Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ph.D. chemist tries to find job by offering 10% of first year's salary as finder's fee

I promise I did not make this up. Found on the Chemistry Reddit (emphasis mine):
My wife has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry (Qualifications below), an exemplary track record during her post doc, and is driven, smart, capable, and a quick study. She finished her post doc last year in August and has been frantically seeking employment since. Eight months, and 46 applications in to her search, she has still not had a single interview, and has been repeatedly hammered with rejections from HR and applicant tracking systems this is including several reworkings of her C.V. to help her past the ATS filters. As you can imagine, she's frustrated, and at the end of her rope. I'm not as educated as she is, and have never had to apply for a Doctorate level industry position, so I can't render her any advice. Lately, my upbeat attitude, and my smiling support are falling on deaf ears as she is starting to sink in to a "No one will even interview me" funk. We need help, and no one we know has a single bit of advice that isn't a link to job boards, anecdotal advice like "More networking equals more job opportunities", etc... 
So, here is the deal. 
You, the job locator, will be responsible for connecting my wife with a viable local (Boulder-Denver corridor) company who is looking for someone with her expertise, or is interested in training a brilliant scientist in the particulars of the new job. Once the connection has been arranged, the interview process completed, a reasonable offer of employment extended, my wife has accepted the position, and her probationary period at said job is complete, we will pay you 10% of her first years earnings. This percentage is not to exceed $8000 dollars regardless of the salary in question. This payment will be distributed in two amounts. The first amount equaling half of the promised payment will be delivered to you by personal check after her probationary period is at a close, and a satisfactory performance review is rendered by her managing supervisor. The second half will come by personal check at the six month mark of employment after a second satisfactory performance review. 
These two conditions for payment are binding and final as we are wary of employment scams and are not interested in falling prey to con artists.
So that's an innovative way of dealing with chemical unemployment. Best wishes to her.  

26 comments:

  1. that's kinda grotesque. hopefully she can find a job without having to grease any palms. but hey, i guess it's not as bad as paying the money to Kelly

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  2. The beauty of it is, it encourages the company to pay her more so that it gets a bigger cut. ;-)

    jca

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  3. Take heed all ye who are going to grad school to avoid the job market. This is what all those "transferable skills" will get you.

    There is no skills shortage! There is a job shortage brought on by a perverted market where we don't make things, but monetize the abstract.

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  4. All this needs is the naming rights to their first born or sexual favors and it would be the saddest post ever.

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  5. its not what you know..

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  6. I don't find it sad. Heck, I got way more than 46 rejections when I applied for jobs and that was when the getting was good. I did get a fair share of interviews also I'll admit.

    Part of the problem here though is that they are limiting their search to the Denver-Boulder area. When you send out 46 letters to that small of an area in what is essentially a specialized skill, you're obviously going to have a very low, or in this case, zero hit rate. A lot of those companies wouldn't need someone with her skills and advanced degree no matter what the market was like in general. Note that they also limit it to "viable" companies. What the hell does that mean?

    I guess what I'm saying is they're being awfully choosy for beggars.

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    1. This seems to be a common refrain: "I want a job for which I am qualified, but I want to live in the area of my choosing". I'd love to live in the Rocky Mountain corridor, Hawaii, or Monaco. Unfortunately, these are not the centers of the chemical industry. I'm guessing that a good physical chemist could find gainful employment on the Gulf Coast, but is this person (or any of us for that matter) willing to relocate where the jobs are? Location, salary, and job duties are all part of the career satisfaction equation, but they each have to be weighted realistically. It's unfortunate that degree programs don't emphasize this more.

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    2. May be, but at some point you finally get it, and that job in Ponca City starts to look really appealing.

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    3. Tough crowd... it seems obvious that the husband has a job, has brought his wife to denver where his job is and theyre trying to get her a job.. where they can live together. Is it too much to ask? Evidently!

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    4. The Denver area is part of a metropolitan region with a population of 4.5 million. It has the third highest concentration of high tech jobs in the nation including government labs, universities, aerospace manufacturers and defense contractors. To dismiss this as wanting to live in the middle of nowhere is ridiculous.

      Her phd advisor is one of the best known in the field of materials chemistry, and she has articles in good journals. She is certainly well qualified for a number of careers. But the only advice she will get is to network more.

