How To Reach C&ENACS Membership Number
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November 24, 2003
Volume 81, Number 47
CENEAR 81 47 pp. 52-54
ISSN 0009-2347


ACS, the Internet, and the library are good places to start a job search


What do the 3.5% of chemists who are unemployed have in common with the 96.5% who are employed? Both groups can access many resources to get ahead in their careers. The two most important steps to finding and excelling in a dream job are to have an excellent résumé and to network, network, network. Other resources to explore include online job sites, classified ads, and books and periodicals.



ACS members may use the many resources of the society's Department of Career Services (DCS) and the Division of Education & International Activities. These resources are specific to chemists and often include one-on-one assistance that is unique to the society.


Ena E. Castro is the assistant director of career services, and she wants members to take advantage of all the services her department provides. "Members should not think twice about contacting us. We provide year-round services such as résumé reviews and career consulting. We have many programs at national meetings, but we want members to come to us at other times, too." Castro and her staff routinely interact with members over the phone and through the Internet at

Members' needs vary depending on where they are in their career path. Members who lose their jobs often contact DCS immediately to learn about résumé reviews and NECH, the ACS employment service at national meetings. Others just want to keep abreast of trends in hiring in different chemical fields.

Every year, more than 350 chemists take advantage of one-on-one career counseling through DCS. Lisa M. Balbes is one of more than 70 counselors. She reports that many chemists contact her about how to move their careers in new directions. "I try to get people to think of themselves as a set of skills, not as an 'analytical chemist.' Those skills can be applied in a wide variety of industries and to a large number of different types of problems. The more flexible you can be in the types of work you are willing to do, the more places you will be able to go." Balbes is working on projects with DCS to publicize alternative careers for chemists, such as library science.

Joel I. Shulman is a career counselor who has experience advising foreign nationals who would like to work as chemists in the U.S. He gives guidance about getting sponsorship for permanent residency, finding specific skill sets that will meet Department of Labor requirements to work in the U.S., and practicing communication skills (see more at C&EN Online). By the end of this year, DCS plans to be able to match counselors to members through an online interface and to provide additional career tools as an extension of the career consultant program.

ACS Career Services goes into high gear at national meetings. Attendees can take advantage of NECH by registering in advance on the DCS website. NECH puts job seekers together with employers for on-site interviews and e-mail exchanges. Unemployed ACS members who register with NECH are eligible for a waiver of the national meeting registration fee. In addition to "real" interviews, members can avail themselves of "mock" interviews, which are videotaped and include performance assessments and résumé reviews by career consultants.

For assistance closer to home, DCS takes their show on the road to regional meetings with RECH, the ACS employment service at regional meetings, and career-related events and symposia. Local universities may request workshop programs to be held on their campus.

Career Services maintains a large online library of books, videos, and publications, including the newly updated "Interviewing Skills for Chemical Professionals," "Résumé Preparation--Tips for Chemical Professionals," and "Employment Guide for Foreign-Born Chemical Professionals." Most publications can be downloaded directly from the DCS website.

The department also makes available to members data about employment, salary, and workforce demographics on its website. Its member surveys provide data about chemistry employment for chemists and chemical engineers of all ages and at all degree levels. The online Salary Comparator analyzes salaries on the basis of experience level and geographic location of jobs.

The office can be contacted at ACS Career Services, 1155--16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036; phone (800) 227-5558; e-mail; website:


Today's college students aren't waiting for graduation to research potential jobs, and the ACS Education & International Activities Division is ready for them. Undergraduates who apply for Student Affiliate (SA) membership ( get a discounted membership with an annual fee of $19. (Graduate students pay $58 for their discounted ACS Student Membership.) Student affiliates receive an exclusive student magazine, in Chemistry; are eligible for discounts on society journals; and have full access to other society resources such as C&EN print and online, as well as access to career programs for ACS members.

Many universities have their own Student Affiliates chapter. The chapters can take advantage of ACS grants and traveling speakers from the ACS Speaker Service. Student Affiliate chapters open doors to preprofessional development, internships, and teaching experiences in the community. Students at schools that do not have SA chapters are encouraged to contact to look into starting one.

One of the most popular sources of information for undergraduates is the "Directory of Experience Opportunities," part of the Experiential Programs in Chemistry (EPiC). The directory is a compilation of internships, co-ops, fellowships, study- and work-abroad programs, and summer opportunities that students can apply for. The directory is sent to all student affiliates and is also available online at

Undergraduate chemistry students may not be aware of the broad range of professions that chemists can pursue. The Education & International Activities Division's Chemical Careers In Brief series has been recently updated and now contains 30 two- or four-page briefs about different careers within the chemical sciences. Each includes interviews with chemists in the field, information on educational requirements, employment outlook, salaries, and skills needed for the career area. The briefs can be found under Student Activities, then Undergraduate and Careers, on the division's website,

Students researching graduate school opportunities should check out the "ACS Directory of Graduate Research," a list of master's- and Ph.D.-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The DGR lists faculty, research interests, and recent publications and is available in print and online at

Chemists interested in working in academia have a new resource in the ACS Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program. This program's website at is a collaboration between the ACS Career Services Department and Office of Graduate Education, along with other organizations. In addition to descriptions of the PFF program at five universities, the site promotes a new 66-page booklet, "And Gladly Teach: A Resource Book for Chemists Considering Academic Careers." The booklet covers the decision to pursue an academic career, preparation for an academic career, the search for an academic position, and keeping an academic appointment.


ACS makes available a number of live and online courses to help chemists update their skills and knowledge in a competitive job market. Short courses between one and five days long are hosted at numerous locations and dates on a range of topics from equipment use to different fields of chemistry and other current issues of interest to professionals and managers. Online classes on many topics are both in webcast and self-paced formats. See the entire list of continuing education opportunities on the division's website. The ACS Education & International Activities Division can be contacted at 1155--16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036; phone (800) 227-5558; e-mail:; website: 


Although person-to-person contact is the best way to locate job openings, many job seekers find that online job boards can expand their search. There are many general-interest job sites--the most popular to date are and is a database of job listings compiled from more than 130 local newspapers from across the country, including USA Today.

Other job sites are targeted to scientists, but only a few are focused on chemical hiring specifically. is a one-stop job site for chemists. This site combines both classified advertising from C&EN and online-only job ads, as well as profiles of employer companies. The listings include jobs in industry, academia, and government. Job seekers can search or browse the job ads, post their résumé, and take advantage of the large collection of career resources for chemists. In addition, job seekers will find links to C&EN articles about chemical employment as well as to ACS Career Services' offerings. features a simply designed database of chemistry-related openings. Users can register for e-mail updates and featured jobs, chat with fellow job seekers in the "chemistrychat" forum, and find links to other niche job sites.

Chemsoc,, is hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry and features listings of chemistry-related positions in Europe and the U.K. It also features employment news, career profiles, and an extensive list of other online resources.

Naturejobs,, is a job site run by the journal Nature for scientists in all fields. It has an international job database and résumé storage space. Special features, general employment advice, and a calendar of events are also included. Scientific American is a cosponsor.

Science Careers,, is a comprehensive science job website published by Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It features free access to a job database, résumé and curriculum vitae posting, career advice and articles, and e-mail job notification services. Visitors also have access to AAAS salary and survey information and a salary calculator. and are produced by the publishers of, BioMedNet, Cell, and New Scientist. This website allows visitors to tailor searches for either chemistry or bioscience jobs by area of concentration and location; job postings consist of both postdoctoral and full-time positions. includes links to career news articles. compiles a weekly database listing openings posted on company websites for a wide variety of positions of interest to scientists.

Usenet, a collection of hierarchically organized bulletin boards known as newsgroups, is a great way to find out about job openings, talk with other job hunters, and interact with prospective employers. Chemists will first want to head to the group for specific information. Other newsgroups that might be of interest include,, and bionet. jobs.offered.

Finally, corporate websites can also be a valuable source of employment and company information. The majority of C&EN's Top 50 U.S. chemical producers (C&EN, May 12, page 21) provide career information and job listings on their websites.


The Internet and classified ads are simple and powerful job search tools, yet books are still a useful source of information about careers and employment. (Book titles with an "*" are available for purchase on

"The Academic Job Search Handbook (Third Edition),"* by Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, $15.95), is a step-by-step guide through the academic job search process and provides information on attending conferences, using the Internet, handling telephone interviews, and cultivating contacts. Sample cover letters and abstracts are included.

"Alternative Careers in Science,"* edited by Cynthia Robbins-Roth (Academic Press, 1998, $31.95), provides 23 case studies of alternative scientific careers--including, among others, entrepreneurial business, consulting, technical writing, public policy analysis, publishing, science journalism, patent agency, and research funding administration--and discussions by scientists who made the switch.

"Career Renewal: Tools for Scientists and Technical Professionals,"* by Stephen Rosen and Celia Paul (Academic Press, 1997, $24.95), targets academics suffering from career burnout or considering a career change. It provides advice on assessing careers and features profiles of career-switching scientists and engineers.

"Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond"* (National Academy Press, 1996, $11.95) provides guidance on obtaining the education and skills necessary for specific careers, particularly careers in nonacademic settings. Profiles of science and engineering professionals in a variety of career paths are also included.

"Guide to Non-Traditional Careers in Science: A Resource Guide for Pursuing a Non-Traditional Path,"* a book by Karen Young Kreeger (Hemisphere Publishers, 1998, $36.95), describes the benefits and drawbacks of nonacademic positions available to scientists, including law, public policy, and business. It offers practical advice on entering an alternative field, as well as 100 personal stories from scientists in those fields. For each field, a listing of pertinent trade organizations, what they offer, and how to contact them is included.

"How To Succeed in Academics,"* by Linda L. and Edward R. B. McCabe (Academic Press, 2000, $29.95), details the entire academic life cycle, from entering graduate school to succeeding as a professor. Advice is offered on choosing the right mentor, applying for and securing the right job, writing grant applications, attending scientific meetings and making presentations, and writing scientific papers and review articles.

"Jobs in the Drug Industry: A Career Guide for Chemists,"* by Richard J. Friary (Academic Press Ltd., 2000, $39.95), is a comprehensive guide for scientists looking to enter the pharmaceutical world. It is geared toward chemists searching for an entry-level position and contains advice about what responsibilities jobs are likely to require, how to evaluate salaries and benefits, and what to expect in interviews. A list of contact information for more than 500 pharmaceutical companies is included, along with information about drug company websites, internship opportunities, and job banks.

"Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2002–03 Edition" is the latest version of a biannual compilation of the U.S. Department of Labor (Jist Works, 2002, $16.95). The most complete and current compilation of statistics on jobs and job hunting, this book lists data on more than 250 occupations covering about 90% of the jobs in the U.S. It provides information on duties, working conditions, advancement, employment outlook, and salaries. The book is available free on the Web at

"Opportunities in Forensic Science Careers"* by Blythe Camenson and Anita Hufft (McGraw-Hill/ Contemporary Books, 2001, $12.95), offers job seekers essential information about a variety of careers within the field of forensics. It includes training and education requirements, salary statistics, and professional and Internet resources.

"Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering,"* by Richard M. Reis (Wiley-IEEE Press, 2001, $52.95), describes in detail how to find and secure a job in academia and what to expect in academic positions. Stories and vignettes illustrate how to apply, secure, and succeed in tenure-track positions.

"What Color Is Your Parachute? 2003,"* by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press, 2002, $27.95), is the latest edition of a seminal job-hunting book of almost 30 years. It has been extensively revised to work with the book's website, The book provides detailed advice on how to assess one's own strengths and weaknesses, find a suitable career, search for the right job, and negotiate salary.

With the slow economy persisting yet another year, unemployment for chemical scientists is high and demand is soft. New graduates can expect a long job search and fewer offers, but some companies are hiring.

Unemployment among American Chemical Society members in the domestic workforce is 3.5%. This is a record high since the society started measuring the employment status of its members annually more than 30 years ago. Salaries continue to make steady gains.

Becoming a high school chemistry teacher is a great choice for a chemist with an advanced degree, and a few are taking that option, sometimes as a second career. These workers can help fill a need for qualified science teachers that is expected to skyrocket with impending retirements.

Graduate students, freshly minted Ph.D.s, and postdoctoral fellows are all vying for the few open positions in industry. Find out what industrial employers are looking for and how applicants can get noticed.

A guide to sources of job and career information designed for those in chemical and related sciences who are seeking industrial, academic, or government positions or looking to change careers. Online resources for scientists are highlighted, as are American Chemical Society career services.


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