A professional has recently received an offer for a position
that he is keen about. He feels its starting salary may be a
little lower than market surveys 2 he has consulted recently.
Although the job descriptions seeks a US citizen, he is not and
the offer would support his applying for immigration papers
(either H-1B or permanent residency status) for him and his spouse.
Even factoring in the costs for permanent residency status,
the starting salary remains a bit low, besides there is a long
service commitment after which the company no longer expects
compensation for sponsorship.
Three things should be avoided in his negotiations.
1. Do not go into discussions without detailed preparation and
practice for what your goals are and what you want to say.
- have a firm offer in hand
- have a back up plan BATNA best alternative to a negotiated
Know the employer’s starting date, when first pay happens,
the job assignment, if the employer will help with relocation
and all aspects of the compensation package.
The employer only wants to do what is best for you and your
If it is an international assignment other factors are likely to
be important that amount to nearly 40% increase in compensation,
including housing allowance, paying taxes, employment for spouse
and trips home while stationed abroad.
2. Trust and styles. Some people expect that each offer is
a negotiation based on the particular circumstances of
the offer recipient. Others expect that good faith is exercised
by accepting the initial offer.
Establish your family’s known needs.
Your tone and intent can be influential. If you indicate that
you consulted an attorney or a consultant, the employer may
be turned off as this may suggest a lack of trust.
Thus, it is important to share that you only expect to receive
a fair offer of compensation taking things into consideration.
A thoughtful student asked a question: “it seems that in
academia that the role of grades is being stressed a lot
and I was wondering, if a student had a chemistry GPA
of less than 3.2-3.4, in their undergraduate record, does
this look negatively when applying for jobs?”
The fact of the matter for this person is that he completed
a double major in chemistry and a social science, so my
response was nuanced. It goes along the lines David Brooks,
NYTimes editorial writer who suggested in his editorial 1
“Employers’ Creed.“ [March 31, 2014]
“Bias hiring decisions against [just] high GPAs” without
leadership positions on campus, and who leaves the resume
reader as completely “flavorless.”
“Bias toward dualists,” with some measure of conventional
accomplishment, work or success.
“Bias toward truth-tellers.” One quoted question to listen to is
‘Could you describe a time when you told the truth and it hurt you?’
Some comments to Brooks’ piece are on target, yet not
directly on the undergraduate GPA theme. One did point out
the increasing use of Applicant Tracking Systems ATS by employers
which may provide a challenge.
Always tell the truth, but reveal it in an authentic story that
will convince your audience that you love teaching chemistry.
Win some teaching awards in chemistry, volunteer to teach classes,
take education courses or POGIL curricula.
Don’t wait until last semester to do these kind of things.
Over the last couple of weeks we have offered suggestions
to have you consider that technical skills alone in this
competitive and changing marketplace will not help you
reach your professional goals.
1. Computational, ie digital tools, and robotics and
database mining (big data) are merging with technical
skills. These are targeted “hard skills”.
3. Personal habits. This past week I met and then interacted
via several kind professional gestures with M. M. Mitchell who
posed that we had common perspectives. So, in
displaying a “wise skill” I am being an ally for her in
sharing several keen articles that I believe can result
in habits that will improve people’s perceptions of you.
- Improve your Self confidence
- People skills - Know what not to do
- Treat ourselves well
Last weekend I was invited to and attended a terrific meeting
where I met scholars, acquaintances and friends who face
many of the problems we all do.
Please let me share three of many take-aways:
1. Rebecca Bryant (see how she uses it)shared a tool you
should consider using that has been adopted by many in the
biomedical field. ORCID.
It provides a unique, confidential identification and tracking
2. Sam Molyneux did a wonderful job describing where he
and his company Sciencescape has paved a new approach
to dealing with our problem of ‘publication overload’ and
the fact that we need to keep up with breaking news in our
fields of research and commerce, yet there are too many
places to look. This really has a lot of promise in all fields
of basic (where publication scooping can happen) and
applied research (where others may patent in areas that
will exclude what you or your company wish to protect.)
