The following post is courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap:
What is a ride-along? Why is it important?
A ride-along is just what it sounds like: You spend a day with a medical sales rep who’s in the field you’re thinking you’d like to sell into, and see how a typical day goes. A ride-along can be one of your greatest opportunities to differentiate yourself from another candidate. It sets you apart as a go-getter. It gives you critical on-the-job information that helps you in your job search. Among other things, it helps you answer the question, “How do you see yourself in this job?”
How do you get one?
Step 1: Ask for contacts.
If you want a pharmaceutical sales job, for instance, call your family doctor and ask for a favor–ask for the contact information of a couple of the sales reps who call on him.
If you want a medical device job, ask the doctor for those types of representatives.
If you want a laboratory sales job, go see a small laboratory and ask for a couple of contacts (folks who sell to them).
Get the idea?
Step 2: Call the sales rep and ask them for a favor: Will they let you tag along for a day or half a day to see what their life is like?
That’s all there is to it. When you do the ride along, ask a lot of questions: What do they like about the job, what do they hate, what skills are absolutely necessary, how did they get the job, etc. Then once you’ve done this, add the experience to your resume as a preceptorship.
Completing a ride-along communicates that (1) you are willing to go the extra step, (2) you know how to make contacts and (3) you know what you are getting into….It helps the hiring manager see you in the job and that is what gets you a job.