How to Find a Job in the Legal Cannabis Industry

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

According to a recent report by the Cannabis website Leafly, America’s legal cannabis industry now supports more than 122,000 full-time jobs in 29 States and Washington DC. I

A recent article by Bruce Barcott entitled “How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry” offers some insights on the types of jobs that are available and how to land one.

He offered, like most industries the best way to land a job in the Cannabis industry is to network yourself into one. Also, working with a recruiting firm can be helpful.  Interestingly, recruiting firms and staffing companies that specialize in Cannabis jobs are popping up daily in many states where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal. However, before you take the plunge it is important to educate yourself to determine what is out there and whether or not you are a good fit for a Cannabis career.

So what do we know?  Most of the open jobs are in the Western states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona with a growing presence in Minnesota and Massachusetts. There are a smattering of jobs emerging in New York, Connecticut, Maryland  and Washington DC.  While 40 percent of open positions are specific to the Cannabis industry, roughly 60 are jobs that exist in other industries such as executive assistants, human resources specialists retail operations directors bookkeepers and staff accountants.That said, there are a number of Cannabis business operators who are looking for pharmaceutical sales representatives, or in horticulturalists from large commercial plant growing operations.

So question is: are there are any jobs in the Cannabis for the average Bio Job Blog reader?  The answer is YES!!!!!!  Here are a few examples: Laboratory chemist, operations manager, analytical chemist/production manager, software developer, food productions manager, and my favorite professional joint roller.  Of course there will be many more opportunities as the industry continues to grow (pun intended). That said, relocation is likely required but then again if you are qualified and possess the skills the company may offer a relocation package.  There is a ton of money being made in the industry!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


Resume Writing: A Great Example

Posted in Career Advice, Uncategorized

I work with a lot of college graduates and graduate students who looking for their first real jobs.  I am frequently asked about the need for a resume vs. curriculum vitae (CV).  Generally speaking, persons in technical fields with advanced degrees ought to only be concerned with CVs (a resume is too short to adequately represent scholastic, research and  technical achievements).  That said, a resume will suffice for 2-and 4-year college grads seeking employment whether inside or outside of their chosen careers.

Over the course of my career, I have reviewed thousands of CVs and resumes.  While I will admit I have seen more CVs than resumes (I am a scientist after all), I recently came across a resume that was excellent and can serve as a resume template (see below) for recent college grads!.

















The resume writer used action verbs, great descriptive adjectives and clearly demonstrated his/her qualifications an easy-to-understand and concise manner. Hiring managers love this because they can rapidly determine whether or not a job applicant is a good technical fit for an advertised position.

Resumes that are constructed like this one will likely get to the next level whether that is a phone interview or even an on site one-on-one opportunity.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!




Life Sciences Job Market Outlook: Is the Future Brighter?

Posted in BioEducation, BioJobBuzz

According to a report published in Nature last week, 72% of drug makers surveyed (respondents included company executives and recruiters) intend to boost their research capacity in the next 12 months by hiring scientists, creating partnerships or improving infrastructure.  Further, additional survey results suggested that jobs will grow by 30% among US medical scientists, biochemists and biophysicists by 2020.  While I have not read the entire report, it seems to me that asking company executives (responsible for company growth and maintaining stock share price) and recruiters (who make a living finding difficult to find employees for drug companies) may not provide survey readers with  accurate information that one could use for trend analysis.

Nevertheless, despite the rosy proclamations made in the report, there are a few caveats. First, the 30% increase in hiring by 2020 includes mainly medical scientists (clinical personnel), biophysicists (how many biophysicists are there anyway) and biochemists (are there any really left?).  What about all the molecular biologists, bioinformatics and genomics scientists, physiologists, pharmacologists etc etc?

Second and perhaps most revealing, survey respondents noted that the types of scientists that they want to hire are those who 1) “can develop and manage external partnerships” (translation: business development, marketing, brand managers etc); 2) “know about regulatory science”  and 3) “can manage and analyze big data sets and outcomes research.”  I don’t know about you, but I did not learn any of the above mentioned desirable skills while working on my PhD degree.

Finally, one of the report authors opined that early career scientists looking for employment opportunities need to “think about the entire value chain  that leads to the development of a drug or medical device.”  Really?  First, what is a value chain and second who is going to teach graduate students and postdocs how drugs and devices are developed when nobody at their institution knows how to develop drugs and devices since they work in academia and not industry?  Interestingly, I know many pharmaceutical and biotechnology company employees who don’t really understand the complete drug/device development process because things are done in silos at most drug and devices companies.

