Feeling frustrated with your entry-level medical writer job search?
Maybe you’re not using the right job search terms.
Cristina is an aspiring medical writer in Boston who is looking for an employed role as a medical writer. She’s taking my Introduction to Health Writing course.
As she’s new to consumer medical writing, she’s looking for an entry-level role.
Recently, we were chatting about her struggle to find relevant medical writing jobs.
She had been searching for jobs on LinkedIn and could only find roles that were too senior, such as principal medical writer roles that require five years of experience.
She was simply typing “medical writer” into the LinkedIn job search.
But that was the problem!
Why you need to stop searching for medical writer jobs
Here’s something you may not have thought about: Many medical writing roles don’t have the phrase medical writer in the title – especially entry-level roles.
That’s because there are many, many different types of roles that involve medical writing.
Editorial assistants, content managers, marketing managers, digital executives – all those jobs and more involve tons of medical writing.
In those types of roles, you’ll be writing, editing, commissioning content and planning content. You’re doing what a medical writer does.
And I speak from experience. I never had the words “medical writer” in my job title until I became a freelance medical writer.
My employed medical writing jobs were:
- Web Publishing Assistant at the British Medical Journal (my first entry-level medical writer job)
- Web Publishing Manager at the British Medical Journal
- Digital Content Manager at Elsevier
- Digital Content Manager at Blackmores
I did SO much medical writing in all of those jobs. I wrote short snippets of content, long articles, email newsletters and bespoke projects.
As much as 80% of my time involved writing, despite not having the word writer in my job title.
I also edited other people’s work and developed content strategies.
Through these jobs, I gained enough writing experience to launch my freelance medical writing business as a senior medical writer and charge a premium rate from the outset.
Job search terms to use instead of medical writer
To identify medical writing opportunities, think of words and phrases related to writing and content.
Here are just some general search terms you can use to find an entry-level job that involves medical writing:
- Editorial assistant
- Content manager
- Digital content manager
- Digital content assistant
- Communications assistant
- Marketing assistant
- Digital marketing assistant
- Digital assistant
- Content marketer
- Content strategist
- Content specialist
- Digital content coodinator
- Digital content officer
All of those jobs are perfect for new writers who want to gain experience and mentorship in an employed role.
To test that theory, Cristina and I conducted a quick search for editorial assistant jobs in Boston, near where she lives.
In just five minutes, we’d identified quite a few relevant jobs for some pretty significant medical companies in the Boston area, including Harvard!
Take a look at the images below, and you’ll get an idea of the possibilities and opportunities that are available.
Other job search tips
Of course, identifying a suitable entry-level medical writer job is only the beginning of the job search process.
You still need to:
- Apply for the role
- Get asked back for an interview
- Complete the interview
- Do a writing test (potentially)
- And maybe complete another interview!
But identifying relevant jobs is what gives you the best chance of succeeding.
If you continue to apply for senior medical roles but don’t have the experience, you will get disheartened.
You need to identify jobs that match your skills and experience. They do exist – you may just need to think outside the square.
Here are some other job search tips that can help you find suitable roles for beginner writers.
Look for long-term potential
Becoming a medical writer is a long-term commitment. If your goal is to learn and grow your skills so you can eventually become a senior writer or even launch your own freelance business, you will need several years of experience.
Therefore, try to get a job with companies that have long-term potential. Ask yourself if those companies have senior writers and consider what the career trajectory looks like. Could you see yourself working for that company for two, three or five years?
Make sure your LinkedIn profile and CV are up to date
Your LinkedIn profile and CV should contain the same messages and goals. Both should include a career goal – your why, which is your reason for becoming a medical writer.
Check out this article for more medical writer CV tips.
And, of course, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that you should proofread and edit your CV, LinkedIn and cover letter. Some recruiters won’t even give you a second look if they spot an obvious typo!
Personalise your cover letters
Having a base cover letter template is fine, but you should personalise it for every job you apply for. It’s painfully obvious when you send a generic cover letter. Not taking the time to personalise your cover letter can harm your prospects, as it makes you seem lazy and uninterested. Always personalise your cover letters!
Check your writing samples
Some entry-level medical writer jobs require writing samples, so it’s a good idea to have two or three writing samples before you start the job application process. But samples don’t have to be published – you can write your own samples. My Build Your Portfolio Masterclass can help you create a portfolio of quality writing samples if you want 1:1 support and mentorship.
Looking for an entry-level job isn’t easy – it is competitive and requires perseverance. However, we are working in an exciting, growing and fast-paced industry. There are plenty of jobs around, with new jobs coming up all the time.
Remember that there will always be another job, so don’t get too emotional if you don’t get an interview. Learn from the experience and keep going.
Remember: Look for terms beyond medical writer, and you’ll soon realise there are plenty of entry-level medical writing jobs available. Good luck!