In a tight, very competitive job market, it does not help
if you start late. In addition, some recent graduates who
start late seek an easy way to achieve their first position.
Recently I met with AG who was an assistant professor
in residence at a university. You know an “assistant professor
in residence” is an academic position usually for no longer
than two years. An assistant professor, to distinguish the
difference, can be for as long as five years without tenure.
[UCLA academic personnel office does a particularly nice
job of defining the different “in residence positions”.]
He came seeking a “lifeline” in pursuing what to do next
in his career. The first pass review asked for what position
he sought. He had created a partial CV and was not having
success in getting interviews in research institutes and university
applications. He responded that he was willing to take any
position. Well, that will be clear and his CV will not be effective.
He went off to seek another opinion.
REALITY SETS IN
Two months later he contacted me again asking for more
help. He was not getting positive responses from his document
applications. He also asked the appropriateness of applying for positions
not requiring PhD research experience.
So we explained, it is a tight market and your resume needs to
show a very close fit. Places will not hire a PhD to do a MS
position’s work. PhDs will move at the first opportunity. The
move will not help the department or the individual. Further,
CVs are geared more for academic positions and academic post
docs. They are stylized in a particular way.
heading of CV
Resumes are written to be more targeted for specific positions,
they are shorter, they must reflect a match of your skills to their
needs and it helps to use specific keywords and readable form.
The next version was sent asking for comments. It dropped
many technical terms and listed EXPERIENCE and the recent
teaching immediately after the heading. That misses key
attractions, except for certain teaching positions, that will urge
the reviewer to read further positions. There was no
OBJECTIVE or keyword filled QUALIFICATIONS that will
get some traction, I commented.
The listing of some techniques on the bottom of the first and
second page resembles an MS resume.
That comment made an impression.
Things were shaping up after we went through the review
and brought in a comparable resume of someone who
recently interviewed at a hand full of places and started
a one year post doc after a successful series of interviews.
The very clear organization with keywords in context in
an easy-to-read design made an impression. The review
then went after what seemed to be missing from the resume…
valuable contracted characterization work, clear skills
working with challenging samples and conditions
that required creativity and other important skills he
It is very hard work to create an attractive and compelling
resume. When we are faced with other deadlines and
pressures, it is possible to have priorities get shifted and
long term career issues put off to satisfy short term
satisfiers. I urge you to start earlier and raise the priority
level of career management goals as you get closer to
their deadlines. Resume and cover letter writing is one
of the critical ones.
We met last week to talk about planning for an international
conference TT will attend next month. He seeks to speak
with a leader in the field of nanotechnology applications in
cancer therapies at the meeting.
So we considered completing a IDP Individual Development
Plan for Biomedical fields, as TT is a post-doc in pharmaceutical
sciences. This is a personal technical document that puts down
on paper (computer is more likely) goals and accomplishments
during the last (approximate) year, including formal summaries,
proposals written, ideas generated and scoped out for future
proposals, presentations, meetings attended in-person and virtually,
technical expertise recently obtained and used to achieve results,
clinical activity, teaching, mentoring and leadership activity inside
and outside your field, including training and courses attended and
led, and service.
Part 2 scopes out a comprehensive plan for TT’s foreseeable year.
It includes research project goals, anticipated publications, patents,
presentations, proposals, workshops, meetings and training.
Longer range goals follow with an informal “gap analysis” and timeline
for accomplishing your goals. If there are issues that might limit
or require further work with help from others, it will help to
list as well.
Then, we reviewed TT’s Linkedin.com profile to see if it strongly
makes a similar case. In his case, it did not, so we suggested
several revisions that moves his Internet presence from one
more like a doctoral candidate to a full-fledged post-doctoral
researcher with accomplishments, results and strong breadth
and depth. We are seeing the Linkedin profile complementing
individual’s resume while containing keywords it also identifies
group affiliations and online contributions which are generally
outside of what is contained in resumes.
So, it makes sense to include the Linkedin.com profile in the
resume heading and the resume file, stored in a cloud location,
linked to the Linkedin.com profile document.
Some small updates to the resume/CV were suggested before we
moved into pre-meeting preparation. We talked about going
through lists of attendees and presenters and people who are in
the speaker’s group alumni. He did not know any. Fortunately, I
did have a connection with CK. So, we made a plan for TT to reach
out to CK and ask for a referral/connection at the meeting.
