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Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:24 am
by D.X.
Dave Jensen wrote:In most companies, you simply pass along the material to the HR department and they'll mark it with your name. Should that person be hired, you'd get a nice bonus. Should that person be a dingbat, you'll get some razzing, but in the company that actively rewards their staff for referrals, it's a minor issue.


Yes..and no. You'll get some razzing but you don't really want that. For me, I personlly like to have crediblity such that when I do make a referral, HR pays Attention because they know if they getting a CV from me, its a good candidate that should be looked at. And this is snapped to my crediblity in the organization. I don't want to bring a dingbat (my judgement call), so the Folks I recommend have a history of solid Performers or I see something that I want HR to look at. At least for me, when I pass a CV on to HR (and/or Hiring Manager), i'm asking a favor for them (HR or manager) to make at least a phone call.

Note: this goes against Nates view of so call jealousy which i've noted before is unsubstinable and a defeating view to have - that's when you risk make job-hunting personal an its not, it's Business.

I agree with all Caroline said and I diagree with Nate with reluctuance of those to help Peers. Quite the opposite. First, I do not agree that one who has no experience in the Job that is being solicited, should view oneself a a peer. In this tread, a PhD with no MSL experience talking to MSL is not a peer to the MSL, just for the purpose of These thread. That can lead to a disrepect for the persons experience and ablity to make a judgement call, at that goes for any Job really, and trust me it can be picked up.

Second, I have seen the opposite, where either me or a member of my Team be it from my MSL days or now HQ corporate/Commercial days run into a Job seeker be it a peer (they have Job experiene) or Junior (no expereince or emerging experiene) that is stellar and can totally be a competitor (but we don't think like that) be recommended for a Job by us because we think they are a value to the organization AND we're willing to put our Reputation on the line. And i've noted before someone who i was a peer and competitor of, adovcate for me to join his Company and team (which I did).

It is negative and against the fundamentals of Networking which is key to Readers of this forum if the overarching message is that others are out for themselves the majority of time.

Best DX

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:36 am
by Nate W.
I would like to suggest that the forum read the true story of Chris Gardner or see the movie. Chris started out in his career as a lab assistant at SF General Hospital and then struggled with his career as he transitioned to a more permeant position to support his family. There are many positive lessons about networking that one can take away from his story.

In 2007, there was a movie that chronicled the rise of Chris Gardner's career from homelessness to the top of the financial world based on his autobiography, "The Pursuit of Happyness."

In a Washington Post article, a reporter asked Chris about networking and mentors:

<WP> How important was networking for you and how can others develop a network in a new career field?

<Chris> Networking has been incredibly important. You've got to develop it where the players are in your field. There are always meetings and conventions of people with similar interests. Be there, invited or not.

<WP> What about mentors? How do you find them?

<Chris> I had so many mentors. Sometimes you meet somebody and it just clicks. Other times you have to look hard to develop them. I had to pursue one of mine for years. Either way, mentors are crucial. Those people can make all the difference in the world in what you do.

Source: ... 378_2.html

See the movie. His true success came when he reached out to the players (and prospective mentors) in the field and then got referrals to those less senior. As he says, push it "be there, whether invited or not."

I would say the same thing whether it be a job search for dogcatcher or a MSL. Your peers (or the those slightly ahead of you) are less likely to help you or be in a position to help you for a variety of reasons (i.e. jealousy, fear the competition, new to the field, don't know their boss well enough, or fear their own reputation if you don't work out). Instead develop relationships with the decision makers. They have an incentive to help their organization and goals by bringing on good talent and are less threatened by these other factors a less senior person might be worried about (unnecessarily so, I might add). By connecting with the players (or decision makers) is where you find a mentor that truly wants to help out and give back. So don't limit yourself and your options.

Focus on the part of the movie (or story) leading up to his meeting with executives at Candlestick park.

Movie and references:

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:15 am
by Nate W.
I came across the article in Fierce Pharma and this report. This article definitely answers this question:

"When building specialty drug forces two years before launch, pharma companies start building with MSLs, so never even hire large number of sales reps. They’re not displacing reps, they’re just not hiring as many sales reps and hiring MSLs more. Where the ratios used to be 1:200, today it’s 1:10 or 1:15 whenever they’re launching a biologic or other complex drug,” Kapoor said. ... plex-drugs

This thread also points out a problem in finding a professional job, like a MSL position. There are people out there that will put out misleading and discouraging information to deter candidates from considering a career option. Ignore the BS and go directly to the hiring managers and thought leaders in the industry if you want a job.