The point that I am trying to make, is that nobody can predict what the job market for life sciences professionals will be in 2020.  The best advice that I can give is to develop a career plan, remain flexible and have at least two or three contingency in place!

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!



The “Thing” About Graduate Students and Postdocs

Posted in BioEducation, Uncategorized

During my daily perusal of stuff on LinkedIn, I came upon a promo link to a video report by Dan Rather entitled “PhDon’t!” that was shown on March 5, 2013on  Not surprisingly, the video promo talks about the surplus of PhD-trained scientists and how fiercely competitive the current life sciences job market is for these talented and well trained individuals. Further, a female scientist in the promo declares that “the life sciences graduate training system is broken and in the long run it will do a great deal of harm to biomedical research in the US.

While you can see a promo of the show on YouTube, you cannot see the entire video unless you fork over $3 to download it from iTunes!  This begs the question: Is it worth spending $3 to hear Dan Rather tell most graduate students and postdocs what they already know?  Nevertheless, I bet that a large number of graduate students and postdocs will pay the download fee anyway. This is because the old adage “misery loves company” is true!  Nobody wants to suffer alone and there is comfort in knowing that many others are suffering just like you!  Although this may make you feel better emotionally, it does little to help to correct or solve the problem.

I agree with the scientist in the promo who said that the “system is broken.”  Everyone already knows that it is broken but nobody seems to want to do anything about it. And, the only folks who are going to be able to change the system are graduate students and postdocs. If you think that university administrators or tenured faculty members are going to fix the system, then you are either delusional or visiting medical marijuana clinics too frequently.

The point I am trying to make is that graduate students and postdocs love to complain about the system but do very little to try and change it.  Sure, every major university now has a graduate student or postdoctoral association and many schools have even formally created Offices of Graduate and Postdoctoral Training. And, there is even a National Postdoctoral Association.  But, what have these organizations done over the past five years to improve the likelihood of finding a job upon completion of your training?  To that point, how many more seminars, conferences, meetings etc are you going to attend to hear about alternate careers, resume writing and job interviewing techniques before you realize that it is not you but the system that must change?

There is no doubt that change can be difficult and extremely risky. But, at this point, what do most life sciences graduate students and postdocs really have to lose?  The choice is simple: continue to complain, feel helpless and accept your plight or come together and fiercely work to change the system (one institution at a time if necessary) to improve the likelihood of employment and a successful scientific career.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


Optimizing a LinkedIn Profile to Land a Job

Posted in BioEducation

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and niche career development communities like BioCrowd are being used to identify job candidates by hiring managers, employers and professional recruiters. For those of you who may not have been paying attention, LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking site on the web today. Most companies allow their employees to post profiles on LinkedIn and many do not block access to the site during working hours. Like it or not, this means that if you are looking for a job you would be a fool not to have a complete and up-to-date profile on LinkedIn!

However, while you may think that your LinkedIn profile is sufficient to help a recruiter or hiring manager find you among the other 129 million or so LinkedIn members, it probably is not. This is because, in order to be found, your LinkedIn profile (much like your CV/resume) must contain key words that identify you as a person who possesses the right qualifications and skill sets after the hiring manager or recruiter searches the LinkedIn database using those words! This begs the question: what are the keywords to use in my LinkedIn profile so that I can be found?

The best way to identify keywords is to read as many job posting as you can with titles similar to the ones that you are interested in landing. Typically, they can be found in the qualifications and skills set requirements displayed in the ad. Many times these may be buzz words or jargon unique to your field of study. The point here is to identify the key words and then to artfully and judiciously incorporate them into your LinkedIn profile. But, most BioJobBlog readers will ask (because you are scientists) how do I know if the keywords I chose are the correct ones?

Ian Levine, who runs, offers a clever test (described below):

  1. Go to the peoples tab @ LinkedIn and hit advanced search.
  2. Now enter a keyword or keywords associated with your targeted position. Ex: regulatory affairs
  3. Now enter a geography zip code and a distance quotient.
  4. Then select an industry or multiple industries that apply to you. (Understand the broader you make your search the lower your ranking will be).
  5. Hit search. Can you find yourself in the first few pages of the LinkedIn results?

If your name appears at or near the top of the search page results (with the words that were used in the search highlighted) then your LinkedIn profile is optimized and you will likely be found. If your name is not near the top (or on the list) then you have some work to do. Not surprisingly, one way to optimize your profile is to visit the profiles of those whose names do appear on the top of the search list for the type of job that you want!

