Friday, January 18, 2013

What is your job hunt story, especially in numbers?

Thanks to Twitter conversations with @SeeArrOh, I was wondering what folks' hit rates with their job searches was. When I was looking for my first job after my postdoc, I clearly remember sitting at my bench in the lab in January or February 2008, turning to my postdoc adviser with a year left on my contract and saying, "I think the economy is looking worse, so I think I'm going to start applying now." Because he was such a good guy (and is!), he said, "Yes, I will support you in whatever you choose to do." It took me until November to find a position. So here's the numbers:

Time period: January/February 2008 until November 2008
Desired position: Entry level Ph.D., industrial
Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 50-60
Number of on-site interviews: 5 (2 local in SD (1 temp), 3 out of region)
Number of offers: 1 (November 2008)

For my current position, the story is very different (personal networking matters!)

What's your job hunt story, especially in numbers?

37 comments:

  1. Time period: March 2012/October2012
    Desired position: Analyst, Scientist, PostDoc (academic or industrial) in Molecular modeling
    Number of full applications (cover letter, research summary, etc.): 86 (exactly)
    Number of on-site interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 2 (October 2012)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Time period: Summer 2005
    Desired position: "Alternative" Ph.D.-level
    Number of full applications (cover letter, resume, etc.): 2
    Number of on-site interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 1 (November 2005)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Time Period: September 2009 until May 2010
    Desired Position: Assistant Professor (teaching focus)
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 25-30
    Number of on-site interviews: 2 (1 fly-out, 1 driving distance)
    Number of offers: 2 (had to get an extension on 1st to wait for 2nd. Took 2nd offer in May 2010 and started in July 2010).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Time period: Sept. 2009 / Sept. 2010
    Desired position: PhD-level medicinal chemist
    Number of full applications (cover letter, summary, CV): 172
    Number of on-site interviews: 7
    Number of offers: 2

    ReplyDelete
  5. For my soon-to-be ex first job after postdoc, here are the numbers:

    Time period: October/November 2010 until end of March 2011
    Desired position: staff scientist in a subdiscipline of structural biology
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): over 70
    Number of on-site interviews: 5 (non-local (was in Canada at the time), 2 out of region, 3 by phone, 3 in the US, 2 in Canada)
    Number of offers: 3 (one I couldn't take because it I was not Canadian and the position was with the government and required open competition, one I declined because I would start as a postdoc and I *hated* being a postdoc, and the one I took)

    For my soon-to-be new position, I'd seen the ad but didn't pay much attention, figuring they'd turn me down. Got an email asking me to apply 3 months after the job add was posted, interviewed a month after initial email. Got an offer on the spot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Time period: March 2011-September 2011
    Desired position: Entry level Ph.D. in industry
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 50
    Number of on-site interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 2 (October 2011)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Time period: Fall 2012-present
    Desired position: Assistant professor
    Number of full applications: 30
    Number of phone interviews: 2
    Number of on-site interviews: 1 (not either of phone interviews)
    Number of offers: 1

    ReplyDelete
  8. Time period: August 2006-December 2006
    Background: PhD + 2-year government postdoc
    Desired position: experimental physical chemist
    Number of full applications: 23
    Number of on-site interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 1

    In addition to the offer I accepted, I was also offered a 1-year industrial postdoc on the spot after giving a talk at the fall MRS conference. I turned this down because I wanted a more stable position.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Time Period: March 2009-Feb 2011
    Desired Position: Process Chemist (Experienced)
    Number of Applications: 400
    Number of phone interviews: 20
    Number of on-site interviews: 9
    Number of offers: 1

    For comparison, here are the figures for the other times I was looking for jobs:

    Time Period: November 2000
    Desired position: Development Chemist (experienced)
    Number of Applications: 3
    Number of interviews: 2 (both with same company)
    Number of offers: 1

    Time Period: April 1992
    Desired Position: Development Chemist (1 years experience)
    Number of applications: 2
    Number of interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 1

    Time Period: September 1990-Feb 1991
    Desired position: Entry level Ph.D. Position in industry
    Number of applications: 50
    Number of interviews: 3
    Number of offers: 2

    Time Period: April-June 1989
    Desired position: High school teacher
    Number of applications: 10
    Number of interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 1

    I believe this shows both how deep this recession/depression (repression?) has been,compared with, for example, the recession of 1990 and the effects of age on application success rate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Time period: May 2010 - present
      Desired position: BS level research associate / lab tech.
      Number of applications: 500+
      Number of phone interviews: ~20
      Number of on-site interviews: ~15
      Number of offers: 3

      If I had anything besides a college degree going for me, I would have given up on a career in science a long time ago.

