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5 Key Takeaways from our Degree-Specific Recruiter Hangout

SEMbio hosted our third virtual recruiter hangout last week. If you haven’t tuned in yet, this is where SEMbio hosts dozens of MSLs or aspiring MSLs to join us along with a panel of experienced MSLs or MSL managers to discuss popular topics followed by a Q&A session.

Last week’s hangout was again geared towards aspiring MSLs but this time we made sure to have all degree types represented to better gear our pros’ advice to all audiences.

Here are 5 key takeaways:

1 – Set yourself apart with unique clinical experience

The nurse practitioners and physician assistants out there know that it can be even tougher to find an MSL position with the lack of a terminal degree. The key here is, of course, highlighting your clinical experience to hiring managers. Keep in mind that “real-world experience” is valuable to hiring managers and your experience with having the well-being of patients in your hands can mean a lot. However, it doesn’t do you any favors to market yourself as someone who has been trained in all areas in the clinic. There are a lot of pharmacists and physicians who can say they’ve been trained in all therapeutic spaces. Being able to highlight the unique expertise you have from the clinic is going to be your best bet to set yourself apart from your competition.

2 – Don’t assume your smarts are enough to get you the job

Just like in our last recruiter hangout, we were reminded that there are a lot of smart candidates out there. Even if you are the smartest candidate the company has seen and you have as much research experience as possible, you’ve got to win the interview panel over with a good personality, too.

This was one of our key takeaways from the last hangout, but it’s worth remembering over and over again – a successful MSL has a blend of scientific intelligence and social skills. Make sure to show off your ability to have both of them when you interview!

3 – Ace your presentations

Another reminder came for the clinicians out there whose experience with presentations might be a little different than the presentations that MSLs typically deliver. To get over this disadvantage, you’re going to have to practice a little harder! If you have friends who are MSLs, ask if they can show you the slide decks they’ve delivered in their past interviews. When it is your chance to deliver a presentation in an interview, don’t just practice until you get it right – practice it until you can’t get it wrong! Deliver it to a friend who is an MSL, if possible, to get their experienced feedback.

4 – Don’t neglect other positions to help get you there

As some aspiring MSLs know too well, it can take a long time to finally land your first MSL position. The reality is that sometimes it might take the nudge of another career move to finally propel you into an MSL position. There are many positions out there that can help build relevant experience. Keep your eyes out for Clinical Trial Liaison and Field Application Scientist positions, or even look to medical affairs consultant and scientific communications positions. Any of those career paths will help you gain experience that is relatable to the MSL role.

5 – Move out of your comfort zone if necessary

Lastly, the reality is that your first MSL position might not be in the disease state that is your true love. There’s even a chance that your personality wins over a hiring manager so much that they offer you a job in a disease state you have zero experience in. It might make it harder for you to get up and running in your first MSL position, but it’s going to open a lot of doors for you for years to come.

Questions or comments? Email me at

Author: Lawrence Beck, CPC

Lawrence joined SEMbio in 2011 and is a team leader in recruiting and business development. He attended Texas Tech University on a path that led him to obtain his Master’s degree in Sports Management. That experience provides Lawrence a unique perspective as a recruiter.
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