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.


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.