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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What are the backgrounds of MSLs being hired with no MSL experience?

MSL blog question markOne of the questions I am asked most often is what companies look for when hiring new MSLs. Is there one specific skill you can add to your resume that will guaranty you interviews? As a job search coach I have the unique perspective of seeing who ACTUALLY gets hired, what companies are hiring them, and what the interview process truly entails. What I am about to say may come as a surprise to many, but the reality is there is “no secret sauce”. While the MSL role is similar from company to company, what a company looks for in the backgrounds of MSL candidates can vary greatly. Over the last few weeks interview and hiring activity for MSLs has been exceptionally high. When I review the backgrounds of the candidates getting interviews, they are all very diverse. They include a Pharm.D. with clinical pharmacy experience, a Pharm.D. with retail pharmacy experience, a Ph.D. with two years of postdoc experience, a Ph.D. with clinical study experience, a Ph.D. with biotech industry experience, a M.D. with clinical practice experience, and a M.D. with research experience. In one case the same company interviewed a Ph.D. with all academic research experience and a M.D. with clinical practice experience on the same day. Both MSL candidates received job offers (for different territories). The candidates could not have been more different, but both fit with what the company was looking for.

Companies use a behavioral interview process to identify traits in a candidate that fit best with the MSL role. They will train a candidate on how to do the job, building from your clinical or scientific background combined with your aptitude and specific personality traits. The MSL interview process is extensive and designed to demonstrate not only your technical expertise and communication skills but also your strategic thought process, drive, focus, ethics, and collaborative abilities. Being a great scientist will not guaranty success as a MSL and companies know this.

Always keep in mind that no single candidate is going to be right for every company, but you only need to be the right candidate for one company. There are jobs within companies that will require experience, but most companies have extensive MSL training programs and will hire and train the right candidate.

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


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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. Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com


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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: elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com


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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. Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com, author of Launching your MSL Career, the MSL job search guidebook. http://www.clinicalstrategist.com/layomslcagu.html


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What companies hire Medical Science Liaisons with no experience?

Picture pillsHave you found yourself scratching your head trying to figure out which companies hire MSLs with no previous MSL experience? Landing that first MSL job can feel like a daunting challenge, especially in today’s highly competitive job market.

There is good news though. Almost every pharmaceutical company will hire MSLs with no existing experience. That said there are always specific jobs that require certain backgrounds and experience. As a job search coach, I have yet to find a single company that will not hire new MSLs. All companies have extensive training programs that even experienced MSLs go through.

You are unlikely to find a MSL job posting that doesn’t require experience, but be assured MSLs get jobs without existing experience. In the last few months I have coached multiple MSL candidates into MSL jobs with no experience. They include:

  • Ph.D. with preclinical research to MSL in major pharmaceutical company
  • M.D. to MSL in major pharmaceutical company
  • Ph.D. with pharmaceutical industry research scientist to MSL in large biotech company
  • Ph.D. with technical sales to MSL position in pharmaceutical company
  • Ph.D. Postdoc Associate to MSL position in biotechnology company
  • Pharm.D. into MSL position at small pharmaceutical company

It is important to target key hiring managers directly. Their focus is on filling the needs of their division, not matching you against 10 bullet points listed in a job description. Before you approach hiring managers, take the time to ensure your resume is not only professional looking, but relays your strengths and background in ways that are relevant to the job you want. The more you understand what attributes a hiring manager looks for the better you are able to present your background in relevant terms. Don’t let the fact that there is not a job posted stop you from sending your resume to a hiring manager pro-actively. Remember, over 40% of all jobs filled are never posted!

If you are serious about landing a MSL job take the time to build a good foundation (resume) and develop a strategy that will get you noticed. I have coached dozens of MSL candidates with no experience into MSL jobs. It can be done.

Do you have questions about your job search or the MSL career? Ask Elizabeth, the MSL job search specialist, resume writer, and interview coach.

Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com


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What is standing between you and your next (or first) medical sales job?

Wall picture 2Do you feel like your job search has hit a wall? Are you accepting this or looking for ways to overcome the obstacles?

If you are ready to be more productive in your job search, start with an objective analysis of yourself as a candidate and your overall job search strategy.

First, put yourself in the hiring manager’s seat. What makes you a better candidate for the job than the other 200 people who have also submitted a resume? If you don’t know, how do you expect the hiring manager to know? (Hint – it isn’t because you want the job more than the other candidates.)

Second, email your resume to yourself and open as if you were a hiring manager. Is your email address professional? That is the first impression a hiring manager has of you. In 10 seconds or less can you see what is compelling about your background? Is the resume easy to read when opened? Does it take too much searching to figure out what you have sold and who you sold it to?

Third, ask yourself who is reading your resume. If you are submitting resumes to generic email boxes, there is a good chance no one is reading it. How are you going to be noticed with over 200 resumes to choose from?

The good news is that there are solutions to these challenges.
1) Identify what it is that will make you better at the job than your competitors. View yourself as a product and highlight the relevant features.
2) Update your resume. A good resume is the foundation for your job search. It will help you land interviews and make the interviews easier. If you aren’t getting interviews, consider having it professionally written (yes, I write medical sales resumes).
3) Quit being passive with your job search and create a job search strategy. As a salesperson, you should be selling yourself directly to a buyer (hiring manager). Identify key decision makers in companies and market yourself to them.

