I don’t need to tell you that big pharmaceutical companies are laying people off. The reasons why are everything from lack of pending blockbuster products to growing competition among generics, “closed” offices, and changes in the way physicians  purchase products; e.g. “e-detailing” is in vogue and seems to be growing.

If you are in big pharma and seeking opportunities in medical devices/equipment/biotech, I have some encouraging news for you, based on the performance of my own clients (I am a mentor to those seeking work in medical sales). Think of this as a brief checklist of key changes in the healthcare – medical marketplace that you can use for an effective job search:

1.) Big device / equipment companies are now hiring reps from big pharma. To see this for yourself, make a list of the Top 10 big medical device/equipment OEMs and (don’t go to their websites) look them up on Linkedin. Look at the profiles of their “New Hires”. You’ll be whispering wow shortly. It’s true – they are hiring now from big pharma. Take a good look at the background of those new hires and you’ll also see some key items you need to address in your resume and Linkedin profile: do you have experience in new product launches? Do you have special insight to certain disease states or therapeutic areas? Were you involved in successful new office startups? Do you have developed relationships with specialty physicians (IM, EM, ENT, Cardio, Respiratory, surgeons).  These are all common elements you’ll see in these new hires. And we must get that information into your resume and Linkedin Profile.

2.) Many of these sales positions are never advertised – they are filled via internal referrals. Last year JobVite.com surveyed over 600 human resources and recruiting professionals regarding their methods for acquiring talent in today’s very competitive market. The poll reviewed 9 talent acquisition tools, everything from job boards to corporate websites, 3rd party and retained recruiters. And the new #1 source of talent acquisition? Referrals. I help about 250 candidates each year in their pursuit of medical sales roles – I have seen the growing power of referrals. So – when you are in Linkedin and you’ve got a list of medical device/equipment/biotech companies you’d like to target, your next step: find people who are on the sales teams of those employers. These are your potential referrals.

3.) Most of my clients moving from big pharma and entering medical device/equipment/biotech careers are finding their break with “mid-tier” OEMs, e.g. $100M to $3B in annual sales. Why? Reasons vary, but here are 3 leading reasons as provided by these employers. First, you gained invaluable insight to the business development and sales operations best practices of a major company; many of these mid-tier companies want to be major players one day – they want you to show them the roadmap. Second, many of these mid-tier companies will zero in on your new product launch experience – as that is exactly what they are set to do next. Third, these mid-tier companies will want to know the “mistakes” you saw made. You’ll want to deftly answer that question! And consider yourself as someone who can help them avoid the landmines that your previous big pharma employer may have stepped on.

Keep plugging away – try not to be discouraged. And realize your peers are successfully moving from big pharma sales careers into medical sales careers. And big medical device/equipment companies are beginning to open their doors, despite the harsh economy. This is all good news – which is something we all need.  By the way, the percentage of companies that have hired via Linkedin? It’s 89.4% (based on recent poll by JobVite of 600 employers), so be sure your resume and Linkedin profile are both exceptional.

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