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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/21/16
Bayesian Thinking. Use of Slack for Project work
Filed under: Recent Posts, Leadership, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:26 am

Innovation, experimentation and support from
leaders are often the keys to bringing progress.

As we have mentioned in a recent post, simply 
listing pros and cons is not the most effective 
way to move ahead, or, for that matter, make decisions.

Look for countering information, add more factors
and categories… Then apply the Bayesian logic of probabilities.

This is an example of critical thinking to consider.
Recently I had a conversation with a small business
in high tech who applauded “Slack“.  What he said is
that it has revolutionized his teams’ fun, focus, and
outcomes.  
Let me share how Slack is project management 
“mindfulness” from his blog.

 The suggestion here is this tool is one that can be broadly
applied and due to ease of use widely adapted.   It is like
using shared cloud storage or using search engines.

We in Chemistry should be leaping to use this in our
smaller groups.  Share your experiences and learnings.
Remember a negative outcome is often more useful in
the long run and not a “con!”
1 comment
07/19/16
International and Business Focussed Resumes. Updates for 2016
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 3:16 pm

With several requests for career paths outside the US
and in non traditional technical roles, we learned,
advised and compiled useful documents for each:

Industry Jobs for PhDs

INDUSTRY JOBS FOR PhDs in SCIENCE 2016.doc
Business focused resumes:

BUSINESS RESUMES 2016.doc
International resumes:
INTERNATIONAL RESUMES 2016.doc

comments (0)
07/12/16
Preparing for Career Paths in Graduate School.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:59 am

The seminar on the titled topic highlighted three
key areas that people in grad school can focus on
in addition to items successful predecessors pointed
out
, namely:

  - get out of the lab and meet people from different 
backgrounds, for the degree alone is not enough
  - develop critical thinking skills that will help
writing communication, audience analysis in dealing
with different audiences and 
  -  be on positive terms with your advisor and committee
members so that they want to be allies for you in your
career for the long term.

The first TOPIC area was GRIT.  That is perseverance in the face
of challenges.  Angela Duckworth has pointed out its value
and ways we can gain this formidable character element.
We see this essential in all career paths.

The second area was TRUST.  
Trust is an unmistakable key allowing teams be effective and
successful.  We had a true life story about how a manager
in a company micro-managed a professional repeatedly
returning to find out results.  It was done to the point of
indicating a lack of trust and commitment.  
Trust between all levels in an organization or in a partnership
is something we can learn and be able to foster and recognize.

The third was bringing out the concept and examples of
Bayesian thinking to develop as a critical thinking tool.
We had a working example and then lively discussion
how this is applied in a job search where a person accepted
a temporary position.  Then he navigated unemployment to
receive four interviews and multiple offers helped by
the short term position experience.
1 comment
07/07/16
How do you apply for a position?
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:05 am

An email came from Lee the other day:

“guidance on contacting a job poster before sending a resume”

which seemed curious. 
  Was it a poster session? 
  Was it a position seen on a job board? 
  Did it ask to upload the resume to an online address?

We clarified things over the next few days.  He read an
attractive job board posting on Linkedin for a firm that would
make sense for his career path.

But, we know you help yourself in obtaining an interview if you
can be referred by an employee or better yet the hiring manager.
To do that Lee might informally contact an employee who is
part of your network or extended network and pursue at
least an ‘information interview.’   It would possibly allow a
‘networking interview’ as well.  [Parts of the Interviewing
Continuum
, see the side bar for details on each type of interview]

My suggestions to him included:
  1.  CONTENT It would be important to formulate the public
relations documents incorporating keywords that will be sought. 
  2.  FORMAT If you can speak to someone who does interview
for the company you can ascertain if there is any specific
elements and style resume reviewers prefer.
  (business style
focus, chronological, technical focus, research summary,
particular cover letter, Europass format for international, etc.) 
  3.  Does he have network members who work at the company?
Has he spoken with the network contact about the position?
(Think about possible win-win situations– employee referral
can lead to a bonus for the employee.)
  4.  Liz Ryan wrote a nice piece how Linkedin can assist the
job search process of narrowing down the companies, finding
hiring managers, learning about the culture and interview
expectations you may encounter.  This too could lead to a
pull marketing mechanism since you might be able to curate
your Linkedin profile to be picked up by recruiters.
  5.  Plan a follow-up campaign that includes thank you notes,
talking up the network participants, modifying the PR documents
as appropriate, setting a timeline for follow-up communication
and including it in the cover letter.
  6.  Do detailed research on the firm.  Patents, business results,
investment insights.
  7.  Enter total information into your job search spreadsheet
that tracks all communication.

