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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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06/12/15
Experience requirement in job description
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 11:41 am

A highly qualified recent PhD found a job description that
“says 5 years of surfactant/colloid research experience is
required.  I have 4.  Other than that, I am a great fit for the
job.  There is a question on the application that specifically
asks if you have 5 years experience.”

My first response is (1) never lie.

Second, let’s (2) look at the specific job description phrases
“Ph.D. required (surfactant /colloid sciences preferred);
 minimum 5 years of work/ research experience in … field with publications;
 capable of carrying out independent research…; 
 proven track record in developing instrumentation methods…
 experience in using both internal and external resources..”

Then, (3) speak with some recruiters like at a job fair, through Linkedin,
look at informative discussion boards and seek their input about what
this means to them.  Some examples were:

  -a significant fraction of “…job descriptions are boiler plated copies
from somewhere else….”
  -employers want to ‘find the right person to offer the job to.’  “When
I use minimum of 5 years experience … I look to accomplish:
           eliminate entry level job seekers [immediately after degree]
           people who do not need protracted learning curve
           people who know the technology in use
           people with real world experience, not just academic…”
  - job requirements are seldom absolute….”what I would care about is
the plural of years, specific technologies and the commercial part.”

Finally, (4) contact a mentor to explore how to explore this opportunity
professionally.  It might or might not be right for me or for someone
else in my network who is looking.

Comments from a mentor were:  
“This may not be what you want to hear.  When a firm seeks industrial
experience, they would like applicants who have industrial not academic
experience.  A translation if this is a person with a PhD and two years
academic post doc is 1 year experience. [degree, plus half year for
each year of academic postdoc.]  PhD and three years in a small,
start up is 3 years experience.

What are they looking for?  They seek applicants who can collaborate
with multidisciplinary teams to achieve commercial objectives….”     

ACTION ITEMS - Do an information interview
“Consider calling and speaking with either someone in your network
at the company, someone through linkedin, or someone you meet at a
meeting and tell them of your interest in working in the firm.  Let
them know you have seen a posting that may fit but wanted to check
on whether your qualifications met what they were seeking. ”

- Follow the direct contact with a proactive thank you note.

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