaceutical sales opportunities and you can also send your resume to hiring sales managers or recruiters.

  • I Invite you to join www.patlicata.com where reps can sign up for job alerts which will include direct and 1099 medical and pharmaceutical sales opportunities (sorry for the self-plug, but it may help you!).

  • Persistence and building a network of relationships in your market will help you today and for the next steps in your career. 

I thank Pat for her insight and I might add, that if your company is an international company, that the easiest route could be an internal international transfer within your own company or seek employment to a different international division of your current company.  I personally was involved with this type of situation when I was a RVP at Smith and Nephew (it can be done).

What About Those Pharmaceutical Sales Certification Programs? 

As for the answer to your other question as it concerns obtaining a CNPR Certification or ANY type of Pharmaceutical Certification Program. These certification programs are OFTEN a waste of money and effort, and can actually be a deterrent from pharmaceutical companies considering you for hire.

Pat Licata summed it up very well:

All of these pharmaceutical certification programs are of no importance to my hiring clients. Five years ago, I reached out to multiple managers at high levels and field managers within their pharmaceutical companies, providing them a list of all the certification programs available. None of these executives recognized or valued outside certification programs.

Even now, I question whether these programs are valued. In fact, my pharmaceutical sales executives said that a company who is hiring will want to train the reps. If anything, they have to un-train sales representatives who have utilized these certification programs.

Pat Licata, with 37 years as a medical recruiter, nor I, with 36 years of medical industry experience, EVER received a hiring client request for a Pharmaceutical or Medical Device Certification trained candidate. NEVER. So we suggest not wasting your time and money on any type of certification program until you do YOUR homework to make sure it is a hiring requirement by the company:

  • Utilize LinkedIn and reach out to the Hiring Companies employees for verification of their hiring requirements; Human Resource Department, District Manager and Pharmaceutical Sales people.
  • Go to the hiring company’s website and read their pharmaceutical sales job post and see if a Pharmaceutical Certification is required or even preferred on the description.

Again, we suggest people who are still interested in these certification programs to do this type of research on their own and come to their own conclusions. You can view an earlier blog where I addressed the very same subject Do I Need Certification to Get Into a Pharmaceutical Job?

No College Degree? There Still May Be A Way!

Lastly, on the topic of not having a 4 year college degree.  Unfortunately with mid-range to large pharmaceutical companies that is a "must," and also usually combined with previous pharmaceutical sales experience.

Pat also added, "Some small companies and  1099 pharmaceutical or medical sales groups will review the candidate for related clinical sales expertise without having current customer relationships or a 4 year degree."  So perhaps your current 15 years of pharmaceutical experience would help you with these smaller players in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition, Pat mentioned it would be good to place upon your resume any other languages, beside English, you may be proficient.

Pat and I wish you all the best in your quest to transition into the USA Pharmaceutical Industry.

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