MSL and medical sales coach

Real strategies for landing MSL and Medical Sales jobs

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Where do you start when writing your resume for the MSL role?

Stop submitting your resume into the black holeI am asked almost daily for “tips” on writing resumes for the MSL role and how to overcome the challenge of not having existing MSL experience. The job search and interview process is complicated and impacted by many factors. It is a process, and there are no shortcuts. Your resume is the foundation your job search is built upon. It will have a direct impact on every aspect of your search. The views I share on resume writing, the job search and interview process are based on what I experience first-hand as I coach aspiring MSLs into their first jobs. Why am I so confident that a pro-active approach works? Because I see the results – beginning with writing the resume up to the point a job offer is accepted. In the last week three of my coaching clients landed their first MSL jobs. Each candidate was very different; one a M.D., one a Pharm.D. and one a Ph.D. Because each person is different, each resume will be different. Below are some general tips to consider when writing a resume for MSL jobs.

First, understand the role, not just what the job description says. While the focus of the MSL role may be the same, every company uses their MSL teams slightly differently. Yes, you will build relationships with KOLs, but what is the point of those relationships?

Second, look at your background objectively. What are your differentiators from other PhDs, MDs, PharmDs as they relate to the MSL role? Differentiators equate to your special features. Experience in areas like clinical research, managed care, protocol development, clinical education, and specific therapeutic expertise are some of the features that sought after.

Next, look at the layout of your resume. Will the reader have to search to put the pieces together? If you make someone work to understand your background they will likely move on to the next resume. Keep it basic and straightforward. Complicated formats are distracting and confusing.

My goal is to keep job history content to two pages if possible. Publications and presentations can be included on additional pages. There is no universal rule for how long a resume should be, but keep in mind too much detail is just as detrimental as a lack of detail.

A well-developed resume will help you in the interview process. Initial interviews last 20 – 30 minutes. If you spend 15 of the 20 minutes trying to explain your background because your resume is confusing, you will not be able to answer the other questions they interviewer needs to ask.

Questions about your job search challenges? Ask Elizabeth, the MSL job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

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Not getting results from your MSL job search? There is a solution.

Aspiring MSLs are landing jobs every week. Do you find yourself wondering what it will take to get an interview? Understanding the hiring process from a manager’s perspective is the first step to success. The answers to your questions about the job search and interview process are answered in the MSL job search guidebook “Launching your MSL Career”. Everything you need to conduct a more effective job search is in the guidebook, including step by step instructions on how to get your resume into the hands of key decision makers. Elizabeth Danford and Leslie McRimmon created “Launching your MSL Career” based on the same strategies and techniques used to successfully coach over 100 aspiring MSLs into their first MSL job. Are you ready to go from aspiring MSL to working Medical Science Liaison?

Purchase and download your copy today.

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No MSL experience? No problem. Real tips for landing your first MSL job.

Blog pyramid picture for MSL success

Searching for that first MSL job can be a frustrating and disheartening experience. There are lots of jobs posted, but they all require MSL experience. How do you get MSL experience if no one hires entry level MSLs? As I job search coach, I have the unique advantage of knowing what types of people companies REALLY hire. Guess what, most MSL jobs are not filled by experienced MSLs. Actually, a very small percentage of MSL jobs are filled by experienced MSLs. That’s right, most MSL jobs are filled by candidates with NO MSL EXPERIENCE. I know this because I see the job offers my coaching clients receive. All companies train their MSLs. They are looking for core traits (scientifically, therapeutically, personality, confidence) to build from.

What does it take to land that first MSL job? Insight, strategy, and initiative.
INSIGHT – as a Ph.D., Pharm.D. or M.D. you have lots of significant experience, but not all of it is relevant to the MSL role. Build a resume that presents your features (experiences) that best relate to skills used in the MSL role. Having insight into the role and what companies need from their MSLs will help you accomplish this.

STRATEGY – How are you going to tell your story? Are you going to be passive and wait for jobs to be posted before sending a resume? Develop a strategy to get noticed by key decision makers. Instead of focusing on the job search process, understand a company’s hiring process. Use a top-down approach to demonstrate your ability to reach key opinion leaders.