A short video relays the story of this disruptive innovation
3. Antonio Nunex and Anna Kopec outlined four strategies
for resolving conflicts and discussed how we could incorporate
the core values and interests of both stakeholders in
issues where there seems to be differences. (View the
power point slides available from the screen linked above.)
I appreciated their candor in isolating one issue at a time and not
going immediately to ’solution mode,’ which can limit
options and sometimes to a no-win situation via manipulation.
They carefully expressed that you allow questions to be
posed and go to primary interests at heart which could be
self-esteem, relationships, excellence, financial security
or reputation (respect) .
EB has done a personal self assessment and would like
to work in metabolic chemical engineering. There are
many new routes of taking waste product streams or
natural raw materials to produce useful therapies, fuels
She has experienced several phone and onsite interviews,
based on networking and through online searches. She
is getting rejection after rejection, or at least no call
backs within the expected time. In fact in one interview
on the board in the small business interview room was
her initials listed with other initials and, believe it or not,
“back up” written next to it.
In another interview she met with team members where
it felt like they were looking for positions as well. She
would receive an offer if they obtained an acceptable
full time offer.
What am I doing wrong, she asked.
1. The rare fresh new hire circumstance is doing the same thing
that you did in your most previous role. Expect that your
assignment will be different and you will and know how to adapt
and interrogate new circumstances and view things from a fresh
2. The first reason a candidate is turned down is not having
the required technical skills. This is something that you can
plan to do something about by finding out at the interview if
you could specifically ask after the interview process what
they liked and if there were any specific background weaknesses
that could have influenced a negative decision.
So, don’t take it personal. Show a willingness to be proactive.
3. A second reason for not receiving an offer is style.
Style is revealed not only in words but also in nonverbal
communication. We reviewed EB’s interview question
responses and encouraged her to develop STAR or SARI
stories. But before this is the need to display authentic
enthusiasm for working there.
4. Before the interview do your homework. Often neglected
is the mental emotional preparation. Enthusiasm, presence
Be conscious of your mental state for the job interview.
Take a few moments to sit quietly, focus on your breathing
and avoid what you will or will not say.
Imagine that you work for the organization and immerse yourself
with the feeling of all the good things you will experience there.
Visualize it, feel it.
Then when you are at the site breath again and put yourself in the
same mental place. Now focus on staying there. Excitement,
enthusiasm and passion come from your heart.
Our class in composing technical position cover letters in an assignment
and my search for salutations came up with a handy reference by Stephen
It is challenging for people in technical fields
to consider the changes in the employment marketplace
today. So much can seem to be against our better natures
where we are taught that deep study and inspiration can
A. Big prize awards are offered for innovative ways of
solving human problems or for commercial innovation,
using crowd-sourcing approaches [See Chapter 5 of the
Second Machine Age, by E. Brynjolfsson and A. McAfee]
B. Digitized, specialized robotic equipment replace
people doing certain tasks. And strange concepts like
Maravec’s paradox: high level reasoning requires little
computation, but lower level sensorimotor skills
require enormous computational resources.
These and many other examples lead critics to dismiss
all of these as re-packaging things for the wifi-computerized
Recently, a faculty member asked me what I proposed to
do in a workshop. Before I could answer, he smiled while
dispelling his disbelief, you are not going to just talk about
“polishing the apple”.
The supply and demand picture of technically trained people
continues to shift and while your technical substance needs
to be strong, you need to recognize the need to stand out
from other equally qualified professionals. You can learn
to improve listening skills, demonstrate curiosity and
make a compelling case for yourself in voice, style and
nonverbal communications. You can do this without being
inauthentic or deceptive in your motives.
Specific evidence is in creating cover letters and resumes
that are specific, clear, easy to read and brief (error-free, too)
They do not have to be encyclopedic and cover all aspects.
Yet, they need to be targeted and show an understanding of
marketing to your audience/customer.
Specific evidence is also in knowing what apparel is expected when
you arrive for interviews, and how you connect with people
in informal and formal settings.
Again, you are marketing a product– yourself.
