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Video Cover Letters (a short videotaped introduction to an employer) is a cutting-edge job search tool now beginning to be used across all professions and can be used when searching for an MSL role. Video cover letters offer a novel method for employers to evaluate candidates. However, there are several points to consider when using a Video Cover Letter for an MSL job application. As with search engines and resume database software, it may take some time for video cover letters to be widely accepted by most employers.

10 Points To Consider When Using A Video Cover Letter For An MSL Job Application:

  1. While it can be helpful to hear how potential MSL candidates present themselves and to evaluate their suitability, be cautious to not look rigid and unnatural. Try to be conversational but succinct. Employers will be concerned that Video Cover Letters provide no evidence of how candidates will present themselves during a lengthy in-person interview.
  2. The use of video cover letters also gives rise to concerns within the human resource community that their use invites possible litigation based on illegal discrimination practices during the hiring process. Only send it to those that know you and are expecting contact.
  3. A Video Cover Letter (or resume) is not able to be incorporated into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which has become the main recruitment strategy for many employers. Until ATS vendors devise a method to incorporate videos (e.g. storing, tracking, and viewing) as part of the screening process, these videos are sent to email directories, stored in separate URL files, or simply deleted. If you are going to try to use an MSL Video Cover Letter make sure you are sending it to the right person directly (hiring manager, recruiter or HR) that you have been in contact with.
  4. Recruiters and hiring managers may not have the time to view a Video Cover Letter. The key is to streamline the hiring process by utilizing those recruitment tools that enable hiring managers to perform due diligence and make decisions in a timely manner. Make sure that your MSL Video Cover Letter is succinct and never more than 3-5 minutes in length.
  5. Some within the HR community argue that only certain personality types will do well with a video presentation, those with an outgoing demeanor, and high energy level. Introverted and analytical personality types may be perfectly qualified for a given MSL role but their video presentation may not accurately reflect these abilities. Regardless of your personality type, if you are going to use these videos you need to emphasize your skills and accomplishments that best match the needs of the MSL role that you are applying to.
  6. There are currently no rules or standards for the presentation of a Video Cover Letter. As such, it is up to the candidate to decide on what will be appropriate and what to leave out. This will perhaps change as Video Cover Letters become more accepted and professional career coaches and writers develop protocols similar to those created for traditional cover letters and resumes. It is reasonable at this point to apply similar inclusion rules for a Video Cover Letter as to that of a traditional cover letter. Keep it succinct and emphasize important points not obvious in your resume.     
  7. The IT security and Firewalls of employer computer systems may block the submission of videos or not allow them at all. With the spread of computer viruses and worms, security systems are becoming ever more sophisticated and employers may take precaution in opening attachments, especially from those they do not know (hence the rising popularity of Applicant Tracking Systems). As before, it is important to only send it when appropriate to those that you have had some exchange with (email, phone).
  8. The employer’s installed version of the software which enables the viewing of Rich Media Content may not be compatible with all videos. Ask for a personal email address to send your video to in order to prevent any technical issues or send the link to your YouTube video.
  9. There is a size consideration to the use of Video Cover Letters because they take up a good deal of storage space.  The demands on servers in terms of bandwidth required would be great even if 10 recruiters and or hiring managers watch video submissions at the same time. Again, you can avoid these types of issues by giving recruiters and potential employers your YouTube link to your video.
  10. Know your audience and the purpose of sending such a video. These types of videos can be a great detail to set you apart from other candidates or a complete disaster. Be prepared and consider the above points to increase your chances of success of landing your next Medical Science Liaison role.


Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.


Dr. Samuel Dyer is the Chairman of the Board of the MSL Society and the author of “The Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break Into Your First Role“, the first step-by-step guide ever published on how to successfully land your first MSL role.