Then we practiced delivering TT’s introduction and elevator
speech to the leader in the field. The first attempt was rather
informal, using the person’s first name. This is a clear no-no.
Let Dr. “Iwould Liketomeet” know you will keep it formal until
Dr. “Liketomeet” asks you to be informal. [This can be a noticeable
turn off for some to be too quick to be informal.]
It is noteworthy to mention that a “warm introduction” through
someone in the person’s group helps. We formally practiced
strategies for making contact, introductions, what to bring to
the meeting, what to wear, and how to follow up after the meeting.
Other class members have recently attended meetings and
reported similar experiences. So, these strategies and
tactics are tested and proven to be effective.
These are networking interviews, information and mock
interviews that are part of the “before segment” of the interviewing
Yes, there is such a thing as interviewing humor. It is not
laughing at interviewees, but laughing at the situation we all face.
Tip of the hat to Joe Queenan WSJ, June 1-2, 2013 p. C11
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
Imagine asking George Washington or Susan B Anthony,
What is your greatest weakness? What kind of an answer
do you think you would get out of George Patton…
A: I am completely invulnerable except when exposed to kryptonite…
Q: Describe a difficult situation at work and how you handled it?
A: My boss had two sets of books, and the Feds wanted to see the real
numbers. no way I was going behind Big Al’s back. So I told them
I don’t see nothin’, I don’t hear nothin’, I don’t know nothin’
(Al Capone’s CPA)
Q: What sort of compensation are you looking for?
A: Booty would be nice. Swag. Booty. What have you?
Ill-gotten gains would also be okay. (Genghis Kan)
Several others in the article.
Science, technology and engineering are many times concerned
about holding patent protection, infringing on someone else’s
patent claims or having a competitor infringe on their existing
Patent trolls, where NPE non-productive entities hold rights to
patents and litigate against firms when they believe patent claims
have been infringed, provides a challenge to harm US manufacturers
and technological progress.
Ashby Jones summarized recent proposals to roll out executive orders
and seek legislation in June 5 WSJ (subscription required to view).
Two items of note in the article:
1- there is a 6-fold increase in “troll suits” from ‘06 to ‘12
2- legislative action, which is believed quite important, could have
unintended consequences for universities and research institutes who
have troll-like characteristics in that they license patents, rather
than bring products to market using patents.
University and tech transfer offices of institutes need to pay close
attention where this goes.
HT and I have known each other for a few years and collaborated
on some projects successfully. He is looking for a position
and seems overwhelmed with daily pressures.
He seeks a position that will last for a decade or more and
provide a sense of security for himself and his family. Is that
realistic in today’s economy, workforce demands and personal
Recently, “On Point” presented a segment on “tours of duty”
employment cycles based on a Reid Hoffman HBR article.
While this may not fit everyone’s picture, it is a reality for
several fields and locations.
It is a mindset that “freelancers” share. In order to be
successful one needs to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit
about your job search. Douglas Rushkoff has written an
interesting book about some of the forces that generate this
reality in “Present Shock” where HT and others seem “overwound”
with too many pressures.
Rushkoff points out that
1. we have lost the sense of our life’s narrative and are pushed
into many pressures in the moment– work, car, rent, daily events,
2. we are constantly interrupted by various communication
media and find we are at the beckon and call of ever changing
things at the same time– constant needs. (He calls this digiphrenia.)
3. we relate to global trends (unemployment, advertized “happiness”,
dominance of ‘branding’, loss of beginnings and endings, etc.). This
leads to despair and loss of hope. We need to define our separate
agenda and purpose.
It is hard to separate ourselves from the tornado of effects
and become grounded. Reassess what steps to take.
Suggestion: Do a personal self assessment and pursue
mentors to establish goals and create a narrative. It may
involve a tour of duty. Worth considering.
INSTRUMENTATION FOR BIOPROCESS, CLINICAL
DIAGNOSIS, LABWARE, LIFE SCIENCE, AUTOMATION,
Practically every field of science and engineering
employs instruments and equipment, probes and
measurements. So it is more than helpful to catch
what is happening in the top instrumentation
enterprises.[Now this does not mean smaller firms are
any less significant.]
Ann Thayer reported in C&EN Apr 29, 2013 p.10
the trend that the top 25 firms merged and acquired
much of their “growth”, but significantly many in this
group had to adapt different cultures when combining
smaller and larger, clinical and process, hardware
and software. (Like her quote: “Culture is the mortar
between the bricks.” BTW, searches do not reveal
this article, but give a 2011 review.)
