Medical Science Liaison Careers
To bridge the gap from PhD to industry, you need these 5 skills on your professional resume to even get an interview.
A medical science liaison is a great career option for those transitioning out of academia due to its competitive medical liaison salary as well as the number of medical science liaison jobs available worldwide.
So what is a medical science liaison? The role itself is highly specialized and often concentrated in a particular therapeutic area. As a medical science liaison, you have to act as a scientific expert and advise others on the future state of treatment options and technologies.
A common mistake I see with applicants who aren't getting enough (or any) interviews is that there's a mismatch between what they're writing on a resume and what the job description is asking for. The end result? The resume is *virtually* thrown into the trash by applicant tracking systems (you may have noticed we've started providing ATS resume scans free of charge on The Academic Blueprint's Homepage as a lot of people were curious if they could pass the *robot* test).
To bypass these systems and actually get seen by a human being, here's 5 requirements every PhD should include on their resume if they're considering a medical science liaison career path.
“Think about ways to convey relationship-building in your resume, whether it be from scientific collaborations or volunteer experiences requiring teamwork.”
One of the main components of medical science liaison work is leading scientific conversations with physicians, clinic managers, and sales representatives. Not only do medical science liaisons need to be masters of networking, but they must also frequently tap into these networks to obtain valuable information. Indeed, medical science liaisons have the unique ability of synthesizing information across various sources and using this to drive business strategy.
Putting this skill on your resume helps the hiring manager realize you can leverage relationships to your advantage. Think about ways to convey relationship-building in your resume, whether it be from scientific collaborations or volunteer experiences requiring teamwork. For example, did you work on a multi-author paper? If so, you collaborated within the research team to set and manage project deliverables. The relationships could also be supervisory in nature. For instance, leading a team of undergraduate students to facilitate data collection.
As you complete your applications, it's important to note why companies tend to favor relationship-building skills for medical science liaisons. Remember that the market is typically unpredictable and that there's many competitors within the same space. As such, it's important for a candidate to be able to efficiently acquire information from outside sources to support decision-making. Ultimately, this information can make or break the future of a medical product or campaign.
Although this seems pretty self-explanatory, it's important to know why communication matters so much for medical science liaison work. Not only does information need to be quickly and succinctly articulated, but presentations must also be tailored to a specific audience. For instance, would you explain your research project the same way to your supervisor and your friends doing a PhD in Art History?
Find ways to get this point across in your resume and cover letter. For instance, explaining your project at an international conference to scientists outside your field as well as industry experts. Same project, but personalized for each group. Learn to read the audience - this is a crucial part of being a medical science liaison! A great exercise is to always think about the level of detail the other party needs in order to make a decision.
“Look back on times when you had to persuade others to get your point across, such as presenting new information to your committee to follow-up on results. ”
Medical science liaisons understand how their audience thinks so that at the end of the day, they know what to suggest to solve a tough problem. This means actively listening to first assess an individual's needs, and then using critical reasoning skills to advise on the optimal solution. Everyone exhibits some example of persuasion in their academic career. Look back on times when you had to persuade others to get your point across, such as presenting new information to your committee to follow-up on results. Just one example can make a huge difference in your application. If you're actively going to interviews for medical science positions, having this story in the back of your head helps convince interviewers you're a good fit.
Medical science liaisons are also experts in reading social cues, making them highly aware of their environment. Conversations are flexible, and medical science liaisons understand what, when, and how to say something. This is often a great question to prep for if you're going for an interview! Off the top of your head, can you describe a situation when you displayed emotional intelligence? What were the outcomes?
In the field, medical science liaisons act as both consultants and marketers. They need to know several things extremely well - the product, the competitors, and the customer. During discussions with key opinion leaders such as physicians, medical science liaisons need to showcase their product as a solution that offers specific advantages over others in the market. To incorporate this skill in your application, think about times when you had to sell an idea - perhaps you incorporated data to demonstrate and prove your point.
Does your resume hit all of these points? If not, it may be time to start thinking about how to incorporate these skills into your bullet points. A medical science liaison career definitely makes sense if you enjoy communicating scientific data and making recommendations, so take the time to update your applications!
That's it for this week's post! Hopefully you're enjoying the blog. If you missed any of these skills and are actively applying to medical science liaison jobs, perhaps you might be interested in a resume or cover letter refresh here.