New year, new job? Pharma reps ready for a change: Report

Job satisfaction can be elusive, as pharma sales reps know all too well. A new report from, a job board for medical sales reps, shows that while pharma reps and their biotech rep peers are mostly content with their jobs, they're still hankering for a change.

MedReps surveyed more than 1,400 medical sales reps about the best places to work in the industry, tallied results for all the respondents and also broke down the numbers by field. While exactly half of pharma reps said that they are satisfied or somewhat satisfied in their jobs, more than three-quarters, or 76%, of reps said that they are somewhat likely or very likely to leave their jobs in the next year.

Biotech reps had similar qualms. More than half of reps said that they were satisfied or at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs. But a little more than three quarters of biotech reps also said that they would probably leave their job this year. Neither biotech nor pharma reps spelled out exactly why they wanted to leave their current position, though. Nor did they say where they would go once they left.

Robyn Melhuish

Widespread industry changes could be fueling the job turnover. As the report points out, pharma and biotech is constantly in flux, with M&A, R&D and drug pricing debates opening some doors and closing others. Reps could be responding to those trends as they decide their job trajectory. The numbers "show the uncertainties" employees have, and also suggest that "some companies are doing a better job than others" at responding to concerns, MedReps communication manager Robyn Melhuish told FiercePharmaMarketing.

When pharma reps do submit their applications, it's most likely at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Allergan ($AGN) and Eli Lilly ($LLY). Reps rated the companies as the best places to work, even though three-quarters of pharma reps said that they would prefer to work for a small- or medium-sized company with fewer than 10,000 employees.

Biotech reps rated Gilead Sciences ($GILD), Amgen ($AMGN) and Biogen ($BIIB) as the top three places to work. But like their pharma peers, a majority, or 83%, of biotech reps said that they would rather work for a smaller company.

A good work-life balance and competitive wages are what keeps pharma and biotech reps happy at their jobs, according to the report. And work-life balance is starting to take precedence over compensation among pharma reps, Melhuish said, with 63% of reps rating work-life balance as one of the two most important factors in job satisfaction.

"Employers are realizing that people have lives outside of work," Melhuish said. "People want to work and make a lot of money, but they also want to be able to take their kids to the orthodontist. That trend is reflective in what employees are looking for."

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