One of the many tasks we have when we return from a technical meeting
is to follow up with contacts using the business cards we have received.
Some of the follow up happens automatically, like when someone sends
a Linkedin invitation, which acts as a mutual follow-up.
There are also people who you want to connect with and provide specific
information and people who you want to work with on a common project
collaboratively. Fact of the matter is that if we did not have these
little business cards, with short notes on the back reminding us of the
situations of meeting, follow up actions and points of information we
would lose much of the purpose for attending meetings– committed
Not long ago, Joanna Stern authored a piece in the WSJ telling of many
of the attempts to create digital replacements for business cards. Her
conclusion and items from many commentators: Keep on using them
and learn some business card tricks.
Coincidentally, while I was at a recent meeting Diane Darling (one of
the better speakers I have attended) sent an email in which she included
How to Process Cards after an event. Some of her ideas are in the
Within 24-48 Hours
Send thank you notes for kind gestures, to hosts, for people who
provided you professional services [I believe this is critical.].
Invite specific people into Linkedin and connect with your
contacts to establish if there is mutual value in sharing a reference.
Diane recommends doing a ‘more professional job’ than the
standard invitation in LI. (I suggest this only when the situation
calls for it.)
If you promised a specific follow up, comply. If you cannot do it
within 2 days, I suggest a short note telling when you can do
Diane and I like to note Linkedin, follow-up plans and items
on the cards we receive and keep them for future reference. I
also like to organize the cards in a card file and, funny little thing,
I attach post-its with added ideas and connections in my hotel
room and return flight home, while things are relatively fresh.
This week I had a delightful conversation with a fellow
career consultant Professor Laurel Habgood, chair and
on a review committee hiring new faculty at her college
We talked about the difference between applying for
chemistry faculty positions in research-intensive R1 and
Principally Undergraduate Institutions PUI.
Professor Habgood reads the cover letter which should
reveal a command of English. She likes to see the classes
the applicant can teach and if the applicant really
understands the curriculum and the role being
pursued. [So, this suggested to me that some contact
would be helpful and appropriate to mention in the
(2) She indicated she examines an applicant’s CV first
to confirm their commitment to chemistry and institutions
similar to Rollins College. She looks for experience
in teaching courses that might be comparable to those
at Rollins. Although this can be learned having valuable
full class experience in the lecture, lab, grading and
mentoring is essential. So, those who have visiting assistant
or assistant professor background in residence have an
If there is (3) an overlap of fields with current faculty it
could be a problem. Also, if there is some expectation
of special equipment or laboratory space that reveals
a ‘caution’ for the application. There is even a reluctance
if the equipment could be found at another institution
or a collaboration is proposed.
A fourth area of investigation is the person’s teaching
philosophy which is seriously considered.
She commented that she is amazed when she sees applications
which leave blank or do not comment on teaching in
situations where people’s backgrounds are different than
yours. This “diversity” question needs to be thoughtfully
and articulately answered.
So if you have a strong interest in teaching at a PUI,
Laurel would be a valued career consultant to request
with the ACS.
I enjoy reading and learning approaches, new trends
and successful ideas found in the WSJ Accelerators
blog. In yesterday’s issue some outstanding ideas
were shared by Jay Samit, Cristina Bechhold and
Neil Blumenthal about a concept “Committed
Just as Neil states networking itself is an overused
and abused term. Andre Schiotzek from UCI said
the same thing when he spoke about post-doctoral
experiences a month ago. Just like Andre, Neil states
it is first making acquaintances and then friends with
with others. It is important to share our interests,
strengths and weaknesses with them.
Jay and Cristina describe strategies to start and
continue vibrant networks:
- arrive early manage where you spend your valuable
time; scope the room and break the ice with others
- target who you associate with to meet introduction
- fly first class it can generate business
- speak on panels
- be active in worthwhile charities
- mindfully attend events, conferences, shows and
seminars; use existing friendships and associations
- manage your time and your relationships–
mutual introductions and attending others’ events
Things to avoid:
- trying too hard — name dropping, embellishing your
- don’t be all “take” and no give
- avoid selling your interests and needs to the expense
They are all related in the world of technical careers.
