Career Strategies Oct 26 2010

Five Tips on How to Break Into Sales at AstraZeneca

By shareen pathak

If you want to make an impression at pharma giant AstraZeneca, the hiring manager assigned to you is the person to wow.

According to Bill Warner, director of sales recruitment, the company puts a lot of emphasis on what he calls their "front line" -- the hiring managers that screen your resume, interview you over the phone and in person, and ultimately, approve you.

But Warner is the man who spearheads the hiring strategy in the very "long" sales organization at AstraZeneca. FINS sat down with him to find out what tips he would give to job seekers.

1. Resume is key.
Warner said that hiring managers spend approximately a minute or two with each resume, so he wants to see lots of numbers jump out. "I see a lot of resumes where there are no numbers," he said. "But what I want to see is real, numerical accomplishments."

For new grads or those coming from non-sales backgrounds, make sure you're highlighting what he calls "transferable skills." Things like "drive, resilience and integrity" are paramount, as well as "playing by the rules."

2. Format that resume.
How you set up the resume is just as important as what you include. Warner said that at AstraZeneca's internship program, they do a resume workshop and he's always astonished at how badly bucketed the skillsets are. "Make it clear," he said. "Success, experience, education -- make those headings jump out."

3. Own up to your mistakes.
During the phone screen or the live interview, Warner said he likes to hear about projects that didn't work out. "People in sales want to talk about successes, but I want to know about the failures and what you took away from them," he said.

4. Close the interview.
If you've been to the website and paid attention to the interviewers, you'll know how to do that, said Warner. He likes to see people that establish a definite close to the interview process. "Tell me you enjoyed speaking with me and what you've learned," he said. "Recap what we talked about and thank me."

5. Follow up.
"I want to see something specific and unique," said Warner. "Bring up something we talked about, mention the research you did on AstraZeneca, or even ask a question." He likes to see questions that could not be answered just by hopping over to the company's career site. Things like "Tell me a little bit about this territory" or "Who was previously in this role?" "It shows me that you are interested."

The sheer size of AstraZeneca is one thing Warner highlights. Though it has a hefty social media presence, he said he would rather see applicants go through the careers website than try to contact people directly through LinkedIn. He recommends spending a decent amount of time watching the employee profiles and videos, sample interviews that can be found on the company's YouTube channel, to see what employees are like. "I want you to see a picture of the company before I even hear from you," he said.

Write to Shareen Pathak

Related: Five Tips on How to Break into IBM

Featured Employers
Is your CV / resume as impressive as you are?

A great CV / resume is the key to landing an interview.

Does yours tell a compelling story – highlighting your accomplishments, focusing on your strengths, and reflecting your personal brand? If not, we can help.

Learn more about FINS CV / Resume Service »
Log in