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Good morning! This isn't really a blog post but more an information post. We will be moving this blog onto our Royal Society of Chemistry LinkedIn group.

Don't worry, we will still be on MyRSC in the groups where you can ask us questions and get in touch. Alternatively you can follow @CareersRSC or email us at

Thank you all for reading and we hope to see you over at LinkedIn too.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Jan 12, 2015 9:18 AM GMT
Whether you have met me in person, online, through one of my Chemistry World articles or in any other format you are likely to have heard me mention reflection. It is such an important part of your career management and your own personal growth. Bearing this in mind, I have been doing some reflection myself.

As you may notice from the date of this post, it is Christmas Eve, the last day of my working year for 2014 and the perfect time to look back on the year and start thinking about the year ahead. 2014 was a big year for me; I came back to work having had a maternity break and made the decision to work part time. It was a difficult year in some respects, trying to fit everything in to three days; the thing I missed most was chatting, ahem, I mean networking with colleagues. Just finding out what else was going on outside careers and what this meant for me, and of course you. Here are my top 5 findings:

1. The Daphne Jackson Trust has funding available for people thinking about returning to research after a break. An awesome scheme which makes my heart glow, they do such good work and the people I met who had gone through the scheme were truly inspirational

2. People mostly fall into their careers, very few are planned. Fortunately I got to hear some extraordinary stories of members' careers during our Profiles in Chemistry and ChemCareers events throughout the year. If you are feeling uninspired and lost check out some of our webinars (click on any of the sesson links to listen again), videos or come along to a local event next year

3. Whether you want to take the next step, need to bounce some ideas around or are completely lost a mentor can be a great asset to your career. We are currently piloting a mentoring scheme and will be rolling it out in 2015 to a larger group. If you would like to be a mentee or a mentor and/or would like to find out more, please contact me at

4. We support members from every section of society, at every stage of their career journey and without judgement or comment. It is important to me that we continue this support and it's something I am very proud of. So too is our Diversity specialist Andrea Banham who works tirelessly to ensure that the Royal Society of Chemistry supports diversity and equality. You can find out more about what we are doing by following her on twitter for the latest news:@RSC_Diversity

5. After two successful years of identifying promising new technologies in the UK, in 2015 our Emerging Technologies Competition will be open to applications from small companies and academic researchers from across Europe for the first time. As in previous years, the aim of the competition is to reward the best new technology ideas in the chemical sciences. As the competition continues to grow, this year’s applications will be judged in three themed panels; healthcare, energy & sustainability, and materials science.

So finally, I feel caught up with what's going on and 2015 I will be aiming to keep up to date so I can share more with you and keep myself abreast of the latest developments in careers, chemistry and the Royal Society of Chemistry. I will be continuing to reflect on what I have been doing, especially during and after events we have run like ChemCareers so that we can continue to improve.

May I just take a moment to thank all of you have emailed, phoned, volunteered and supported all our events this year, we certainly couldn't have done it without you and because of your feedback I now have some great webinars, articles and events planned for 2015. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can improve our service, please don't hesitate to let us know, I love hearing your thoughts.

That's it from me today, all that's left to do is wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you on the 2nd January!
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Dec 24, 2014 9:03 AM GMT
We've all done it, haven't we? Promised ourselves we will do something, only to find our enthusiasm lapsing, or time getting away with us or just finding that whatever it is we promised just isn't working out for us. Perhaps we are spreading ourselves too thin. Take this blog for example, when I came back to work I promised myself I would be more consistent in blogging, more regular. I knew time would be short but I figured once a week would be manageable; it seems it isn't.

The question is, do I just give up? Of course not, not in this case. There are plenty of reasons to continue, not least I really enjoy it. That's the thing isn't it? There are just some things we need to keep trying at. Throughout our career there are moments where we find we are unable to do the things we love to do and so we keep trying. Perhaps there comes a point where we need to do something about it.

Today, I am doing something about this blog. I am re-promising to myself (and to you) that I will blog once a week, where ever possible. What will you re-promise yourself? To get on top of your CPD? To look for a new job? To brush up your CV? To keep your network up to date?