      Delete
  10. Time Period: Fall 2012-Present
    Desired Position: Entry level PhD, Position in Industry
    Number of Applications: 40
    Number of Interviews: 1
    Number of Offers: 0

    My search is limited to one major American city, since my wife will be working there. My only interview was a blanket interview at my school. I have had zero interviews for the city I'm applying to, and of the 40 applications I've submitted 15 were "regret to inform you" within 5 days of applying. Which makes me wonder if most of the advertised positions are out of formality?

    ReplyDelete
  11. CoulombicExplosionJanuary 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Time Period: Sept 2010-March 2011
    Desired Position: analytical postdoc or entry level PhD in industrial or government lab setting
    Number of Applications: 4
    Number of phone interviews: 1 (well, 3, but all associated with the same position)
    Number of on-site interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 1

    I had also been offered a position as a postdoc from a former labmate who had just started her own faculty appointment at another university.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Time period: June 2012 - September 2012
    Desired position: Whatever I could get with my MS
    Number of applications: ~50
    Number of phone interviews: 7
    Number of on-site interviews: 3
    Number of offers: 1

    ReplyDelete
  13. Time period: October 2011-present
    Desired position: Assistant Professor at a primarily undergrad institution
    Number of applications: 15
    Number of phone interviews: 3
    Number of on-site interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 0

    I'm being picky and only applying to places I actually want to live. I might start carpet-bombing the country with applications in the next few years, though. I shudder to think what it will be like to get hundreds of recommendation letters from my referees! It's like pulling teeth to get the few that I already have.

    As far as postdocs go, I seem to be able to walk right into them, but I want something more permanent. I have enough "training."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Time period: August 2009-December 2010
    Desired position: Entry-level PhD analytical chemist in industrial, community college lecturer, or sales position
    Number of applications: ~100
    Number of phone interviews: 6
    Number of on-site interviews: 3
    Number of offers: 1

    ReplyDelete
  15. Time period: October 2010-Dec 2010
    Desired position: research associate II/III in organic/analytical
    Number of applications: 1
    Number of phone interviews: 1
    Number of on-site interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 1

    Personal networking does matter! I had an offer a week after I got laid off from Merck. I was very lucky on the timing of that transition.

    My previous non-networking job search was more in line with the stats of A@10:21 AM.

    ReplyDelete
  16. To add on to Anon 9:43am, a slice of life from a boom period.

    Time period: September 1999
    Desired position: entry level MS organic chemistry in pharma
    Number of applications: 2
    Number of phone interviews: 0 (had recruiters come to the university for face-to-face meet-and-greet type interviews, followed up by offers for on-site interviews)
    Number of on-site interviews: 2 (4 if you count one day each at process and med chem groups for each of two companies visited)
    Number of offers: 2 (4 if you count one from each process and med chem group for each of two companies visited, though offers were exactly the same within each company for either a med chem or process position)

    I always count myself EXTREMELY blessed/lucky to have made the decisions I did at the time I did to be able to work where I wanted doing what I wanted to do. Reading all the news about what is happening out there has me petrified this dream job is going to fall apart one day.



    ReplyDelete
  17. Time period: Jan 2012 - May 2012
    Desired position: Sessional Lecturer/College Instructor
    Number of full applications: 14
    Number of interviews(phone/skype/in-person): 4
    Number of offers: 3

    ReplyDelete
  18. Time period: April 2012/present
    Desired position: Organic/Polymer Ph.D
    Number of full applications (cover letter, research summary, etc.): 80
    Number of on-site interviews: 1 (phone - 4)
    Number of offers: 0

    ReplyDelete
  19. Time period: October 2012-present
    Desired position: Entry level PhD process/med chemist
    Number of applications: 51
    Number of phone interviews: 3
    Number of on-site interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 0

    ReplyDelete
  20. Time period: September 2005- September 2010; September 2011-date
    Desired position: Level 1 Lab Tech, " Foot in Door position"- basically just want to work in a lab.
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): ~500 ('05-'10) 100 ('10-'11)
    Number of on-site interviews: 3 ('05-10), 1 ('11)
    Number of offers: 0

    UK BSc (no honours), went back to college to get PG Cert (equivalent of honours), basically told no PhD, don't bother, even for the lowest roles.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Time period: (sort of looking) October 2011 - January 2012 (really looking) January 2012 - October 2012
    Desired position: post-doc or entry level in industry, with PhD in Immunology/Microbiology + experience in industry and government
    Number of full applications: around 190-200
    Number of on-site interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 2

    Now hold a job in alt-academia I never knew existed prior to the search.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we're going to cover previous jobs...

