Thousands of ambitious young business men and women withstand dozens of interviews and numerous rejections before finally, victoriously landing a highly coveted career in pharmaceutical sales. Those same ambitious men and women frequently become burned out and lose that spark that landed them that position in the first place within a few short years.
Is it the lure of having a financially rewarding career? Being able to support your family? The thrill of beating out so many other candidates to land the position? There are many reasons to believe it’s a great job to have. Sadly, there are few professionals who are still as passionate and enthusiastic about their pharmaceutical sales career who have been at it for five or more years.
The pharmaceutical industry is volatile at best. Class action lawsuits have been brought against major pharmaceutical companies for promoting drugs that have caused serious adverse effects. Drug companies have been forced to lay off significant portions of their sales force at different times due to changing forces in the industry. That safe and secure future you wanted to preserve for your family could be gone in the blink of an eye.
True, the money that can be made in pharmaceutical sales is tempting. While it’s a feasible option for someone desiring a flexible schedule, the day-to-day activities of a pharmaceutical sales rep can be less than stimulating and less than glamorous. Many days are spent sitting in physician waiting rooms for hours, waiting for a doctor’s signature. Rarely do you get the opportunity to spend any quality time talking with a physician about your products, and you could be subject to less than kind treatment by the staff in a physician’s office. Is that what you worked so hard in college for?
For these reasons and others, many pharmaceutical sales representatives find themselves frustrated and discouraged after a few years in the industry. Either they feel as though their talents are being wasted, or they desire more personally fulfilling work. Others have survived several rounds of layoffs but fear that next time, they’ll be on the chopping block.
So what are your options? You’ve spent several years in this career and you worry about finding a comparable position in another industry. You need to support your family, but you want to feel passionate about what you do.
Think about what made you happy before you entered pharmaceutical sales. What did you go to college for? Did you ever really give that career a shot? Even if traditional careers for your background don’t pay well, you could consider starting a business related to that area.
Consider what you enjoy doing in your spare time. There might be ways those activities could be translated to a new career path. Maybe you have a new found interest that would require furthering your education. Consider options you might have for fulfilling that dream.
Maybe you really want to stay in the industry. Think about the reasons that made it so exciting for you to break in to the industry. Do you enjoy learning detailed product information? Maybe you thrive on communicating complex information to physicians. Think about ways that you could bring that passion back into your daily routine. Sometimes, taking on an outside hobby can fulfill your desires enough that you can be happy once again to go to work each day.
Don’t restrict yourself to thinking only about what’s been done in the past. As a person who managed to land a pharmaceutical sales position, you have proven that you have the ability to differentiate yourself from your competition. Dig those skills out of your closet and put them to use for yourself. You deserve to be happy and have fulfilling work, and you have the ability to create that situation for yourself.