How do I look for a Chemistry job?

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Last Revised July 9, 2003


Developing a Strategy for your Job Search

The most common method for hunting a job is to send a large number of letters to firms that generally hire chemists. The placement office can provide an up-to-date book that gives many of these addresses. This is not the best approach, so if you use it, be prepared for a large number of rejections or even non-replies.

As much as possible, you should try to focus your search on companies that actually have job openings. Tell your professors that you are looking for a job; they can probably tell you the names of companies that have hired Oneonta graduates in the past and these are good prospects. Often companies will communicate directly with faculty to ask for candidates. Be sure to tell everyone that you know that you are looking for a job. Sometimes you can get leads in strange places. Often friends or relatives, even if they aren't in the chemical industry, will hear about companies that are hiring. That can help you get your foot in the door. The World Wide Web is becoming an excellent source of job information, and some the sites in the next section may be helpful.

You would probably like to know what salary you might get in an entry-level chemistry position as well as what your long-term expectations might be. Each year Chemical and Engineering News publishes valuable information about the current job market in chemistry and about what salary expectations might be realistic. The most recent Salary and Employment Survey appeared in the August 4, 2003 issue and the Survey of Starting Chemistry Salaries appeared in the April 7, 2003 issue. Please note: You cannot access these sites unless you have an ACS member number. If you are as an ACS student affiliate member, you will receive a subscription to Chemical and Engineering News as well as a number which gives you access to C&EN on-line. This is a strong argument for joining the affiliate chapter on your campus. If you are not an ACS student affiliate, you may find a faculty member on your campus who keeps his old issues of Chemical and Engineering News.

Before you start a job search, you will probably wish to review some sites that offer general advice for science majors, such as the National Academy of Sciences Career Planning Center for Beginning Scientists and Engineers , which has many links and a variety of useful information. How to Search for Job, Surfing the Net is a useful article from Today's Chemist at Work . The Quintessential Career and Job-Hunting Resources Guide from Stetson Univ. may not really be quintessential, but it does include a wealth of information job-hunting, cover letters, resumes and interviews as well as links to other sites. David Jensen, of Search Masters International, has written an extensive series of Career Guides During and after the Job Search. The Riley Guide is an excellent tutorial on job-hunting, and gives information about companies at which you may be sending your application. Another stop on the must-see list is the salary surveys at the Jobstar. site. There is world of good advice here; read them!

More and more companies are developing electronic databases of job applicants, and there are many companies that allow (or require) you to apply for a position by electronic mail. You should refer to the pages of the Alchemist's Lair on writing resumes as well as electronic resumes to prepare for a job search. The Alchemist's Lair includes links to Company web pages for many of the major U.S. chemical companies. Often these include information about applying for jobs with the company. The Alchemist's Lair also has a page of advice regarding the job interview.


NOTE CAREFULLY: These sites have been suggested because they do NOT charge the job candidate, but the status of individual sites may change and it is also possible that the original evaluation may have been incorrect. If this is important to you, check the sites carefully before you make any commitments.

The World Wide Web provides many different sources of general job information, that may include listings for chemistry and other sciences. For example, there are sites that focus on temporary jobs in science as well as those that are designed mainly for graduates who are seeking their first professional position., In fact, the alternatives are so extensive that it is suggested that you read through the balance of this page before deciding which approaches you are going to take.

Job listings for Chemistry and other Sciences

Most of the Job listings from C&E News require some previous experience and the job base is limited to ACS members. You must have your membership number to enter the job bank. (This is a good reason for you to join the ACS student affiliate.)

The American Chemical Society has also created, a special on-line career service for chemists. It appears to be a must-see site for anyone interested in finding a job in the chemical industry.

Science positions from the AAAS. This covers all science areas, not just chemistry. This is another listing where most of the positions require previous experience.

Science Listings from Nature Magazine. An international job listing, but most of the jobs are either in biology or require a PhD. Search either by country or by field.

Job Listings from the Society of Chemical Industry. This is a very helpful site, which includes not only an extensive listing of jobs but also advice on job hunting and lists of career resources. This site also provides a service which allows you to register with the site and have them send e-mail to you regarding new job openings.

The Medzilla site, established in 1994, is the original Internet employment service for candidates and employers in Medicine, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, and other scientific fields. It offers visitors easy access to thousands of current jobs in the fields of Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, Science, Medicine, and Healthcare.

Bio OnLine is mainly focused on jobs in medicine and biotechnology. The Bio Online Career Center not only includes job listings but also a career discussion forum. You'll probably find that many of the questions your would like to ask are answered here. It also allows you to submit and online resume. The PharmaOpps Site claims it encourages candidates with little or no previous experience for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. NaviCyte, a biotechnology company that specializes in the development of in-vitro testing methods, has a superb site that includes links to 350 carefully selected web sites for biotechnology and pharmaceutical, business, science, and law. These include an excellent links to job sites in biotechnology and related fields.

