If you want to improve the odds of breaking into the MSL career, you should be spending most of your time doing the preparative work needed to make yourself stand out as a serious candidate.
What classes you’ve taken and even what associations or professional organizations you’ve joined are not important at this point.
Candidates who list so-called “relevant” coursework are wasting precious resume real estate, because these do not show actual transferable skills. Joining an association does not automatically grant a person transferable skills, either.
Resumes and cover letters are important, but they are only as good as what you can truthfully communicate through them.
Start by doing information interviews.
Doing information interviews requires you get some time with the other person so that you can learn as much as you can about what you need to know in the short time that you have. You’d want to interview:
– current and / or former MSLs – this can include laid off MSLs who are actively looking
This seems obvious, but unless you have colleagues who became MSLs, finding MSLs to talk with you may take some legwork and persistence.
You can also contact healthcare professionals that MSLs are likely to interact with, and ask them for referrals to MSLs they know.
If you work at a research institution or in the clinical setting, you have an opportunity to get to know some of the people who may be considered “thought leaders” by MSLs. If any of them work with pharmaceutical companies, you may be able to get a referral to the company’s sales rep or the MSL.
You don’t have to become friends with thought leaders, but at least know who they are, how they work, and find an opportunity to interact with them. It will go a long way later on.
If you can, connect with MSL recruiters and / or employers
Many recruiters and employers are now on social networks and you may come across a specialty recruiter who focuses on MSLs. These people make money from bona fide hires, and they are constantly working the phones and their networks to build contacts that provide value to them. Thus, if you can find someone who is willing to talk to you, great – but if not – don’t take it personally.
As you can imagine, most people are comfortable doing the research part of it – sleuthing out names – but not what comes after finding out names. It takes interpersonal skills and courage to approach people and create rapport so they will want to talk to you. This is also a good indicator for how comfortable you will feel in the early days of your MSL job!
To your success,