Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

Taking Jobs You Don't Like? So What's Wrong With YOU?

The day after I wrote the article, Is The New Job Loaded with landmines? 19 Things You Must Understand, I received a call from Mike concerning a new job opportunity I had just posted.  Mike told me he was VERY interested in the job. After reviewing the details of the position with him to make sure he was still interested (and he was), I began to ask him the standard interview questions.  After the first question, I knew I was into a problem right away. Mike did not understand the 17th item on the career landmine list; Mike did not know himself!  Mike had applied to a medical disposable hospital sales job paying 70K to 80K in base, 120K at Plan and a company car; keep this in mind and let me share the discussion with you:


Linda: “So tell me Mike, what is your base pay and what are you currently making?”

Mike: “70K base and a total of 165K most years, but I made only 130K this year.”

Linda: “Mike, what are you doing?”

Mike: “What?”

Linda: “Come on, in a BAD year with your current job you will STILL MAKE MORE than the open position that I have!  No sales person is ever happy making less money!”

Mike: “I know, but I felt that maybe I would be happier in another type of job, I am in surgical sales and I am tired of selling the same surgical product over and over again.  There has got to be something better than this out there.  It would be hard making less, but maybe if the job would give me more….”  Pause….then silence…..

Linda: “You really don’t know what you want, right? You are trying to deny that you are driven by money and yet, you are not happy in your high earnings, surgical sales job with a solid company.  Why would you be interested in this job?” 

Mike: “I guess I just can’t stand selling the same product to the same customers every week; every month I am seeing the same customers.”

Linda: I paused and reviewed his resume, it was indeed a GREAT resume BUT NOT for the job I had open.  Then my light bulb went off, “Mike, you had a strong business to business sales call background prior to your current surgical sales position.  Let me ask you, did you do a lot of cold calling in that job?”  I heard the click of HIS light bulb going off in the form of a long pause before he responded.

Mike: “Yes, I sold the product, moved onto the next customer and done.  I would touch base with them once in awhile but that was it, I was done.  I really loved that job, but I knew I could make more money in surgical sales.  THAT IS IT, I can’t stand seeing the same customers every week and servicing them, I would prefer cold calling and nailing the sale and moving on!”

Linda: “Well then my friend, you are NOT going to like most of the medical sales jobs out there!  There are only so many hospitals, surgeons, nursing homes…you name it….our business is about long term relationships; selling and servicing with cold calling implemented to create new long lasting business relationships”. 


This conversation took place Christmas week and things were slow, so I offered up a free short career consult for Mike (something I use to do).  As we talked he realized that he began his job search without doing the one exercise everyone must do BEFORE they begin the job hunt: KNOW THYSELF!  It is not uncommon for people to decide that they need a change because they don’t like their job, manager, or even their company, some feel like they JUST NEED A CHANGE and they don’t know why.  How do they resolve this?  They start looking at all the new jobs out there or maybe a recruiter calls out of the blue with a new opportunity.  How exciting they think, “Let’s start searching for a new life (after all these jobs do take up most of our life!), this will be the answer to my unhappiness!  Just maybe the Job behind door #1 will give me the new life of happiness that I am looking for!”

It sounds sort of crazy, but many people (especially sales people) don’t sit down long enough with the silence of their own thoughts to think about where they are in their career or personal life and really dissect what they like and what they don’t like about their current circumstances.  They somehow feel if they begin interviewing WITHOUT really knowing what they truly want in a new job that they will know it when they see it!  So they see something, it looks good and they jump right into a new career, more accurately known as a career landmine; BOOM! (Remember knowing thyself is item No. 17 from the earlier parent article; Is the New Job Loaded With Landmines For Your Career? 19 Things You Must Understand.

