Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Industrial ads in Fall ACS conference preview issue of C&EN (1990-2010)

# of Industrial ads in C&EN issue with technical program or final program
In an attempt to understand the relevance of the Fall ACS conference, I looked at the last 20 years of C&EN where the technical program or the final program appeared. I believe this issue is/was the issue that companies would use to advertise to job candidates. My tabulated results are here, where I note the number of industrial ads (non-academic, non-governmental), the number of pages those ads appeared on, and the issue date.

Looking at the charted data, there are a number of points to make:

The shift away from print: In 1990, there was no such thing as the internet. If you wanted to hire chemists, you darn well better advertise in C&EN or one of its few brethren. If you wanted to meet chemists at the Fall ACS conference, you'd probably use the relevant issue of C&EN. In 2010, that's not the case. I suspect many job advertisements have moved away from print. (And I'm guessing that ads on ACS Careers are a lot cheaper than a double-pager in C&EN.)

Merger mania: Reading issues from '96 and '98, it was vaguely amusing (okay, really funny) to read ads from companies that you know had been absorbed by Aguoron, no, Warner-Lambert, no, Pfizer. There's no doubt that one of the first places that the places savings were found was HR and its related expenses -- that would be reflected in the post-2003 (or so) numbers.

Golden ages past?: I suspect that the recent past (1997-2003?) was a local maxima of chemical employment, fueled by the 'irrational exuberance' of the late-'90s. Whether or not this chart is yet another sign of the potential and dreaded secular shift is yet to be seen.


  1. Anecdotaly speaking, I always got the impression that the jobs in science were getting progressively WORSE since the last brief recession in the late 90's. Jobs were getting harder and harder to find. Salary and locations of "real jobs" seemed to nose dive. The searches were longer, and the relocations just seemed to be more the rule than exception. In my little grad school hole, I kind of got the clues, but never really bothered to put it all together. Going back to school, I was supposed to hide from the down turn in the research job market. In hindsight, I'm not really sure that the research job market ever really recovered.

  2. This is terrific data thank you very much for assembling it. However the shift in how jobs are advertised, make interpretation difficult. These data certainly does leave one with a ominous feeling about the viability a chemistry career.

    The numbers we really need are the number of job applicants per open job in a particular chemistry specialty -inorganic, P-chem, etc. over the years. This is probably impossible to find. Before we shuttered our medchemistry research laboratories, I had a couple open chemistry positions that were only available to people in the local labor market. These positions generated almost 200 CVs. This was in 2007 before the economy hit the wall. I even had PhDs willing to take a BS position.

    Occasional you see these numbers quoted in the press like:

    631 the number of scientist job applicants per opening at AstraZeneca
    135 the number of scientist job applicants per opening at Genentech
    120 the number of scientist job applicants per opening at Genzyme

    Perhaps a good alternative would be the number of job seekers per job openings at ACS meetings over time.

    1917 the number of chemists interviewing for 289 positions at a 2005 ACS national meeting
    1212 the number of chemists interviewing for 290 positions at a 2006 ACS national meeting
    1526 the number of chemists interviewing for 913 positions at a 2007 ACS national meeting

  3. Anon9:57a: Those numbers are terribly interesting and useful -- where did they come from?

  4. The first set I have noted from time to time in the pharma press. I keep a very long list of many kinds of such numbers which I can forward to you at your email account???

    The second set came directly from C&EN in the post national meetings summaries.

  5. Anon9:57a: My e-mail is chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom. A guide to the second set (issue date, page number) would be incredibly appreciated.

  6. Woah, those numbers ARE terribly interesting and useful. CJ, are you going to track those over time? I'd love to see that post.