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Chemistry Overview - Preparation - Specialty Areas - Co-ops and Internships - Employment - Earnings - Profiles of Chemists - Career Path Forecast -Professional Organizations 

Job Hunting Advice
Your career as a professional chemist begins with your first job. You should begin your job hunt about a year before graduation by assembling a list of companies you would like to work for and people at each company to contact. The summer before your final year is a good time to start. Plan to visit a local library to obtain information on potential employers. Also read at least one good book on job hunting techniques.

To obtain advice in your job hunt, consult with people at your campus placement center. Most placement centers arrange on-campus interviews with corporate recruiters visiting your school. They can also provide guidance in writing your resume and cover letter. In addition, they can provide counseling and moral support. Also discuss your job hunting and career concerns with professors, particularly faculty advisors.

Finding a job is seldom easy. Disappointment is common in job hunting. Competition is stiff and so you should not become discouraged if you do not succeed in getting a particular position. You must expect to apply for many positions to win a few interviews. Not every interview will result in getting a job offer.

Begin looking for job leads after you have decided what type (or types) of job you want, what type of working environment you prefer, and what your geographic limitations (if any) are. You can identify job leads by:
  • Checking with your campus placement office to determine what corporate recruiters will be visiting campuses and when. Your placement office will have publications such as "The Job Choices Annual" which provides information on many companies, what types of job openings they have, and the personnel manager's name and address.
  • Consulting with family, friends, and faculty members for the names and telephone numbers of professionals in the field of chemistry you are interested in or working for companies you might want to work for. Don't neglect recent chemistry graduates from your school. In addition to job leads, they can provide helpful, up-to-date job-hunting tips.
  • Checking newspapers, telephone "Yellow Pages," and chambers of commerce listings for possible job leads.
  • Checking the Internet. There are many job sites listed on the Internet, and you can locate many of these sites by typing a keyword such as "employment" on your search engine. Don't neglect the home pages of companies you would like to work for. These provide useful information on the company and its products. Many company home pages also list job openings. Job opening information is also available on the home pages of professional organizations such as the ACS. Some publications such as the "National Business Employment Weekly" have helpful articles on job-hunting topics on their websites.
  • Visiting your library and reviewing publications such as "Peterson's Guide," "Dun and Bradstreet," "The Thomas Register," and "Moody's Industries" for general descriptions of various corporations. Also, consult books on writing resumes and cover letters and employment interviewing while you are in the library.
  • Accessing the ACS website. The Younger Chemists Committee web page are particularly useful to job hunters.
  • Participating in other job-hunting related activities at ACS meetings. These include mock interviews, resume consultations with ACS experts, and workshops and symposia on job-hunting topics.
  • Taking out an advertisement in the "Situations Wanted" section of Chemical & Engineering News or other industry-specific publications. ACS offers reduced rates to members and student affiliates.
  • Consult your college or university counseling center or website to find job banks, resume writing, interviewing, and networking assistance.

It is best to prepare your resume during the summer before your senior year. You'll have more leisure consider what types of jobs you would like and to assemble the information on your qualifications and accomplishments. You can also request permission of the individuals you would like to list as references. Your resume is the first example prospective employers have of your communications skills. So it should be well-organized and well-written. Your resume should outline your experience, interests, abilities, and goals and should emphasize your accomplishments. Limit your resume to one page but make it as comprehensive as possible. You can list publications and references on a second page. Reference books at your library or placement office can provide models of resume content and format. Your format should contribute to the clarity and readability of your resume.

If you are uncertain about year career goals, prepare a separate resume tailored for each career goal. For example, you might prepare one version for the petrochemical industry and one for the pharmaceutical industry. The resume you target to pharmaceutical industry could emphasize your interest in biochemistry and the biochemistry courses you took. Your second resume could emphasize courses more relevant to the petrochemical industry such as physical chemistry and catalysis chemistry courses.

Your cover letter should be more than just a note saying, "Here is my resume." Also it shouldn't be just a restatement of what is in your resume. Your resume tells what you are: a graduating chemistry student with certain experience, abilities, and accomplishments. Your cover letter should tell employers who you are through both its content and tone. It should demonstrate that you are a productive, accomplishment-oriented individual with good written communications skills. Like your resume, it should be one page long.

Your resume and cover letter will get you an employment interview; they won't get you a job offer. The critical step in getting a job offer is the employment interview. Expect some nervousness and anxiety as you approach this critical step in your job hunt. Preparation and practice can reduce your concerns. Begin preparing by reviewing your resume thoroughly so you will not need to refer to it during your interview.

Any successful job search entails an extensive examination of self, employer, and the market. Job candidates should always research information about prospective companies before any interview. Recruiters are most impressed with candidates who have some prior knowledge of the company. Ironically, this research is most commonly ignored or omitted by candidates when preparing for an interview. Do not allow the resources found in the data file below to limit you. It is not an exhaustive list of all resources available. However, it is a list widely used by chemists, chemical engineers, and counselors to seek out information on career-related topics.

Note: Most resources in this section are provided by the American Chemical Society.

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