Help Wanted…From You

The American Chemical Society has long prided itself on serving its members as effectively and efficiently as it can. When I was an ACS staff member, in the early 1980s, responding to a suggestion from an ACS member always took top priority, and that same attitude still permeates the organization.


At the same time, those who work for the ACS marvel at how much members give freely of their time and energy to serving the Society. When I was the editor of Chemistry, the volunteer members of the magazine’s editorial board would spend hours helping me generate suitable story ideas and then spend hours more reviewing every story for accuracy and sound writing. I had the distinct impression that there wasn’t much that the committee members wouldn’t do for the magazine if I asked nicely.


Having a helpful attitude goes far in a work environment. Colleagues will come to respect you for pitching in when asked, and bosses will value you for being a team player. Sure, you may end up working a little extra at times, but being known as someone who will lend an extra hand to a project or fill in for a colleagues at a moment’s notice will pay heft dividends down the road, including raises, bonuses, promotions, and above all, in terms of your reputation.


One of the best clients I ever landed said that she picked me over other better qualified candidates (I’d only been writing for four years at the time) because one of my references made a big deal out of the fact that I was always willing to help with a story or a project when asked. On the other hand, I’ve heard of many good job candidates not getting hired because the interviewers had the impression that those candidates were not team players.


That brings me to the real reason for this particular blog entry – we need your help. Yes, you, the members of the ACS, the readers of the ACS Careers Blog. The ACS Careers staff is planning several new programs for members, including two series. The first, which will be known as the ACS Careers Industry Forum, will serve as mechanism for disseminating timely information regarding cutting edge issues in industry that will affect employment. This series will run monthly and will feature moderated discussions with industry leaders in a conference call/Webinar format. I’ll be the moderator, and I’ll be expecting you to call in with your questions and comments. Stay tune for the details.


The second series will address career-related topics, and this is where we really need your input. ACS Careers staff wants to know what you want to know. What kind of specific questions about chemistry careers would you like this series to address? Do you want practical advice on interviewing techniques? What to wear? How to network? Or do you want to know how to deal with a back-stabbing colleague that’s trying to sabotage your career?


Please let us know. You can click on the “comment” button below, or you email your suggestions to ACS staff at In advance, THANKS!


This article was written by Joe Alper, a freelance science writer and technology analyst in Louisville, CO.

4 Responses to Help Wanted…From You

  1. Gay Olivier-Lilley says:

    For the second series, career-related topics:
    I am trying to transition from a teaching and undergraduate research position in a 4-year liberal arts institution to a position in biotech industry. This is proving to be a difficult transition. What transferable skills would be valued by a hiring manger in industry and what are the best ways to emphasize those in presenting myself; e.g., resume, interviewing, etc.

  2. janet smith says:

    I would be interested in non-traditional 2nd careers – such as related careers that ‘retired’ chemists developed.

  3. Joy says:

    for the first request, do you have the time and date set yet?

    I can’t help but to read the first posted comment. It reminded me of a candidate we interviewed last year for a position we have at our company. The candidate had a considerable teaching experiences in chemistry and some experience in industry. When the team interviewed the candidate, we agreed the candidate is technically sound but the most notable feeling we had was the candidate teaches and could not tolerate people who do not “obey”. This is a big issue for industry as people need to work together.
    Perhpas the “career-related topics” series could address some practical advice on attitudes or mind set from being in one job too long and how to address it when we want to change our career path.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I would have a question regarding a situation where one has not been in the workforce for some time (e.g. 1-2 years) and wants to find a new position but that is not entirely related to the previous, something like a career change. How can one present this in a resume and an interview. I understand it might depend on the circumstances but what if the reason for unemployment are very complicated? Would you suggest to explain or leave it alone?

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