Searching for a Job: Bumpy Ride

February 27, 2009

It’s O’dark:30 and I am heading out to a flight to San Francisco. This evening and the rest of the weekend I’ll be conducting training for volunteer career consultants and presenters on the West Coast. In this time of economic woes, ACS is stepping up efforts to serve members through career management and development programs, and ACS volunteers are heeding the call to service by volunteering to help.

As I climb into the shuttle van, I choose my seat carefully. My fellow passengers are asleep, some snoring, others perched with poise and one woman mouth agape. The only light in the cab is from the drivers GPS which is stuck on an announcement that “You have arrived”. I know that can’t be true though. This trip is just beginning.  President Obama announced last night that we are in for a bumpy ride as the nations of the world cue up their solutions for economic recovery. He cautioned that a full recovery will take several years. My trip today will not take that long. After a six-hour flight to San Diego, I’ll switch planes for a quick trip up the coast of California.

On the other end of the flight, eighteen ACS volunteers are waiting at a hotel in downtown San Francisco to receive the training that they need to present our workshops on finding a job, writing a resume and interviewing. These workshops are essential to many of our members who now find themselves out of a job after being at the same employers for the last decade or so because the world as we all knew it, have changed. When the baby boomer generation first gained employment, the job search process was paper-based, and most resumes were formatted and typed on clunky machines that sputtered letters onto a page with mechanical hammers. The most recent ACS Starting Salary Survey indicates that the top way for people to find jobs in industry is by using electronic databases like the ACS Careers Jobs Database. Number two is through networking, but even that has changed. For awhile the key phrase in hiring was, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Sure, networking still involves meeting people and finding commonalities, but the methodology has been transformed by changes in technology and culture and it is very definitely “what you know” about technology and culture that will find you gainful employment. Electronic networking tools like the ACS Network and LinkedIn are becoming more prevalent, and people need to know how to use these tools to be competitive. The third most common way to find a job in US industry is through employment services. ACS has recently started a partnership with Kelly Services as a way to bridge that gap. Kelly is now placing job listings from their clients in the ACS Jobs Database as a service to ACS members. We teach all of these techniques and more to our volunteers, so that they can in turn teach them to you. ACS members have an advantage over many others who are seeking a job. They can obtain free career consulting services through the ACS Careers Jobs Database after registering and verifying their membership in the Society.

For members concerned about the cost of membership, it should be noted that ACS offers a dues waiver for up to two years for ACS members in good standing who have been a member of ACS for at least one year. For more information on this waiver and the services available to unemployed ACS members, contact ACS Member Services or see the online summary of services.

The driver has pulled up to the terminal and it is time to wake my compadres. I am actually surprised that they were able to sleep so well considering the volume of our driver’s radio. It is tuned to a disco station that specializes in tunes that are bumpin’, bumpin’ to keep your speakers thumpin’, thumpin’. One man’s disco is sometimes another’s lullaby.

I quickly claim my bags and make my way through the gate and on to the plane. Security took longer than I thought. It seems that the analysis of my CAT scan required the evaluation of a specialist from Mumbai. On the plane I find a seat and stow my luggage. It’s been a bumpy ride so far, but I expect smoother travel once our wheels leave the ground.

As you prepare to re-enter the job market, be aware that your professional membership Society, ACS offers many tools to aide in your search and that people are standing by to help.

David Harwell is the Assistant Director for Career Development and Diversity Programs at the American Chemical Society.


Six Degree of Separation and Social Networking

November 24, 2008

“Six degrees of separation” suggests that everyone on Earth can be connected to everyone else in no more than six steps.  In that vein, the Australian documentary “How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer” traces the development of network science.  There are many implications that can be applied to this theory.  The internet, power grids, transportation networks, disease and the human cell all follow the same principles and design as our own networks of people.


This documentary is a powerful 60 minutes that should be experienced.  I suggest you take the time to watch the documentary as it make a compelling case that small worlds exist and the world is smaller than we think.  Everyone can reach anyone with just a few steps.  I suggest you take the time to watch the documentary and think about how this can relate to your employment situation. 


Networking is instrumental when conducting a job search.  It’s thru the networking process that you will have the most success in securing employment.  As a job seeker, you will want to find that job, that is not advertised or what is called the “hidden job market”.  About 75% percent of available jobs can be found in the hidden job market.  Employers are most likely to hire thru referrals or someone they know.    


You can increase the effectiveness of your job search just by reaching out to the people you know and asking for references.  Everyone knows at least 200 people with one degree of separation would allow you to reach 12,000 people and so on.  Networking sites such as LinkedIn and Face book are examples of networking thru association. 


A good way to start your job search is by making a list of everyone you know and let them know you are out searching for work.  You never know who those people will know.  By reaching out, people will instinctually want to assist and will make the effort. 


Studying networks will help you to understand that events are not isolated but the human race really does depend on each other.  We live in a society that is interrelated on many levels and yet we only notice when something goes wrong.  If you can understand this then you can understand network science is the foundation to the 21st century and our survival. 


The bottom line is to get out there, talk to your friends and relatives, and attend networking groups and association events.  Let everyone you know that you are looking for a job and ask for assistance.  Your goal should be to make at least one connection during the event that could be your ticket to a new job.  Remember, all you need is one job. 

This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.