Please don't argue with this last point, DX. I am saying this because I want to help others and I know this networking approach works based on many years of experience. Only HR folks tend to argue with this point and they are wrong.

PS: DX, I worked ten years on collaborative industry projects with a KOL and medical affairs teams for ten years and have two years drug development experience at a CRO. Also, I have served as a scientific advise for a law firm involving in a patent ligation case(s) involving off label marketing of an oncology drug which was caused by overzealous statements made by pharmaceutical sales representatives. Further, I have taught for two years as an adjunct professor of biology. Please refrain from making statement or insinuating about my credentials unless you know the facts.

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:57 am
by D.X.
Hi Nate,

Small world. I know the person interviewed and the agency, it is based in India and have offices globally unfortunately, to put it mildly, I had to stop business with them due to some Quality Issues and I'll leave it there. They try to be a one stop shop agency wise but all saavy in house folks know there is no such thing. They do have a great digital service but scientific content wise, well not so great. So in that scientific context well, I had to stop the relationship (inherited the agency from a predecessor)

On that point unfortunately, true to my past direct experience with them, Kapoor does not give an accurate picture and well if any fellow colleagues are looking for this agency for MSL related services, I recommend you show this article to your legal/compliance department and have then weigh in. For example the reason MSLs can be used during pre-launch for proactive disease state only education is because a sales rep can not legally discuss (or promote which all discussions by a rep is promotion) a drug that has not received market authorization (I.e. FDA approval). To do so is a legally enforceable violatiion. What the MSL can do is prepare the market via scientific education
Of the disease state to include current practices and treatment choices and limitations in a fair balanced way. Enter the value of a scientific back ground. So a tiny piece of info that Kapoor left out, is that if one took away from the article that Sales Rep Can talk on a pre-launch, none market approved, setting well - get ready for your FBI dawn raid.

Kapoor associates the job of a MSL as equals to a rep - a MSL
Does not and can not close a Sale or make any deals. This is not their Job.

They can help build advocacy and buy in via education but never ever close a deal. They are not measured on it, they can't be measured on it, in the US its a legally enforceable Violation and the stuff Court mandated Corporate Integrity Agreements are made of.

Kapoor also doesn't acknowledge that the smaller ratio is linked to more targeted utilation of sales forces (Sales excellence/customer targeting approaches, linked to speciality strategy that have meant one does not need large sales forces as before). I believe he's talking Globally - but in many markets you team up a good MSLs with some a few KAMs and you got good thing going in a post-Marketing authorization and Launch Setting.

So again becareful of your sources, obviously you do not know the the field enough to see all the red flags in that article nor do you know the agency/source or Setting.

I can see where Kapoor is coming from a tiny tiny bit with more of some ex-US persceptions, there can be some differences but manly most companies will apply the strictist national level codes Globally.

Interesting to see he puts MSLs as part of Marketing which we'll if I was US based I'd red flag that.

So for those who read the article..Careful on the interpretation - from someone whose worked with the agency cited in the article. Not to completely disparage them as mentioned they do have great digital platforms (so I'm
Fair balanced).

Also I and Dave have said it's ok to call the hiring managers - I e. Within organization field directors) not the Global Head of the Med Aff function.

And I've never disparaged you Nate - only correct you in the area where you are not experienced or versed - I for example know nothing of patent law so not for me give much insights. Just want the readers to have accurate view of what they are getting into if the go down a path I've been.



edit, grammer

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:11 am
by Dave Jensen
Nate W. wrote:Ignore the BS and go directly to the hiring managers and thought leaders in the industry if you want a job.

Please don't argue with this last point, DX. I am saying this because I want to help others and I know this networking approach works based on many years of experience. Only HR folks tend to argue with this point and they are wrong.

There are lots of approaches that work. Just like any skill, you have to start somewhere, and as you gain confidence, you move into a different type of approach. If I were just starting in a job search, I'd pass on the "Call the CEO" you advocate and take advantage of the employee referral programs that companies have, where their people are actually PAID to take your networking calls. But if your system works for you Nate, than do it! Our forum discussion is not for people with 10+ years of job experience under their belt as you have.


Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:41 am
by Nate W.
Dave Jensen wrote:
Nate W. wrote:Ignore the BS and go directly to the hiring managers and thought leaders in the industry if you want a job.