MICROSCOPY AT THE MOLECULAR LEVEL
FRET (Forster resonance energy transfer)
MICROSCOPY REVEALS DYNAMICS
Smaller than the wavelength limit of classical
microscopy can be interrogated on systems of
proteins, DNA, and lipids. So work with nano
particles and biological systems is certainly
CHEMICAL RESEARCH INTO ORPHAN DISEASES
I was blown away by a wonderful Esselen Award
talk by co-recipients Mike Gelb and Frank
Turacek on Lysosomal Storage Disorders that they
have developed amazing diagnostic tests for
infants. This class is one of many reported in L.
Jarvis’s report on the progress in developing
effective therapies. If this kind of work is one of
your passions, I encourage you to see this status
FIBER LASERS FOR MICROSURGERY
Femtosecond fiber lasers are being used to cut,
drill and ablate in corneas, cataracts, midear,
spine, cosmetic, dentistry, cardiovascular
and oncology surgeries. With increasing cost
performance trade-offs an amazing number of
rare earth doped fibers being developed are
described in Marie Freebody’s April, 2013
Being in the positions of having been taught,
coached, mentored and actively teaching,
coaching and mentoring, the Accelerators
Blog in WSJ grabbed my attention.
=While an AWIS presentation spells out some of the
differences out for us, let me offer my two cents–
Sponsor: advocates for us and seeks out positive
experiences for our personal and professional growth.
They can introduce us to key centers of knowledge,
action or influence.
Also, they suggest steps for us to grow and either
deepen or broaden our exposure.
One person in my early career suggested applying
for White House Fellowship. While it was not to
be, the thought, process and mentioning stayed with
Mentor: in addition to the dictionary definition (of
a trusted adviser), they engage in a two-way
collaboration and offer clear-sighted
approach, guidance and perspective in challenges,
strategic thinking and questions to consider.
I like Kate Mitchell’s “composite mentor” concept
as both formal and informal relationships, since
no one person usually has the depth and breadth.
Key to a mentoring relationship is strong,
Ben Huh indicates he finds mentors who offer
“thought processes and view of the world situation”
which come through story telling.
I openly seek and provide signals to colleagues
where each of us considers ourselves in a network.
It is more than that. We leave a lasting impression
on each other, which I sense mentors should do.
Coach: whereas mentoring is often described as
relationship based, coaching seeks to advise and
improve skills and attitudes. Thus it is said while
mentoring is development driven with an agenda,
coaching is performance driven with goals.
It is common that coaches learn from a self-
assessment or helps assess a current situation
and goals to define gaps which to train or inform.
Perhaps, this is where we see coaching being
redefined as a process and a “program” in some
Teaching: delivering knowledge and practical
experiences to help students discover, connect,
and “rewire their consciences” to be able to use and
The subject matter is less relevant than developing
the discovery and connection modes.
However, if you do not use it, you lose it.
I believe it was on the McKinsey Insights and Publications
site where the top three things recent graduates say
about working. Briefly, they are:
(1) they feel they are over-qualified for the work they
interview for and eventually accept. Many of the
roles and responsibilities are done by non-college
graduates and do not need what colleges offer and
(2) they feel they are unprepared for the discipline,
pleasant customer interactions expectations, and
the need to follow someone else’s orders to do things.
(3) many feel as a result they would choose to major
in something else or attend a different institution.
These same people for the most part do not use
the career services function of the school (>60%)
and do not use alumni networks of the school or
There are five areas the recent hires’ employers
assess their new graduating hires–
- working in a team ~60% effective
- oral communication
spoken ~50% effective
- training in discipline ~50% effective
- written communication ~45% effective
- problem solving skills ~45% effective
often taking short-cuts
What it calls attention to for undergraduates is to:
1. seek and accept coop jobs, internships and externships.
Get broad exposures in different kinds of positions.
2. understand that automation is happening in every
field for good business reasons. Learn about working
with computers. Learn about their strengths and weaknesses.
3. seek a wide range of people who are mentors, teachers
consultants and listen to their stories. Learn from them
and ask them to be mentors and part of your network,
whether in or not in linkedin.com.
4. despite computers, decision-making and judgment
is a human capacity. Learn how people acquire these
5. learn about career services and school networks.