      1996: first job out of undergrad
      Desired position: anything with a paycheck that used my BS in microbiology
      Number of full applications: about 10
      Number of on-site interviews: 5, including 2 with headhunters
      Number of offers: 1(start up biotech)

      1999
      Desired position: government research lab with BS + 3 yrs industry experience
      Number of full applications: around 10
      Number of on-site interviews: 2
      Number of offers: 1 (synthetic chemistry lab)

      Delete
  22. This is thoroughly depressing.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Time period: Dec 2010-May 2011 (before postdoc); May 2012-October 2012 (during/after academic postdoc position)
    Desired position: entry level PhD medicinal chemist (applied for process as well)
    Number of full applications: about 70 for each period listed (140 total)
    Number of on-site interviews: 2 (before); 3 (after)
    Number of offers: 1 (before - it was an industrial postdoc and I decided an academic postdoc was better); 3 (after - one I declined before I received other offers because I didn't see myself working for the company and the pay/benefits offer was really disappointing; other two I ended up getting simultaneously and chose the one I wanted more)

    Just FYI, I got my PhD from a well-known, top 10 total synthesis group where typically people have been offered industry jobs without a postdoc. However, once I saw that the economy was in the bucket and that wasn't really happening for us, I did a postdoc for a year with a different advisor (same geographical location) in methodology. As you can see from my post, this really made all the difference for me and helped me land a job with which I'm extremely happy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Time period: November 2012 to Present
    Desired position: BS/MS medchem position
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 40 online
    Number of on-site interviews: 0
    Number of offers: 0

    Getting a Chemistry degree now is like signing up to be a travel agent. Thank you monoclonal antibodies!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Time period: August 2011 to October 2012
    Desired position: PhD Entry Level Synthetic Chemist,process or med/Agri Chem(w/ 2 years 9 months of Postdoc Experience)
    Number of full applications (cover letter, research summary, etc.): 156 online and solicited
    Number of on-site interviews: 7
    Number of offers: 1 (October 2012), 2 rejections, 5 outstanding decisions to be made when I accepted offer.

    5 of my on-site interviews came from face to face meetings or by referral (ACS meetings or through contacts), 2 of the on-site interviews came from my online application and those were for industrial post-docs, not full time positions. I would say I got lucky through the ACS conference because I got the job that I really wanted, not the job that I had to take because there were no other options. The only advice I can give is put a professional-looking package together and go to any career fair/professional meeting you can. Present yourself as best as possible and cross your fingers. Online applications are not likely to succeed.



    ReplyDelete
  26. 1st post-PhD job (miraculously evaded postdoc route)
    Time period: September 2007 to November 2007
    Desired position: Entry-level industrial chemist (trained as an organic, but was open to other fields)
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): ~35 (~25 via on-campus recruiting, ~10 via online shots-in-the-dark)
    Number of on-site interviews: 2 (both requiring cross-country travel)
    Number of offers: 1 (November 2007)
    • Although the pay wasn't spectacular, I learned a lot of new techniques and established a network that helped me down the road (see next section).

    2nd post-PhD job (resulting from 1st lay-off)
    Time period: December 2009 to March 2010 (lay-off notification in December, official termination in February; deposed managers looked the other way while the underlings spent time "at work" looking for other jobs)
    Desired position: industrial chemist or college lecturer
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): ~55 (received 28 official rejections by e-mail or letter)
    Number of on-site interviews: 2 + 1 disastrous video-conference interview
    Number of offers: 2 (March 2010)
    • As stated earlier, networking got me the job that I ultimately accepted.