I read a book many years ago about dating and finding your best partner for life; the author felt that the divorce rate would be reduced if men and women did one thing BEFORE they even went out on the first date (yes, there are a lot of similarities between dating and interviewing…..I am not kidding!).  What was that one thing?  He advised making two lists placed on a yellow post it (I didn’t say this was high tech!) on your bathroom mirror next to your sink so you could read it every morning while brushing your teeth (I am assuming you brush your teeth at least once a day!):


1.       The Deal Killer List

You list the things that you absolutely WILL NOT ACCEPT in a new boyfriend or girlfriend (ok, now think job as I write this out, but the dating list is more fun!).  For instance, I put these on my Deal Killer List: I don’t want someone who smokes, not my religion, doesn’t want kids, and needs to be taller than I am (hey…I did short and I am a tall gal…so sorry, but this is MY list!) and there was more, but you get the idea. If a person had even ONE of the items on my Deal Killer List…I did just that, I killed the deal.  THE KEY IS TO MAKE THE LIST BEFORE YOU DATE (or BEFORE you job hunt!).  That way, you set the rules BEFORE you meet that hot babe or guy and TALK YOURSELF into how you can overlook what WOULD have been on the Deal Killer List! 

Now this is how it works; sometimes you will know right away if a person possesses one of those Deal Killer characteristics when you first meet them.  If you see it, then don’t even go on that first date (think of smoking on my list!).  Sometimes It may take another date or two to uncover if your date has one of the Deal Killer Traits, but you must abide by the rule; you kill the deal once you uncover that your date has something on that list!  They are just wrong for you, great for someone else, but NOT YOU; just like a career opportunity!

In our example Mike, yep back to career landmines, composed his Job Deal Killer List as follows:

  • No job making less than 150K
  • No more than 3 overnights per month
  • Low to no account service maintenance (we also added detail for measurement)
  • High growth company that values a hunter mentality

Now Mike has a list of items that he will measure all future jobs against AND he knows what questions to ask to uncover IF the next job is just that: a Deal Killer!  But you need more than just a Deal Killer list to find the job of your dreams (or minimally one that you will be way less miserable in).  On to The Wish List!


2.       The Wish List

Of course no one wants to pick a life partner or a job just because they don’t have any of the evils of the Deal Killer list (unless we are, of course, hard up….see, I told you it is a lot like dating!).  Yes, you need to create a wish list and place your biggest and most important wish at the top of the list.  What quality would you really wish your dream job or new mate have (You are wishing they are both hot…right)?  Well, define that a bit more and place those of lesser importance in descending order.  After all, if you are gainfully employed, why not get a job that has as many of your wish list items as possible!  The more that job offers, the chances are the happier you will be! 

Mike’s Wish List began to formulate in order of importance: 

  • Opportunity for advancement (Mike was not sure he wanted to get promoted but he did not want to rule out the opportunity with a small company)
  • Exciting product line that may be even cutting edge (ok to have older products in line too)
  • A progressive immediate manager that will support Mike’s creative ideas and input
  • A culture and commission plan that values and supports their sales force
  • Company provides Stock Options for top performers
  • Company car issued vs. an out of pocket lease car
  • Offers continuing education benefits

As you can clearly see, Mike examined his own needs and desires and now he knows what he wants in the next job opportunity.  He also understands what he does not want!  He knows himself a little better now and he would never have called me about that job posting, not a chance, if he had done this work beforehand!   He politely pointed out that it might have been the best wrong call he ever made!  I only replied, “Merry Christmas! By knowing yourself a little better you just missed a big career landmine.  What better way to start out the New Year and not go out with a BOOM!”


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 You can download this article in Word Doc. format here: Taking Jobs You Don't Like?; Forward to a friend!




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Tags: career advice


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Comment by Linda Hertz on February 20, 2011 at 9:37pm
Hi Kathy...thanks for the comment!  I often feel the Colleges should do this type of soul searching with College students EVERY year as they progress or digress in their chosen majors.  I remember when I was a Surgical Sales Rep. calling on star doctors in Los Angeles...we are talking very successful Plastic Surgeons or CV Docs. telling me that they hate, yes hate their job!  They felt trapped with the big money, prestige..but ultimately were very unhappy.  When I would ask them why they chose their occupation almost 100% of the time they said, "My father was a doctor and much was expected of me to follow in the same steps"...not their steps...their father's steps.  So happy you have both lists....
Comment by Kathy Holdaway on January 28, 2011 at 5:43pm
What a great article and so true!  So many times when I coached through some non-performance issues with my sales team they learned that they would rather be trainers or in marketing.  Know thyself is a big key to inner and outer joy and stellar performance.  BTW I have my lists - mate and work!


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