While it may take some time to fully optimize your LinkedIn profile, it will be time well spent! At present, over 80 percent of hiring managers and close to 100% of recruiters use social media platforms at some point in the hiring process.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!


Job Search Strategies for the Unemployed

Posted in BioEducation

Many people lost their jobs during the recession for reasons that were unrelated to personal skills and performance. Nevertheless, many hiring managers cling to the wrong-headed notion that long term unemployed persons are unemployed or layed off because they were less than adequate or under performers in their previous positions. Therefore, it is important for unemployed persons to pursue strategies that ensure that they remain strong job candidates for prospective new employers.

An article by Eilene Zimmerman entitled “Out of Work but Staying a Strong Candidate” offers some good advice for the unemployed. First, unemployed persons may have to reconsider the way in which they network to look for new job opportunities. To that point, people in your old network may feel guilty that they are employed and you don’t have a job. Because of this, they may feel sorry for your or see you as injured or defeated and possibly avoid interacting with you or including you at industry events. To obviate this, it is a good idea when networking with them to offer an article or blog post that may be temporal and relevant to your industry or mentioning a professional opportunity that they may not know about. Also, it is a good idea to stay abreast of important and current things happening in your industry (or an industry that you are interested in breaking into). This shows people that you are still engaged and interested in other professional opportunities that may exist. Finally, maintain your membership in professional societies (even though you may not be flush with cash) and consider volunteering on committees in these organizations. This shows other industry professionals that you are active and engaged. Also, professional association members frequently hear about or learn of unadvertised jobs or career opportunities within an industry.

There is no question that losing your job can be devastating and emotionally distressing. However, just because you are unemployed, it doesn’t mean that your standing or stature in your industry needs to be negatively impacted. To that end, keep your certifications, professional credentials and licenses up to date and participate in other activities that make use of your professional skills. Finding part-time or contract work in your industry is also a plus as is volunteering or doing unpaid work for charitable organizations.

Another popular strategy is to start your own consulting firm. While your previous employer may have layed you off to cut costs, it does not mean that they will not considering hiring you as a consultant (they don’t have to pay benefits, bonuses or contribute to a 401K and can write off your services as 1099 work). Landing one or two small gigs may be able to tide you over until you find a new fulltime position.

Most unemployed people are rightly-concerned about the employment gap that will appear on their CV or resume. Unfortunately, there is no real way to hide it! One way to manage an employment gap is to add a Summary of Qualifications or Profile section to your resume. This section can be placed at the beginning of the resume (underneath your name and contact information) and should be crafted to extol your skills and qualifications for individual jobs. This means that every time you apply for a new position, the Summary of Qualifications section must be tailored and optimized to show prospective employers why you and not the other 1,000 applicants ought to be considered for the job. Also, as suggested in Ms Zimmerman’s article, you can change the title of the section “work experience” to “experience” and describe any contract, part-time or volunteer work (which was unpaid) using the same language; which focused on your results, strategies used to get there and your contributions to the organization during your tenure.

Finally, and perhaps most important, unemployed persons must learn to deal with and come to terms about unemployment history during job interviews. Nobody likes admitting that they were fired or layed off but, as a rule of thumb, it is best to be as honest (as possible) because most industries and networks are small and job candidates who are less than truthful almost always get caught! For example, if you were part of a large layoff at your previous employer, then it is a good idea to explain the circumstances to the interviewer and also indicate that you were not layed off for performance reasons. Further, it is not a good idea to apply for or interview for any job that may be available at a particular company or organization. If you are overqualified or not the right fit for a job, many employers will not even consider you for the job because they fear that you will leave as soon as something more appropriate comes along. That said, it is important to only apply for jobs within your industry that represent a good fit with your skill sets and experience. If that fails to yield positive results, then you may want to consider a different industry; but recognize that you may need additional training to acquire the skills or experience even to be considered for entry level positions in that industry!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!


BioJobBlog Surpasses the 2.0 Million Reader Mark!

Posted in BioEducation

I started BioJobBlog in 2007 primarily as a means for me to express myself about life science careers and issue and challenges confronting the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. That said, I never thought that BioJobBlog would ever amount to much; it was simply a vehicle for me to rant and rave about things that were important to me! It is a daunting challenge to begin a blog with no readers and then realize that 5 years later over 2.0 million unique readers have visited to read my thoughts and ideas about a wide breadth of topics.