Attend and participate in events to learn soft skills.
A number of years ago, I enjoyed a distance learning course
I attended that Karol Pelc delivered in NTU on Management
of Technology. Many areas were interesting. One in particular
was technological generations, S-shaped curves and technology
These areas can parallel our careers in research, business
and teaching. Atul Gawande wrote a compelling article in the
New Yorker recently describing how athletes and musicians
have personal coaches, why shouldn’t surgeons? In my mind,
why shouldn’t scientists, engineers, professors and professionals?
Gawande wrote: “As I went along, I compared my results against national
data, and I began beating the averages. My rates of complications
moved steadily lower… And then, a couple of years ago, they didn’t.
It started to seem that the only direction things could go from here
was the wrong one.
Maybe this is what happens when you turn 45. Surgery is, at least,
a relatively late-peaking career… Jobs that involve the complexities
of people or nature seem to take longer to master. S&P 500 CEO,
52, geologists, 54; Surgeons, requiring stamina and judgment,
Gawande talked about invoking coaches, just like other professionals,
and provided some real life examples of how attention to some
little things that an objective expert observer might point out.
We see many coaches for executives, for golf, for singing, for
musicians…Some are most helpful. Some provide standard responses,
that may not be helpful. Some inspire alternative ways of doing
things. Even experts have room for improvement.
SENIOR LEVEL RESUMES
We have not touched on senior level public relations documents.
There is a need to present a perspective. At the higher levels, terms
like branding, leadership, staffing and application of resources
We might think of a CTO position as a particular example of
a position. Jennifer Hay offered a candid comparison of
CIO and CTO roles and responsibilities. Notice the difference
between the more operational and the more strategic.
This falls under the term “branding” that is common in business
resume literature. More on target, it refers to the content of
the document using specific keywords in context that relates
a reputation for leadership providing:
company growth strategy overcoming obstacles
system wide implementation that drives results
providing a strategic, if not a longer-range view.
In some circles the CTO is the right hand person in technology
focused organizations, where a CFO is more business or
transaction based organizations. The metrics for CTO needs
to be expressed in senior level terms as Laura Smith-
In professional circles, we build trust by maintaining
confidences, acting cooperatively, over-communicating
and exceeding expectations.
Transitions, I believe, provide situations where trust
is challenged. Leaving one place or field and beginning
CHALLENGE: LEAVING A RESEARCH GROUP
One young professional sought advice on when and
what to say to his group and adviser when leaving. My
suggestion is that it is important to reflect on the positive
experiences building bridges and extending a helping hand.
It is less what we say and more how we make people
feel that will be remembered.
Maintain confidences and over-communicate.
Do it in person. If not in person, at least via phone or
Skype, for these seem more genuine and substantial than
a text or an email. We are not leaving, in most cases, to
go to another place but to continue on our professional
career journey. It is not the destination but the
process that is motivating and satisfying. Not all moves
are successful, we need to factor in. Our next move is
likely not to be our last.
Do it as a single task. We can feel slighted or offering a
slight if we are multi-tasking when we offer farewells.
CHALLENGE: STARTING OUT
Jack Welch spoke about one of the transitions professionals
face when starting out is understanding that A-plus performance
is different than the student behavior of meeting the teacher’s
expectations of supplying correct answers to questions and high
scores on tests.
An A-plus in business enterprises involves exceeding expectations,
enhancing your bosses decisions and position, improving the
effectiveness of your team and strengthening your company’s
Act cooperatively and exceed expectations.
Go beyond your assignment, after clarifying expectations.
Beware that personal ambitions can be misinterpreted by peers
and teammates. This can sometimes be the price of excellence.
So find ways to act cooperatively.
It was interesting to observe two people deal with the
first case study case. We tried to build up the anxiety
during the day for them asking the class if we should
give them the problem or wait, just to get them thinking
Then, with a few minutes to go before actually having them
work on it, I gave them the problem in advance. The first thing
they both did was pull out their cellular devices and search for
We stopped them ‘dead in their tracks’ and confiscated the cells.
In fact, if they had done this in an actual case study interview,
they would have been removed from further consideration.
Then, we asked them to go to the front of the class and
solve the problem. One took an engineering approach,
diagramming the problem, estimating appropriate dimensions,
and writing out some of the mathematical relations they might
need. The second person wanted to quit on the spot. This was not
what he expected, he had not prepared. This is where the corrective
action learning began in the class… a ‘teachable moment.’
