Friday, January 25, 2013

Job search stats: industrial positions, These Modern Times

Thank you to the 30 plus people who input their job search data into my post last week. I've started crunching the data by first separating the data by academic versus industrial job searches, education level and by separating by time period. In my mind, I separate "modern chemistry employment" into 4 eras:
  • The Golden Years: pre-2003 
  • The Clouds Before The Storm: 2003-2007
  • The Great Recession: 1/1/08 to 7/31/2009
  • These Modern Times: 8/2009 - present
If someone else has better names for these eras, I'm all ears. 

I've focused my efforts on industrial positions in These Modern Times because that's the bulk of the entries. I'll be covering the other entries next week. 

Industrial B.S./M.S.-level position, time period, number of full apps/on-site interviews (no phone)/offers

#10: 5/10-present, 500/15/3
#16: 10/10-12/10, 1/1/1 
#13: 6/12-9/12, 50/3/1
#24: 11/12-present, 40/0/0

Industrial Ph.D.-level positions, time period, number of full apps/on-site interviews (no phone)/offers

#30: 2009-2012: "Hundreds"/5/4
#9:  3/09-2/11, 400/9/1
#15: 8/09-12/10, 100/3/1
#4: 9/09-9/10, 172/7/2
#27: 9/09-3/10, 55/2/1
#12: 9/10-3/11, 4/1/1
#23A: 12/10-5/11, 70/2/1
#6: 3/11-9/11, 50/2/2
#25: 8/11-10/12, 156/7/1
#1: 3/12-10/12, 86/2/2
#19: 4/12-present, 80/1/0
#32: Spring 2012 - Fall 2012, 46/0/1
#23B: 5/12-10/12, 70/3/3
#11: Fall 2012 - present, 40/1/0
#20: 10/12-present, 51/1/0

I haven't done a thorough statistical analysis of these different entries (coming soon), but here's what I see:
  • There's no real detectable difference between the odds for a B.S./M.S. position versus a Ph.D. position (with this small data set, anyway.) 
  • It's not uncommon for successful job searches to take over 50+ full applications. The smallest number is 4; it makes CoulombicExplosion quite an outlier. What was your trick, CE?
  • Successful job searches take between 6 months and one year, as we might have expected. 
  • The likelihood of any one full job application turning into an on-site interview is well below 5% and probably closer to 1%. 
  • However, the likelihood of an on-site interview turning into an offer is closer to even money. 
As Dr. Zoidberg said, it would be great to hear from all the successful job searches as to what tips they would offer to readers. I would like to know if they feel that their searches were due to any particular factor. 

Readers, what trends do you see? 

Lastly, I want to make sure that no one feels thinks I'm pretending this is a scientific, statistically-valid survey of job searches in chemistry. It's not (yet.)


  1. I neglected to chime in to the last post, so I'll say my piece here. I've had three different job searching experiences, all of which were after my MSc (defended 09/2008); mid-2008 - medium size pharma market - 15 applications through web-based application systems, one in-person, one job. Lucky they were looking for someone when I sent in my stuff, and lucky they were reading everything that crossed their desks. No tips for those looking, because if this worked consistently, people wouldn't still be looking.

    May 2009-Sept 2010 - needed to change markets (to MA) for family reasons, and looked for a long time for anything. Sent out ~40 full packages, to no avail (2 in-persons that whole time, 1 I didn't get because of visa issues (they couldn't figure out TN visas), and 1 which I wasn't a fit, but was interviewed as a courtesy). Talked with about 10 useless 'recruiters', who were pretty much just wanting to fill in my info into online applications for me. They had no contacts, and had no idea about science or anything else ("No, I'm not a biologist. No, I'm not a mechanical engineer. No, I'm not a crystallographer.") Finally got in contact with a temp agency who were contracted by companies to fill vacancies, and this is when my search improved. First of all, the person there was knowledgeable about both the field and my capacities, and how to have me present myself electronically to employers (ignore chronology for pertinence, really tailor your language to their specific requests, maximize special capabilities), and secondly was ready to jolt me with the realities of the job market in my chosen sub-discipline, and provide options for alternate paths with better prospects. Within 3 weeks of my first contact with this person, I had a position.

    Dec 2011-Jan 2012 - still in MA - 1 application - 1 in-person - 1 job. Wanted to move from small CRO/CMO to mid-sized pharma, and had made good friends at small place who had moved up. Called them up for a beer, and made my desires known, having previously seen that there were job postings at their company which were pertinent. They passed on my info, and 3 weeks after my CV was submitted I had started work at the new place.

    Morals of my story - networks are important, and you may not anticipate who will be the best help to you when the time comes, so work hard at your job, and be as likeable as you can manage because that's what'll help in the future. Also, don't dismiss opportunities at smaller / unknown companies. My time at the small CRO wasn't great for my relationships or my mental health, but I learned a lot of skills there which I could parlay into my next (vastly better) position.

  2. CoulombicExplosionJanuary 25, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I generally chalk up the brevity of my job search to plain dumb luck. But thinking back, maybe there were a few tangible factors that helped make that luck happen.

    First, I'm an analytical chemist. I have heard (even read some anecdotal testimonies on this blog) that my ilk has fared better in our employment than have some of our colleagues in other sub-disciplines.

    I was also applying for jobs while preparing to defend my thesis. This explains the low number of applications sent - I realize I should have been sending out more, but there are only so many hours in the day, and seemingly fewer when preparing to defend. I had basically applied to the companies that were making recruiting visits to my campus anyway.

    Still being in grad school probably also helped in two other ways. One, I was still relatively young, and thus a cheaper hire than a mid-career PhD chemist. Second, I was attending a top analytical program. When the hiring manager for my position was not satisfied with the local applicant pool, he directed the recruiter to solicit a handful of top departments. So I happened to be at the right place at the right time.

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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