Chemical & Engineering News

Job Ads Aren’t What They Used To Be

Blogger describes how the Internet has changed the chemistry job hunt


When I was a postdoc and actively searching for a job, my relationship to C&EN changed dramatically. I approached every new issue with trepidation, skipping past the popular science in Newscripts (who does that?!?) and heading straight for the jobs section. I was used to seeing positions advertised in the back of C&EN. So I never really looked for jobs anywhere else—why would I? I’d found my postdoc position in those friendly pages.

But during that historic, dismal 2008 job-hunting season, the pages of full-color, double-page ads from large pharmaceutical companies seemed to give way to just a few inches of plain black text per column offering positions. So I turned to Web searching. Monster and CareerBuilder became constant companions. I discovered the local Craigslist science/biotech section, with its collection of funny—and sometimes bizarre—ads from small companies with occasionally questionable origins. And I kept obsessively close tabs on my local ACS section’s online newsletter, which offered a few ads for positions with companies nearby. It was another thoroughly obscure website,, that ultimately provided me with my first full-time job.

As in my case, these days the job hunt seems to start and end online. Everyone has their favorite job search engines, aggregators, and social networks. We perfect our CVs and burnish our LinkedIn profiles, and we might even have our own personal websites, putting our best digital foot forward, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And yet, despite all of this computer connectedness, it’s through a phone call that we still hear those magic words, “You’re hired.”

Chemjobber is an industrial chemist who blogs about the chemistry job market at

Paul Bracher
Neil Garg

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