BREAKING INTO MEDICAL SALES: How Job Shadowing Can Help Aspiring Medical Sales Reps



This post was updated to bring you the most current tips in September 2020.

Once job seekers have a high-level understanding of getting entry-level medical sales jobs, it’s time to dig a little deeper. A great way to learn more about what a particular role entails is by job shadowing someone who is already in it. 

If you have zero medical sales background, job shadowing will give you a better understanding of the daily activities. And when you list the experience on your resume, you’ll get to feature industry terms and other critical keywords right at the top!

So how do you go about finding medical sales reps who will be willing to work with you? There are plenty of places to look.

Start with your network

You may not know any medical sales reps directly, but someone in your network might. Talk to family, friends (and their families), social media connections, classmates, teachers, and more. Your network is bigger than you think, and someone is likely to be able to point you in the right direction. You can also ask your doctor for the names of the medical sales reps that visit them. 

If someone is willing to provide an introduction, approach each medical sales rep individually. Explain that you hope to learn more about the industry and what they do. Some reps won’t make time for you, but you’re likely to find a few who will be happy to teach you about the job they love.

Set clear goals

Prepare for your first day of job shadowing by outlining your intentions in advance. Be clear on what you want to learn and what questions you have. One great resource to help you come up with questions is JobShadow.com, which hosts a collection of interviews with all kinds of professionals, including medical device sales reps and pharmaceutical sales reps.

Another way to determine your goals is to look at the job descriptions of entry-level medical sales jobs and jot down the skills they require. Then, when you meet the sales rep, you can ask how they developed their skills in the areas you still need to learn.

Bring a notebook with your prep work to the meeting, and take lots of notes throughout your experience. Everything you learn will be useful later when you’re applying for jobs in the industry.

Change it up

Don’t just shadow one sales rep and call it a day. Once you have some job shadowing experience under your belt, keep it up. Try to connect with as many different reps as you can to learn about a variety of positions. 

Many job seekers new to the industry don’t have a clear understanding of the difference between medical device sales reps and pharmaceutical sales reps. Job shadowing reps in these positions will give you a much clearer understanding of each role. 

That first job shadowing connection is a great way to find more medical sales reps to meet. Send a thank-you note after you get home, and ask if they’d be willing to introduce you to anyone else they know in a different role or company.

The more firsthand knowledge you can gain through job shadowing, the more you’ll set yourself apart from other entry-level candidates when you’re finally ready to apply.