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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby T.K. » Sun Mar 26, 2006 2:55 am

I'm looking for a headhunting or career counseling service (in the SF Bay area) that would help a new PhD find a job or post-doc. It seems most places are either A.) job-search agencies that don't have individualized services (they just take electronic CV's) or B.) they are services for very high level jobs and wouldn't give the time of day to an inexperienced person.
I don't mind paying a fee for the counseling service, but I would like to find some one to meet face-to-face.
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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Rich Lemert » Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:52 am

I doubt you're going to find very many. Recruiters generally don't work with entry-level people (even "high-level" entry level) because it just doesn't pay for them. For one thing many companies have their own entry-level recruiting programs.
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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby T.K. » Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:38 pm

When you say companies have their own entry level recruiting, do you just mean the HR person(s) within a company that are responsible for going to job fairs etc?

Job fairs have been fairly useless even at national meetings. The only way I've known new PhD's to get jobs if for them to know someone "on the inside"...which doesn't apply to the current situation.

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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:05 am

T.K. said, "The only way I've known new PhD's to get jobs if for them to know someone "on the inside"..."

T.K. this is what is called "networking." As a headhunter/career counselor, etc, whose major clients are in CA, I can tell you that there is no way that a headhunter can be useful to you at this stage of your career, unless you simply use them for advice. As Rich says, companies use their own resources to find entry level staff, and they employ recruiters only for mid to senior level jobs. You just won't get any traction worrying about headhunters at this stage of the game. Get out there and network.

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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Derek McPhee » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:08 pm

Although we are often approached by headhunters offering us entry-level people, from a company point of view it makes no sense to pay them a substantial fee (amounts of up to 1/3 of annual salary is not unheard of), when we get more far more unsolicited applications for such positions that we can handle and we typically fill them through networking contacts anyway.
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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:18 pm

McPhee said, "Although we are often approached by headhunters offering us entry-level people, from a company point of view it makes no sense to pay them a substantial fee . . . "

Those aren't really headhunters. Those are just people playing at being headhunters. When you get a call from someone offering you a candidate, that is a person who can't get client assignments the regular way, and he or she is either brand new or on their way out. You can't exist as a recruiter "selling" flesh via CV's sent to companies which didn't ask for these services. Only real headhunters get assignments from companies.

There is a very high percentage of people who fail at the business. They are in and out of the recruiting profession within six months. My old boss used to hire ten people, train them, and then expect to have two of them left in six months. That was just the cost of doing business.

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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Chris Buntel » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:19 pm

Also, be very wary of services that charge a fee to help you find a job. Recruiters are paid by the hiring company, not by the applicant.

As a new PhD, networking is the best thing for you to do. Talk to former lab members, go to scientific meetings, talk to friends that graduated a few years ago, and so on.

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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Derek McPhee » Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:38 pm

Point taken. Perhaps a thread on distinguishing real and fake headhunters is in order.
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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby Yasmeen » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:19 pm

As a very recent PhD who got 2 job offers in industry, this is just my 2 cents and my history: I started looking last May for industry positions and post-docs. I had about 10 of those people playing at being headhunters call me and it never led to anything so don't waste your time on them. It's better to just apply to positions you like, write a good cover letter and talk to as many people you can at your school, at career fairs, and in informational interviews.

I got a few interviews and in Jan/Feb. I got my first job offer, in late Feb. I got my 2nd offer at the job I really wanted. I had applied to both in December. So it takes time and patience and alot of work. For career counseling, go to a bookstore, read What color is my parachute to make sure you are doing what you truly want to do, read over the extensive posts on this forum for advice and personal stories to see where you fit. And in the end, realize that it takes alot of hard work to find a good job but it is possible for a new Phd, it just isn't going to happen in a month or two (unless of course you are one of those people who went to a top 5 school in your area of research and your boss is so well known, people will be impressed that you were in the same room as him/her).

Lastly, I didn't get either job because I knew someone on the "inside", both were dependent on being open to areas outside of my locality, good timing, and showing them that I had a great deal of interest in the work and in the company.

I wish you the best.
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Headhunter for new PhD - Bay Area?

Postby T.K. » Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:21 am

I've been at the job/post-doc hunt for some time now (> 8 months), not counting the last year of grad school where I sent out many inquiries for post-docs and jobs.

The grad school I went to isn't top 20 and my professor wasn't any help. Its not that he wouldn't give me a good recommendation, he just didn't know people in the area my research was most directly related (my work was building the bridge b/w his theory and real-life application, but he hadn't crossed the bridge yet!).
There didn't seem to be any other professors or alumni to turn to for advice, either.



I have somewhat given up on finding experience in the area most closely related to my research, althought I know there are companies that do this type of work. Its probably that they tend to employ people from related disciplines, instead of mine.

No matter what, it seems the skills I have need a little redefining to be more employable. I was just hoping a career counselor, having looked at CVs that lead to jobs, might help me know which of my skills are more likely to lead to jobs. Maybe they could just suggest where I might look to improve those skills. I am just at a loss for how to do this!

Obviously the universities out in the bay area are very prestigious. I have tried contacting professors regarding post-docs, but they have indicated they have no money. A few suggested I bring my own, but it’s darn hard to write a research proposal for a grant without access to university-type science search engines. I may still try...but I wouldn't know the results of my efforts for another full year.
Has anyone out there written a grant proposal for a post-doc prior to getting the post-doc? How does that work? Don't most grants need university commitments?


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