Questions about your job search strategy? Ask Elizabeth, the medical sales job search specialist.
Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com


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Wondering what you can do to land medical sales interviews?

Picture - success in business - femaleIs a new medical / pharmaceutical sales job one of your goals for 2014?  As with any resolution, to achieve the goal requires action and change.  If you have been in a job search, how long is too long before you decide to change your strategy?  Over the last five years, the medical sales role has experienced significant changes.  The way companies hire medical sales teams have also changed.  The job search strategies used five years ago simply don’t work in this extremely competitive job market.

You may feel like you have no control over your search, but you do.  The job search process can be broken down into three basic areas.

1.)     Your resume – it is your foundation.  It is worth investing in professional resume writing services.  A good resume cannot guaranty you an interview, but a bad resume can guaranty you won’t get one.  A good resume will make the interview process easier as well.  It should tell your story as it relates to the jobs you are targeting.

2.)    The job search process – who is seeing your resume?  If you are sending resumes to hr@abcmedical.com, there is a 3% chance it will ever be seen by a hiring manager.  Less than 10 out every 600 resumes submitted on-line are seen by a hiring manger.  Even if you are a perfect candidate for the job, the odds are against you.  Sending resumes directly to high level hiring managers will solve this problem.

3.)    The interview – if you find yourself interviewing with more than 2 or 3 companies and not receiving offers, it is time to get interview coaching.  You may be confident in your interview skills, but there is a reason you are not receiving offers and it needs to be identified before you lose other opportunities.  Remember, the interviewer had your resume and knew your background before you walked into the meeting.  If he wanted someone with more experience he would not have taken the time to interview you.

Where are you getting stuck?  Little changes make a huge difference.  Last year was busier than ever with medical sales rep hiring.  Some of the candidates I successfully coached included:

  • A Director from large pharma who had his resume rewritten to interview for an internal promotion.  The revised version brought clarity to his history and helped him land the promotion.
  • A National Sales Director who had been displaced.  He was able to land a new position in six weeks using our coaching strategies.
  • A mortgage broker who had tried to land a medical sales job for over a year.  He received an offer in 11 weeks.
  • A B2B rep landed a surgical sales job.
  • A displaced pharmaceutical rep from big pharma.  Landed in pharmaceutical sales job in four months after looking for over two years.
  • A customer service rep landed a job in sales for a small biotechnology company.

The common thread for each of them was that they decided to take control of their job search.  My expertise is in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and healthcare industries.  My resume writing, job search guidance, and interview coaching services are focused on what works for job seekers in the current job market.  If you are experiencing challenges in your job search, email me directly to schedule a consultation.  My recently published (online) job search guidebook “Breaking into Medical Sales – Your Guide to Success” is available as a PDF file on our website and can be downloaded immediately.

http://www.clinicalstrategist.com/breaking-into-medical-sales.html

Kind regards,

Elizabeth Danford


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Trying to land a medical sales job? Changing your strategy will help you do it faster.

What does your job search look like?  Do you wake up each morning, check your email, search job boards, complete online applications, check your email again, network with friends, and wait?  Are you being held hostage by lack of results?  Have you ever thought to yourself, “There must be a better way”?

When traditional job search methods don’t work, you begin to feel stuck.  The methods that worked five years ago simply don’t work in the current job market.  The approach companies use to hire new employees has changed dramatically.  This means that the savvy job seeker will change the way they approach the job search as well.  To get noticed you have to be more create with your approach.  If you are trying to find a job in medical sales, demonstrate your ability to get past the gatekeeper by sending your resume to a hiring manager.

Take the time to evaluate the key elements in your job search.

How confident are you that your resume is the best it can be?  (How do you compare to the other 299 people submitting resumes?)

Who is seeing your resume?  (Less than 5% of resumes submitted online make it to a hiring manager’s desk.)

Are you getting interviews but no offers?  (If you hear the same excuses more than twice you should evaluate your interview skills.)

Everyone faces job search challenges.  Don’t let your challenges come between you and your dream job.

Interested in jump starting your job search?  “Breaking into Medical Sales – Your Guide to Success” is now available through our website.

Do you have questions about your resume or job search challenges?  Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com, the medical sales job search specialist.


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Congratulations to Jane for receiving her Ph.D. and an MSL job offer in the same week

Picture - success in business - femaleHoliday congratulations are in order.  December has been an exceptionally busy month on the interview and hiring front.  Many of my clients are in the final interview stages for MSL and medical sales jobs, which is a wonderful way to close out the year.  In particular I want to congratulate “Jane”, who received her Ph.D. and a job offer as an MSL in the same week.  Jane decided to pursue Medical Science Liaison positions prior to graduating and contacted me in late August for resume writing and coaching services.  Four weeks later she had her first interview.  Her decisiveness paid off.  She will start her new position in January.  Is your goal a new job for next year?  Just wishing and hoping will not make it happen.  Make a plan now and decide what you need to do to make it happen.

Questions about how to change the direction of your job search?  Contact Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com, resume writer, interview coach, MSL and Medical Sales job search expert