At Syneos Health, we regularly hire candidates with a background in academia, clinical settings and even from industries outside the biopharmaceutical industry to be Medical Science Liaisons. The best candidates aspiring to be a Medical Science Liaison:
Identify your goals and interests and take time to learn everything you can about the Medical Science Liaison role you are seeking. Working within a collaborative MSL role in our biopharmaceutical setting can differ greatly from an academia-based role with more focus on individual achievement. Ensure that you're able to effectively communicate with hiring managers your understanding of the MSL role and how your career experience and achievements will translate to their team's overall mission and goals.
Focus your scientific expertise towards an opportunity wherein you have the ability to expand your skills and gain exposure to the industry. Exploring roles such as Post-doctoral fellows with a pharmaceutical company, in-house pharmaceutical positions or roles within a Medical Information or Medical Communications setting may allow you to not only achieve an introduction to the industry, but also the opportunity to work cross functionally and develop professional networks and relationships with clinical experts.
Become part of the MSL community through membership to a professional society or association. Consider joining these associations and begin building a network with experienced MSL professionals and hiring managers. Membership will also allow you the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the role and access to further development through offered webinars and conferences.
As you begin your MSL career search, focus on those roles that fall within your therapeutic or disease state knowledge. This will allow you to position yourself as an expert and showcase the value you would immediately bring to the company. Experience in field-based relationship development as well as firsthand knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry are additional key attributes for an MSL role.
Start building contacts with the Medical Science Liaison community via social media sites. Connecting and networking with current MSLs and MSL Recruiters will give you the advantage of cultivating relationships and formulating conversations around your career aspirations. Attending medical conferences should also be a part of your career marketing plan. Target relevant local or national conferences that fit within your therapeutic specialty and make a list of those attending companies/organizations you would like to network with and begin sending out strategic connection requests to initiate communication prior to the event.
Taking part in speaking engagements which link directly to your therapeutic expertise or disease state knowledge can help you stand out as an MSL candidate. Highlighting speaker engagement experience demonstrates to hiring managers your strong communication skills and your ability to present to the scientific community. Whether serving as a guest speaker at a professional conference or a member of a panel, your presentation experience positions you as a field expert and thought leader avid about the biopharmaceutical industry.
Certifications generally aren't required for all MSL openings, but they may prove to be an asset in regards to assessing and evaluating MSL's acquired competencies, skills and knowledge. Certain national associations offer training courses along with MSL test-based board certification.
If you are looking to set yourself apart, there are opportunities to add value outside of the typical role of a MSL. Such opportunities may include getting involved in constructing standard response letters, protocols, taking part in gathering analytics, budget forecasting, and participating on task force committees.