The role of the Medical Science Liaison is more important to pharmaceutical and biotech companies than ever before. According to a recent MSL Society survey, 68% of MSL managers plan to expand their teams, highlighting that the role is only becoming more important. Additionally, 79% of Key Opinion Leaders stated that it was very important to maintain contact with Medical Science Liaisons during the pandemic. Since the value proposition of the Medical Science Liaison has never been greater than it is today, the result has been a very competitive market for MSL hiring and recruitment.
Tom Caravela is an expert in the MSL Recruitment space. He has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has managed The Carolan Group for 20 years. The company is a leading Medical Affairs Executive Search Firm specializing in identifying top talent for its pharma and biotech clients. Carolan is highly niche-focused, client-driven, and fully dedicated to the scientific community. Tom and his team specialize in Medical Science Liaison build and expansions as well as recruitment for various levels of Medical and Scientific Affairs professionals.
Tom shares six best practices for MSL recruitment:
1. Time to fill
- As a result of an efficient process, candidates can be filtered through interviews quicker, and success rates become greater.
- Top MSL talent does not stay on the market long. The longer it takes to get candidates through the process, the better chance you lose them along the way.
- Anytime you put a position or positions on hold, it will drastically influence the success rate and ability to fill those positions once they reopen.
2. Search Criteria
- The more stringent the search criteria, the more difficult and lengthy the search process can be.
- Having some level of flexibility in search parameters will result in a more efficient process. Not saying that hiring managers shouldn’t be selective and want top talent. Just have a level of flexibility.
- Anytime search criteria are changed in the middle of the process, it will create issues with the ability to complete the search in a timely fashion.
- The market for MSLs has become increasingly competitive compensation-wise. If any pieces are missing in the comp puzzle it could result in losing candidates to other offers.
- Must have: A competitive base salary, bonus structure (20%), as well as LTI, and benefits collectively need to be competitive.
- Culture is always a significant factor in attracting and retaining top talent.
- MSLs are very savvy and will research the company. They will be able to determine the company culture before joining.
- High turnover and inconsistent or poor company culture will be a huge factor in attracting top talent.
- Frequent leadership changes send a bad message and will influence candidate opinion.
5. MSL Career Ladder
- It is very attractive for an MSL to know that they have opportunities for advancement and promotion.
- Having levels such as Senior MSL, Principal MSL, and Executive MSL or perhaps a Director level MSL title is incredibly attractive for candidates.
- It is very important for MSLs to be excited about the science, pipeline, and therapeutic space of an organization.
- Before and during the interview process, it is important to demonstrate the scientific value proposition so that candidates can be excited about the opportunity to join the company.
In the recruitment industry, the term “candidate market” means there are fewer candidates available than positions open. This certainly holds true to the current market for Medical Science Liaisons. There is a shortage of experienced and qualified talent for these roles so it is imperative that companies raise their standard of effort and process for attracting MSL candidates. According to Tom Caravela, “MSL candidates need to be courted. It is a fiercely competitive market so the companies that are most responsive, have an efficient process, and maintain best practices in recruitment will win.”