Fortuitously, we are in the midst of ChemCareers this week, an opportunity for you to do all of the above. Today we are focusing on applications and interviews so if you have been putting off updating your CV or applying for a job, or if you are worried about an upcoming interview, come along and get some support.

You may, on reflection decide that whatever it is you promised yourself isn't working. Be honest with yourself and anyone else who may be affected but be kind to yourself, you can't do everything, make your choice and don't look back.

If none of that is relevant, we have more: tomorrow is small and medium businesses and Friday focuses on green careers. You are also welcome to get in touch anytime to ask for support, information and guidance whenever you need us.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Nov 12, 2014 9:04 AM GMT
Great opportunities available now to work for the Royal Society of Chemistry, one of the world's major scientific publishers, as a Publishing Editor. Find more details of how to apply here
If you want to find out more about what a Publishing Editor does, take a look at their blog
Applications are open now, so what are you waiting for??
Posted by Julie Franklin on Oct 20, 2014 2:47 PM BST

Forgive the silence on our part for the last few weeks, we have been out and about running careers hubs and visiting universities. In addition we have been preparing for ChemCareers this year. This year we added three webinars in the run up to the main event, which begins on the 10th November. Last month we focused on the path into teaching (you can listen again to this soon).

For October we will be talking to Dr Schwikkard from the University of Surrey who is currently on a Dorothy Hodgkins fellowship on the benefits and challenges of a postdoc.

Then in the week before ChemCareers main event, we will be discussing small and medium companies (SMEs). You can find the full programme of events on the ChemCareers page.

We would obviously love you to come along to listen and contribute during the sessions but, if you feel that you would like to do more and be on one of the panels, please get in touch at with the details of the webinar you would like to be involved in.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Oct 1, 2014 1:22 PM BST
Teachers, we all know at least one. This makes teaching a prime choice for people thinking about their next career move, but do you know what is really involved in being a teacher?

As part of ChemCareers 2014 we are running three webinars in the three months before the main event, the first of which is on getting into teaching.

Interested? Then coming along THIS Wednesday (10th September) at 2pm GMT where we will have a panel discussion talking to people who have been through the process and sharing their experiences with you. You can register here:
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Sep 8, 2014 2:02 PM BST
Great opportunities available now to work for the Royal Society of Chemistry, one of the world's major scientific publishers, as a Publishing Editor. Find more details of how to apply here
If you want to find out more about what a Publishing Editor does, take a look at their blog
Closing date for applications is 10th September, assessment centre to be held on 24th September. What are you waiting for??
Posted by Julie Franklin on Sep 3, 2014 11:10 AM BST
As the title suggests, I love the members of the Royal Society of Chemistry, our members, our community. I am on my last day in the fair city of Glasgow having done our first careers hub of the autumn. Whilst the focus is on careers consultations and actually getting to the places you live to support you we also have talks and networking, to help you find out more about the local people in your city/area.

Last night for our Profiles in Chemistry talk we had David McMullan from Scottish Water. The idea of the talk is to show you that careers are very linear, people rarely set out in a job that they thought they would and David is no exception. He talked us through his degree in Applied Chemistry and how he worked for British Coal before moving into water , a move he made with no extra qualifications and no hassle. How? Because he, and his employers could see the thread of analytical chemistry which runs through both roles and the transferable skills which come alongside.

In addition to his career David showcased Scottish Water and all the important work they, and other water companies do. From deer poo to diesel they remove contaminants using chemistry to make our water safe to drink and what a fine job they do.

Did you know that due to new regulations there are a number of roles in water companies for which you need to be Chartered? Something to consider with our Chartered Chemist programme

