How to Land a Job as a Chemist: Four Actionable Tips
January 9, 2023
Chemistry is an essential part of many innovative and future-focused businesses and is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing career fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that jobs for chemists will grow 6% over the next 10 years, which totals about 90,600 jobs.
With the right skills and tools, you can land a job as a chemist in no time. Read below to learn more about how to expand your skills and nail your next chemist interview.
Pursue Career Development Opportunities
Whether you are at the beginning of your career or are many years into it, career development is an important method of improving your skills. Career development involves sharpening skills, learning new things and meeting others in your shared industry.
Some ways to increase your career development include:
- Pursue certifications related to chemistry
- Attend professional conferences specific to your industry
- Look into master’s or PhD programs
- Stay up to date with advancements and achievements in the chemistry field
- Join professional organizations
If you are a college student, consider looking into extracurricular groups or clubs that involve chemistry that would be ideal to put on a resume. Some of these groups could include honor societies, clubs or even studying groups. Being an active and engaged member of groups such as these will not only improve your skillsets, but could also lead you to helpful networking that could benefit you in future when job searching.
Being exposed to these types of professional development methods can also give you the opportunity to talk to other peers in your field which can lead you to dream job positions.
Evaluate Your Soft Skills
When thinking about becoming a chemist, you can assume that you are required to have a deep understanding of chemistry. While that is true, there are many other skills that applicants can have that will enable them to be successful in the chemistry field.
Skills that are not technical are considered soft skills. Soft skills are the common skills that help you interact and work with others. These can include interpersonal and communication skills.
Some of the soft skills, suggested by Scholarship Guidance, to be a successful chemist include:
- Good communication
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Time management and organization
A great way to show these skills during an interview is bringing them up in natural conversation with situations that demonstrate how you utilized that skill. For example, if the hiring manager is asking about a project you have worked on, you can mention that you utilized time management skills to make the project successful. Also consider including a small list of them on your resume so that the hiring manager can see them before they even interview you.
Consider analyzing the areas in which you excel and noting any opportunities for further development. Develop your soft skills by enrolling in courses, taking on new projects or asking for feedback from trusted colleagues.
Practice Interview Questions
After researching and applying for jobs, you will hopefully enter the interviewing stages for a new job as a chemist. Interviews can be nerve-racking and stressful for some. In fact, JDP found that 93% of job candidates report being nervous before a job interview.
A great way to combat this nervousness and uncertainty is to practice interview questions before the actual interview.
Here are some examples of questions you could be asked at an interview for a chemist:
- Why did you pursue the field of chemistry?
- Do you have any lab experience?
- How do you manage conflicts between lab partners?
- Do you have work experience with any specializations in the chemistry field?
Consider practicing these questions with a trusted colleague to ease your nerves and enable yourself to answer with no hesitation.
When you are answering the interviewer’s questions, try to tailor your answers to the type of industry that you are applying for. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry with the highest amount of chemists is the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry which means there may be a high probability of interviewing with that type of company. If you are asked, “why did pursue chemistry?”, try to weave in your passion for medicine and how it will fulfill you as a chemist. This will show the hiring manager you have a passion for their industry and are very interested in the position.
While it is good to practice interview questions, keep in mind that there may be other parts to your upcoming chemist interview with things such as a technical assessments, background screenings, personality tests and more.
Ask Thoughtful Questions
Interviewing for a job not only lets an employer get to know you, but it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and their values. Utilizing this time effectively can give you greater insights into the organization and show the interviewer that you are prepared and interested in the role.
Here are some questions to consider asking your interviewer:
- What type of materials will I be working with?
- Will I work with a lab group or mostly work individually?
- What safety protocols are put in place at the lab I will be working at?
- What is the job progression for someone coming into this role?
Asking these types of questions can give you a better idea of the work dynamic, how others collaborate with each other daily and what the general company culture is.
Remember that you are also interviewing the company to see if they are a good fit for you and your career trajectory. If you ask these questions and your interviewer gives very general answers or tries to avoid the question altogether, this could be red flag. Consider taking a closer look into the company itself and its culture using websites like Glassdoor or directly reach out to current employees to see if it is a good fit for you.
Landing a job as chemist does not have to be hard. With these tips, you can find yourself landing a chemistry job in no time.
Looking for your next job in chemistry? Check out STEMHUNTER, a job board made specifically for STEM professionals.