It is important to share a remarkable book, “Surfaces
and Essences: Analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking,”
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander, Basic
Why is it important? Because I believe if we knew how
important Analogies are and how they can be used, it
can help us make better decisions, be more creative
and solve different problems we face. Going out on
a limb? Try it, for I believe Hofstadter and Sanders
have something for each of us to learn in their many-paged,
but well worded, exploration of the human brains’ and
human communications’ use of analogy.
“Without lifting a finger, we can be touched by a kind
gesture” or “without perking up one’s ears whatsoever, one
can declare that an idea sounds on target” are common
verbal analogies. In fact, the authors claim analogies
are not only verbal, but also underlie all major decisions.
Rather than doing a logical sorting and numerical
weighting of factors, what we all likely do is draw on one
or more analogies in our memory in finally making an
When one needs to decide on a job offer, one thinks it
over comparing similar personal situations. If no situations
come to mind, one more often than not asks the
perspectives of someone we trust.
Often things are observed and not quite well understood.
Further examination and thinking finds conceptual dilemmas
which contradicts or is not predicted by current understanding.
In mathematics, geometrical visualization helps, in physics
physical models and new dimensions help, in chemistry
creating representations like 3-d structures helps. These are
all analogies, both verbal and visual or representative.
Much of the last couple hundred pages is taken up with how
Einstein perceived the world around him as full of hidden
analogies– particles as waves, light as particles and
the interconversion of mass and energy. See also 3 .
Amazing things, we have come to learn, result when we do
out-of-the-box thinking…analogies, The very essence of an
analogy is that it maps some mental structure on to another
mental structure. Even verbalizing a problem in different terms
can jump start novel thinking to solve a problem. The authors
refer to “frame blending” [blending of situations], explanatory
analogies, and interesting translation and transculturalization
approaches that open up new approaches that work better.
The authors also point out that analogy making is one
reason humans still have an advantage over computers,
despite the computer’s speed and precision on known
Had an interesting conversation recently with a very strong
technology graduate where in essence he asked two questions.
1. What else should I do for this company that I have
The company is an established technical consulting
firm looking to add two new technical experts in areas of
her strengths. Thank you notes and decision timelines are
sent and set.
–> don’t stop interviewing and the job search.
What counts is that you really like the opportunity, know how
to respond to a positive offer and follow through in a business-like
–> do your due diligence on the consulting firm. Find out how
satisfied previous clients are. Who are the firms major competitors
in its industry? what are they doing — are they hiring? Get annual
Treat the potential employer as a possible future investment and learn
how well they are doing in the marketplace.
–> know your next steps when an offer comes.
(1)call to tell you have received the offer, thank them and indicate it is
generous and attractive and you are considering it seriously.
(2)further write to confirm all the details
(3)Simultaneously, consult with family and mentors on the offer, salary,
benefits, responsibilities, risks and compare to comparable offers
(4)does it meet your standards that you should invest your time there,
your family’s growth and your career management plan
(5)determine if items need to be negotiated (remember only after
receiving a written offer) and practice with a career consultant
(6)negotiate in a win-win strategy; confirm in writing when final
(7)write acceptance letter with starting date and plan for your first day
2. Why am I not getting offers in earlier interviews?
She described getting several screening interviews. We spoke in our
teleconference about Amy Cuddy’s “confidence posing“, the
importance of nonverbals, initial impressions (smiling, handshake,
eye to eye contact) in interviews and story-telling providing her
candidacy with a “spark” displaying confidence and a can-do attitude.
Federally funded research is dead-end financing to business,
but the source of training, novel ideas and innovation to meet
significant goals more than a quarter into the future.
WSJ reported three initiatives: link
- equipment that shares information over networks 1
- light weight metals with superior properties
- ZnO and GaN semiconductor materials
next generation display technology 3 4
all modeled after Germany’s subsidized institutes.
Before we get to three items, Al Sklover shared
some amazing, in-the-moment employee benefits
that firms offer, in place of real pensions…
In the same vein, we link to highlights of an
article on Daniel McFadden about consumer choice,
things that affect our decision making process.
