At the end of this month I will have been in my current job for one year. It's a big milestone because it means I will start to have my name on the papers that the experiment produces and that I'll be more free to pursue my own research goals within in the collaboration. In principle I will have between 12 and 24 months after that to continue working, and the end date is not yet fixed because it depends on many factors some of which will be (by definition) unknown until next year. The biggest factor is whether or not our team make a significant discovery, which is mostly likely to happen in the first few weeks or months of data taking. If we get lucky I'll probably be convinced to stick around for a while longer to help out with analysis and organisation. I've led a fledgeling analysis that grew unexpectedly popular before and simply keeping the meetings going and introducing new analysts is a full time job that needs excellent communication and management skills, both of which are highly transferable. It's an exhilarating experience, and character building, although quite exhausting, and it would be an excellent legacy to leave behind.
Since this is the halfway point it makes more sense to talk about what kinds of opportunities are available and what I'd like to consider. I've spent about half a year discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the career I've had so far, and how my needs have changed, but in terms of career development this has been quite nebulous. (For those who read this blog you may be interested to see how some of the themes overlap with one of my other blogs, the Good Grief Project.) While it has been very useful to discuss these personal factors I should now start to focus more on what I want from the next stage in my career. I definitely want an opportunity for skill development and growth, which I find is lacking in my current job. It's not that a job in high energy physics does not give opportunities to develop new skills, it's just that I've already explored so many of them so enthusiastically already that my CV is already overflowing with skills that go beyond the minimal requirements of such a job. One of the biggest motivators is finding a job that challenges me and gives me a chance to contribute something new. It would also be helpful to have a job which will encourage me to confront my weaknesses as an employee in order to make me more desirable. Staying in a job that allows you to define your own working hours and (to an extent) your own working environment tends to lead to work habits that need ot be adapted when looking elsewhere.
While looking at was available I found some recruitment agencies dedicated to people with scientific backgrounds, although these do tend to focus more on students than on people who are leaving the field. Without further ado, and to ensure I never lose these links, here are a few that come recommended from the Institute of Physics. First, an article from Institue itself titled Working in physics: Next steps for physics graduates. There they recommend their own Bright Recruits service, the ever present Milkround which I've known of since I was an undergraduate, and Prospects, which seems to be run by a charity rather than a business. In addition I also came across ecm who specialise in high tech recruitment and seem to promise higher quality rather than a brute force approach.