MSL and medical sales coach

Real strategies for landing MSL and Medical Sales jobs


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Aspiring MSLs – Tips for effective resume writing

MSL Blog - resume blocksI 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 for your job search. 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 my first-hand experiences with what generates results for aspiring MSLs. Recently three of my coaching clients landed their first MSL jobs. Each candidate had a different background, but no industry experience.  Their successful job search started with having their resume revised so that it highlighted their strengths and expertise as it relates to the MSL role.  Academic CVs should be converted to professional resumes.

Step one is to understand the role, not just what the job description says.  Every company uses their MSL teams slightly differently.  Be aware of the different types of focus MSLs may have based on the company’s size and strategic objectives.  Yes, you will build relationships with KOLs, but what is the point of those relationships?

Next you will need to look at your background objectively. What are your differentiators from other PhDs, MDs, and 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 candidates may possess.

The format of your resume matters. Is it too complicated and laid out like a puzzle?  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 too much detail can be as detrimental as a lack of detail.  A resume is not meant to replace the interview.

A well-developed resume will help you in the interview process. Initial interviews last 20 – 30 minutes. If you spend 15 to 20 minutes trying to explain your background because your resume is confusing, you will not finish answering all the interview questions.

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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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