Thursday, January 19, 2017

Time for some anecdata: industrial job search stats, 2016-2017

From the inbox, a set of job search stats for a single graduate student reader (we'll call them JA): 
Total applications: 108
Interviews: 8 (5 phone interviews, 3 on site (2 on-site interviews w/o phone interview))
Formal Rejections: 18
Outstanding applications: 90 
Industry R&D role: 55
Industry Post-Doc: 3
Industry Other: 38
Academia-related: 3
Sales: 4
Consulting: 3
Miscellaneous:
Job secured: Industry Post-Doc
Anyone else? Contributions very much appreciated. Thank you, and best wishes to faithful reader JA.

UPDATE: A contribution from Adamantane.
UPDATE 2: A contribution from "ET." 

30 comments:

  1. Wow, that's brutal. Congrats JA for at least landing something; hopefully this role can secure a full time position with the company or one of those 107 other positions in the future. I am surprised to see on-site interviews without phone calls unless they were non-lab based jobs, which is the only time I have had no phone calls prior to interviews.

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    1. You are correct, the on site interviews without phone calls were for non-lab based jobs (sales and consulting)

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  2. For the R&D roles, did this individual cast a broad net (e.g. petrochem, pharma, CASE) or was this fairly specific to a certain discipline (e.g. synthetic organic chemistry for med chem)? In any event, that first job is always going to be the hardest to land. Unless a company has the $$ to do campus recruiting and grow talent internally, most of them will be looking for at least 3-5 years of real (non-postdoc) work experience.

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    1. I'll let JA answer your first question.

      I'm curious as to how you make the judgment in your third sentence, "most of them will be looking for 3-5 years real (non-postdoc) work experience." Is this in relation to what you've observed at your own company?

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    2. I worked for Dow, and the 65-75 new hires we made each year (in N America) came from campus recruiting efforts. However, there aren't really that many companies with sufficiently deep pockets to afford to recruit and train newly minted PhD's. In fact, I'd argue that this is really a luxury of being a Fortune 50 or 100 company. As part of my job, I used to call on other companies (large and small) and often discussed chemjobs and hiring qualifications over lunch, dinner, etc. Most of these companies preferred employees with 3-5 years of industry experience, especially with a big company where they'd get six sigma training, safety indoctrination, etc. So in some ways, these companies relied on Dow, 3M, Bayer, BASF, DuPont, etc as a pipeline for experienced hires. That's not to say that companies won't hire new graduates or postdocs, but a few years of experience seemed to be a distinguishing factor. I've never worked in or supported clients in pharma, so I can only speak to petrochem, CASE, specialty chem, etc.

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    3. Thanks for your very substantive comment!

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    4. At the old Rohm & Haas, most new hires at the BS and PhD level were new graduates, and almost all of the high-up managers never worked anywhere else. They had a training program where new PhD's spent periods (I think six months each) in different departments, often polymer synthesis, applications (coatings formulation), and process chemistry. People usually stayed for life, but sometimes the lure of a promotion elsewhere was too much to resist.

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    5. I was targeting a specific geographic area, and so I did cast a broad net for different industrial sectors. I consider myself reasonably confident that I could have worked in each sector, although certain ones were much more applicable given my graduate research. Based on what I saw in my job search, very few jobs were targeted at new grads. Most were instead entry-level tech jobs targeted at BS, and then positions with 'expertise' in an area or years of experience.

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  3. If you get more of these reports (and I think they are helpful to share), is it worth including statistics like what tier school they went to, # of publications, type of graduate research? I know that those factors don't necessarily mean anything about the actual quality of the student but it would be good to see how they bear on the success rate.

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    1. tier school: 1 (R01 school, consistently ranked top 10)
      # publ: 3, all ACS journals
      Type of work: Inorganic synthesis

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  4. Congrats to JA for landing a position! I know it's not easy.

    How do you get an on-site interview without a preceding phone interview?

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  5. From the inbox, Adamantane's contribution:

    Total applications: 600
    Interviews: 10 (10 phone interviews -> 2 on site)
    Formal Rejections: 125
    Outstanding applications: 475

    Industry R&D role: 392
    Industry Post-Doc: 33
    Industry Other: 88
    Academia-related: 17
    National Labs/Research Institutes: 30
    Consulting: 10
    Miscellaneous: 30

    Job secured: Consulting Analyst

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    1. Congrats, Adamantane. As a chemist now a few years into business roles, I can say there are some clear advantages - namely you don't have a problem justifying your existence to management.

      I do miss running experiments, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing chemistry. And there are a plethora of other challenges to overcome, different but just as difficult and rewarding!

      P.S. Don't let those ch/ee/ky bastards take credit, unless you think they deserve it.

