Harriet Gwilt

Graduates - have you considered a career as a scientific sales rep?

The time has finally come. Your course at university is drawing to an end and it's time for you to think about what the first step in your career might be. Having completed an undergraduate degree, masters or PhD in the Life Sciences you may be thinking of what jobs are available to you outside of the laboratory environment. So have you thought about working in scientific sales?

Pursuing a career in sales is a great starting point for someone with a passion for interacting with people and who wants to use their scientific knowledge in a target driven role within the commercial side of the healthcare industry. As a scientific sales representative you will be selling a company’s products to a specific customer base. Products can range from basic laboratory consumables such as pipettes to high end capital equipment such as thermal analysis equipment. Customers will range from university laboratories to government research laboratories and hospital laboratories too.

“The time has finally come. Your course at university is drawing to an end and it's time for you to think about what the first step in your career might be. Having completed an undergraduate degree, masters or PhD in the Life Sciences you may be thinking of what jobs are available to you outside of the laboratory environment. So have you thought about working in scientific sales?“

A field based sales representative will spend a large portion of their time travelling to appointments; therefore a driving license is essential. A typical week will be split 20/80; 20% based at home organising your customer appointments and 80% actually attending appointments. If travelling long distances is not quite your thing and you have a good telephone manner then an internal sales representative position may be better for you. This requires you to be office based and conduct sales calls or meetings via email and telephone.

Whilst the technical skills you develop during your degree will be vital; working in sales also requires you to have great communication skills as inevitably your job requires you to be a ‘people-person’. Winning the trust of a customer and building good rapport whilst communicating your knowledge on the product are indispensable skills.

So now you know all about the role, how do you go about landing a career in scientific sales?

The best advice I can give is to gain as much as experience and knowledge of the scientific industry as possible. University is a great starting place and your lab tutors will be able to open up a number of doors for you to explore whether this really is a first career step that might appeal. Shadowing a field sales rep for a day is also invaluable and will help show commitment and an understanding of the role. Research companies that appeal to you and try to network with reps in your local area to get that shadowing organised as this will set you apart from other graduates.

A career as a scientific sales rep has a huge number of benefits; variety, progression and if you work hard, it can offer great financial rewards.

And of course, if you are considering a career in scientific sales, then the final step in securing your first job, is to work with a recruitment agency who knows where the opportunities are in the market, and who can support you throughout the interview process to find the role that is just right for you.

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