Changing Careers? How to write your CV/Resume for a new direction - Part 2
Copyright © 2005-2010. Margit Selvey, MSc
The following is a continuation of the step-by-step process which I used to assist a client who wanted to make a switch from being a Health Club Manager and Personal Trainer to a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. Although your background and goals may be different, seeing the steps I took to create his resume may help you in the process of creating your resume for your own career change.
This is Part 2, to go to Part 1, Click here
To see the job description from which these interview questions were generated, please click the link below and use the back key on the browser to return to this page.
The following sections of the interview have been transcribed with my client’s permission. But to protect his confidentiality, all identifying details have either been changed or withheld.
These are only highlights from the interview, not the entire interview as it would be far too long. Hopefully this will provide enough information to see how I was able to use this information to build my client’s resume in tandem with what the employer had specified.
Do you have a Bachelor’s Degree?
Yep. B.S. In Sports Management with a minor in Physiology
What knowledge do you have of the medical, healthcare or pharmacy industry and skills in clinical selling/ other specialized knowledge?
In both my studies and through my work, I have had to learn about the causes, prevention and treatments for sports injuries. I learned about various pathologies in anatomy and physiology courses. I completed courses in chemistry and health education. I have completed and keep current with my certification in First Aid/CPR through American Red Cross.
How have you demonstrated that you are organized and have good communication skills?
Throughout my work history, I have had to manage a lot of responsibilities under very tight schedules. It would be impossible to successfully carry these out without being organized. I am a planner. Every morning, before I do anything, I write a list of things I need to do for the day and rate them for importance. As the manager of the health club, I am responsible for all of the business reporting, strategic planning and HR responsibilities. I oversee all of the selection process and coordinate the training of new staff. Although I have mostly delegated the scheduling to my assistant, I still check to ensure that the shifts have appropriate coverage. I oversee all of the building and maintenance workers and contractors, ensuring that all repair and maintenance duties are carried out on a timely basis such as the pool, gym equipment, heating and air conditioning. Between all of this, I also ensure I check in with members of the club on a daily basis. This is partly as a quality assurance measure to make sure they are happy with their experience and that nothing is out of order. But, it also as a public relations bit for the club to create a more personal touch.
Good communication skills are required for everything that I do. As a manager, I am in constant communication with people all day long. I have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to the staff to ensure they understand what is required of them and to the maintenance workers to communicate what needs to be done. Once a month, I prepare and deliver a presentation to the Board where I show what is happening with the club in terms of growth and financial standing.
Then, when I was a personal trainer, quality communication was vital – both for listening and conveying information to the clients. I needed to understand their goals, limitations, expectations, the abilities they had (or didn’t have) before developing the elements of their personalized programs. In the health and fitness business, safety and liability are always two potential minefields that we have to constantly be aware of. Misunderstanding, not listening, not demonstrating the equipment properly and not explaining things clearly can result with injuries and lawsuits. You can’t last long in this business without being a diligent communicator.
How have you demonstrated leadership, self-motivation and initiative in your current and previous roles?
I’ll start with leadership. As a manager, I have full responsibility on my shoulders for the operations of the business. My leadership is in providing the right environment, delegating tasks and responsibilities, creating the right mindset for others to do their jobs well so that the burden of responsibility is shared across the team.
I ensure that there is a customer focus by both formally and informally educating the staff on how we treat our members and guests. I also set an example in the way that I interact with the members of the health club. I also spend time with my team members to get to know them and ensure they are getting what they need to do their jobs. Another way I show leadership is with the personal trainers we have hired. Some have been new to the business, even still in training. I try to spend some time mentoring them and helping them to be the best they can be. I can be intense sometimes and some have said a bit intimidating but I do care about people and I care about the business and I think that comes across.
With regards to self-motivation, I have a belief that self-motivation is the only kind of motivation there is. You can be told what to do by someone else but there has to be self-motivation that tells you to listen and follow through. I can be very competitive and independent in terms of my desire to achieve certain standards I set for myself. These traits are a driving force behind the things I have achieved. You cannot do an MBA nor can you fun a profitable business without being extremely self-motivated.
An example of my initiative is when last year, I took it upon myself to develop and introduce corporate focused packages to the health club. These packages would be various corporate memberships to include a certain number of employees. The companies could either offer the membership to their employee as a benefit or they could offer the memberships at a rate which would be greatly discounted from the normal memberships. These also included aerobics classes in the morning and after work that were dedicated to that company so that employees could participate together. When I was a corporate fitness consultant and instructor, I found that many employees took advantage of this benefit and enjoyed the onsite facilities. I thought that for local large employers who did not have onsite facilities, the package deal was a smart alternative. I developed a full bells and whistles powerpoint presentation, brought in some numbers about how company-provided fitness programs benefit the company and the employees to give a strong business case.