So much so, that the previous generation of people
who prized longevity, security, and loyalty seem at
odds with our current career paths.
The previous generation had linear “trendlines” and
fewer variables for technical careers compared to what
we all face today.
No one generation of technical careers, not baby-boomers,
not Gen-Xers or Gen-Yers are any different and not
facing more complexity, shorter cycle times, and
irregular lags between cycles.
It really beckons us to think more deeply about what
our needs, priorities and dreams are for ourselves and
our loved ones and families.
What I would argue is that despite the drive to short term
wins, which form a hedonic treadmill, it is important
to search and reaffirm our values and principles in
all the things we do and say.
Longevity now means forming different multi-generational,
interdisciplinary teams to tackle problems, if even for
a short term. Then, doing it again and again and again with
Security does not mean static; it argues for dynamism, recognizing
constraints and timelines. It means preparing for change and
Loyalty recognizes both the good in everyone, including ourselves,
and our limitations and defining priorities and common
Over the last couple of months features of the new US
Patent law have been brought to my attention and may
be of interest to you. One is called a provisional patent
application [note: not a provisional patent, as I was led
to believe] which established a filing date before the USPTO.
It is a legal document containing patent specification, all
elements to make the subject matter understood and fully
embodied, without formal patent claims, inventors’ oaths
or disclosure statement. The applicant must file a formal
application for a non-provisional patent application within
The provisional patent application can be less detailed,
has lower costs and expires if not followed with a formal
patent application within a year.
Ashby Jones provided an update on another feature of
the newer patent law, the Patent trial and appeal board.
It, as Jones describes, allows a party to challenge whether
a patent should have been issued based on whether they were
vague, obvious or flawed. Both sides of the issue claim
either the board lessens their rights or it is making it
too expensive to hang on to patents for which they struggled
to get approved.
In our Professional Development class this week,
half the class was assigned to describe a key strength
they have and provide a clear, relevant example of when
they have demonstrated it. The other half described a
weakness each one has and what they are doing about
These are relevant questions each one of us needs to ask
ourselves when we do a personal self assessment.
Some indicated that they struggled with completing
one or the other situation, because it was not something
they did in their native culture or they had not done something
like this before. In each case I reviewed their submissions and
provided constructive commentary on keywords, concepts
and stories. One suggested, however, a weakness of
“perfectionism”. To which I indicated– try again. That will
He came up with something. However, there was a discussion
in our class. Some felt that they fit with that weakness
So, we discussed that striving for excellence is certainly one
desirable strength, however, its negative, despite advice others
may provide to call an extreme of your strength, a negative, in
this case does not work in real situations… Why not? the discussion
1. this is one of the top “RED FLAG” answers and I
would suggest you not use.
2. perfectionists are far less happy than high achievers
and less able to cope when things go awry.
3. there is no such thing as “perfect, ” so perfectionists
are chasing an impossible task and might never know
when to end a project
4. they can often miss deadlines and waste time, money
and resources re-doing a task that they will never be
pleased with anyway
5. they tend to make poor managers by setting impossible
standards and withholding praise from staff.
Your future supervisors and managers will seek out your
weakness since they wish to find out how you perceive
yourself and if you can take constructive feedback to
A career is a process (not an outcome) with many
transactions. You are the CEO of ME, Inc. as Reid
Hoffman wrote. Your job is to learn your strengths,
develop an ability to articulate your value so that
others will understand and appreciate you and your
contributions. Test scores from college entrance
exams are again being sought at a time when there might
be an oversupply of candidates.
New trends in when an employees 401K match is
paid out can provide a difference when comparing
The “pull” marketing of our job hunt strategy is
continuously influenced by tactics in using Linkedin.
TEST SCORES IN JOB INTERVIEWS
SOURCE: WSJ 2-26-14, p. B1
M. Korn, “Job Hunt? Dig up those SAT Scores“
The author writes about a recurring trend to include
an applicant’s SAT test results as a factor in the evaluation.