A second link relates to ideas on how scientists
and engineers participate in social media. While
we are for the most part scientists and engineers,
it is interesting to learn what drives and divides
business school talent assessment–
CHOICE DECISION MAKING INFLUENCES
SOURCE: The Economist, “Free exchange“,
Mcfadden overlaid neuroscience and psychology on
economics in relaying a conclusion that our preferences
are “fluid.” He cited:
- mundane things are valued more highly when we
think of them as “our own.” Think: stocks we hold whose
price has dropped, insurance policy deductibles [premiums
for lower deductibles], even our clothes that we own.
- memory and experience of an event are dominated
by how we feel at its peak and near the perceived end.
- order in the presentation of alternate choices and what
happens right before the choice exhibit strong influences.
Think: social networks, online habits
- more choices is not always good.
BUSINESS SCHOOL SELECTION
SOURCE: M. Korn, WSJ 5-2-13 p. B1
It is interesting to track how business schools are
adapting to hiring practices in their industries. They
seem to be adapting assessments of personal
and emotional competencies based on scoring
The art of predicting the future convincingly is being
challenged by a realm of five trends Douglas Rushkoff
crystallizes from the intersection of
(portable information in the moment vs.
story line and trends),
shortened icon-loaded messaging
(texting, IM vs. narrative with detail,
subtelty, and nuance),
how we view time
(I am always “too busy”; helter-skelter
what is next? vs. linear clock based ),
dealing with our identity and completing tasks
(focused attention vs. multi-tasking).
These trends in his book “Present Shock” are in contrast to
what this blog entry notes.
Building on an earlier entry on Peter Diamondis’s
technology trends and an era of abundance, Robert
Stevenson has put forward the notion that the business
horizon for the chemical enterprise is bright and
clear-skied. Sure, there are problems but the story he
tells of a bright future based on raw material supplies
and the technical innovation that brought it about should
give hope internationally.
The reason Rushkoff and Stevenson seem to be opposed
is that Stevenson’s long term view deals with a narrative
with many chapters with focus on few, highly important
tasks where Rushkoff’s view of media and the attention it
divides us into is on the present, multi-tasking where
everything is important and a dilution of effort, especially
on hard, long term goals.
So, despite where the collapse of narrative and living
in the moment is taking us, I believe there is a positive
future that depends on recognizing common goals,
prioritizing efforts to solve problems which are sure
to come up.
- environmental impact of combustion and resource
recovery (water, especially)
- managing electricity generation with evolving use
- developing technology to recover, transport, and
handle wastes (improve fracking, scrubber and
use sustainable concepts)
It was interesting to see the cover letters submitted
by our class this semester. Some were cover letters
accompanying resumes to apply for industrial or
government positions. Others were applying for
faculty or academic post-doc positions; still others
While the form remains nominally the same for
all, the contents need to uniquely address each
specific position with type specific topics
R. Bretz identifies that the cover letter would indicate
the other documents in the application package, usually,
teaching philosophy, CV, teaching portfolio, research
proposals and start-up equipment and funds.
Opening paragraph includes position you are seeking,
where you learned about it and points out why you
are well qualified and a strong candidate to fill the position.
Following paragraphs include information about the
kind of institution it is, what attracts your interest in
being a candidate there, your areas of expertise and
fit into the organization, specific course teaching,
mentoring or research experience. It should also
state recent awards and affiliations with the institution.
Either in the final paragraph or after the signature,
a listing of the documents of the application packages
POST DOCTORAL POSITIONS
While many are at academic institutions, post doc
cover letters are best that show you are familiar with
the PI’s work and have some ideas that could be
exploited in her or his laboratory. B. deBoef has
offered examples of cover letters that point out
connections,meetings or citing the PI’s work.
He indicated a willingness to author research proposals
and seek fellowships. He describes his professional
plans and where the post-doc position fits, a copy
of recent publications and opportunities to meet
INDUSTRIAL AND GOVERNMENT POSITIONS
Careersolvers and Quintcareers do respectable
jobs describing what to not do. I always like Louise
Kursmark and Wendy Enelow’s approach to different
contexts of cover letters to business and technology
positions. Each one is situation dependent and targeted.
The position title considered is in an easy to see
reference line in a letter addressed to a specific person.
A bulleted style allows the writer to minimize the use
of “I” in the letter. The major qualifications sought in
the job description are lined up in one column and how
the candidate fulfills the requirement in an adjacent
column of bullets.