I want to thank the readers who continue to visit BioJobBlog. And, I hope that what I have written over the past five years has either helped or induced you to think about issues in the life sciences industry. While I have no plans to stop blogging; my schedule is becoming increasingly challenging and I can no longer post articles as frequently as I have in the past. Nevertheless, I will continue do what I can to keep the content at BioJobBlog interesting, fresh and thought-provoking. 

Please feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts or comments about the blog (or anything else for that matter). 

Thanks for supporting BioJobBlog!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!


Statisticians and "Big Data" Analysts in High Demand

Posted in BioEducation

When I was a graduate student back in the dark ages, I took an advanced statistics course and then briefly worked in a laboratory where statistical analysis of data derived from animal models of disease (in this case the guinea pig model of tuberculosis) were essential. After leaving that lab, I developed an appreciation for the power of statistics (when appropriately designed according the laws of parametric statistics) and actually used statistical analyses of in vitro data for my PhD thesis. Unlike me, most of my contemporaries never understood statistics and thought that statistics can be used to manipulate data to confirm any hypothesis put forth by an investigator.

Imagine my surprise when I read in today’s NY Times that statistics are one of the hottest new career opportunities in technology and related industries. This is because billions of bytes of data (aka "big data sets")are generated daily and someone (usually a statistician or a person with knowledge of some arcane statistical analyses) is regarded to tease out trends and interpret the data. Companies like Google, Facebook, as wells as marketers, risk analysts, spies and companies that engage in competitive intelligence are desperately seeking new employees who understand applied statistic, analytics and trend analysis.

According to a recent LinkedIn survey, from 2009 to 2011 the number of new jobs with titles related to analytics grew 53%. Unfortunately, there are not enough trained or qualified persons available to fill these positions at most of these companies. Because of workforce shortages, universities like Stanford, Harvard and North Carolina State (NC State) have created graduate programs to train students in statistics and advanced analytics. 

Ninety per cent of NC State advanced analytic students (a 10 month program created in 2006) annually found jobs. The average graduate’s starting salary for an entry-level job is $73,000. Stanford and Harvard statistics department graduates head to Google, Wall Street and in many instances bioscience companies and start with salaries of over $100,000.

Not surprisingly, competition for entry to these programs is getting fierce. NC State takes only 40 new students per year in its program (185 applicants last year). Moreover, this year, Stanford received over 800 applications for 60 openings in next’ years class; nearly twice the number of applications that it received three years ago.

Like it or not “big data” and analytics are de rigueur and persons with advanced analytics training may be the new rock stars. That said if you like statistics or love to look for trends in large data sets then a career in analytics may be right for you. Now, you have to figure out where to get the training.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!.


Learning to Say No To Your Boss Without Losing Your Job

Posted in BioEducation

I suspect that most of us have been in the situation where a boss or an immediate supervisor asks you to take on another assignment. Given the state of the economy and the tenuous nature of most jobs, most employees believe that they have no choice but to accept the assignment despite the fact that it will likely cut into personal time or require overtime work. After all, saying no may be tantamount to a pink slip and collecting unemployment benefits. 

In reality, employees who decline or say no to their superiors when asked about taking on additional work are not fired. That said,  saying no may have a negative impact on future career trajectory. However, it is important to note that there are different ways of saying no and if saying no is articulated correctly, the effect on one’s career  is likely to be negligible.

Not surprisingly, learning to say no the correct way takes some practice! And, in an article entitled “So, You’re The Worker Who Can’t Say No,” Eilene Zimmerman, author of the NY Times Career Couch feature, offers some sage advice on how to say no to a boss without jeopardizing your job.

If you are one of those employees who no longer has a life because you cannot say no the mounds of additional work your boss has piled on, I highly recommend that you read this article!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!


Is There Really a PhD Glut–You Betcha!

Posted in BioEducation

My colleagues over @ sent me an infographic (these things are very popular these days) explaining why there is a glut of PhDs on today’s job market and how it is affecting undergraduate education in the US. 

Surprisingly, the glut is not restricted to the life sciences; it appears to be universal!  At some point, the education bubble will burst and it is certain to have a marked effect on graduate programs. While I am proud of my PhD degree, I am not sure that getting a PhD degree is a wise career path unless you truly love what you are studying and cannot see yourself doing anything else for the rest of your life. If you have any doubts, I recommend finding a job or world travel before you decide to take the PhD plunge!  

The bottom line: earning a PhD degree is a very personal decision and it does not guarantee you employment at the end of your training!!!!!!!!!!

PhD Job Crisis
Created by: Online PhD

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!