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    2. Thanks, Phil! Appreciate it. At the end of the day, I got the position purely through networking and word-of-mouth - applying online is a complete dead end. I would have loved to have gotten a role in chemical R&D where I could have put my 10+ years of chemistry education to better use, but the chemical industry basically gave me the middle finger, so have to make lemonade out of lemons!

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    3. Adamantane, did you transition into this role from, say, some sort of R&D in industry or as a prof somewhere? Or was it a straight hire out of grad school? I like the lab, but not enough to want to stay for long and am looking to move out at the first GOOD opportunity.

      TIA

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  6. In my experience getting 8 interviews from 108 applications is a good conversion rate if these were sent in as a response to an internet job posting and without any additional networking.

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  7. I'm on the job hunt as well (soon to graduate PhD). Does anyone have any tips (i.e. does following up with recruiters help? How many weeks of silence before you officially consider it a rejection?) I've been applying online and through my campus website (occasionally companies come to recruit). I've landed a few interviews through the campus recruiting process, but no offers, no onsites, nothing. Got one phone interview outside of that.

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    1. I'm in the throes of the hunt for the first job too. Whenever I send in an application online I assume it's a rejection until I hear otherwise. The odds just aren't great so I don't get my hopes up. After a phone interview I give two weeks before I lose hope and email someone with whom I interviewed to find out for sure that my candidacy is not moving forward. After an on-site (I've had two) I give three weeks. I don't know much about recruiters, but my impression is that you have to make sure they understand your background and goals very well or else they will get you in touch with positions you have no business doing. This process is no fun, but good luck out there!

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    2. "I see on your CV that you have extensive experience in heterocyclic chemistry. Does this job running an ICP sound good to you?"

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  8. From the inbox, someone we'll call ET:

    Total applications: 6
    Interviews: 5 (5 on-campus/phone -> 2 on-site)
    Formal rejections: 3
    Outstanding applications: 0

    Industry R&D Role: 5
    Industry Post-Doc: 1

    Job secured: R&D Chemist

    ET's comment: "Five of my applications were the result of on-campus recruiting efforts at a top ten institution; one was an unsolicited phone call from a small company's HR department."

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    1. Just curious, how many publications do you have? This seems to be very rare to get an R&D job right out of a PhD program.

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    2. Top ten institution. ET is probably an Ivy, that's all the connection you need to get into big pharma.

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    3. Knowing that, why didn't you either post-doc or attend grad school at an Ivy?

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    4. Aren't there a few non-Ivy top 10-20s? eg Cal, (Stanford), UW-Madison, UIUC, UCLA, UC-Irvine (organic)...

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    5. @anon January 24, 2017 at 1:09 PM: yes, but Ivys also have the advantage of being located close to one another and close to major pharma sites. The on-campus recruiting tours start at Harvard and work their way down to Penn; the low marginal cost of visiting all the schools in-between ensures that Northeast students get a lot of exposure.

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    6. From ET:

      "I would honestly say I have a fairly mediocre publication record. In grad school I've published one first author research article, one first-author review article, and a smattering of co-author papers, all in respectable but not top-tier journals. This is pure conjecture, but I think having fewer papers was mitigated by my high degree of extracurricular involvement and broad research interests (flexibility and interdisciplinarity seemed to be highly sought-after, in my experience).

      Being at an institution where the companies come to you instead of the other way around made the process much easier, and is something I considered heavily when choosing a graduate school. I certainly leveraged as many connections as possible from both my graduate and undergraduate institutions.

      Finally, I'd like to humbly point out that industry is broader than just pharma! I think it is beneficial to cast a relatively wide net in terms of field."

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    7. Ivy is just a short hand. With all respect to my many friends in Hanover and Providence a post-doc at MIT, Stanford, or Caltech is likely more helpful than one at Dartmouth or Brown. At the various state universities, not so much.

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    8. @Anon 12:10pm, I didn't have the grades or clout to get into an Ivy for grad school or postdoc. I managed to get into biotech/pharma anyways, but I had to do a postdoc and my first job after that paid shit wages. I still consider myself fortunate because it was easier for me than a lot of my friends who did more prestigious training. But I definitely didn't have anyone knock on my door asking for my application and I sure as shit didn't get things done after just 6 job applications (with >80% of them leading to an interview).

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  9. I think there ought to be another category of how long you have been applying...

    I know with me, I applied to 200+ positions over 1.5 years while at a post-doc in a top 10 program. I had 7 on-site interviews and got a Industry job at an Ag company.

    This was several years ago when jobs were few and far between. I just think it is interesting how long some people may be looking for a position relative to how many applications they send out.

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