The final paragraph solidifies your interest in being
in the position or organization and your desire for an
interview. Interest in meeting an individual and opportunity
to discuss mutual interest in the company’s success is
good in the last paragraph. Besides mentioning your
appreciation and availability, these days a skype or
facetime telecon can further your case to pass initial
To me internship seeking and industrial post doc
seeking cover letters are similar to the industrial
position cover letter, since the audience is similar.
One of the routes to interviewing candidates for
start up companies uses “case study interviews.“
In class, we used a case study interview on a small
team. One member of the team was an engineer and
capable for visualizing the problem; another member
was confident, but would need preparation to equally
participate in problem-solving. Shortly after they
began this mock interview the second person asked
to leave and end her participation. Frustrated.
So used to studying for the test and textbook answers
in academic training, this new situation where the
answer was not clear, assumptions had to be made
and more data was needed overwhelmed her.
Fortunately she was coached into how to participate
as a facilitator, notetaker and visual thinker.
Entrepreneurial cultures accept failure as part of
the learning process. They tout: Fail quickly and
learn from each one. The WSJ printed an anecdote
that is abstracted to make a point about the origins
of death certificates and its result in forming three
new industries, namely statistics, life insurance and
“the English king in 1665 desired to know why his
tax revenue was decreasing. His collectors reported
that people were dying. So, the king ordered that
each death needed to be certified. And, “each week
why don’t we write down all the reasons each person
died this week…”
“What questions did you ask today?
Finally, an intriguing real life personal care products
entrepreneurial story was reported where Jon Flint
used a scientific approach to develop proprietary
formulations that could not be copied by others
and met their claims. He never thought he would
enter this field but a stroke of good fortune by
collaborating with renown Robert Langer led to a
number of successful formulations.
Long-term care expert Mark Kirby has worked exclusively
in the LTC field for more than 17 years. In his upcoming free
webinar for ACS members he will share the most important
items you should know about planning for long-term care so
you can make an informed decision for your future– instead
of having one made for you.
Although salary is one component of an overall compensation
package, it dominates many people’s thinking and self-worth.
Now I am only one person and everyone has his or her own
opinion about salary discussion openness. So, I will pull together
some information on this “hot button” topic. This topic probably
will not easily go away in our competitive, capitalist system.
Lauren Weber co-authored a WSJ article in which she drew
up four recommendations about speaking with co-workers:
- speak only with people you trust
- define and communicate your true motivation
- carefully use this information when speaking with others,
“once the information is out, misplaced feelings and unintended
consequences can and do occur.” [my words]
- be prepared for unexpected findings.
Carlos Portocarrero offered that “life is not fair.”
comparing salaries will only bring tense moments.
Catey Hill wrote a meaningful piece saying there are few times
when she recommends speaking with co-workers–
reciprocal sharing when you are certain you are underpaid,
when you have data to support everyone is underpaid and you
compare it to a benchmark or competitor, or
when someone leaves a comparable position (leaving the firm
It is not just an objective data sharing discussion. I recently
mentored an entrepreneur who shared her earnings with her
employees in a small firm. Upon learning about how much she
cleared, they, to a person, all wanted significant raises. This is
despite the fact they were very well paid and had choices about
how much they had to work and how much income they would
be compensated. Their demands kept escalating, even when
their salary was increased.
Point: We never seem satisfied for long with a pay raise.
Companies may try to establish a policy that it is improper
to share salary information but the NLRA prohibits preventing
the sharing of salary information.
I do believe it is right for someone to be properly compensated
in meeting their objectives. It is hard then in a competitive environment
when research does not lead to profits or problems are not fixed
or some combination of circumstances leads to failure and people
are richly compensated. (It seems to happen all the time for
highly paid individuals, but they probably have legally enforceable
Consider submitting your pay information honestly and truthfully
into professional databases about salary.
Be careful about job titles so that they reflect comparable positions.
Insist that the models reflect current conditions [no older data],
employ accepted statistical methods [understand objective
comparisons require more information that means] and are
transparent [how are outliers identified, does salary include
bonuses, when was the last raise, and many more].
Ask what the shape of the distribution is and sample size.
Ask what the checks for validity and comparison are (mean, median,
When someone asks about salary say you meet the ACS salary
expectation, for example.
As Michele Royalty said in the WSJ comments: “… we all compared
salary, despite all the corporate restrictions and practices. Some
people move on, for pay or other reasons. The most ambitious
make the most money, but they have to work harder, move around,
get additional exposure, etc. Frankly a 20% difference in pay does
not make that much difference. If it does, they can find another job.”