 

comments (0)
06/30/16
Negotiations. What might you do dealing with Intimidation
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:14 am

We had an interesting problem dealing with a vendor who wanted us
to commit “right now.”  It is a situation that can happen broadly in
many employment scenarios.

James Baker provides situations where you might feel manipulated
in making decisions–
1- pressure with deadline:  question how real the deadline is, test
the parties motivation and propose what will be best for both
2- pressure with competitive price, vendor or approach:  ask for
details on the quality and terms of the competition.  Look for other
features you offer or provide.
3-  missing person to be consulted or limited authority:  ask to meet
with the person who has final authority or find out who makes the
final decisions regarding delivery, price payment, exact details of
the work.
4- moral appeal:  what is underlying motivation, indicate you are
looking to be fair with all and create good long term relations
5- good guy/ bad guy:  understand the manipulation and understand
that your requirements and needs are included
6- name dropping or association of related situations, number of
other clients, or similar customers.

Intimidators will use every trick they have and know.  When they
find it will not work, they will become friendly.  It is just another
“face.”  We need to find a way to convert them into someone who
we can reach an agreeable outcome with.

Another good resource is provided.

1 comment
06/28/16
Watch-Outs. 97. Helium discovery, Jobs-computers-automation, and Impact of Sweet Chemicals
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:12 am

There is a section of Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book
Second Machine Age that reviews the term “technological
unemployment.
“  It is attributed to the use of human labor
not finding application in the emerging economy and finds
causes from inelastic demand (machines, robots and computers
replacing and not taking breaks in fault-tolerant activities),
people not adapting to skill needs  and long term cost
reductions.  Two recent articles speak to recent job loss
in the chemical enterprise and the perspective from a
different field, economics.

I cannot think of another situation where there is
big news of finding an unexpected source of a
needed chemical other than rare earth elements
in China..  This time it is helium.

Food science resources that might help us
manage chronic diseases seem to be rare.  The
resources we see available are mostly proponents of
use or pharma companies for encouraging various
drug candidate use.  Here is one on sweeteners that
should be shared widely.

TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT
SOURCES:  J. Bessen HBR 2016, “Computers Don’t
Kill Jobs but increase Inequality

                      The Economist, 6-25-2016 “Special Report:
Artificial Intelligence

                      Dolan, Detroit Free Press,  “Dow to cut
700 Jobs in Central Michigan

Despite simple explanations that computers are growing
jobs due to new applications and broader usage, the
story is not as clear as Bessen writes.  You cannot
predict what you should learn and additionally, academics
are generally a technology generation behind actual
usage.  The Economist special section covers briefly
what is known and gives more up to date detail that
many fields are continuously evolving with new AI
methods ie ‘deep learning software available on open
source basis.’

Dow recently announced job losses in the chemical
enterprise that will have ripple effects as they “rationalize
their labor force needs”.   Sure there are business priorities
globalization will play a role as information can be shared
instantaneously and worked on anywhere in the world.
so you can see technical experts with advanced expertise
surviving, but there is much uncertainty for those seeking
full time, longer term employment.

The Economist series places one leg on each side of the
fence (pro and con), but you should look for areas of
opportunity (what robots and computers cannot do).

The longer term ripple effect of Dow-DuPont acquisition
and spin-offs are a visible example that the chemical
enterprise is not immune from this despite what popular
literature tries to sell.

HELIUM FIND IN AFRICA
SOURCE:  NYTimes feed “Huge Helium Source found in Africa
I was somewhat aware of the shortage of helium used
in many advanced technologies from Nick Leadbeater.
Working with Helium One, a Norwegian exploration firm
Oxford geologists uncovered a gas field rich in helium.
It is material released from rocks due to volcanic heat
in adjacent rocks.  The finding is of large commercial
value and may lead to testing other similar formations
goldilocks zones“.

There are important implications for industry.

TEMPTING SWEETS MAY NOT BE ALL THAT GOOD
SOURCE:  S Ernst, Amer. Laboratory, “Sweet Tooth”
 June/July 2016 p. 6-7.
Ernst’s article on Sweet tooth captured my interest.
and led me to look at Sugarscience.org.  There are
a number of metabolic tendencies that may the result
of food formulations that attract customers to purchase
and ingest what may not be best for them.  The website
seems to be a terrific repository of reviewed information
not biased by organizations that profit from its content.

comments (0)
06/25/16
Preparing for Career Paths in Grad School
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:35 am

In the past seminars have been offered about “other documents
[realizing as Don Straits has indicated that often we need to
convert an uninterested reader to an interested reader] and
dealing with uncertainty” in our lives [where we referred to a
matrix that identifies what we might do if we feel anxious, confused,
frustrated or stuck].
While these are helpful in certain aspects of career development,
we are looking to address things we can do in graduate school to
gain skills and prepare for career paths.

