Monday, October 24, 2011

The Layoff Project: "Not helpful, sitting around being bitter."

Our favorite Wall Street guy bbooooooya writes in for The Layoff Project:

Should you take a break? Jump right in to finding a new job?  
No idea.  I didn't (with 2 layoffs under belt), but don't know if it would have made a difference.

How can your family and friends help? 

Was the help the company offered you (outplacement, etc.) useful?
Nope, complete joke.  Execs hire these firms to assuage their guilt, not to perform any useful function.  What really pissed me off was a@@hole CEO walking around saying how sorry he was people were let go.  I think he will regret this if he ever ends up pitching a deal to me......

What financial advice can you offer? What should/did you do? 
Spend less

What should you NOT do? 
Buy that Audi R8

When did you start looking for another position?
pretty soon

How painful was finding another position?
meh, i think by the time it comes to a layoff everyone knows it, so in some ways it's a relief.  the uncertainty is not fun.

What should someone be emotionally prepared for? 
Emotions?  I'm a scientist.....

How did you spend your typical day? What behaviors do you think were helpful or not helpful? 
most useful, getting out every day playing tennis or bball with a buddy.  anyone tells you finding a job is a 40 hour/week occupation is a fool.  Lots of waiting around.  May as well stay fit.  Not helpful, sitting around being bitter (tried that, no one cares).

Have you found new work? What was helpful there? 
yup!  biggest help was getting the heck out of chemistry.  It's really a shame that chemistry's a dying profession in this country, at least near term.

CJ here again. Thanks to bbooooooya for writing in and best wishes to all of us.

A reminder: please send your story in for The Layoff Project to chemjobber -at- gmail/dot/com. It's greatly appreciated and might possibly help someone in their tough time.


  1. Reading that made me depressed. I'm just hoping chemistry jobs will stay around the next 25 yrs or so, so I'll be able to retire someday.

  2. I do not think chemistry in general is a dying profession. I think doing pharmaceutical chemistry in the US, however is a dead end. What I think would be really useful would be transitional training that helps a medicinal/organic chemist move into another branch of chemistry like analytical, polymer or materials. I find that to be the hardest thing about trying to be a chemist these days. I trained as an organic chemist but my pHD was rewarded in Chemistry. No graduate or masters program is willing to take someone who has a pHD in chemistry in their chemistry program so that they can switch over to any other branch like analytical chemistry for example. Trying to get a postdoc in a different subdiscipline is almost impossible as well. Dont get me wrong, I understand we can all read some books and learn this stuff, but what employers want are people with some hands on experience. So for some us it feels like the only option we have is non chemistry jobs.

  3. I'm an MSc organic chemist who managed to strike out into formulation / analytical chemistry; I think I'm lucky I did a stint in undergrad at a big pharma doing analytical and my last place had me do GMP training or else I wouldn't have been considered... there have been several other BS/MS organic chemists apply here, but without the GMP and analytical experience, they haven't gone any further than a phone interview. I have not seen any PhD-level organic chemists even get to the phone stage. I don't know if that's intentional disqualification due to being over-credentialed, or whether they are self-limiting their applications though.

  4. So what are current organic chemistry graduate students, in particular those coming out of synthetic organic chemistry research groups doing for jobs? When I was laid off, my employer immediately posted my and the positions of others who were laid off with me as either "contractor-hourly-no-benefit" vacancies or "synthetic chemist with 0-5 years experience only" vacancies. However they posted much fewer positions than they laid off. Is big pharma still sending their "ambassadors" on fall recruiting trips to look for talent in the 0-5 year pool at the same time that they are laying off those who are in the "ambassador" age and experience demographic?

  5. Interns and contractors are cheap. Partnering with universities to do research is cheap. Corporations are going to exploit those new to the field for as long as the graduate schools stay full. If the graduate schools look empty they will tell politicians there is a shortage to get some sort of education policy.

    Furthermore, those with 0-5years experience are always needed in big pharmaceutical companies. In order to lay off expensive older employees, they must also lay off younger employees to keep out of costly age-discrimination law suits. In many states, a list with all the ages & titles of all those not affected and those laid off must be provided to every person affected by the lay off. For every 50+ year old there must be a 20 something. If you get laid off in certain states, age / race / gender are all considered because they must be completely balanced in order to keep out of court. If your workforce is imbalanced on one side of the age range, then you must layoff an imbalanced amount on the other side.... For example if all your older workers are males, a disproportionate amount of the younger workers you layoff must be female. (The other side of the EOE, which sucks for young caucasian males looking for work). If you are in certain positions at age 40 you don't have a chance in hell of not being laid off because you are the top of the age bell curve.

  6. The CEO of Dow states there is a shortage of chemists and that chemists command the highest starting salaries, so I do not understand all this concern about jobs. He clearly believes this, since Dow is investing $25 million to train more chemists to relieve this severe shortage of chemistry manpower.

  7. The CEO of Dow is commoditizing your field.

  8. The list is not as 1:1 as you suggest. 80% "experienced". 20% "0-5". I assume the lawyers signed off on such a split as being "fair", "balanced" and most importantly, "legally defensible". Ask anyone in Big Pharma who has been on and therefor seen a list.

  9. That's my point exactly. The list is TOO perfectly balanced. For every 50+ that mentions to their management that they wouldn't be too upset with the huge early retirement payout there is exactly one 20 something who is fodder for 'lawsuit buffer'. People who are at the average age of 40s have almost no chance of retaining their job. They are at the top of the age bell curve, therefore almost all of them are axed.

    Such an arrangment is anything BUT fair or balanced.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20