A colleague recently left because [their spouse] (also a scientist) got a job in a new city and they are relocating. Inevitably, [they'll] need to give the usual 45-minute job talk to get a new one, but [they] spent most of [their] work on internal projects that [they] can't present outside the company. What [do they] do for [their] job talk? Go back and present [their] postdoc work? (This was [their] first industry job.) What can industry workers do to make sure they have something to talk about when it's time to find the next job (voluntarily or not)? (emphasis CJ's)
I'm at a [industry conference] this week and polled the few industry folks there (GSK, AZ, Lilly) and none had a good suggestion other than try to get on projects that you're allowed to talk about to the outside world.Derek Lowe talked about his solution to these problems a while back:
[...after talking about work that's in published journal articles or patents, or work in published patent applications, not disclosing full structures, but still giving enough detail to show off your work]
The worst case is "none of the above." No published work worth talking about, no patent applications, no nothing. I actually did go out and give an interview seminar under those conditions once, and it was an unpleasant experience. I had to talk about ancient stuff from my post-doc, and it was a real challenge convincing people that I knew what was going on in a drug company. I don't recommend trying it.
But I don't recommend spilling the beans in that situation, either. I've seen a job interview talk where it became clear that the speaker was telling us more than he really should have, and we all thought the same thing: he'll do the same thing to us if he gets a job here. No offer.Derek also talks about mentioning biological data verbally, but not on the slides -- presumably, sharing enough general data to give you credibility, but not so much that you're revealing more than your employer would like.
I'll take a slightly different tack and say that I've mentioned techniques or general approaches that I've used, when I can't give lots of details. In process chemistry, there's the option of saying that "We were asked to fix a filtration problem, etc., etc." or "I had a troublesome alkylation, and I found that..." While it's not exactly a detailed, reproducible procedure, I think chemists are aware enough of when a job talk speaker is circumlocuting around an IP problem.
Readers, how would you solve this issue?