INITIATIVE – You have your resume and job search strategy in place, now take the initiative and start marketing yourself to key decision makers. The more people that see your resume the more likely you will land an interview. Differentiate yourself by demonstrating initiative and sending your resume to a hiring manager.

Questions about the MSL role or job search process? Ask Elizabeth, resume writer, interview coach, and MSL job search specialist. Email me at:

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MSL hiring is at an all-time high. What can you do to land a MSL job before the end of this year?

Picture - success in business - femaleYou see the job postings, you dutifully apply to them, and then you wait. How many hours have you spent filling out online job applications only to receive automated rejections with minutes of completing the application? How are other people landing their first MSL jobs?
Keep reading if you are ready to take control of your job search and see positive results from your activity. First, understand that by searching and applying via the online process, you are conducting what I call a “passive” job search. These traditional methods of applying work well if you are an experienced candidate who is an exact match to the job description. Most candidates, even with experience, will not be an exact match. Your resume is not likely to be seen by a human unless you meet at least 8 of 10 listed criteria.

By-passing this traditional online application process is the key to being successful in your job search. Focus on sending your resume to a true decision maker. A high level hiring manager has a scientific / medical background and speaks your language. When they read your resume, they understand what you have done and how it relates to the MSL role. Their focus is on building a successful team and they are not worried that you only possess 6 of the 10 bullet points listed in the job description. (Over 40% of all jobs filled are never even posted!) All companies train on the job and their products / pipeline.

Before starting your new pro-active job search focused on introducing yourself to hiring managers, be sure you have the right foundation in place. Your resume is the foundation. You will only have about 10 seconds of a reader’s time when they open your resume. What do they need to know in that first 10 seconds? Is it easy to understand your background at a glance? A well-written resume will also make the interview easier by keeping you focused and reducing the amount of time used explaining various areas of your background.

Once your resume is developed, identify hiring managers at 10 companies that hire MSLs. Develop a brief email introducing yourself and how you fit with the MSL role. Email your resume directly to those 10 hiring managers. You will be surprised at how receptive they are to candidates who take the initiative to reach out to them directly. After all, you have just demonstrated your ability to get to a key opinion leader!

I will cover the MSL interview process in my next blog. Please feel free to request specific topics as well. Email me directly if you have questions about the MSL role, job search process, or your resume.
Elizabeth Danford, MSL job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

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Is your resume helping or hurting your Medical Sales job search?

Pic - interview questionDo you find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what it takes to get an interview for a medical sales job? Have you submitted dozens of resumes and not received a single interview? Have you landed interviews but spent most of the interview trying to explain your background as you go through your resume? If you find yourself stuck in your job search, it is probably time to take an objective look at your resume. It is the foundation for your job search. As a tool – is it helping or hurting your job search?

As a specialized resume writer, I review dozens of resumes each month. When I review resumes I try to put myself in the place of a hiring manager. He is busy and may have 300 resumes sitting in his inbox. When he opens a resume, he is going to spend 10 seconds or less deciding if you are a valid candidate. Many times the resumes I read feel more like a puzzle and I am forced to search hard to put the pieces together. A hiring manager will not do that, he will just close the resume. Improve your chances for success by following a few resume writing tips.

Before you write your resume, define yourself as a product. Identify your features and then ask yourself which features are relevant to the medical sales role? (You must have a strong grasp of what features are needed to succeed in medical sales.) When listing accomplishments, be sure they are meaningful. Stay focused and concise. Providing information that is not relevant will distract the reader from seeing the truly important features.

Take into consideration the way the eye and mind process information. Simple details matter. People read from left to right. The most important information should be on the left side of the page. Do you want the reader to see the dates you were employed before seeing your company name and title? The answer to that is no. Be sure they see you are a valid candidate by showing where you work and your job title.

Be sure that the first page relays the essential information. Don’t fill the entire first page of your resume up with education, skills, and overly verbose bullet points trying to make a case for yourself. The reader must be able to start reading your professional experience when the resume is first opened. Don’t make them search multiple pages to get to your job history.

