A job in pharmaceutical sales is an excellent job to have these days. Not only are commission sales and marketing jobs essentially recession-proof, the pharmaceutical industry is booming and the job of pharmacist is listed as one of the top 30 US careers by authorities. As people live longer and the Baby Boomers begin going gray, pharmaceuticals are coming ever more into demand. So as a pharmaceutical salesman you would be marketing something in high demand.
As long as physicians prescribe drugs, people are still going to take them. This means that if you are working as a pharmacist or as a quality assurance analyst in pharmaceutical laboratory, you are in good hands.
Even in good times, blindly sending in your resume is not the most effective way of getting a pharmaceutical sales position. If you are one of the more savvy job seekers taking the time to network with industry people like current pharmaceutical sales representatives, sales managers and other folks who are connected with the industry in your local area, then these efforts will have a higher chance of getting you results.
First of all, you could have less competition during a recession since many people out there will simply wait for better times before restarting their job search efforts again, at least in pharmaceutical sales. Second, if you do your networking properly and industry people you network with like you as a high potential sales representative, then they will remember you. If you take the time to develop some sort of business relationship with these people, you will keep your name at the top of their minds. Even if there are no openings during tougher times, there will be again eventually since economic slumps are usually part of business cycles.
When companies are in a position to hire again due to better economic conditions, your name will be at the top of their candidate list. Your competitors, who just apply during healthy economic periods, will be at a major disadvantage to you since they are unknown entities to the companies but you are already known as a serious candidate for a pharmaceutical sales position. Companies may not even bother to advertise for openings if they already know that you are available to fill in a spot in their sales force.