SAT scores provide a short term assessment, valid or
not, of a person’s preparation and prediction of
success in the first year of college. So many things
have evolved in the SAT tests so it might be hard to
compare 1970s vs. 2013s results. A person’s track
record of results and objective references of what
they actually do on the job should be most relevant.
It should be a signal to interviewees if this occurs
as article comments point out.
401K MATCHING FUNDS TIMING DELAYED
SOURCE: A. Sklover, 2-21-14
“Did you know that…“
A. Sklover pointed out a recent bump in the trend for
employers to hold on to longer term savings for
employees. First it was replacing formal pensions with
401K matched at the time of contribution. Now, the
matching is happening at the end of the calendar year.
Thus, account balances will be lower throughout the
year. And, should an employee leave or be asked to
leave earlier, they do not receive the match.
Al provides six checks for employees to consider.
LINKEDIN JOB HUNTING TACTICS
SOURCE: L. Garver CareerHub BLOG 2-23-14
“Linkedin Confusion or Conquest“
Things you typically will not hear at a workshop
Your homepage: complete it, scan for valuable
resources, consider “liking” to significant items
Apply for positions daily; don’t miss Monday
Premium service: “feature my application,”
explore using “A vs. B testing” various options,
Participation: initiate discussions in primary and
secondary groups, visit and become knowledgeable
in topical areas, reconnect with network, follow
up and comment to contributions important to you.
An inquisitive student asked for some help. In order for some
possible mentors to help him he was advised to share a letter
of professional goals.
He asked: How is that different than a standard cover letter.
It might be as simple as what I heard Adam Cheyer describe as
one of three pillars to career success– VSG, verbally stated
goals. [the other two were (2) going and working outside of
your comfort zone, ie., try things, and (3) be open for the
unpredictable turn of lucky events, so try many different things
and see what happens.]
It is probably not as simple as a “cover letter” or letter of
intent which can be viewed in a similar vein.
It seems more likely to be one of the wise skills, known as
goal-setting. Often the career coaching and management
literature speaks about SMART goals. Tulane University does
a creditable job pulling thoughts together where one might
“inform” your job search with professional goals.
More than a few students have mentioned to me how
valuable the exercise of writing down their goals has
been in pursuing their career.
What might help defining the goals is doing a personal self
assessment which can be called the zeroth level of the process.
Five years ago this blog reminded readers of services
that outplacement firms provided clients who had been
severed from an employer. My experiences with them
had been stunningly meaningful personally in gaining an
better understanding of the differences in different people’s
emotional impact of job loss and emotional resilience.
I recall my wife and I speaking with a psychologist about
the different ways people react to job loss. Back in the day,
DBM, the firm hired by my former employer, provided
valuable tools to re-start my career. Fast-forward to today,
our transcription of Outplacement services that are expected
- understand, reflect and deal with emotional impact to
individual and family
- series of personality instruments. with guidance and
- job lead resources, now enhanced by the Internet and
niche job boards and search tools (tracking system, too)
- building resumes, cover letters, critiquing them and
printing hard copy (plus secretarial and posting services)
- Online presence development such as Linkedin profile
and appropriate webpage web presence.
- up to date tools for do relevant company research, all
within an office with privacy and facilities.
L Weber and R. Feintzig authored an interesting piece
about the “shrinking outplacement services” people are
finding in the current market.
To me this only emphasizes the importance of Career
Services offered at Universities and leading technical
professional societies, like the ACS.
Weber and Feintzig report that tighter budgets and
competition from web only packages is minimizing the
individual “facetime” with experienced consultants
(from a worload of one to 30-40 to one to 150),
providing restricted phone access in its place, providing
sterile one directional on-line webinars and courses
online for training , and online self-service help to white
papers for resume and cover letter building for generic
It is a given that Push-Pull marketing strategies need to
bring in a number of Internet assets to successful job
Opportunity (job description)
Company webpage (news, products.competitors)
Network (who in your network is connected to this firm)
Google the firm (glassdoor.com yahoo.com/finance, etc.)