    Update: Still working at job #2 but, like many other professional scientists, continuing macroeconomic uncertainties are weighing heavily on me. Unsure if I even want to stay in research because of restricted career mobility. I won't join my friends who've jumped onto the intellectual property bandwagon. I don't enjoy reading patents and don't want to go into debt. Also, full-time lecturer positions have become rarer. Hopefully, I can resolve my issues soon and choose my next path without regret!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Time period: Fall 2011 - present
    Desired position: Assistant Professor, Biology
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 25
    Number of on-site interviews: 0
    Number of phone interviews: 1
    Number of offers: 0

    ReplyDelete
  28. CJ, do you think it'd be worth doing a follow-up post to this one? Most of the commenters here have gotten jobs, maybe they can share some of their helpful strategies.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Time period: Fall 2012
    Desired position: Entry level Technician (BA level)
    Number of on-site interviews: 20 (including preliminary interviews at staffing agencies)
    Number of offers: 2

    ReplyDelete
  30. To compare and contrast time periods:
    Time period: late 90's
    Desired position: entry level PhD
    Number of full applications: 15
    Number of on-site interviews: 10
    Number of offers: 8 (can you believe it! - this was NORMAL then)
    But my company was bought and our vibrant research culture was lost, so I started looking:
    Time period: 2009 to 2012
    Desired position: experienced PhD
    Number of full applications: HUNDREDS
    Number of on-site interviews: 5
    Number of offers: 4
    All but one of the interviews came via networking. One was set up by a head hunter - and it was not a good match.
    ALL of the offers came from people who know me. I am fortunate to have landed my dream job - it is a great job. However, this has come at the cost of a huge move for my family. And we are currently mitigating the impact on my spouse's career - which is just as important as my own. However, we have calculated that the move will allow for better network development for both of us, and better opportunities for our children, in education and culturally. I was sad to leave, however, I felt it was best to make the change while my children are young enough to adapt.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Time: April-September 1997
    Desired position: whoever would take me - MS level (lab experience in edge organic/bio/surface, interest in organic)
    Resumes/cover letters: about 190
    Interviews: 5
    Offers: 1 (maybe 2?)

    The job I found was through connections (my advisor from undergrad knew a manager there). It was different than my other positions, and I was somewhat nervous about it, but it fit far better with my capabilities than most of my other choices. One interview was through an ad in the department newsletter, which went...poorly. The others were probably because of where I was (a BNU), but the fits were not good.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Time period: Spring 2012- Fall 2012
    Desired position: Entry level PhD in industry or national lab
    Number of full applications : 46
    Number of on-site interviews: 0 (was invited to 2 after I had accepted a position)
    Number of phone interviews(almost all were on Skype): 7
    Number of offers: 1 (my dream job so I stopped the interview processes at the others)

    Just a note, when I got the job offer that I eventually accepted, I mentioned that my husband was also a chemist (though with a different specialty) and would be looking for employment. While I did not say it outright, I suggested that me accepting the position was contingent on him finding employment in the area-it is not located in an area with many opportunities. They were very supportive and helped him find a potential fit, and after he gave a really great interview and presentation (plus he has an impressive publication record and recommendations), he was offered a position prior to my deadline to accept a position! So sometimes the 2-body problem can work out!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Time: September 2011 - December 2012
    Desired position: Entry level Ph.D., industrial
    Number of full applications (cover letter, CV, research summary, etc.): 300+
    Number of phone interviews: 16
    Number of on-site interviews: 6
    Number of offers:2

    Networking matters and being open to any position/location gives you more options.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am a dinosaur compared to your previous replies!

    Time Period: August 2001-January 2002
    Desired Position: Assistant Professor (Analytical)
    Number of full applications: ~60
    Number of phone interviews: ~20
    Number of on-site interviews: 6 (cancelled a couple others that were scheduled after accepting an offer)
    Number of offers: 3

    While it looked like that job season was humming, a number of the jobs I most wanted got frozen due to the aftermath of 9/11. Got several calls in April asking if I was still available.

    Time Period: June 2008-November 2008
    Desired Position: Hard to say; it was my tenure year so I applied to some safety positions but not everything I saw. Had I not gotten some non-academic interest by early fall, I probably would have applied to more places.
    Number of full applications: 8
    Number of phone interviews: 4
    Number of on-site interviews: 2
    Number of offers: 1

    Never anticipated shutting down my tenure application and just leaving, but that's what ended up happening and jumping the academic ship.

    ReplyDelete