Medical Sales Job Search Report — October 2020

Medical Sales Job Search Report _ Feature
As we enter the fourth quarter of 2020, the global pandemic and a chaotic US election continue to dominate the news cycle. Healthcare as an industry continues to recover, and the outlook is good for device and pharma companies–especially those working on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. But does the positive news extend to the medical sales job search?
According to our job search research, medical sales job seekers should feel encouraged. Key indicators such as the length of time to find a job and the percentage of applications receiving a response have gone largely unchanged, and in some cases, improved. The answers to the following questions remain remarkably stable.

How long does it take to find a medical sales job?

How many job applications?

How many interviews? 

Our job search research began during the summer of 2019, with the first report published in October 2019. With this report, we have a year’s worth of data from which to draw conclusions. Some indicators have shifted slightly. The average number of job applications submitted per month by employed job seekers has decreased in recent months, suggesting job seekers may be less eager to make a career move now than they were a year ago. Perhaps as a result, recruiters are increasingly reaching out to candidates via the resume database. The reported response rate from job posters remains steady. Candidates report getting a positive response to approximately one in five job applications. 

What does a successful medical sales job search look like?  

  • Found a job
  • Still looking

22% of respondents recently found a job.

The average length of their job search was 108 days, approximately 3.5 months. This is 3 weeks longer than the reported average time to find a job in the second quarter of 2020 but in line with the average time reported in the first quarter. These respondents had an average of 8 phone interviews and went on face-to-face interviews with an average of 6 different companies. 40% received multiple job offers.  

Successful Job Search Averages

  • October 2019
  • January 2020
  • April 2020
  • July 2020
  • October 2020

Response Time


Length of Job Search

These graphs show the averages reported by users who found jobs since we began publishing the data. The time it takes to find a job has remained relatively steady. However, the number of job applications submitted by job seekers has declined in recent months, suggesting they may be less motivated to make a career change than they were earlier in the year, when the economy was more stable. Despite this decline, the length of time to find a job, while up from the previous report, is still better than it was earlier in the year. The data also shows an improvement in the length of time it takes to hear from a recruiter.

How long does it take to hear back from the job poster?

8 Days

After submitting an application, successful job seekers
waited an average of 8 days to get a response.

How many jobs should I apply to?  

23 jobs per month

Those who reported successfully finding a job reported submitting an average of 23 applications per month. Those who are still searching for jobs reported similar numbers.

The number of jobs applied to per month by those who recently found a job was 23–nearly 30% lower than the number reported by successful job seekers last quarter. This could explain why this group reported taking longer to find a job. Those who are employed and looking applied to an average of 22 jobs per month –an increase of 50% over last quarter. Consistent with previous findings, unemployed job seekers applied to 26 jobs per month.

The takeaway? While this quarter, the average number of jobs candidates applied to was similar across the board, the fact still stands: If you want to increase your chances of getting a job (or decrease the amount of time it takes), you should increase the number of applications you submit. 

How many of my applications will get a personalized response? 

1 in 5 applications received
a non-automated response.

On average, job seekers reported receiving a
non-automated, personalized response to
between 18%-19% of their job applications.

In the age of automated replies, how many applications received a personalized response? The response rate for all groups was between 18% and 19% or nearly 1 in 5. This is slightly better than the previous quarter, in which the reported response rate ranged from 15%-17%. These figures suggest that while the average number of jobs candidates applied to was lower in this reporting period, the number of contacts made was consistent with prior reporting periods.    

The takeaway? With some variances, most job seekers can expect to hear from the recruiter regarding one out of every five applications they submit.

How long does it take to get a response?

13 days to receive a response
after submitting an application.

The average waiting period ranged from 8 days for those who found a job to 19 days for the unemployed group.

Those who recently found a job reported a shorter waiting time to receive a response–8 days. The “employed but looking” group reported waiting 12 days and the unemployed group said it took 19 days to hear from a job poster. This quarter’s research shows an improvement from 16 days (in Q2) to 13 days (in Q3) in the overall average time it takes to hear back. The average for the first quarter of 2020 was 15 days.

The takeaway? Candidates should not feel discouraged if it takes a couple of weeks to hear from the job poster. Two weeks may feel like forever, but this is standard and even slightly better than average for 2020. 

What are my odds of being contacted?

82% were contacted as a result
of a resume database.

The odds have improved! In the the previous report, 60% had been contacted as a result of a resume database.
In the first quarter, that figure was 70%.

A majority of job seekers upload their resume to a database so that recruiters and hiring managers may see their resume and reach out about an opportunity. For those that upload, 82% reported being contacted by someone as a result. This figure has improved from previous reports suggesting recruiters may be taking a more proactive approach.

The takeaway: Significantly increase your odds of connecting with recruiters and hiring managers by uploading your resume to a well-regarded database. 

Where should I look for jobs?

In addition to MedReps (which all survey respondents used), LinkedIn and Indeed continue to be the most popular job search tools.
MedReps 100%
LinkedIn 84%
Indeed 48%

Who took this survey?

When looking at the different types of respondents, it’s interesting to note that those who recently found a job did not report notably more or less experience than the other groups. However, the successful job seekers reported fewer years of experience.and lower average salaries than the employed group. The higher-earning employed group may need more motivation to switch jobs. One in three had received an offer but turned it down. Those earlier in their career are more likely to accept a new position. 

The Takeaway

Despite the uncertain times, our research suggests the medical sales job search is relatively stable. We know from the job counts on MedReps that medical and pharmaceutical companies are still hiring, and while passive candidates may take a little more persuading than they used to, active job seekers are finding and accepting new opportunities. Job seekers, both active and passive, must stay informed about what is happening in the industry and take steps to advance their medical sales career.

Be proactive in applying to jobs and
flexible in the unusual hiring process.

While much about the job search may feel out of your control, stay focused on the things you can control–uploading a resume to the database, applying to jobs, and following up with recruiters where possible. If medical sales job seekers are proactive in applying to jobs and flexible in the unusual hiring process, they are likely to find success.  

Data from October 2020 Report was collected July-September 2020
Data from July 2020 Report was collected April-June 2020
Data from April 2020 Report was collected January-March 2020
Data from January 2020 Report was collected September-December of 2019
Data from October 2019 Report was collected June-September of 2019