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I worry when I can't find a new job!
Old 07-16-2012, 02:32 PM   #1
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I worry when I can't find a new job!

I'm lucky, I have a well paying academic job. However, I've been looking around for a more stimulating job for at least 2 years, mostly because I could ER now and I just want a bit more fun. I'm well qualified with lots of management experience, a PhD in physics and a resume that includes Harvard, NASA and a couple of defence contractors. It seems that for a 50 year old physicist there are very few jobs in the US outside of defence and even those jobs are hard to come by because of the fear of big budget cuts. I recently spoke to friends at Northrop and they are having big layoffs and the only defence job I've been offered was as a contractor where I'd have to pay my own benefits. NASA isn't hiring and very few private companies have the work that is suited to my skills. I could get a job programming, but that's not building hardware which is want I really want to do. So I'm looking overseas, or I might just pull the plug....what does this say about the state of US high tech? or is it just that physicists are yesterday's scientists and I should have done molecular biology.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:42 PM   #2
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I can't imagine defense jobs in Europe are any easier to find, but it does widen your search. All kind of dependent on government spending.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:47 PM   #3
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I can't imagine defense jobs in Europe are any easier to find, but it does widen your search. All kind of dependent on government spending.
True, it's just a bigger net and I'd probably be concentrating on private companies in the UK, Holland and Germany.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:48 PM   #4
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I think it says timing is everything.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:35 PM   #5
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Unbelievable! It seems I always hear the excuse coming from industry, oh, we can't find qualified workers. I've always felt that line is a bunch of hogwash, as there are plenty of qualified folks right here in the good ole U.S.A.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:55 PM   #6
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Unbelievable! It seems I always hear the excuse coming from industry, oh, we can't find qualified workers. I've always felt that line is a bunch of hogwash, as there are plenty of qualified folks right here in the good ole U.S.A.
One item that seems to be biting a number of larger businesses is the use of screening software for HR operations. Poorly formed screens wind up "looking for the unicorn" and eliminate all real world candidates. It's really important that the hiring manager works with whoever is doing the screening in HR to construct a sane screen, including the proper construction of alternate qualifications. This, of course, Never Happens (TM).


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...660988042.html

One of my favorite examples of this was a search for a good Java programmer back at UstaCorp. The manager told HR that they were looking for a Java person, and the HR rep asked for details on what they expected. The boss told them that he'd like to see someone with a bachelor or masters degree in computer science, with several years of experience in Java, as well as some knowledge of SQL and possibly Objective-C or C++ experience.

They couldn't find anyone.

It turned out that the query that they ran assumed a BSCS degree plus 5 years experience would be the same as a MSCS. On top of that they added 10 years experience as the interpretation of "several". The search criteria then became:

(( BSCS + 5 years ) OR MSCS ) AND 10 years Java AND SQL AND Objective-c AND C++ )

Pretty strict criteria. Oh, and this was in 2003. Java 1.0 was released in 1996. :-P
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:55 PM   #7
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Unbelievable! It seems I always hear the excuse coming from industry, oh, we can't find qualified workers. I've always felt that line is a bunch of hogwash, as there are plenty of qualified folks right here in the good ole U.S.A.
I'm pretty sure I go to the bottom of the resume pile because I'm 50 and that I lost out on a couple of positions because I was dumb enough to give then my actual salary when asked. Now I just say that I'd expect to get a competitive salary. The bigger issue is the small number of posts that require my skills and the fact that I don't have the usual engineering qualifications that HR people look for. I can design analog and digital electronics and do mechanical design, but my speciality is optics. Physicists don't fit neatly into a job description and today that's looked on as a liability.
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:04 PM   #8
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I know a guy that just took a job with Richard Bransons outfit in Pasadena that hopes to build a commercial spacecraft. Apparently they're hiring.
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:05 PM   #9
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No offense OP, but it sounds like there are at least a few job opportunities out there for you, but they don't meet your criteria. As in, if tomorrow you found yourself penniless and out of a job and could not subsist on unemployment, then you could get a job in defense as a contractor, or go into programming, or take a step or two down and do some sort of academic work or something in a different field that still requires a phd in physics. In other words, you probably wouldn't starve but you may never again find your salary or set of job benefits in your particular field.
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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In the world's largest military drawdown since WWII, defense contractors are reluctant to hire?

Gee. I wonder what they're worried about.
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:53 PM   #11
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No offense OP, but it sounds like there are at least a few job opportunities out there for you, but they don't meet your criteria. As in, if tomorrow you found yourself penniless and out of a job and could not subsist on unemployment, then you could get a job in defense as a contractor, or go into programming, or take a step or two down and do some sort of academic work or something in a different field that still requires a phd in physics. In other words, you probably wouldn't starve but you may never again find your salary or set of job benefits in your particular field.
I agree with you. I could program, although I'd be competing with people 30 years younger than me. The defense situation has actually become a lot worse since I was offered a contracting job a year ago. My concern is that the US cannot provide well paying jobs to make the best use of experienced scientists like me anymore. I find it difficult to encourage students to go into physical science because I don't believe that there's a rewarding career path for them. Most of the physics grads I have known are now doing IT based jobs on the back of Unix and coding skills they picked up along the way, and few are using any understanding of the physical world they have, maybe some who do games or simulations do.

I'm increasingly seen as expensive because of my age and PhD, and with skills that are mostly irrelevant, or at least not usable because I don't have the official engineering or computing qualifications required by software driven resume vetting. I could do some courses in remedial programming to get the certificate if I really wanted to spend my time coding.........but I'd be gnawing off my arm within a week. I work with a number of brilliant Chinese scientists who have NIH grants and they are going back to China because it's so tough to get NIH funding and there is so much money available in China now.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:03 PM   #12
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I know a guy that just took a job with Richard Bransons outfit in Pasadena that hopes to build a commercial spacecraft. Apparently they're hiring.
I'll look into that
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:05 PM   #13
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For some reason, I thought you were retiring and moving back to England.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:12 PM   #14
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For some reason, I thought you were retiring and moving back to England.
Yes that's a strong possibility. The difficulty in finding interesting things to do in the US has made me consider moving back to the UK to ER. But if I sell the house maybe I'll just look for something really wacky to do for a few years before settling down in the UK.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:26 PM   #15
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Yes that's a strong possibility. The difficulty in finding interesting things to do in the US has made me consider moving back to the UK to ER. But if I sell the house maybe I'll just look for something really wacky to do for a few years before settling down in the UK.
Oh, I see! Perhaps you could keep the boring job and find wacky things to do outside of work. You could use the next few years to slowly transition to ER.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:19 PM   #16
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Oh, I see! Perhaps you could keep the boring job and find wacky things to do outside of work. You could use the next few years to slowly transition to ER.
Entirely possible. I do some wacky things already, but it's hard to do your best work in a boring job and I want better. I'm not really worried about my position, but more that the US can't use my skills completely and that foreign researchers are leaving the US. It probably shows that the economy has changed and the high tech manufacturing that would have been my natural work place has just gone. Places like Polaroid, Kodak and the original Bell Labs are now just memories and Government and defense opportunities are contracting. It might be for the best, it might not, but it sure feels like something is over. Maybe it's just my career ;-)
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