MSL and medical sales coach

Real strategies for landing MSL and Medical Sales jobs

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Should aspiring MSLs target large or small companies to land their first MSL job?

Blog - bullseye2016 has barely begun and it is already proving to be a busy year for MSL hiring. Two of my MSL coaching clients accepted MSL positions over the last week. Based on the high level of interview activity, the strong hiring trend will continue. I am frequently asked if there are certain companies more likely to hire MSLs with no experience. Finding that first MSL job would certainly be easier if there was a simple answer to that question. In looking back at 2015 I had clients accept positions at many of the major pharmaceutical companies as well as small biotech companies. Each company has a different set of needs when it comes to what they look for in MSLs. There will always be roles that require an experienced MSL with specific expertise, but in general I find most companies are willing to hire and train new MSLs because they view the MSL role as key and worth the investment to grow the right person. What makes someone the right person? That is going to vary based on each company and what they need from their MSL team. No one person is going to be the right candidate for every company or job. Last year a major pharma company expanded their field medical affairs team to support the launch of a new cancer drug. Two of my clients interviewed for oncology MSL positions in different regions. They interviewed the same day and met most of the same team members. They both received (and accepted) job offers. The two candidates could not have been more different. One was a Ph.D. with academic research experience and the other was a M.D. with clinical practice experience and some oncology research. The job description for the jobs they accepted was identical. It is situations like this that demonstrate how difficult it is to assign a “type” to a company. The reason companies use behavioral based interviews is to identify the traits a candidate possesses that will make them a good match for the role, the team, and the company overall. I recommend that aspiring MSLs keep their search broad. The type of company you fit best with may surprise you.

Elizabeth Danford, MSL resume writer, interview coach, and job search strategist

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Job search guidance for aspiring MSLs

Landing your first MSL job as an aspiring MSL can seem like a daunting challenge.  You know other people have succeeded in landing MSL jobs with no prior experience, but you find yourself submitting resumes into a black hole.  You have networked, pleaded with peers, written compelling cover letters, and still receive immediate rejections after completing job applications online.  What next?  There are more effective ways to submit your resume that will lead to real results.  Change your job search strategy and you will change the results.  Quit spending hours filling out applications.  Send your resume to actual hiring managers. “Launching your MSL Career – the Job Search Guidebook” provides step by step instructions on how to identify hiring managers, find their emails, and send your resume in a professional manner that will get results. The MSL Job Search Guidebook will provide insight into what a well written professional resume looks like, an understanding of the interview process, and help you identify companies that hire MSLs with no prior experience.  Developed by well known MSL resume writer and job search coach Elizabeth Danford, it is an essential tool for aspiring MSLs serious about their job search.
“Launching your MSL Career” is being offered through the month of January at a discounted price to support your job search goals.  Download the PDF file when you check-out, no waiting to start your new job search.


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Q & A on how to land your first MSL role with no experience

Blog - person with questionAsk Elizabeth – Q & A on how to land your first MSL role

As a specialized MSL job search coach, I am frequently asked for tips on how to break into the MSL role. Most aspiring MSLs face similar challenges: No MSL experience, getting past recruiters / HR, finding entry level jobs, and struggling through interviews if you land them. I have the benefit of seeing what works in the job search and who gets hired since I coach clients from the first step, writing an effective resume, to the final step, the interview and job offer. My plan is to make this discussion part of an ongoing series and address a couple of questions each week. My responses are based on what I see in the current job market.

Question – How many pages should my resume / CV be?

Answer – There is no set rule on length, but my target is two pages of job related content with additional pages containing publications and presentations as needed. I do recommend using a professional resume as opposed to an academic CV. The resume should outline your experience as well as highlight areas that may relate to the MSL role.

Question – Job postings almost always list existing MSL experience as a requirement, where can I find entry level MSL jobs?

Answer – Companies have to develop baseline standards for job postings and that usually includes existing MSL experience. That does not mean that the candidates who are hired for the position actually have experience. As a matter of fact, I can attest to the fact that companies do hire MSLs with no experience, even if the job posted states experience as a requirement. There will always be specific jobs where a higher level of existing expertise and experience is required in that role, but that is not the case for every job posted.

Question – Do companies train new MSLs?

Answer – Yes, companies train new and experienced MSLs. All newly hired MSLs go through a structured training program specific to each company. It is normally a combination of home study, in-house training (most likely with other MSLs new to the company), and ongoing field training.

Do you have specific questions regarding the MSL role or job search process? Email Elizabeth Danford specializes in MSL resume writing, job search coaching, and interview preparation. She is the co-author of “Launching your MLS Career – the job search guidebook” which is available at