Anyway, with Profiles in Chemistry, ChemCareers and other events in our education, science, membership and industry teams there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, share your experiences and promote your company to the members of the Royal Society of Chemistry and also to universities and schools in your local area - just get in touch to find out more.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Aug 27, 2014 7:35 AM BST
Being realistic in your expectations
We are told to aim for the stars; that we can do anything we want with our career. I know because I say it to people I speak to; I do however add a caveat: you will need to be realistic.
We all have expectations, of the people we know, our friends and colleagues, our family; the TV we watch; the food we eat; even the service we expect as a customer. For most of the time we don’t give these expectations a second thought; that is until we are disappointed or surprised.
However, managing expectations is something we all need to do, both our own and other people’s expectations of what we can achieve. It can give us a sense of calm, a feeling of certainty and may even help avoid an upsetting situation. Sounds great but how do you go about managing expectations?
Let’s take applying for a new job as an example and have a look at some of the common expectations involved:
Action Your Expectation Employer expectation How to manage the situation
Writing your CV You have written a good CV and posted it to 200 scientific companies – that will surely get you at least one interview Successful candidates will meet the criteria set and will understand what the company needs Tailoring your CV to the company, taking time to research them and find out what they do and the type of person you are looking for will strengthen your application and show you are someone who has taken time over your entry
Applying for the job To hear back when the company receives your application Recruitment for a new position is important but it’s not at the top of my list right now, I have other deadlines The reality is that with over a hundred applications for many roles and potentially more than one role open at any one time, you are unlikely to hear back unless it’s to say you have an interview
Interview You will be examined in every detail and it’s going to be a horrendous experience OR there’s going to be no one better than you, it’s already a given Employers expect you to be on time, dress appropriately and most importantly engage with them.
  1. Smile and make conversation with everyone you meet
  2. Look interested, even if you’re not
  3. Listen to the question, take a deep breath and answer it as fully as you can. If you can’t think of an answer after a breath or sip of water, be honest and come back to it.
  4. Give appropriate and honest answers
  5. In group exercises make sure you interact with the other candidates. Marks are given out for certain behaviours and if you sit quietly in the corner you can’t score anything!
Getting feedback You expect detailed feedback of where you went wrong and how to improve next time The successful candidate performed the best, what more is there to say? Being told you were just pipped to the post or not getting any feedback at all can be tricky. Sometimes you really are just unlucky but if it’s happening consistently, seek some advice from a careers specialist who will be able to carry out a mock interview with you
Negotiating salary Just graduated or have a PhD - £28k is reasonable, right? Just graduated or PhD, little experience, £18-21k is reasonable, right? Salary expectations are amongst the most difficult to manage as you are basing a salary on what you/they feel they are worth. A reasonable starting salary for someone in chemistry is around the £21-24k but it may be more or less. You will need to consider all of your options and decide if it is enough for you.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Aug 11, 2014 10:32 AM BST
There are times in your life where everyone has an opinion on what you might decide to do next, or how you might go about it. Taking advice can be really difficult, especially when you feel it is unsolicited or inappropriate. So, what should you do?

I remember being 18 years old and applying to go to university, everyone had thoughts on where I should go, what I should study, what I could do with it afterwards. I had no idea. I didn't go to university, I trained as a pharmacy technician and carried on my life as normal, not giving university a second thought. Fast forward to three years later and someone close to me suggested I go along to a university to see what it was like. I went for the interview with the admissions officer, applied and got in through clearing, starting 6 weeks later. I never looked back.

What did I learn? That you have to make your decisions based on the information you have at the time and you have to listen to your gut instincts. I wasn't ready to go to university at 18 emotionally and although people who gave advice were well meaning I just didn't know where to start and it was all a bit confusing.

I see this a lot when talking to people in careers consultations - they are being given advice by the people closest to them and they don't know what to do for the best. My first rule in making a career decision is to decide what you want to do - don't think about anyone else, just for a moment. Ask yourself:

If I could do anything, what would it be?

I know, you still don't know! Think about what you could do if you weren't restricted by anything at all - change your career to something you have always wanted to do but never been able to, take on a promotion, retire! It could be anything. Once you have decided on that you may need to consider other factors like your family and be realistic in your expecations of what you can achieve (I will blog on this next week).

Want my advice? Take all the advice you can, so that you can make your decision with all the information you need. You are the one in charge of managing your career and therefore responsible for the consequences of your actions. If you want to seek advice, choose someone who has been through something similar as their experience will be able to give you good information, although of course it may not be exactly the same for you.

You will need to forge your own path.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Jul 30, 2014 10:08 AM BST
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