Is it time to update your resume? Who writes it does matter. I specialize in writing resumes for medical sales careers. My extensive knowledge of the medical sales role, the job search and interview process enable me to write high impact resumes that get results. I am able to evaluate your experience and translate your background into terms relevant to the medical sales role. A copy of my medical sales job search guidebook is included with every resume. Email me directly if you have questions about the medical sales role, job search process or your resume.
Elizabeth Danford, medical sales job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

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Trying to land a medical sales job? The details matter.

How effective is your resume?Competition for medical sales jobs is fierce. If you are trying to land a medical / pharmaceutical sales job, it is important to start by building a strong foundation. This includes creating a job search strategy. Your resume is the foundation for your job search. The strategy is how you approach the job search. When it comes to your job search, details matter!
When was the last time you updated your resume? How confident are you that it is professional in appearance and contains relevant information. Remember, things change. What companies look for in sales reps today is not the same as what they looked for five years ago. The industry has changed dramatically and as a sales rep you should be evolving with it. Take the time to email your resume to yourself. Open it. How does it look on your computer screen? Now print it. If you are using a border around the entire page it most likely won’t print well. Remove the border. Is there shading or boxes that don’t show up well when printed? Change them.

Once your resume is opened, evaluate what you see at a glance – it will be viewed for approximately 10 seconds before a reader moves on. Is the hiring manager going to see the information that is most important in that 10 seconds or are you over whelming them with details that won’t be read?
Double check all of your information. I have found phone numbers and email addresses incorrect on a person’s resume. Is your email address professional? Are you still using your college Hotmail or AOL account? These not only date you, but are often routed directly to spam folders. When you set up your email, be sure the “outgoing name” (which is what a hiring manager will see) reflects your name professionally. Simple addresses like work best.
Define a strategy. The more proactive you are the more likely your resume will be seen by a hiring manager. Less than 10 of every 500 resumes submitted online make it to a hiring manager’s desk. Set yourself apart by focusing on marketing yourself to companies and not just submitting to job postings. Over 40% of all jobs filled are never posted anywhere. Don’t be afraid to market yourself to a high level decision maker in a company. By doing so, you have just demonstrated your ability to get past the gatekeeper. That gets a hiring managers attention!

Questions about the medical / pharmaceutical role or your job search challenges? Ask Elizabeth, the medical sales job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach., co-author of Breaking into Medical Sales – Your Guide to Success.

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What is standing between you and your MSL career? Hint – it is not lack of MSL experience.

picture for resume submission on computerHow long have you been searching for a MSL job? You know the jobs are out there, but how do you land one if you have no MSL experience? For most MSL candidates, their biggest obstacle is not lack of experience, but the job search process they are using. In June alone, I had six MSL coaching clients accept jobs. None of these clients had previous MSL experience. The group consisted of three Ph.D. Postdoc Associates, one M.D., and two Ph.D.’s working in the industry as research scientist. July is turning out to be equally active with interviewing and hiring.

Some facts to help you understand the process and what you can do differently to get interviews and job offers.

  • All companies that hire MSLs will hire a MSL with no previous experience. (There will always be a specific job that requires experience, but many do not.)
  • All companies provide (and require every new hire to attend) comprehensive MSL training programs.
  • Each company uses MSLs in a slightly different capacity. The role is the same, but actual focus areas can vary greatly.
  • Over 50% of all jobs filled are never posted.
  • The MSL interview process is a series of behaviorally based interviews requiring a solid understanding of how to answer questions using the STAR format.
  • Academic CVs rarely highlight the areas that will be most relevant to the MSL role. A professional resume will not only help you get interviews, it will also simplify the interview process.

How do you get interviews? The first step is to tell your “story” to a true decision maker. By applying on-line or sending resumes only to HR, you will always be evaluated against a job description. Since most job postings are going to list experience as a criteria, you will not make it past that first cut. High level decision makers are the people who understand the MSL role and how your background will fit with what they need.

Questions about the MSL role or your job search challenges? Ask Elizabeth, the MSL job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach., author of Launching your MSL Career, the MSL job search guidebook.