For this seminar I thought it helpful to review some trends,
review psychological factors that influence our decisions and
talk about the concept of professional presence.  What I think
might be meaningful for the audience will be to highlight several
Mind organizing tools reviewed in Daniel Levitin’s book,
The Organized Mind. ”

- shift the burden of organizing to the external, learn the
patterns that already exist and build on them
- encode new information with mental discipline tricks–
spell a new name, formulate an association strategy
- learn and value the “daydreaming mode of thinking”
- searching and filtering
- blend in organizing home, personal and social lives,
time and business.

Today’s graduate education is so often concentrated on
the technical literature devoid of application and a notable
absence of practical psychology of what it is like being a
professional… shall we call it meta-science?

comments (0)
06/16/16
Watch-Outs. 96. Credit Card Use, 2016 Fortune Rankings
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:44 pm

No one tells you that when you are out of state or country, your
credit card may be rejected for a purchase.  It is helpful to have
a second card handy and available and to notify the credit card
company of foreign or out of state purchases/travel and when
there is a sizable purchase.

The world of commerce and business can be modeled and projected.
Nonetheless, models are always approximations and usually wrong.
So, when looking for positions good mentors point to looking at
the real data and emerging trends.  Two sources are this month’s
Fortune magazine and a ground breaking book by Brynjolfsson and
McAfee about the second machine age which points out so many
things about the growth and decline of career paths, companies and
the job market itself.

CREDIT CARD NOTIFICATIONS
We were traveling 3000 miles away from home.  We had stayed at
a hotel where we charged our room and I believe we had charged
a meal purchase.  Marriott Card

Then we stopped to fill the gas tank and charged the purchase.  Our
Fidelity and AAA VISA cards where rejected.   We learned that
international purchases, electronics or jewelry purchases, credit
 card balance [for those who carry a balance]. expiration date or
security code errors, expired credit card, gas or rental car charges
[especially if out of state or there is no credit delinquency in your
history],  can lead to card rejection.

Fortunately we had a Marriott Rewards Visa that was accepted.
Lesson Learned:  Call your 800 number on your card before your
trip, telling the operator where you planned to travel.

As a result, we needed to call the two card companies that rejected
the purchase to reinstate the accounts.

PROFITABILITY AND GROWTH TRENDS — INDUSTRIES,
COMPANIES
SOURCE:  Fortune, June 15, 2016 “Fortune 500 Lists” of
Companies and Industries.
This issue is a must for job seekers who wish to consider a
corporate career path.  First glimpse at Pp. 16-17 which
shows the “profitability of different industry segments” from
1995 - 2016.  The energy sector has taken a major nosedive
from top to bottom in the last 2 years.  Three sectors that
consistently led the pack are financials, technology and
healthcare.  This does not mean there are no jobs in energy
or sectors not in favor.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee have written about the second machine
age that we see upon us with sustained exponential improvements
in digital technologies and areas of commerce that use and
benefit from digitization, winners-take-all economy, and
the new ranking of fields, leaders and superstars.

P. F29 - F36 gives industry sector rankings of companies.
P. F37 - F42 gives ranking based in each US state

comments (0)
06/06/16
Job Offer. Background checks, Persistence, and Professional Way to Turn down an offer
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 3:23 pm

A colleague was encouraged by her PI to apply for a postdoctoral
associate (PA) position.  She was screened and traveled to an on-site
interview.   She reported back that the interviews went quite well
and she was optimistic.  Soon after (less than a week), an offer letter
came for a one-year appointment as PA.  The first paragraph also
included starting date, annual salary of $42K, the supervisor’s name
and proviso that a background check was a precondition.
[There were usual links to policies and benefits.]

My follow-up comments to her included:
- congratulations, but keep looking
- concerns about inserting phrases in the offer letter about learning
what they find in the background check, following Al Sklover
The “Background-Check” Provision in Offer Letters –
A Risk You Should Try to Reduce
- critical review of the starting salary using ACS salary comparator.
[$42K is at the 30 percentile of such offers.]

Initial back and forth negotiations said nothing could be done with
salary, but relocation assistance would cover all expenses.  No
support for green card application was forthcoming but they
understood the background check concern as her name is common
and could easily lead to confusion in such checks.  She approved
the offer and signed the document.

