FAQ: Breaking into an MSL Role

As an executive recruiter specializing in Field Medical Affairs, you can imagine how often I am approached by aspiring Medical Science Liaisons as they attempt to break into the MSL role. Though the frequency is very high, I encourage every emerging MSL to make an introduction to our firm, and I truly wish I could field every call and email.  If I did, that is what I would do all day every day, and so I wanted to create a video with the most common topics and questions that come up in the conversations I do have.

How Do I Break In?

Clearly, it is challenging to break into your first MSL role because so many companies require previous MSL experience.  What I’ve found is the introductory MSLs that are eventually hired have an identifiable therapeutic expertise that would bring the company immediate value.  Additionally, the best MSL candidates work at key centers because the company is going to want that person to utilize pre-existing relationships.  I also see clinically trained pharmacists who are heavily involved in speaker programs targeted for MSL hires even without prior MSL experience.  I've rarely seen retail pharmacists break into the role during this highly competitive time, and also, I've infrequently seen PhD candidates get the job without significant post-doctorial experience. 

Other topics addressed in the video are:

  • Why am I not hearing back from companies and recruiters, am I doing something wrong?
  •  How often should I expect to hear from a recruiting agency?  How often should I follow up?
  • Does my willingness to relocate increase my chances of landing a role?
  • I don’t have a therapeutic expertise, but I can learn it…is that enough?
  • Would any job in industry help me eventually get an MSL role?
  • Would taking an MSL-like role in the Diagnostics or Device space help me transition to Pharma?
  • Should I invest in an accreditation or certification programs, or MSL training seminars?
  • Should I consider a “contract MSL” role?

I hope the answers to these frequently asked questions are satisfying as you look to begin your career as an MSL.  As stated in the video, please connect with the entire TMAC Direct team and join our private LinkedIn Group called "TMAC Direct - TheMSLRecruiter".  I look forward to tracking your career.  Thanks!

About the Author