Page 1 of 1

The First Job

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 4:32 pm
by Brad
I have recently finished my Ph.D in Analytical Biochemistry and have been actively searching for jobs for nearly a year now. I started well before I graduated, since I know how slow corporations can be.

Primarily, I am interested in an industrial position. Just as a guess, I would say that I have applied for nearly 50 positions over the past year. Only one of those resulted in an interview, or even being contacted. I have had professional consultation on my CV and I have worked really hard to get information about these jobs (i.e. networking). However, with big pharma, it seems almost impossible to speak with anyone, and you inevitably end up posting your CV etc... online.

I would consider myself very well qualified for any of the jobs for which I have applied. At this point, I am really discouraged that I have only been contacted once. Do you guys have any suggestions?

The First Job

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 5:24 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Brad,

Something is wrong, and perhaps a forum scenario like this isn't going to be able to solve it. Anyone who has applied to fifty positions and had only one interview should be looking very closely at their marketing materials, or the way that they are presenting themselves.

You say that you've had your materials looked at -- were they WRITTEN by an agency of some kind? (That may be the trouble). Also, what kind of networking have you done? When I ask people that, most of the time they are "calling people and asking for jobs on the phone" and this isn't networking. Have you spoken to some analytical chemists who are just a year or two ahead of you and asked them how THEY managed to land their position?

Analytical Biochem is a good area. There is hiring going on. Something needs to get fixed, Brad. I hope that we can help you, but it may be beyond the capability of a discussion forum. Do you have a career center on campus? Is it possible to get some advice there?

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

The First Job

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 5:59 pm
by A. Sam
Brads situation is frustrating but I wouldn't say it's unusual. Haven't we seen similar posting recently? When I was post-doc there were 4 of us lab mates looking for biopharm jobs at the same time. We submitted a total of about 250 applications to about 200 different companies. It resulted in 5 interviews, or else complete silence. One of my ex-coworkers had been trying to make just a lateral move. Her 30 applications and 5 years of experience didn't lead to a single interview over the course of a year. It took a friends of hers having a sudden opening in her group to make a move. I was the last person this company hired without biotech experience, that was years ago and it nearly caused a scandal. It takes a unique effort to get hired out of academics. I recently made enough noise to get an internship program at my company and I think such programs are infinitely valuable to both parties are entirely too uncommon in biotech.

The First Job

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 6:11 pm
by Dave Jensen
Sam's comments are excellent. Perhaps I was a bit too aggressive in my earlier note. I recruit in the field of analytical biochemistry so I know it well, and therefore my views are slanted by the fact that there is so much job activity in that field.

It is certainly not a disaster to have fifty applications out and one interview. My guess . . . get into the right kind of networking, and that will change.


The First Job

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 10:57 pm
by Val
> I have recently finished my Ph.D in Analytical
> Biochemistry and have been actively searching
> for jobs for nearly a year now.
> ... I am interested in an industrial position.

It sounds like my situation in my earlier years. After graduating with a PhD and a period of unemployment, my first job was a research assistant at a commercial spin-off from university. Mind you, this was Australia, and science jobs -- any science jobs -- were hard to come by. The position was advertised and the selection board competitively chose the successful applicant... I was surprised why they preferred me. All my experience shows the employers do not hire PhD holders for BSc-level jobs. (Later I asked my supervisor this question, and he replied they chose me because of the excellent references). But even as a research assistant, I got to design the experiments and develop the equipment entirely on my own. All my subsequent employments (in different fields) were in governmental-type organisations with pro-industrial orientation (which means they needed a solution to a customer's project like in industry, but did appreciate the independent intellect unlike the industry).

What I am trying to say is that everyone belongs to a certain class of scientist, and it is easy for the prospective employers to see from your CV and attitude to what classification of a specialist they should relate you. The classes are: "academic researcher", "industrial scientist", and an in-between "applied scientist in a governmental-type organisation with pro-industrial orientation". I appear to be the latter, and all my efforts of many years to apply for the positions of the other two classes went in vain. Like in the India's caste system, the transition between classes is not possible.

I believe life will eventually make you find to which classification _you_ belong. Oh, and I forgot to mention that people might not belong to any of the classes of scientists mentioned above. The other possible classes are not in science, they are namely "programmer" and perennial "burger-flipper".


The First Job

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 1:38 pm
by Brad

I actually wrote my CV on my own and had it looked at by the career counselors in our career center on campus. The main problem here is that these people are geared toward finding jobs for accountants and B.S. engineers. Most of the Ph.D. graduates from the department do not have to resort to using the career center.

I am an NMR spectroscopist specializing in protein NMR. There ARE jobs out there, but other than finding the job postings on corporate websites (i.e. Novartis has them all the time) I don't know where to go next. There is usually no way to weasel contact information out of those postings. I feel like the general consensus amongst doctoral level scientists (especially those in academics) is that everyone should do a postdoc. I've had no trouble finding postdoc positions, they are everywhere. However, sometimes a postdoc (low pay, very long hours) just does not fit the bill.

The First Job

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 6:12 pm
by Andrew
How focussed is your job search? Are you looking for all NMR positions or all Analytical Chemistry positions, or just protein NMR? Protein NMR is a tough field now. All of big pharma staffed up to do structure based drug design and hired all these protein structure guys and when that fad passed, many of them fell out of work. If it weren't for Steve Fesik developing SAR by NMR, most of these people at Merck, Schering, Abbott, adn Pfizer would have lost their jobs. As it is, the people solving protein structures in the 80s and early 90s are doing HTS SAR by NMR rather than protein structures. I did a protein NMR search a year or two ago and got nearly 60 resumes, a good 20 - 30 of which were well qualified, coming from either big Pharma or good protein labs in academia. If you can cast your resume as more of an NMR spectroscopist or Analytical Chemist with NMR experience, you'll have a better chance.

I'm sure you know of this, but just in case here's a link: Spincore

The First Job

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 3:49 pm
by Brad

Thanks a lot. That really helps. I knew the field was a little flooded. My CV that I am currently circulating depicts me as primarily an NMR spectroscopist with experience in protein NMR. But it also shows the huge amount of computer skills that I have acquired, along with the usual analytical techniques.

Do you think I should completely revamp it and refocus on the \"analytical chemist\" part?

The First Job

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:48 pm
by Andrew

Most of the NMR spectroscopists coming from protein labs these days seem to get jobs in pharma/biotech and end up retraining as Analytical Chemists or Biochemists, usually using NMR.

You are best off giving as much an impression of breadth as possible. Why don't you send me your resume and I can make some more specific comments.