Please don't argue with this last point, DX. I am saying this because I want to help others and I know this networking approach works based on many years of experience. Only HR folks tend to argue with this point and they are wrong.

There are lots of approaches that work. Just like any skill, you have to start somewhere, and as you gain confidence, you move into a different type of approach. If I were just starting in a job search, I'd pass on the "Call the CEO" you advocate and take advantage of the employee referral programs that companies have, where their people are actually PAID to take your networking calls. But if your system works for you Nate, than do it! Our forum discussion is not for people with 10+ years of job experience under their belt as you have.


Let me clarify. Why talk with somebody at a company about a job if they don't they the authority to hire you? In this post, I have stated why the referral system doesn't work effectively; someone might not feel comfortable recommending you for the position. They don't know you that well and/or their job is on the line. They might be jealous of your background. When you talk with a thought leader within the organization, this BS doesn't matter. Then it is more about can you do the job and fit.

Plus, if the person you talked with doesn't have the authority to hire you then what the hell is the point; to chew the fat about college football or our shared time at WashU as alumni.

My approach is actually a hybrid of what is taught on this forum and from networking advice in Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters. Further, it equally applies if you are starting out or getting your last job before retirement. I not advocating that a person starting out call the CEO. Instead, one should identify what type of job they would like to pursue and then identify the group within a list of target companies that hire such individuals doing your ideal job. Then identify the person who would be your potential hiring manager and then identify this person's hiring manager. Then call 1-2 levels above your potential hiring manager to start doing informational interviews. Repeat this process for each company on your target list.

This approach avoids all the BS of trying to work your way up the chain of command; instead selectively start-out at the top. Most likely the person who you initially contact will not be jealous of your credentials, fear you being hired, and appreciate the in person and assertive networking approach. Mentors will only be found at the top of the organization; not the bottom.

This certainly works better than calling your friends or equals at that target company and asking them for a referral; the people that don't have the hiring authority.

Dave, I have tried the referral approach. This works better. I got my start in academia calling PIs and telling them why I wanted to work in their lab. Didn't call HR or my lab mates------directly to the hiring authority and then that generated helpful leads and referrals that got things done.

Dave, how do you drum up business for your recruiting firms?

This is all about selling yourself and being assertive as well as ignoring the discouraging advice along the way.

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:43 pm
by Dave Jensen

You've made your point repeatedly here. Thanks for that. I'm sure you'll get some takers. The broad majority of our readership, however, needs to learn the process of networking. It's building a base of contacts that will be yours for the rest of your life, not just a "wham, bham, thank you M'aam" approach to getting an interview. That's not really all that professional.

Your posts are full of angry "they are jealous" kind of reasonings for approaching the world this way. We would urge people to talk to those at all levels in the organizations they are targeting. They don't have to be the responsible party for hiring. People are paid to promote those individuals they think have the "stuff" to work for their employer. You can get just as much traction with someone who is 2-3 years ahead of you as you can with a 10+ year veteran of the company. And, they aren't sheltered by assistants!

I'm not going to keep talking about this with you Nate. You are welcome to present your views here, and people will judge it based on the merits of your posts. I think your concerns of people "fearing you" and "being jealous" only makes sense in your world, not in mine. Sure, some people are jerks, you'll be able to turn a few rocks in any organization and find them. But the majority of people in companies want only to help, as long as they have the time and are approached professionally.

I don't think that books like the one you mention were developed for scientists. It's like negotiation books. They just don't work for the market that scientists work in. Next thing you'll be promoting books with names like "100 Snappy Answers to Tough Interview Questions." They're out there, and I'm sure you've read them Nate. But it's not a pretty sight to watch a scientist rattling off those canned answers, and it doesn't work, I can guarantee you that!


PS -- There's value in every one of those books if you are selective, perhaps even the Snappy Answers one that I always make fun of. I remember writing about “Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson back in the late 1990's I think it was. There were several good concepts about marketing oneself on the cheap that I felt would work for scientists, and it had a nice reception when I published it.

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:45 am
by D.X.
Hi Nate,

To echo Dave's Point, I also think by communicating continously about jealousy is also harmful from a Job seeker's perpective. In this context you've raised it as a potential and for me well from a Job seeker's Point of view, even if it does exist, there is NOTHING a Job seeker can do about this other than to move on!

To spend one Minute thinking about such "they are jealous" type thinking is energy depleting and this is the last Thing a Job seeker needs to think about, there is nothing actionable to be done other that to look for other opportunities.

