Breaking Into Industry – From a Hiring Manager’s Perspective

Did you miss our latest Q3 Entry-Level MSL webinar? Here’s what our guest, Brant Jarrett, Executive Director and Head of Medical Affairs at Mallinckrodt, had to say!

We loved having a guest on our webinar this quarter and look forward to having many more! During this session we got great advice from Brant Jarrett, who we’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with for years. He went over the day-to-day of being an MSL, and how to stand out amongst your competition. If you missed our webinar, here are some of the top questions that we discussed:


Can you give us a peek behind the curtain for an overview of a “day in the life” of an MSL?


Whether you focus on pre-launch or launch work all depends on what stage the product/compound is that you’re supporting. This is where it’s important to know your HCPs (Health Care Professionals) and get a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) map together. It’s all about building relationships.

A huge piece of being an MSL is getting to educate on disease states. Some KOLs don’t even know certain diseases exist. With that, you also have to be up to date on new guidelines that come out. MSLs are the ones that attend a lot of these congresses where this information and those new guidelines are shared. Many clinicians aren’t aware of these new procedures, which is where the MSL gets to be a value add.

You also get the opportunity to help with clinical trials, advisory boards, product launches and exploring new indications or off-label uses.


What are some things that separate aspiring MSL rockstars from the rest of the pack?


You have to go above and beyond and show the company what makes you so special. Why should we hire you over a 5 or 10 year MSL? *Here are some specific examples that Brant shared:

  • Be proactive, put together a 30/60/90 day plan (if you’re needing a 30/60/90 day plan, check out our resources page to find a template)
  • Be strategic and go ahead and do KOL mapping. Put together a KOL map in the territory you’re interviewing for, and who you think the top Opinion Leaders would be
  • Know the company really well. Be able to pronounce the company and product/compound names correctly (YouTube is a great resource for learning pronunciations. We also had a recommendation for Elsa Speak as another great resource, which is free for students)
  • Be eager, willing to learn, and humble. No egos
  • One person has the ability to ruin an entire team, so show teamwork, and that you can help other be successful as well


What does it take to be an MSL?


To be an MSL, you must be really good in 4 different areas:

  1. Understanding the clinical/scientific piece of what you’re supporting
  2. KOL relationships – Can you build them? Do you have that personality? Can you keep the KOLs interest?
  3. Understanding that you work with a company. At the end of the day, some of the admin stuff is a must. Other things like compliance training, expense reports, and providing value to other clinicians and back to your company are also a must. All of those things matter, outside of your independent MSL responsibilities
  4. Working with internal stakeholders. You have to tailor your social skills to be able to work with marketing, commercial, and other internal partners. (EX: If you have a Key Opinion Leader and someone from marketing asking, “what is the mechanism of action (MOA)?” they’re looking for 2 different answers, and you have to have the EQ to know the difference)


What are some positions you can take to help transition into an MSL role?


Sometimes it can take a while to transition into an MSL position. To better prepare yourself for industry, here are some interim positions you should consider:

  • Clinical Specialists
  • Health Economics
  • Working in publications
  • Med Info
  • Medical Communications
  • Working in compliance
  • Research positions in industry
  • Field Application Scientists
  • Thought Leader Liaisons
  • Clinical Pharmacist
  •  Commercial, but you must have an understanding of the difference in sales/medical, and the compliance that goes along with that


Can you leave us with one piece of advice for aspiring MSLs?


“Don’t give up! This is the best job ever. As much as I like being a Hiring Manager and leading field medical, I really miss the MSL role, it is the best job I’ve ever had in my entire life- I loved it. It is going to be challenging, it’s going to be tough. Don’t give up! If you really want to do this, if you want the best job ever, it’s going to take some work and effort. You might have to take a couple years, do some other things to get to that point, but don’t give up. Do it, it’s worth it, it’s absolutely worth it!”

A huge thank you to Brant for joining us and sharing so much info! As always, we love being a resource for you but we also love having a special Medical Affairs guest add in even more insight. If you haven’t already, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn for more information and tips:




Do you have any additional questions for either Brant or the team at PharmaFinders? Leave them in the comment section below!