Friday, March 23, 2018

Business cards

A list of small, useful things (links):

I hope you don't get the blahs this weekend - have a great weekend! 

Fantastic myth-busting on the "skills gap"

Great article from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' director of research, public policy, and legislative issues, Edwin Koc (emphasis mine):
The figure of 6 million job openings comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report. BLS issues the survey results on a monthly basis, with the latest published report—the January 2018 issue—providing data as of November 2017. The latest job opening figure shows 5.9 million job openings in the United States, which is little changed from the previous 24 months. However, it is important to note that these job openings are not the result of new jobs coming online; further, the implication that these jobs go unfilled is highly misleading. The openings result from a variety of factors, most of which can be characterized as frictions in the labor market. 
The job openings are the result of:
  • 3.2 million workers quitting their current jobs;
  • 1.7 million workers losing their jobs as a result of a layoff or firing;
  • 0.3 million workers retiring, going on disability, or transferring to a different location within the same firm.
That means 5.2 million job openings are the result of separations. This leaves approximately 700,000 unaccounted for, but presumably relatively new job openings. 
The 5.2 million job openings that result from separations are actually an indication of a healthy economy. As the above indicates, the majority of these openings are voluntary. They occur because an employee perceives a better opportunity in another firm or another location. The number of separations tends to increase as the economy improves and declines when the economy goes into recession. As Figure 1 shows, the number of job openings dropped significantly during 2008 and 2009—the period of the great recession. Since 2009, the number of openings has been climbing steadily, reaching around the 6 million mark in an economy where the stock market is at record highs and unemployment is at near-record lows. 
Nevertheless, if all these openings—whether they result from separations or from the creation of new positions—went unfilled, then that would present a serious problem for the economy. However, the same BLS job opening report also provides the count of new hires made each month: For November 2017, BLS reports that employers hired 5.5 million workers. This leaves approximately 400,000 job openings that went unfilled during November, which represents 0.2 percent of the U.S. labor market. It is important to note that the November 2017 figures are very consistent with the monthly data since January 2016. In fact, hires have exceeded separations, and the openings they create, for every month since 2010. A mass of jobs in the United States are not going unfilled; a relatively small fraction of job openings are taking relatively longer than the desired time to fill.
I need a couple of days to absorb this, but it is remarkable to have such a popular stat punctured a little bit. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 146 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 146 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

ACS New Orleans Career Fair: 26 jobs, 422 job seekers

These numbers reported to the ACS Council this morning (data thanks to friend of the blog Chris Cramer):
Number of Job Seekers: 422*
Employers: 15
Number of Jobs: 26
Recruiter Booths: 15 
Résumé Reviews: 316
Mock Interviews: 139
*There was a change to the way that job seekers were counted, so job seeker/jobs ratios can't be compared anymore.

The job seeker to job ratio is 16.2 to 1, which is the worst for quite a while. Note that, in comparing to previous years, it may be difficult. Still, a tough year for employers. (I sense this may be geography-related more than anything else, but I don't know who the employers were at this Career Fair.) 

32 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 8 new positions posted for March 19 and 24 new positions posted for March 21. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 124 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 124 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What 3000 metric tons of cobalt might look like

Credit: Photographer Jasper Juinen, for Bloomberg
I've worked in scale-up for quite a while now, but it's always still a kick to see what bulk containers of compounds (or elements) look like. Courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, a picture of a cobalt trader and part of his stockpile of 3000 metric tons of cobalt.

Readers, what's the largest, weirdest container of compound you've ever seen? I'll start: I've seen a bulk container of bromine and lived to tell the tale. 

It might not just be you

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting set of statistics: 
41%: Percentage of graduate students with symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety, compared with 6% of general population 
39%: Percentage of graduate students with symptoms of moderate to severe depression, compared with 6% of general population
From the Nature Biotechnology article "Evidence for a mental health crisis in graduate education."  

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 531 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 531 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

On March 12, 2017, the 2017 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 581 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Try the open thread.

Want to talk about starting your new group? That open discussion is here.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

A counter-intuitive result: median time to degree has been getting shorter?

I think you could have won $50 of me on this one. (from the Survey of Earned Doctorates).

(I wonder if people have been spending more time in postdocs? I don't think we have that data.) 

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Friday, March 16, 2018

View From Your Hood: Irish snows edition

Credit: Kevin Gahan
From blog reader Kevin Gahan: "A rare view of University College Dublin covered in snow at the end of February. Taken from the top floor of the CSCB building outside the Guiry lab."

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at; will run every other Friday.) 

Interesting comparison between an automotive technician and a Ph.D. organic chemist

From friend of the blog James Ashenhurst, a very interesting letter to the editor from the Wall Street Journal about the trades:
We have one son who graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry after a total of nine years of college. We have another son who graduated from WyoTech with degrees in Automotive Technology and Management after a two-year program right after high school. After five years at their respective jobs, which both thoroughly employ their respective educations, guess which one makes more money? Trade school wins. 
Bronwyn Clear
Proud parents, I bet.

(I suspect the income lines will cross at the 10 year or 20 year mark, but there's no guarantee, I suspect. Also, it depends on whether the MIT son became an academic.)  

Illinois needs to replace 5,000 engineers a year in the next 5 years?

Via the weekly dose of pain that is a Google Alert for the term "skills gap", this article from the Illinois News Network (emphasis mine):  
llinois manufacturers need about 27,000 workers a year, for the next five years, just to keep up with retirements. The only problem is, there aren't 30,000 workers with the skills to fill the jobs.  
"Manufacturers need 22,000 production workers and 5,000 engineers every year, for the next five years between now and 2027 just to cover retirements of the baby boomers," Jim Nelson of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association said. "So there are jobs available." 
Nelson said there's a need for truck drivers, welders, craftsmen, manufacturers, supervisors, and a whole lot of other workers.... 
...But not enough of the workers who are available in Illinois have the skills that employers need. The biggest reason for that, Nelson said, is that Illinois high schools are still focused on sending kids to college. 
Maybe Mr. Nelson is using a very broad definition of an engineer, but 5,000 a year? Really?

There are a couple of ways to look at this: first, does that number make sense from a generation perspective? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the state of Illinois employs 90,510 people in the architecture and engineering occupations (which includes engineering technicians.) Does it make sense that they have to replace a quarter of this workforce in the next 5 years? (or the next ten?) I think that number seems at least a little bit inflated, or perhaps the Illinois manufacturing workforce is older than I understand. Could go one way or another, it seems.

Secondly, let's think about whether or not that is even possible to replace this number of engineers. The University of Illinois (a very fine engineering school) has 9145 undergraduates, which suggests that it graduates ~2300 engineers a year. Not enough for Mr. Nelson. There are, of course, other very fine engineering schools in the Land of Lincoln, but let's just reach over into the Crossroads of America and steal some Purdue engineering graduates. The undergraduate enrollment of the Purdue College of Engineering is 12,477 undergraduates, or ~3100 graduates a year.

So if every single engineering graduate of both Illinois and Purdue decide to turn down the temptations of Silicon Valley or the depredations of the coasts to stay in the Midwest, maaayyybbe Illinois manufacturing will be okay.

(looks like wages for engineers in Illinois will be going up? I hope?) 

Got a career dilemma?

We are hoping to start a "CJ's mailbag" for my column at Chemical and Engineering News. Please feel free to write me ( if you have a career-oriented dilemma that you'd like me to write about in the magazine. Also, you can submit your questions with this handy web form. Thanks!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 142 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 142 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

19 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 19 new positions posted for March 11. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 118 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 118 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread.