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August 4, 2003
Volume 81, Number 31
CENEAR 81 31 p. 45
ISSN 0009-2347




As a councilor and former chair of the ACS California Section, I joined the ACS Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs (CEPA) because my local section members said their top need was "assistance with employment and careers." This is not surprising when the current 6.7% unemployment rate in California surpasses this June's 6.4% rate for the rest of the nation. CEPA's mission is to "identify, implement, monitor, and promote programs and activities that foster ongoing improvement in the economic and professional status of chemical professionals."

The good news is that ACS is well equipped to help members cope with the pangs of joblessness and offers practical assistance in making career transitions.

Now, as chair of CEPA during these hard economic times, I note with dismay the disturbing climb of 2003 ACS member unemployment for the second year in a row (see page 37). For chemists, the national 3.5% unemployment rate surpasses last year's previous high of 3.3%. This high unemployment rate does not take into consideration those who drop out of the workforce through early retirement or extended hiatus. Especially hard hit are industrial R&D chemists over the age of 45. However, chemists still fare better when compared with the general unemployment rate of 6.4%.

The bad news is that the highest rate of unemployment ACS has ever recorded seems to still be on the rise. The good news is that ACS is well equipped to help members cope with the pangs of joblessness and offers practical assistance in making career transitions. Therefore, this is a good time to reiterate what is available to you as an ACS member should you need such assistance. Much of that assistance is in the form of programs and career resources developed by CEPA--from the annual employment survey to one-on-one career counseling. CEPA provides guidance for the many programs and services administered by the ACS Department of Career Services (DCS).

Here are 10 ways ACS can help unemployed members:

1. The ACS Career Consultant program provides valuable career assistance at all stages of a chemist's career. This one-on-one counseling and individual career assistance is available free to members.

2. An ACS brochure, "Coping with Job Loss," can help chemists deal with the trauma associated with job loss and change. This publication and all others produced by DCS can be ordered free by calling (800) 227-5558 ext. 4600.

3. Individual assistance with résumé reviews is also offered by experts who can help you make your résumé the best it can be. "Tips on Résumé Preparation" (PDF file) is another valuable publication available from the DCS website.

4. NECH, ACS's employment center, is now electronic with résumés posted online at national meetings. Résumé reviews, mock interviews, and a wide variety of career workshops are available to all job seekers.

5. C&EN Chemjobs ( continues to post résumés and job listings along with articles to help chemists find new employment.

6. Another DCS publication, "Interviewing Skills," offers tips from pros to help job seekers.

7. The ACS Salary Comparator on the DCS website is a popular tool to help members determine what they should be paid in various jobs according to geographic location, type and size of employers, and other factors.

8. The DCS online library includes a multitude of career-related publications that can develop your job-searching skills and aid in your professional development.

9. For another source of employment advice, visit "Tips on Mid-Career Transitions" (click on "Features Archive" on the DCS Web page). This article includes advice from a career counselor, an employment lawyer, and a chemist who launched another career after losing his position to downsizing.

10. Check with your local section. Many have career program coordinators who can provide job-searching assistance. As our local section career program coordinator, I help run a monthly Career Assistance & Transition support group along with our section's Employment Committee chair and other section volunteers. DCS offers a range of career development workshops, which can be presented in your local sections. Topics range from "Negotiating a Career Transition during Tough Economic Times" and "Interviewing 101" to "Career Transitions," "Critical Steps to Success," and "Employment Trends," to name a few.

To better serve our member needs during these difficult economic times, CEPA has recently formed a new subcommittee with the charter to identify and develop new programs that can further enhance the economic and professional status of chemical professionals. If you have any suggestions for CEPA or DCS, we welcome your ideas. For more information on any and all of the above, please consult both the DCS and CEPA websites at If you know someone who might benefit, please share this information.

On a final note, due to the increased demand for the career consultant program, more seasoned chemists, especially in the pharmaceutical and biotech areas, are needed as volunteers. Please consider helping your fellow chemists in this way by calling the ACS Department of Career Services at (800) 227-5558.


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Copyright © 2003 American Chemical Society

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