The pharmaceutical sales job market is highly competitive and the quality of your resume could make or break your chance at getting an interview. Employers seeking professionals in the pharmaceutical sales field deliberately focus on specific keywords, education, experience, and achievements. This article will focus on the essential elements of a well-written pharmaceutical sales resume. It will also further demonstrate how to showcase your qualifications if you are just getting into the industry to set you apart from your competition.


2018 pharmaceutical sales resume trends in writing and formatting?

As is the case when customizing a resume for any other professional field, the main objective is to relay pertinent information in a concise and orderly manner. More specific to pharmaceutical sales resume writing is demonstrating how you increased market share for the companies you have represented in the past. Each item of the essentials for formatting will address this priority.


Starting at the top of a pharmaceutical sales resume, address the essential elements of the header.

Appearances matter in the design and layout of your pharmaceutical resume, so, avoid using a template when you organize your information on the page. A particularly ornate design will not land you an interview, but, a resume which is too ordinary may be passed over.

Your header must relay your name and contact information. You may have heard of professionals including a professional title in their centered header; this sentence was used to relay what the applicant does and what industry they are in.

Objective statements are no longer recommended when writing a resume. Particularly when your goal is to demonstrate the business you generate, companies are more interested to know what you can do for the company than how you wish to progress your career. Many professionals now include an executive summary which outlines the highlights of an individual’s accomplishments most relevant to the position for which one is applying.


Following a clean header, pharmaceutical sales resumes lead with employment history and education.

While the employment history section of an application tends to request the job title and responsibilities managed by an applicant, when you write a pharmaceutical sales resume, employers are scanning for your accomplishments rather than what was expected of you.

Whenever possible, include verifiable figures to back up your successes (more on that later in this article) over the last fifteen years. If you feel your long term experience deserves to be highlighted, include those details within your executive summary without demonstrating exact timelines to avoid subjecting yourself to potential age bias.


Showcasing your education on a pharmaceutical sales resume should include your education.

Lead with your most advanced degrees and, again, avoid age bias by forgoing the dates when you attended school. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, employers are more likely to focus on further education in business and sales than they are to look for degrees in science. If you are highly proficient in business, several employers will agree to train you accordingly on the science aspect of the job.


Pharmaceutical sales resume writing tips: What are the most important keywords to include?

The reason you need to consider using keywords in your pharmaceutical sales resume is to keep up with the new trends in resume review. If you apply to an online position, the likelihood of a machine initially reading your resume rather than a person is virtually certain. These machines are programmed to scan for particular keywords when making the first cut of applicants for the review of the employer.


While it serves you well to thoroughly review the job listing and the website of the company for whom you wish to work, the following list of five strong keywords to include in your pharmaceutical sales resume are as follows:


  • Initiative

This keyword demonstrates to an employer you are confident enough in your skill set to be proactive rather than require micro-management or constant guidance.


  • Results driven

This word tells the company you are passionate about achieving goals and will measure your own success by the business you generate for the company.


  • Strong presentation skills

In the brief period of time (10 – 15 seconds on average) that an employer will review a resume, this set of keywords implies your knowledge of the six, core presentational skills employed by successful sales representatives.


  • Customer focus

Any smart business knows excellent customer service goes a long way towards making initial and repeat sales through customer loyalty; your use of this set of keywords on your pharmaceutical sales resume insinuates you know how to customize your approach to the various different types of customers you may encounter on the job to provide excellent, quality service.


  • Active listener

Being an “active listener” is just as important in the field as it is in the workplace; the use of this set of keywords on your resume tells the hiring manager you are attentive to whoever is speaking and, therefore, you will take less time to follow through on any given task for need of repetition of information.



An absolute “must have” on a pharmaceutical resume is strong, demonstrative numbers.

Even more important than keywords, your pharmaceutical sales resume will climb to the top of the list if you have solid numbers to back up your claims. If you’re just starting out in the industry, there are tips geared towards graduate students and those who have worked in other sales fields later in this article.

