Not Just For Students – How Job Shadowing Can Help Your Career Transition

What should you do to break into medical sales, laboratory sales, clinical diagnostics sales, surgical products sales, pathology sales, imaging sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, bio-tech sales, or sales of cellular or molecular products? As a medical sales recruiter, one of the most important tips I can give you is this: go for a ride-along with someone in the field to ask questions and see what a typical day is like.

Job shadowing is something we usually associate with high-school or college students, but it can be tremendously beneficial for anyone changing careers in just about any field–not just medical sales. It’s valuable hands-on experience before you make the commitment to switch.

A ride-along is just what it sounds like: You spend a day with a sales rep who’s in the field you’re thinking you’d like to sell into, and see how a typical day goes. A ride-along can be one of your greatest opportunities to differentiate yourself from another candidate. It sets you apart as a go-getter. It gives you critical on-the-job information that helps you in your job search. Among other things, it helps you answer the question, “How do you see yourself in this job?”

How do you get one?

Step 1: Ask for contacts.

If you want a pharmaceutical sales job, for instance, call your family doctor and ask for a favor-ask for the contact information of a couple of the sales reps who call on him. If you want a medical device job, ask the doctor for those types of representatives. If you want a laboratory sales job, go see a small laboratory and ask for a couple of contacts (folks who sell to them).

Get the idea?

Step 2: Call the sales rep and ask them for a favor:

Will they let you tag along for a day or half a day to see what their life is like? When you contact them, reassure them that you’re not after their job, but are looking for information about the field….pros and cons, typical day, and so on. This will help you narrow down which health care sales field you want to get into, and when you land the interview, your prep work will show and give you an edge over other candidates.

That’s all there is to it. When you do the ride along, ask lots of questions: What do they like about the job, what do they hate, what skills are absolutely necessary, how did they get the job, etc. You’ll think of more throughout the day. Take notes. Once you’ve done this, add the experience to your resume as a preceptorship.

Completing a ride-along communicates that:

(1) you are willing to go the extra step,
(2) you know how to make contacts and
(3) you know what you are getting into.

It helps the hiring manager see you in the job and that is what gets you a job offer.