Organic Chemistry Jobs Worldwide is mainly jobs in synthetic organic chemistry, and when I checked on the site, many of the positions listed were post-docs. Thus, this is a rather specialized site, but for those interested in this specific field, it could be very helpful.

Symbios, Inc. is an on-line careers services company that provides information for professionals seeking employment in the life sciences, specifically the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Device Sectors. In addition to conventional services, like posting a resume and giving tips this site includes databases of Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Positions, Medical Device Positions, Research Institute Positions, Canadian Positions, European Positions, and Pacific Rim Positions. The number of position listings seems more than adequate to make this site a worthwhile visit, although many of the jobs do require some experience and there are also a number of computer-related jobs included with the more scientific positions.

One special-purpose site that may be helpful to some applicants is the Ejobs Site . It provides links to a large number of companies that offer Environmental Jobs and Careers, although not many specifically in environmental chemistry.

Physics Jobs on-Line lists both academic and industrial positions and will also send e-mail to you when a new job is listed. It is part of the TIPTOP site, the Internet Pilot to Physics. It provides a number of useful links to Physics sites. There is also a short list of jobs on the Recent Job Announcements on the Internet Physics Calendar, but these seem mostly to be postdocs and other academic positions rather than jobs for undergraduate majors.

Searching for Entry-Level Science Jobs

New college graduates often find themselves trapped between requirements that experience is needed for most jobs and the fact that they have not yet had a chance to get much experience. The Nonprofit Career Center is intended for just this type of candidate. As the name suggests, most of the jobs are with nonprofit organizations, which are less likely to be willing (or able) to pay the costs required to search on some of the better know web job boards. This site also allows you to sign up for their job and internship mailing list for daily updates. The Job Resource is a job site that gives free services to college students, including resume creation and posting, and job openings via email. Since the emphasis is on recent college grads, it is likely that companies using this service are hoping to fill entry-level positions. Another site that may be helpful is The Entry Level Seeker Assistant or the College Grad Job Hunter Site. The PharmaOpps Site also claims that it encourages candidates with little or no previous experience, and the jobs are specifically in the pharmaceutical industry.

Searching for Temporary Science Jobs

The job search page for Manpower Technical usually seems to offer some jobs for chemists. Kelly Services is another temp firm that sometimes has positions for chemists. Go to this book mark, then select "scientific" under the listing of categories, type in chemist as your keyword, and finally, indicate any location preferences you may have. Contract-jobs is another temporary service that specializes on technical jobs, but the day I searched their database, there were no jobs for chemists. Alternative Resources Corp. is expressly for temp jobs in engineering and technical services. You might try the "other job opportunities" category, but when I looked at this site it was extremely slow to load, and I finally gave up.

General Employment Sources

Although the following sources are not specific for the sciences, they do offer many listings of jobs in chemistry and other sciences.

America's Job Bank, a national site maintained by the US Dept. Of Labor. To find jobs related to Chemistry, first, select MENU SEARCH, then page down to (0512) science jobs. Notice that you must page down after selecting science jobs to get to the button that says "Refine Job Search". Then you will have to page down again to find the science listing, which now includes several subcategories, including chemists (or a related listing if you wish). Once you have selected a subcategory, you will again have to page down to the button marked "'View Jobs Now." These positions require qualifications that range from the PhD to a high school degree. To focus the search, it's probably best to limit yourself to a few states.

Job listings by the New York State Labor Dept. This listing usually includes a section for recent graduates and also includes part-time positions.

Guide to newspaper listing of job openings. You must register in order to use this data base, but as far as I know, there is no charge.

Job Sites on the Web (Not Limited to Science jobs!)

The WWW includes many sites that not only list available jobs but also give advice and information that may be very useful to the job hunter. In fact, there are so many sites that it is often hard to know where to start. Recently (May 2000 issue, pgs. 107-112) Yahoo Internet Life has done an evaluation of the WWW job sites for finding a job, and was rated best overall. It has more than 350,000 job listings, gives good confidentiality, and includes information and advice at the Monster Career Center. Don't fail to page down until you reach the section that lets you Search for Available Jobs by Title (like chemist or physicist) in their list of available jobs) The second highest-rated site was, which has about one-third as many jobs and provides somewhat less supporting information. was another highly-rated site, which actually lists more jobs than hotjobs, but doesn't offer as much supplemental material. The other two sites mentioned in this review were CareerMosaic, and Yahoo!Careers.

There are also many other sites that offer job listings. Each of these list job openings and also most of them permit you to put a resume on file with them. is a combination resume database and job matching service which contacts students by e-mail about job openings. allows you to search the job data base without requiring you to submit a resume. Other general web sites that can be useful include CareerPath and INFOSEEK.

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