      This is indicative a larger structural employment problem, and anyone who goes to grad school should know that successful employment in your field of study is an unlikely outcome.

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    5. To Denver @ 8:20pm

      LOLZ to woman and to the Denver/Boulder area market for chemists/scientists. One needs a degree to be BIO related to talk to Agilent; needs to say 'engineer' to talk to any of the defense contractors, i.e. Lockheed, Ball Aero, Raytheon, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada, etc; need to know the right person on the inside for a federal government job; or needs to do a postdoc for NREL or NIST.

      The job market in Denver for chemists is a joke. It doesn't even exist except for the odd small analytical lab here and there.

      I've been applying for jobs for 1.5 years in the area. I've had 1 interview during that time in Denver with Aerobiology Labs. They were looking to start a TEM lab looking at asbestos. Instead of having their sh!t together they used me as a free consultant to explore whether or not they could afford it, what all the lab would entail and require in terms of support equipment, and in the end scrapped the idea 4 interviews and about 40 h worth of work later.

      Other interviews: FLSmidth in Salt Lake City via a friend from grad school who met the manager at an ACS conference short course. The interview went well, but I was told not to tell anyone that I had a PhD. Neumann Systems Group in Colorado Spring after an employee mistook me for someone else on LinkedIn. I stopped the interview process after they asked for my last two pay stubs from my current employer. For reference, I'm a federal employee and you can look up my pay grade and salary.

      In general, I've tried all the approaches. Online applications. Reaching out to HR types via LinkedIn. I followed up my applications with status inquiries, and typically only get hollow form letter responses. 99.99% of the time, I don't hear anything back. Zip. Zero. Nada.

      I've given up on chemistry as a career, and I'm switching to engineering. At least ABET accreditation means something compared to ACS certified programs. There is also the EIT and PE as further credentials that are often highly regarded, especially in government.

      I'm saddened to hear about this family's lot, but Denver and Boulder is a barren wasteland of employment for scientist without the 'proper' credentials.

      For comparison, my wife came with me to Denver after grad school. She's a Physical Therapist. She was able to get 4 interviews within 2 weeks, and was offered a job from each interview.

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    6. "Tough crowd... it seems obvious that the husband has a job, has brought his wife to denver where his job is and theyre trying to get her a job.. where they can live together. Is it too much to ask? Evidently!"


      No, it isn't too much to ask. It is, however, too much to bitch about. We all make our choices in life and you can't have it all. Compromises have to be made. They've made their choices and they have to live by them, which is why I don't think the story evokes any sadness or sympathy.

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    7. I generally agree with this, but I definitely have sympathy for people who made poor choices based on misinformation. For example, the continuing myth of unlimited well-paid employment in the sciences. The myth that never seems to be corrected. Ever.

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  7. Got a PhD, two postdocs and what I get is $50K a year. I hope this and the above case help people make correct career decisions...

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    1. If killing you guaranteed that I get your job, I'd go for it.

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    2. A Darwinian job market indeed.

      Heck, I have a PhD (in chemistry), postdoc, 10 years of bench experience, and make $45 K a year.

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    3. NMH, don't think for a second 45k would make _you_ safe.

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    4. To the first responder: Next to the first sentence I have a second one. Read it carefully to figure out why I commented. Also, I have friends, who've spent 4 years for a PhD in economics and after 5 years in their job, they get $150K. Does all of it make sense now?

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    5. It's impossible to figure out what's happening in a conversation when everyone is Anonymous!

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    6. In my university all engineering professors (e.g. chemical engineering) are paid 40% higher salaries than chemistry professors and no postdocs (obviously two or more is now the norm in chemistry) are required which means you get a first job when you are around 27-30 y.o. instead of 35-37 y.o.

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    7. To 50k. So what's your point? That even the lucky ones don't have it nearly as good as Snowden?

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    8. If killing Snowden got me his place in Guantanamo with a library and free health care for the rest of my life (and also an XBOX), I'd go for it.

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    9. How about if Snowden ends up at ADMAX with a concrete bed, 4" window, and 23.5 hours a day of confinement?

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    10. smellslikepiperidineJuly 22, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      All my hard work during my PhD in Chemistry and 2 postdocs were rewarded with a prolonged unemployment. Got a job now only because of an acquaintance.

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