I've also mentioned to not forget about the about the influencers. Both from Dave's experiences and mine, they do have a vested interest in getting Folks who they think have the "stuff" to do work for their employer. Emphasis on "who THEY think". They do have the empowerment and experience to take a judgement call so do respect that.

Also in todays world, hiring is becoming more and more a TEAM-BASED decision. Yes the hiring Manager has final sign-off for the hire, but the interview process today is more and more cross-functional more and more Panel oriented and more and more determined by those influencers.

Think that each Person outside the hiring Manager you meet with is filling in an HR form and is Meeting in "hiring Panels " to take a Team-Based decision/recommenation on who to hire. This is the trend, this where we're going where an interview process is nearly like interviewing for a CEO Position. This has been my experiences as of late especially in the big and medium pharma's - very process oriented and Panel driven.

So the Dave's Point its ok to target the influencers provided that you respect their judgment and provided you understand that even if they are not the hiring Manager, you still put your best foot Forward, Approach with respect and courtesy, embrace them a "future" colleague, understand thier are not your peer..yet...and definately not an enemy- Contrary to your views, if they see value in you, they will refer you, not fear you.



Re: MSL Question---Networking

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:46 am
by Nate W.
Let's break down this disagreement in parts. The gist of the disagreement is that a more senior person in your field (or desired field of interest) is more inclined to help one find a job (or network) than someone who is similar in rank within a organization (e.g. a potential coworker, coworker's immediate supervisor, or a client). I have given several reasons why I think a less senior person or equal to the position you are trying to compete for is less inclined to help and why a more senior person cares more about filling the position based on objective criteria. Those reasons why a less senior person (or equal) might not want to help have more to do with personal insecurities and anxieties than objectives reason why one might not be qualified. I am not saying this because I am an angry person; it has to do with personal experiences and I have learned from those experiences.

Dave's strategy has several assumptions that he hasn't considered. The most important of which is that most companies which hire scientists (including academia) don't have an employee referral programs. Even if they did have a program, the monetary reward is not enough incentive for them to help out and this brings up the point about human nature (set that aside for the moment). Not all scientists work in highly structured large pharma companies, they work in law offices, investment banks, universities, CROs, reagent companies; they are small and large as well as considerably diverse in their structure where hiring decisions are not made by a team but by one decision maker who has the authority.

I am going to provide an example of what I mean about networking with peers or equals:

I have a relative that is a CEO of a small engineering company of about 200 people. We have a close relationship and we have kept in contact for about 25 yrs. My relative is an engineer by nature and his company employees a large patent law firm which also has a biotech group. Over a holiday visit while making small talk, I asked him to put me in touch with his patent attorney so that he can refer me to the biotech group. He agreed. I sent him a resume and then followed-up several weeks and then months. The short of it was that he didn't want to refer me because he was worried about the reputation of his company and whether the attorney would work with his company if asked. When I pressed my relative, he said that I wasn't qualified in his opinion. This was BS because he was ceramics engineer, not a biologist. Thus, I ignore his advice and contacted the attorney directly myself. After two conversations with his attorney and showed him my resume, he gladly introduced me to the firm's biotech group. I covered for my relative by putting in a good word about the quality of the attorney's patent work for my relative. Of note, the attorney said my relative never gave him the resume. Thus, there are many people out there like my relative who feel inconvenienced due to personal insecurities and anxieties to help others network, even when they know you.

You just have to recognize this dynamic and work around people like this. Find people who are more inclined to help you; those who have an incentive to hire objectively and the authority to do so.

PS: DX, I am more inclined to respect the opinion of the thought leaders than that of my potential coworkers when it comes to a hiring decision and my candidacy.

Re: MSL Question

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:59 am
by Dave Jensen
Nate, do you remember Kevin, one of our earlier advisors, posting here about Employee Referral bonuses? He told the forum that he made $12,000 the previous year by referring on networkers who were later employed. I find that there are far more companies with employee referral bonuses than not . . . But, even without that, people tend to want to help one another, particularly if they have a feeling of empathy for the job seeker.

A person who went through their job search 25 years ago and in a completely different climate (it was still tough, but you'd get hired easier than today) are not ones who will have empathy for your situation as a job seeker today. But the person who is just a few years ahead of you (Peer + 2) will indeed remember. Once again, I think you are living under a rather jaundiced view of the world where people are self-centered and jealous. I'm sure they are out there, but you should consider giving others a bit more credibility as potential helpers in a job search.

Dave Jensen