Thursday, February 14, 2013

Situations Wanted?

From the pages of the ACS' Dallas-Fort Worth section's February newsletter, the Southwest Retort, a rather wonderful and typical "Situations Wanted":
Recent double masters (organic and analytical) graduate... actively seeking job in chemical industries. Experience in methods development and analysis by chromatographic techniques. Excellent management and organization skills, instruments maintenance and troubleshooting. E-mail: *******@gmail.com
One of the unfortunate transitions away from the printed version of Chemical and Engineering News is the seeming lack of "Situations Wanted" ads -- if you leafed through a copy from the 1980s, it seems like the Situations Wanted section was quite populated with people looking for um, new situations.

I bring this up because I would like reader suggestions to see if a regular "Situations Wanted" feature on the blog would be useful. Do we have readers with enough networks and influence on hiring to make it worth it? Please, let me know how you feel about this. What should the format be?

10 comments:

  1. You will have to really police the way people do this (ie; make sure they only send a brief 3-5 line synopsis) or you'll be overrun by every postdoc/grad/undergrad/chemist-in-general who tries to use your blog traffic as a way to pimp themselves out. I can see this idea getting canned before it even starts due to people trying to just upload their CVs and resumes directly to your front page.

    That being said, I would definitely use this as a resource to narrow in on qualified candidates over posting on LinkedIn or some other job hunting website (including C&EN).

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  2. I would suggest to create a separate page (prominently linked here) and put just the jobseeker resume files there in the form of links. The description in the links could be up to eight words long ("experienced synthetic organic chemist Seattle area" for example). There would be a datum when the resume posted next to the link and also an upvote/downvote button like in Reddit so that crappy resumes would over time disappear or move to the bottom of the stack.

    There could be several sub-categories (for job seekers in analytical chemistry, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, process, material science, polymers etc.)
    The job seekers wouldn't have authority to post anything on their own - all requests fot resume upload/update/takedown would go through Chemjobber

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  3. How would this compare with Monster, Career Builder, LinkedIn, ACS, and all the other sites job seekers currently use? Just about everywhere you go, you're given an opportunity to post your resume so employers can find you. I don't know whether employers actually search those sites for resumes? It seems like the easiest thing for employers to do is to post an opening and have the glut of qualified people who match that situation find the job and apply for it. (But I'm not sure how it usually works, I've never hired someone). Anyway, I'm trying to think of how a Situations Wanted board here would differentiate itself from those other services. Distilling your resume down to a few sentences, as in the example, probably accomplishes the same sort of thing as the filtering and searching tools already available on those sites or by internal HR software (and doing it yourself may even over-narrow it). I always assumed that the digital age made the old-style Situation Wanted services obsolete.

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    1. Z-

      I think the difference would be that, here, scientists would be seeing the information instead of HR or and computer filter. I think it would possibly be outstanding for scientists who are looking to fill a position to see the posts, but I agree with Dr. Mindbender, that there would likely be a number of practical issues.

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    2. But what's to prevent the scientists from seeing the information posted on all the other sites? I'm assuming the hiring manager works with HR to determine the appropriate filters, etc. I would also assume that they have no problem acquiring far too many resumes, so they don't need to spend the time searching the internet for more. And as Mindbender suggested, you'll be getting all the same people here duplicating what they have on every other site unless there is some way of curating it and pre-screening for "high quality" candidates, but each job would have its own idea of the best candidate, so I don't know how you could effectively curate it unless the plan is to become a full-time recruiting company. I don't mean to sound so contrary, I'm just trying to think through how this could work effectively.

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    3. I think I'm thinking a "readers helping readers" sort of thing, z, if that helps you any.

      Thanks for your thoughts, though -- I need all the help I can get.

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    4. I work for a startup and we don't have an official HR department, the scientists do the hiring. If I was looking for an organic chemist, I wouldn't go onto Monster and type "Organic chemist" into the search function. Every undergrad that's ever taken the class and lists it on their resume will probably turn up. A specialized blog like this has potential to help establish those connections more effectively.

      Look up the cost of posting a job ad in C&EN or even on Monster. It becomes easier to see why small companies (or more thrifty ones) don't advertise their positions all the time on them. They're probably not getting the mountains of resumes that you're assuming they do, z. But even if they are, what's the harm in offering chemists another venue to try and get their resumes into peoples' hands? I came very close to landing a position because of an advertisement on this website.

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    5. Regarding startups with no HR that don't always advertise positions, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for best practices that job seekers should follow to make sure the most qualified candidates come across your desk? Thinking of my own search strategy, I rely heavily on my network and a couple of recruiters and I read the postings on all the standard job boards, but I wonder whether I'm missing potential opportunities at companies such as the one you describe, if our networks don't overlap or we don't work with the same recruiters. And maybe you're right, this could be a way for this sort of Situations Wanted to be helpful. Or maybe using it as a space for companies to advertise postings in a more targeted and potentially cost-efficient way. Regardless, I think it's interesting and helpful to hear the point of view of people on the hiring side of things at different types of organizations, since there's a lot of information on other sites but it tends to be very general and non-chemistry specific.

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    6. I wish I had a good answer for you, z. I consider myself somewhat lucky to have landed my current position, but I was also VERY persistent and very flexible.

      One of the few things I can say is to not even bother using websites like Monster or Careerbuilder or even Biospace. They're too big to be actually useful in my opinion, I can't say I've ever known anyone that had success using them. C&EN ads can yield more fruit, but again, don't even bother with ads from companies like BMS, Merck, Pfizer, etc. Can't say I know anyone that landed one of those positions. Often times the small outfits will leave an e-mail address with someone's name in it. That is a gold mine, absolutely apply to those. I landed my postdoc this way and got two phone interviews doing this. I've known people who had success doing on-site interviews at ACS meetings, although I think the current job climate has made that extremely competitive (and risky if you don't have the money to spend going to a national meeting just for that). Also look at regional ACS websites as well as technical division websites. A lot of them post jobs that won't make it to C&EN classifieds. You can also consider going to regional or technical division meetings, they're a lot more intimate so you have a better shot at networking with people, and I've found the quality of them to be superior to national meetings. They're also way way cheaper.

      One of the things that worked best for me was LinkedIn. Join groups. And I don't mean just your school's alumni association or even the ACS group. Join the division of organic chemistry if that's your specialty. There's usually specialized subgroups for your specific type of chemistry too, as well as groups for biotech/pharma scientists. These are all good ways to network and see some offers you won't see in other places. Just don't do that stupid thing where someone posts a job and you reply to that ad with "Take a look at my profile and get a hold of me if you like it." Take the initiative to look up the person's information and send them a private message (which you can do with anyone who posts an ad). I was able to gather so much information off of LinkedIn that I started mailing paper copies of my cover letter and CV to people and actually got some response that way. But the moral of the story is that using LinkedIn I landed this job, so I'll stand by it as a great tool. Like all tools, the way you use it is critical to your success.

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  4. Thanks, I really appreciate you taking the time to share some of your insights!

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