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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Are there any jobs in Medicinal Chemistry? And how can I get one?

Through my efforts to provide encouraging information and strategies for those interested in life sciences careers, I will occationally invite guest bloggers to provide their thoughts.  My first guest blogger is Connie Hampton - founder of Hampton Associates and provider of scientific and executive search services.  Connie's blog is highlited in my blog list.  More information regarding her background and services can be found on her website (www.hamptonexecutivesearch.com).

Are there any jobs in Medicinal Chemistry? And how can I get one?

There are over 7,000 IPhone developer jobs today on SimplyHired.com and only 500 Medicinal Chemistry positions.  This is only 1/5 of the total jobs, but the other 4/5ths are filled before they are posted. Obviously it is much harder to get a job in Medicinal Chemistry than IPhone development.  These jobs are all over the world, from summer (unpaid) intern to Principal Scientist and Professor.  If you are one of the many students of medicinal chemistry about to graduate, how are you going to compete? 

Job Search is Tough and You were Never Taught How

Today’s economy is especially tough on small therapeutics companies.  Seed money is hard to find and further financing is even harder to get.  Since it takes 100 ideas and at least 10 years from proof-of-concept to marketed drug, the venture capitalists are putting their money into IPhone development in order to spend less than a year to get 4+ times their investment.   Medicinal chemistry is necessary in both large and small molecule drugs, but there are fewer companies and simply fewer positions than there used to be.

The solution to finding a job under these circumstances is to take on the task of finding a job as a job, to “hunt your own head” and become your own “job fairy”.
  1. Put in no fewer than 20 hours/week and preferably 30-40.
  2. Write, for your own use as a pool of phrases, what you bring to the table in the way of skills and cutting-edge knowledge
  3. Write your approximate overall career goal.
  4. Decide, geographically, where you want to work.  Will you move or will you commute?
  5. Start a database of all the companies within your commute distance which use the skills you have and can provide you with the next step in moving you closer to your goal.
  6. Start a database of the people you know, where they work and how to get in touch with them.
  7. Sync these two databases with each other.  Which companies do you already have a personal connection in?  Which do you need to get (at least) one?
  8. Start networking!  Up to 80% of jobs are filled by networking and only 20% by job boards
This is just the homework part of job search.  The next step is getting out there and meeting people to find out who has a problem you can solve.  Do you know how to network?

Networking is when you give something of value to the other person (that does not cost you much) and get something that you value (that doesn’t cost them much).  You give time, attention, information and you get time, attention and information. 

The first person you want to network with in a company that you are interested in should be someone who is NOT the hiring manager and NOT a person in the department that you want.  You need to know if the company is financially stable, a good place to work and fits with your idea of a good company.  Who of your connections is able to tell you these things?  You need to give them the gift of your attention.  Ask: “how do you like your job?”  and “what is it like to work there?” and “are they hiring or laying off?”

If the company sounds good, THEN you want to be introduced to someone in your preferred department.  You need to find out if they are working on any problems that you could help solve and present yourself as someone who could do so.  If they have a problem that is NOT one that you want to solve, then ask the same questions as above and move on.  But if they are working on something that appeals to you, have a very “geeky” conversation – ask really good questions, display your understanding of the issues.  At the end of the conversation, do NOT beg for a job. Do NOT hand them your resume.  Instead say, “What an interesting problem!  You must be having so much fun!” even if you know that it is not being fun for them. 
Then go home and put the person and company in your Gist.com database.  This site will sweep the internet for any mention of the person or company and look in Twitter, Facebook and blogs to find them.  This will allow you to email this person once a week with “saw this and thought of you” emails and therefore stay on the top of their minds.  When their boss and hiring manager realizes that the problem is not getting solved with the people he is already paying, the first thing he will ask is “Who do we know?”  Your name will be the one that comes up.

Stay in touch with your contacts in the departments of the companies you want to work for.

Keep checking their websites in case your job gets posted.

Stay alert to other ways that the company may be looking for you.

But keep on networking your way through the list of companies that hire people with your talents.

This is your career network and it will last you for the rest of your career.  You will help these people find jobs and they will help you.

Connie is a scientific and executive search consultant and a purple squirrel hunter – after a company has exhausted their network, posted the job and not found the right person, they turn to her to find that hard-to-find MD or PhD or MBA.

She started recruiting early in the history of the worldwide web.  While she does not restrict herself to just the web, she stays on the cutting edge of social media and makes full use of it in finding the right people for her clients.

4 comments:

  1. Chemistry is a subject which requires a lot of practice basically in the organic part and your blog is very helpful in understanding the basics of organic chemistry and its good to have all the important topics under one book.

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  2. Chemistry is one of the disciplines of science. It colours our life with the discovery of different hidden colours of nature and all the things necessary for making our life happier. The study of chemistry is a must for the advancement of society and for making mankind happier. Chemistry is concerned with rocks, minerals, non-minerals, air, water, plants, animals, other materials of organic origin earth atmosphere, interstellar atmosphere.

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  3. Interesting post. If you are interested we specialize in exactly Life Sciences Recruitment. You can check here: Life Sciences Executive Search

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  4. I agree! This is a very interesting blog with useful references and posts that help a lot to understand medicinal chemistry more deeply.

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