Investment review (when you work for a firm you are investing your
life’s energies in the firm and its people)
Interviewers profiles/ affiliations
Your personal self assessment
Match between your strengths and the job requirements
References (keep them informed)
Benefits should not be the reason to agree to work
at a location or company or sector, but it does factor
into ranking opportunities. It is better to establish
and confirm these on going into an interview, than
finding out after you are on the job 3 months. [It is
true things can change a lot between an offer and
working in place.]
There are several perspectives on overall compensation
packages. I talked today with one high level technical
manager who thought.when an offer, a good offer, is made,
to a highly qualified and desired candidate, it is either
accepted or rejected. No room should be made for
Another hiring manager thought that an offer should be made
quickly but that there should be some consideration for
negotiating, like hiring bonus at start up or a 5% higher
amount, since many candidates who receive attractive
offers will want to negotiate. Round numbers: Offer
$100K, but be willing to go up to $105, or offer a
sign-on bonus that also pays the taxes on the bonus.
Each candidate needs to examine the whole suite of
benefits and establish what is best for their family situations.
It is often not easy to determine a dollar value for
insurances and vacations and motivational awards.
One company, for example, offers a strong package including
health, life and injury, disability insurances, retirement income
and business travel insurances. A flexible spending
account, domestic partner coverages, children till 26,
401(k) plans with matching, and a personal investment
planning seminar series.
A number of sites have on-site medical, on-site car,
immunizations, fitness, gyms and credit unions.
Competitors present 4 weeks of vacations per year (+ week
between Christmas and New Years) [vs. 2 weeks], and
recognize the importance of work life balance supported by
health and financial wellness programs. They also
emphasize learning and development (’lunch and learn,’ tuition
reimbursement and mentoring programs) and state of the
art research facilities.
Louise Garver also points out several benefits that could
be included in a negotiation discussion, including
expedited review, and
”informed value” of stock options.
The outcome of the importance of each of these factors
could be different for different people and at different
times in each person’s career lifespan. These kinds
of determinations should be estimated before an on-site
interview. Think about asking questions of the HR
manager developed to confirm importance.
Preparation is key on these.
Last week, I met an interesting person who was the “managing
director’ of a research center. We spoke several times over
a few days and I came to learn she was only in the role for
a couple of months.
She spoke of having explored various roles following her PhD
as a post-doc and as a technical expert consultant for a consulting
firm. Now, and in this role, she was getting experience as a
More than one PhD graduate has described their goal to be a
manager. So there might be something to learn from this case.
Over our time, I devoted my attention to listening rather
than “advising.” As we know, the strongest attribute of a manager is
to be a great listener and motivator. So, at times where I did probe,
it was to find out fundamental motivations. It appeared to be freedom
to choose where to work, move when she wanted and build
a productive “empire.” That is what she felt her position offered.
She also seemed to like to believe managers could ‘direct’
rather than ‘enable’ research. Not everyone has the skills and
attributes to be a good manager. Scientists and engineers see
this as a possible track for career growth. It may on the other
hand lead to anxiety and unanticipated pressure.
If I had more time to discuss management with her I would
offer thoughts like Al Sklover offered. In addition to my
top three from Al’s list, I would add one.
Let me highlight top three tips for technical management for me:
(1) Provide equal opportunities to prosper and grow, and
equal accountability when mistakes or malfeasance occur.
(2) Co-create with each group member achievable goals establishing
direction and priority. Create feedback loops so that there are
(3) Continue to develop increasing competences and
professional skills to assume responsibility so that people feel
there is something in it for them.
In addition, it is important to
(4) scrutinize information and be cautious about making
pronouncements without due diligence and checking the
So often I have seen middle managers take
orders to do something that was wrong, even scandalous,
yet they did it. The people instigating it may have personal
advantage as their sole intent.
These are the kinds of points that might be part of a management
Attended a presentation that offered several sites
that were reported to involve more academic research
audiences. The list J. Kamens offered included:
Belonging to several networks can take a bit of time.
She recommended the use of a social media dashboard