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Careers In The Medical Device Industry - Advice From A Recruiter

​Japheth A. Worthy is a medical device recruitment consultant and specializes in Sales and Marketing at the senior level including National Sales Heads, Marketing Manager/Directors and even CEOs. He has been at Apex since 2011.

He discusses how careers in the medical device industry differ from other industries and provides advice for people looking to make a career switch in medical device.

Japheth A. Worthy (2)

Q. What do you Like about recruitment?

A. I have been recruiting in the medical device industry since 2011 at Apex. I did a small stint in the consumer industry for a while but after working in both industries I've realized that I have more of a passion for medical device. It is really empowering to be in the know about current developments in healthcare.

Q. What is unique about careers and job change in the medical device industry?

A. In marketing roles for the medical device industry, hiring managers can be fairly strict in regards to ‘Education History’ on resumes. This means making sure that the candidate has not only a 4-year degree but that he/she graduated from a top university with a relevant major.  When I recruited in the consumer industry for example, passion for the company, brand and products influenced a company’s decision more than the candidate’s education. Of course every industry places a focus on education but it can be disheartening to see a candidate rejected from an area he/she has 15 years’ experience in because the candidate’s degree from 20 years ago is irrelevant to everything this person has done in his/her career.

Typically professionals in the medical device industry build their career in medical devices and there is not much movement between industries. The exception would be in Class 1 products (gloves, masks and other disposables) where coming from a non-healthcare background or even consumer background is more common.
Professionals who build their career in medical device can have a long, profitable, and successful career. As Japan is #2 in medical device in the world, the market is very lucrative. With the aging Japanese population, the industry has become more essential and important than ever before. Additionally, with the recent loosening of government regulations, it opens up the market for more opportunities and for more companies and products to enter the Japan market.

Q. What are common mistakes job seekers make when interviewing at medical device companies?

A. One of the biggest mistakes I see is when applicants go into an interview unprepared and not knowledgeable about the products. Many people who are interviewing for a job where the product area is different than their current products, assume the hiring manager will not ask them 'What do you know about our company's products?' This is a mistake. It is always best to study not only the company in general but also the products they market and sell.
Pre-interview preparation should be focused on: what the product does, who it affects, who are the competitors, recent news, and of course product names.
I’ve seen a lack of product research have a negative effect on interviews and it has been the result of great candidates not passing through to the next interview.

Q. Is there a common theme about the hiring process?

A. For marketing professionals in medical device companies, in the past few years we’ve been seeing a trend of APAC or Global joining some of the interviews whether it be an official interview or just a casual chat. This of course we would see with more senior positions but it is happening more even at the product manager or marketing manager level. This can sometimes pose a challenge for the candidates as occasionally the cultural divide is apparent. The communication style of Japanese professionals and the culture, if not known by Global or APAC, can sometimes affect the interview. As such, I always advise candidates to be confident and talk not only about their team’s successes, but also about how the individual specifically achieved his/her goal. Talking about the specifics of their projects, or issues that they solved, using the STAR method can make a world of difference. For marketers, using numbers (sales numbers and percentages) always goes over well with APAC and Global.

Q. What is challenging about job change in the medical device industry?

A. Changing between products can be difficult; confidence is needed in order to switch and try something new. We hear a lot of people say:

“I want to try something new, but I’ve done this for 8 years, what should I do?”

If this is the case, my advice would be that you need to trust that you can do it and just go for it. As I mentioned before, make sure to research the products to help you pass the interviews.

Q. What can job seekers expect from the interviews?

A. It really depends on the company, but we find that there is an average of 3 meetings in the interview process. One thing that has been coming up recently is personality tests. This is common for C-level positions but it has also been occurring for lower level positions.

Q. What is your biggest piece of advice for professionals looking to change jobs?

A. Approach your next job change with an open mind. Be open to change and moving away from the area you’ve worked in your entire career, specifically for new product areas, because you might find that it fits you well. We have seen many professionals switch between products and while they were nervous at first when we checked their status after a few months, both parties realized that the transition was not as difficult as we had expected.
Explore and you can learn it,  just try and 'get in the door' or else. As the old saying goes, "You can't learn to swim with out getting in the water."

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