As a frequent reader/fan of this blog, I don't find it be all doom and gloom, rather it's a fairly realistic take on the state of the industry. I'm a hiring manager at a big pharma and can say that the industry is definitely changed as far as career stability is concerned. People who are adaptable and just plain good scientists tend to land well regardless of changes to an organization. For a fresh graduate, the forecast is just different than it was 10-15 years ago. As Derek said, willingness to work for a smaller company in the Bay Area or Boston is the best chance of getting a job. I've also seen many more experienced people going towards CRO's, or shifting to other pharma support areas. Simply put, it's a much more diverse, fragment hiring landscape.
I think a post on this topic as well as advice on what type of skills companies are looking for would be great. In my own experience sifting through CV's, the one thing that always stands out are candidates who are really well grounded in physical organic chemistry. Seems like those who understand reactivity and mechanism can pick up on just about any chemistry topic you throw at them. I likely have a slight bias against total synthesis, but if they can communicate how they thought about a problem and the underlying logic behind their approach and solutions as well as some deeper understanding about the chemical steps involved, then its interesting to me. To comment #35, I really haven't been too impressed with the depth of understanding from candidates who have a more interdisciplinary training (jack of all trade...master of none).
It certainly is strange times for pharma....lots of over-valued early stage assets from biotech and many large, lumbering organizations trying to figure out how to adapt to this new environment of biologics and small molecules crossed with different, more demand expectations from those paying for it and regulating us.Confirmation bias, but none of this surprises me, especially the lack of interest from a pharma hiring manager for interdisciplinary Ph.D.s.