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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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 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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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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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


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Should you put your job search on hold during the holidays?

picture - holiday blogIf you have put your job search on hold because you think that companies are not focused on hiring activity during the holidays, you are losing out on opportunities.  Over the last three years I have had several coaching clients who had final interviews and job offers during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Many companies are even more focused on their staffing initiatives to get a jump start on the new year.  Last week 3 MSL coaching clients had first interviews with companies and 2 medical sales clients had interviews with multiple companies.  This week is no different with a Ph.D. who just defended her dissertation going to a final interview for a Medical Science Liaison position.  Don’t let the holiday season lull you into missing great potential job opportunities.

Let’s face it, come January 1, everyone wants to get started with their job search.  Waiting only means more competition!

Is it time to update your resume?  Contact Elizabeth, resume writer, interview coach, Medical Sales & MSL job search specialist.  Elizabeth@clinicalstrategist.com