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Background Checks in the Medical Sales Industry

7 Things That Will Stop You from Landing Your Dream Job

Guest post by George Griffiths, Managing Director of uCheck

If you’re applying for a job in the medical sales industry, you need to be aware that medical or pharmaceutical companies set the stakes high when it comes to background checks on future employees. 

Let’s face it. Who really likes having a background check? Even veteran job seekers may still be worried about a company prying into their personal information. However, background checks ensure applicants have a clean history and the correct credentials for the job – so they’re essential to carry out.

A person doesn’t necessarily fail a background check. But they need to meet the hiring standards set by that particular employer. That being said, there are a few red flags that commonly make employers more cautious about recruiting medical sales candidates.

Some checks go without saying, like the drug and alcohol test, but here’s a list of other checks that may not be that obvious and could prevent you from landing your dream job in medical sales:

1. A Criminal History

Most employers conduct pre-hire criminal records searches and many take into account the type of crime and whether an applicant has received a criminal conviction. The majority of employers only disqualify 5% or less applicants in line with past criminal convictions.

In fact, 67% of employers said they’d progress with a candidate assessment even if they discovered a conviction that wasn’t initially disclosed on an employment application. Though, many employers will give you the chance to explain your criminal past.

It really depends on what your crime was, when it occurred, and the job type you’re applying for. For example, there’s a significant difference between one individual petty theft that happened 30 years ago and several convictions of car theft.

In the majority of cases, if your previous crime is related to the role you’re applying for, it can (and probably will) be used to prohibit you from the job.

It’s worth noting that after a specific time period (rehabilitation period), you’re not required to inform prospective employers about the majority of crimes you’ve committed previously.

For certain roles, particularly those working with children or vulnerable adults, a formal police records check is required. In this instance, having a criminal background will potentially stop you from getting a job in one of these professions. 

A job in medical sales generally involves being on the road, recommending products to physician’s offices, medicinal centers, hospitals, and at gatherings or other meetings with medical specialists. Thus, having a criminal history shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking profitable employment. Most employers believe that workers with criminal records bring just as great a value to a company as workers with clean records.

There are various medical sales roles available, including:

  • Pharmaceutical Sales: Market pharma-industry products to doctors, medical centers, and hospitals, often in a designated territorial area
  • Medical Device Sales: This particular field usually entails medical or technical training, and can involve demonstrations, presentations as well as a successful track record in a medical or clinical sales environment.
  • Medical Supply Sales: Typically, this is a transactional sales position that possibly entails selling more general (rather than specific) medical equipment stocks, normally at a relatively high volume, to a steady and rising client base.
  • Healthcare and Medical Management Services: This wide-ranging category comprises marketing healthcare services in the fields of everyday office management, marketing, and billing. Sales reps in this line of work may stand-in for a manager whose supplies help doctors’ offices and medicinal centers run more efficiently and professionally.

If you have a criminal background, you could be more likely to get hired in a medical equipment sales role rather than a pharmaceutical sales representative position. This is because medical sales reps sell more general (versus specialized) medical equipment supplies while pharmaceutical sales sell pharma-industry products to doctors’ offices, medical centers as well as hospitals. 

2. Not Passing a Drug and Alcohol Test

The majority of employers make job offers contingent upon you passing a drug or alcohol test. So, it’s important they know if you’ve had any problems with drug or alcohol use in the past. They will likely carry it out as part of the pre-employment recruitment process and also may test candidates for drugs and alcohol use under certain conditions.

Anyone working in the medical sales industry needs to have a clear head so they can sell their company’s pharmaceutical and medical products to GPs, hospital doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. A drug and alcohol screening can reveal any drug use that would prohibit you from the healthcare industry.

The types of employment drug tests that reveal the presence of alcohol or drugs include: 

  • Blood drug tests
  • Urine drug tests
  • Saliva drug screens
  • Breath alcohol tests 
  • Sweat drug screens.

If you fail a test, there will likely be a full inquiry, after your employer’s drug or alcohol testing process and their disciplinary procedure. You may have a harmless reason, such as the presence of prescription drugs.

Even when a positive result is established, nothing is usually done about it until the individual who gave the sample has been interviewed by a medical doctor to ascertain if anything else could have caused the positive result.

3. Blemishes on Your Credit History

Most pharmaceutical employers are allowed access to your credit history before taking you on. If you have a poor credit history, it may be a red flag to an employer, as concerns here include an inability to honor financial commitments, subpar business management skills, and a failure to manage finances. 

The credit check will reveal any lines of credit you have, existing balance, and available credit. If you have a medical statement sent to collections, they’ll see it. If you have a $0 balance on your credit cards, they’ll see that as well.

If you’re applying for a medical sales job where you’re managing a company’s money, this is most likely when credit checks are carried out, as they want to be sure you’re managing your own responsibly. A company may feel the burden of financial issues can hinder optimum sales performance.  

For instance, for a company recruiting for a position in medical supply sales, a pristine credit report can show that the applicant is financially stable and, thus, less likely to be tempted to pocket supplies. 

While a less-than-perfect credit report may not eliminate you from getting your dream job in medical sales, it may be a deciding factor. After all, given the choice between two equally-experienced applicants, one with a glittering credit history and one who’s overstretched and in serious debt, which person do you think the employer will choose?

4. A Tarnished Driving Record

As a medical sales representative, you’ll be driving to meet doctors, pharmacists, and hospital medical teams, so you’ll need a clean driving license. If you have several speeding tickets or moving violations on your driving history, this could be a warning sign to your employer. 

Having a driving accident while you’re working could mean financial or legal penalties for your employer. And if you have a DUI on your DMV record, you’ll need to explain the situation to your prospective employer.

5. Giving a False Employment and Education History

You’ll need to provide your prospective employer with an accurate list of the companies you’ve worked for, your job titles, and dates of employment since an employment history check is usually carried out. 

When running a background check, most employers will authenticate your education credentials while others may even ask you to provide evidence of your achievements and awards.

So long as you’re honest about your education history and accolades in your job application, you don’t have anything to fear.


George Griffiths is the Managing Director of uCheck. He has been brought up to know the values of uCheck ever since his first involvement in the family-run business at the age of seven. In 2013, George came on board full time with the goal of working together to create a fluid and successful business development structure. His focus for the future is to drive the development of the uCheck groundbreaking HR Platform and continue to align his way of working with their mission statement – to always care about getting it right.

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