Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Get Experience When You Don't Have Any

One the the biggest frustrations of job seekers is to be told time and again that they fall short of the right type of experience.

New grads are told they are not the right fit for a sales position, because they don't have any prior sales experience.

Experienced sales people are told they aren't qualified for medical device sales because they don't have any O.R. experience.

In both cases, it's sort of a conundrum. How do you get experience if no one will give you an opportunity to get it?

From the employer's perspective, they are always taking a chance, even with candidates who have the right experience. Will this person perform? Will their results measure up? So a less experienced person represents an even greater risk.

Here's what I propose: short of having the actual experience in the O.R., for example, do everything you can to lessen the employer's risk in hiring you. There are many ways to do this, and the method that is most effective may depend on the particular employer.

To start with, characterize the risk that the employer thinks they may be facing by hiring someone without the right experience. In the case of O.R. experience, the risk is that it will take someone too long to gain the knowledge and familiarity they need to function adequately in the O.R., in particular talk to surgeons in an intelligent, fluent way about surgical procedures.

My last few posts have pointed to some resources which I think could be very helpful for someone who wants to learn about the O.R., and demonstrate their willingness, eagerness and ability to learn quickly to a potential employer.

If you want to be a device rep, you'll need to know anatomy and medical terminology- why wait until you get the job? Start now.

As I mentioned before there are surgical tech programs around the country which would provide a tremendous amount of useful knowledge. You can locate certified programs through the Association of Surgical Technologists and the National Center for Competency Testing

Obviously these programs would take a lot of time, money and commitment to complete. I think is probably more important to have solid experience in B2B sales. That's why I think the books suggested below are the next best step in the right direction.

Also, on Linvatec's website is an amazing Education section on surgical techniques. It includes videos of surgical procedures by some top surgeons and detailed PDF's with step-by-step surgical techniques.

One candidate told me he went into "lock-down" the week prior to his interview, where he read and studied everything he could find on Linvatec's products. What he realized in the midst of his self-imposed cramming was: "Hey, I actually enjoy this stuff."

And yes, despite his lack of prior surgical experience, he was hired.

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