The main body of your resume as outlined in your job history must provide quantifiable accomplishments. Sales quotas and your ranking against other sales representatives by year’s end over the course of three years are factors which will grab an employer’s attention. If your pharmaceutical sales resume lacks pertinent, illustrative financial data, it may be automatically rejected.

Aside from the numbers themselves, your pharmaceutical resume will stand out if you concisely illustrate the conditions in which you were able to achieve your goals. It might benefit you to include information about your activity level such as targeted meetings or physician calls made on a weekly basis. If you decide to include awards on your resume, be certain to identify if the award was won for your company, region, or if the award was a nationwide victory.

Keep in mind, recruiters may prefer to see slight ups and downs in your numbers, leaving less room for question about your confidence and integrity than if you only select years of impressively high ranking accomplishments. Demonstrate the full picture as concisely as possible for a strong, competitive pharmaceutical sales resume.


Should you include a cover letter with your pharmaceutical sales resume?

Unless the application instructions specifically request a cover letter, there is a high probability you may not need to spend the time and energy crafting a cover letter to accompany your pharmaceutical resume. Recruiters are more inclined to open attachments with numerical data. If you feel the need to send an employment matrix or a stat spreadsheet, it has a higher chance of being opened and read in this day and age than a cover letter.


However, if a cover letter is requested on the application instructions, take the time to write a short, compelling message to the company as to why you are a perfect fit for the job posted. Your subject line should include the job title and relevant location; to make this line standout, use your top listed ranking or other applicable honorific. For example, an attention-grabbing subject line could read, “Top 5% Sales Representative Seeking Marketing Position in Denver.”


2018 pharmaceutical sales resume trends and writing tips for recent graduates

If you are just exiting school and looking to enter into a pharmaceutical sales position, you will not have the experience as of yet to demonstrate your numerical accomplishments; however, your lack of field experience may not necessarily remove you from the pool of potential candidates if you compose a well-organized resume.

The key to writing a pharmaceutical sales resume as a recent graduate is to demonstrate your impact on campus. A recruiter will look favorably on students who demonstrate a high level of involvement and leadership skills. If you stayed busy, juggled multiple tasks, and can make it clear you were passionate about all of your hard work, a hiring manager may still consider you a strong candidate for the position.

Unlike those who are seasoned in the field, including a well-written cover letter as a sample of your writing and an illustration of your work ethic and professionalism may be advisable. It is also advisable to go the extra mile and contact a company on LinkedIn or through the website to express interest in the position. Your job as a graduate student applying for work is to clearly show how much potential you have to generate sales for the company in question.


Pharmaceutical sales resume trends and writing tips for applicants new to the industry

If you are new to the industry, your pharmaceutical sales resume must clearly illustrate your successes in past jobs. If you have worked as a B2B sales rep, the format for your resume is the same, though, you may need to make it clear as to what you sold and to whom. Numerically, you still need to calculate your quotas and rankings which may be easier for you in other commercial endeavors than the seasoned pharma rep (in which case, relay what was sold, to whom, and what the product treated).


Pharmaceutical sales resume writing tips for applicants with employment gaps in their job history

If you have gaps in your employment history, the best advice is to be honest about those gaps on your pharmaceutical sales resume. Leaving blank spaces without explanation and description of how the time was used to better yourself is a red flag for most recruiters. For example, if you took two or three years to raise children or assist a sick relative, tell this story briefly. Use a smaller font as to not jump off the page in front of other information about your career and accomplishments.


If you have questions about writing a competitive pharmaceutical sales resume, has the experience to enhance your presentation.


The pharmaceutical sales job market is highly competitive. A well-written, professionally composed resume could be your ticket to an interview. If you’re having trouble deciding which aspects of your career are necessary to highlight or whether or not you really have to explain taking time off for an illness or injury, the professional writing staff at has the experience and knowledge to make sure your resume is updated for 2018 and competitive in your chosen field.

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