What I did was a bit risky though because I had not raised the idea to the Board before I started working on it, on my own time of course. When I did raise it at a meeting, they were very reluctant and thought it might be a waste of time. But, then, when I showed them the presentation and mentioned that one company had already expressed interest, they were impressed and agreed to formalize the corporate membership into our overall marketing strategy.
In addition to the corporate membership packages, I also initiated a referral program so that existing members who referred others to the club could earn additional free time on their memberships. Both of these initiatives really paid off for the club as we doubled our annual revenue in the following year.
With your degrees, you have more than demonstrated an ability to learn, analyze and understand complex information. Is there anything you would like to add about your ability to convey complex information?
First, to address what you just said, I’d like to say that my strength in learning, analyzing and understanding complex information isn’t just academic. In the everyday running of a business, you are constantly presented with new challenges and new information to analyze whether it is sales or expenditure reports or maintenance logs for the facility. Being able to absorb and analyze new information quickly and grasp it well enough to be able to make judgments and decisions based on my analyses has been one of my strengths, particularly as a manager.
When it comes to conveying complex information, I think it is partially down to an ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself clearly but I think there is a great deal in there about being able to put the information into a context that will be best for the listener. It is about being able to adjust the delivery of your information for the “audience”. This is what I was very good at when I was a personal trainer. Many of my clients did not have the anatomy or physiology background but I had to explain to them why they needed to do a certain exercise or work on a particular machine and the benefit they would get from it without it getting too complex. If I used textbook terminology, they would have had no idea what I was talking about, but because I put it into a context that they understood, it made it much easier for them. I think it is all about being able to gauge the knowledge of the person you are talking to and adjusting your vocabulary to that level of knowlege.
One of the job responsibilities for the pharmaceutical sales position states that you will need to be able to “provide superior product and disease state knowledge and effectively educate and engage healthcare professionals in dialogue about clinical evidence, approved indications, and product efficacy/safety profiles to support on-label prescribing for appropriate patients.” What experience do you have that would convince them of your ability to carry out this responsibility?
From my education and my experience as a personal trainer, I have had to keep current with my knowledge of kinesiology, body movement and muscle anatomy, prevention and treatment of injuries from misuse and overuse of muscles. When conducting the initial assessment of a new personal training client, I had to explain metabolic rates, body fat ratio, the changes in their bodies they can expect after they start training. Also, at the health club, we carry several lines of synthetic and natural/herbal supplements, products for body building and weight management. For many, I should say most, of these products, we have to know who are good candidates for using them, when they should not be used, possible negative effects from using them, and we need to be able to explain the research that has been done on the products for efficacy and safety. A major part of my work was educating the customer and ensuring they understood the risk and benefits of all aspects of their program.
How have you demonstrated an ability to achieve and exceed sales goals while managing a budget using good judgement?
As manager of the health club, I am responsible for the operations budget which includes payroll and facility costs. I closely monitor the records of hours spent with clients versus the revenue earned. When we need work contracted out, I’ve been successful at negotiating pricing, sometimes using partial exchange of the work for use of the facilities. This helps to maintain a good relationship with the vendors to ensure that we get what we need done at quality yet stay within our budget.
Sales for the health club means everything from memberships to personal training programs, products and supplements and boutique fitness classes. Since being promoted to manager, I have been able to double revenues through my development of the corporate membership packages, the referral programs and other incentives that I have developed.
As a personal trainer, I was the top producer for selling the most memberships and personal training packages and boutique fitness classes. I was also recognized for my sales performance in selling supplements. My sales record is partially what led to my being promoted to manager.
The demonstrated ability to sell is going to be a key factor in getting the pharmaceutical sales representative position. What factors do you feel have contributed to your experience of so much success in sales?
Personally, I think my skill in selling is largely down to the fact that I genuinely like and want to help others and I really make the effort to connect. I am able to quickly establish rapport with people and earn their trust. I consider many of the clients of the health club to be friends. Okay, I may not see them socially but I always make a point to catch up with them when I see them at the health club, see how they are doing and comment on any visible progress with their programs to praise and encourage them. I always try to put myself in the place of the customer and remember what things I appreciate when doing business from the customer point of view. It’s the small details that I think really make a difference and make people want to buy from you.
Again, these are transcripted excerpts from the interview. The first part of this series shows how I pulled information and vocabulary from the job advertisement to help build a focus for the interview. In the third part Go to Part 3 I show how I analyzed the information from the interview and applied the recommended strategy to writing the resume.
In the meantime, here is a recap on the tips for writing a CV towards a career change:
- Get a job description or detailed advertisement for the target job.
- Note the required and preferred elements to see where you are at with these.
- Make a list of the vocabulary used by the employer to describe the position, noting which words are repeated the most. These provide clues as to what is most important to them.
- Go through the job description or advertisement line-by-line and compare this with the experience you have from your current or previous jobs.
- Highlight the parallels and overlapping areas so that you can capitalize on these.
- It might be useful to also note where you have gaps in the required experience or qualifications in case you might be able to address these in the cover letter or at the interview with your prospective employer(s).