Is it possible to break into the Medical Science Liaison role without experience?

By Dr. Samuel Dyer

I often get asked the question “Is it possible to break into the Medical Science Liaison role without experience?” 

Yes it is clearly possible because it’s important to realize that everyone started as an MSL for the first time without prior experience (myself included).  The question is- HOW did they do it?  There are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of landing your first MSL role including: 

1) Start educating yourself on the MSL role by reading articles on the role, interview techniques, what to expect on the job etc. You will find a number of free articles at http://careercenter.themsls.org. 

2) Start to build contacts within the Medical Science Liaison community and with MSL recruiters. One easy way to begin building your contacts is with LinkedIn. Recruiters are an invaluable resource to learn about the role. 

3) Join MSL related LinkedIn groups.  The largest group for MSLs and Medical Affairs is “Medical Science Liaison and Medical Affairs Networkers”.  Contribute to LinkedIn discussions on groups. This will help with networking. 

4) Review multiple job descriptions to familiarize yourself with the role and the verbiage used for the role. Learn the language of the role.

5) In terms of reviewing and applying for roles, focus on roles that are within your Therapeutic Area or Disease specialty ONLY! This will increase your chances greatly and you will be able to position yourself as an expert. Applying for roles in other TA’s is almost a complete waste of time as your application/CV will almost always be immediately discarded. 

6) Join the Medical Science Liaison Society. (www.themsls.org) Anyone truly interested in the MSL career should join and get involved with the MSL Society.  As a non-profit, the organization is focused on educating and helping people advance in their careers including landing your first MSL role.  It is a great way to network and also be able to have the search term “Medical Science Liaison” on your CV and LinkedIn profiles. This results in your profile getting noticed and found. 

7) Read “The Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break Into Your First Role”.  (www.themslbook.com) This is the first and only book ever published on how to break into the role.  It will show you, step by step, how to search for, apply, and interview for your first MSL role. The book reveals strategies for standing apart from the competition, what hiring managers look for when considering candidates, and what you will need to do to get hired.

Best of Luck to all and if I can help-please reach out to me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/samueldyer

Dr. Dyer has a Ph.D. in Health Sciences and did his medical training in Chicago. He has a Master’s Degree in Tropical Biology (where he studied in the Amazon) and has a B.S. in Biology. Dr. Dyer also completed a certificate program for Executive Leadership and Strategy in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology at the Harvard Business School.

Dr. Samuel Dyer is the chairman of the board of the Medical Science Liaison Society and has over 13 years of international MSL experience. During his career, he has managed MSL teams and operations in over sixty countries across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. He has facilitated the successful launch of pharmaceutical and medical device products for both Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies and small biotechs. 

Dr. Dyer has coached, interviewed, and reviewed the CVs of countless MSL candidates. His insights and guidance have resulted in numerous candidates successfully breaking into their first MSL role.

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  • On January 23, 2014