One for the Entry Level MSL Candidates

“Do you ever work with candidates looking to break into their first MSL role?” is an extremely common question we get asked. The answer is “yes!”, but they just unfortunately aren’t as common as the MSL roles requiring experience. It’s probably no surprise to you that there’s A LOT of interest and competition for these highly coveted break-in MSL roles, but no worries- we’re here to help you navigate the hurdles and questions as you explore your new career path!

One way PharmaFinders is helping out is by hosting quarterly Entry Level Candidate (ELC) Networking Sessions. We were able to chat candidly about tips and tricks for how to break into your first MSL role. (We will be posting our upcoming date soon- be on the lookout!)

Another step we want to take was by creating additional free resources for you. We have just added a new one to our website to serve as a general guide for those who are just getting started in their MSL job search, or for those who are exploring the role and hitting hurdles with their applications or initial interviews.

Below are a few snippets we wanted to highlight, but please check out the complete resource at and click on the Resource tab!

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR APPLICATIONS AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE: Submitting your resume everywhere and getting zero traction? Getting interviews but not moving past the first phone/video interview?

  • DID YOU ACTUALLY UPDATE YOUR CV? If you have spot on experience and you’re not getting any hits on your resume, it might be that it still needs work. Get a second pair of eyes on it and be open to feedback.
  • ARE YOU OVERVALUING YOUR EXPERIENCE? I say this with all the care in the world – just because you’re a super smart, can-learn-anything human doesn’t mean that you’re the best candidate for a Senior MSL role. Make sure the roles you’re applying for are well aligned with YOUR experience. Can you come in and immediately contribute to the team with your research experience, therapeutic knowledge, clinical experience, industry experience, etc…

HELPFUL HINT- check in with your network and recruiters first before you apply directly. If you have a LIVE human that can vouch for you, your chances are likely going to improve!


ENABLE YOURSELF, BE RESOURCEFUL: Don’t just show up and expect others to do the work for you. You need to show initiative and put effort into your job search as well if this is what you really want. The candidates I have seen make the jump have all advocated for themselves by putting in consistent effort and a positive attitude.

KEEP TABS ON YOUR APPLICATIONS: Who/What/When/Role/Therapeutic Area. This will help you avoid duplicating efforts and can help greatly if you’re working with recruiters to see where you’ve already applied and when. It can also be useful if a company comes back to several months later and you’ve been applying away and might have forgotten where or for what team you applied for initially.

EXPLORE CONTRACT MSL ROLES: Contract MSL positions are a great way to gain experience and there will be some potential to be brought on permanent with the company. Many very reputable pharma companies seek for contract MSL teams.  Yes, of course there is risk with a contract position, but there is risk in any pharma/biotech industry position. It’s all part of the very dynamic pharma industry environment that keeps us on our toes! 

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: My mantra for my candidates (and myself too!) has always been to “focus on the things you can control”. It’s literally all we can do, so let’s put our energy into where we can improve our odds and make the most of our efforts. Don’t wind yourself up thinking about your competition, timing, or your lack of “formal MSL experience”- you can’t change those things. You can change how much research you’ve done on the products, territory, role, and competitive landscape for the drug so that you’re showing up the interview the MOST prepared you can possibly be. It’s a much more productive and positive exercise to channel your energy into those things.

This can be a process, so buckle up and prepare for ups and downs- YOU GOT THIS!

Best of luck in your job search!


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