Not two weeks later did she attend another conference and met
an entrepreneur who invited her to come for an interview for a
position that looked even better than the post-doc.

She was encouraged to pursue the position.  She had two separate
interviews and dinner with the firm’s president.  The result was
a very nice offer, more than $20K higher, with a series of positive
incentives (including assistance with obtaining a green card). 
The problem was that she had accepted a post-doc offer.
Can you go back and turn down an offer to accept a better one?

Yes!  It is entirely feasible.  Yet, it is important to respond
professionally on both offers. Review the second job offer diligently
and confirm the offer details and starting arrangements (like
background check as, above).  Then, practice a turn down
conversation with the first supervisor.  Have all the details ready
and professionally articulated.
Then, do it in person, not via an email.

Her follow-up:
“I thought phone would be better and direct rather than just sending
an email.  As mentioned in this article you just sent, Dr. …. said that
my decision is certainly not convenient for them.  But he appreciated
that I called in a timely manner and discussed the situation.  He
realized that my preference has always been to work in industry, and
this job sponsors me for work authorization in the US.  I also told him
that I would be happy to help them in finding the best candidate for their
position.  So, in the end, he wished me best luck for my future career.

…After the phone conversation, I sent an email to the HR person …
acknowledge her and let her know my decision.  So she won’t [proceed
with other paperwork.”

comments (0)
05/30/16
Professional Behavior. Psychology background on Decisions- Dan Ariely
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:14 pm

One of the books I have read recently was “Predictably Irrational
by Dan Ariely, ‘The hidden forces that shape our decisions.’

Three concepts were revealing in understanding certain decisions
we make
1. arbitrary coherence that directs preconceptions
2. market norms and social norms influencing what is considered
in explaining resolving conflicts
3. how ownership pervades our life and shapes many things we do.

Arbitrary coherence signifies an anchoring effect (being first to set a
price or cost or salary) that encroaches on our minds for decisions. 
Considering where this preconception arises and how irrational it
may be can allow us to bypass this habit of mind.  (think:  negotiation
and other numerical choices)

The most telling concept for me was the difference and impacts of
market and social norms on decisions
.  Social norms seem to be
common in collective cultures.  It results in collaborations that lead
to a benefit to one person or group and builds on a social relationship.

Market based norms are revealed when money is involved and you
feel like you get what you pay for.  It can be controlled by contracts
or involved when rewards are given that have a certain monetary value
or equivalence.
Companies like to influence a market based transaction by bringing in
a social component.  It is this mixing of market and social norms
that changes the nature of decisions and the appearance of ethical
choices.

Companies also like to bring in social based norms in motivating
employees.

Finally, Ariely highlights how we feel the influence of owning a
physical (house, shoes, pen, whatever) or
nonphysical item (idea, virtual, insurance)
on decisions to change.  Ariely introduces several lines of thought
that help us manage our urges when ownership can impede our
decision process.

There are many situations where managing these psychological
concepts can lead us to more professional behaviors
.

comments (0)
05/23/16
Time to Talk about Skill, Luck and Appreciation
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:00 am

Have you ever thought about what it will take for you and
each one of us to reach the American Dream of the pursuit
of happiness, fulfilled life and liberty (equality, rights and
justice under law)?

So much is heavily weighted on how the privileged have
advantages.  The fact remains that outside of that, luck and
skill play roles for ourselves and our careers.

We have talked about practicing and putting in the time and
energy to master skills where in the end
   success = potential * serendipity  [LUCK]
We have mentioned Jim Collins’s concept of Return on
Luck
, in other words, when good fortune happens what you
do with it.  He also strategizes on how you plan for and
capture luck.

Building on these is a nice piece by Bob Frank in NYTimes
Are you successful
, where he cites
+  Mona Lisa became famous after an Italian maintenance
employee at the Louvre stole it and it was recaptured LUCK
+   Statistical correlation between Economics professors
where manuscript authorship is in alphabetical order giving
lead authors faster recognition LUCK
 +  Your country of origin and even your month of birth
can correlate in the past with different success measure
trends. LUCK

To me M Mauboussin’s piece gave me a moment to pause,
as he asked three questions in relation to the relative
importance of luck and skill-
1- can you accurately predict an outcome and from a set of
starting conditions /influences?  If so, is it easy to implement or
a challenge?
easy- SKILL dominates;  challenge- LUCK may.
2- what is the frequency of ‘reversion to the mean’ outcomes?
low- SKILL         high- LUCK or external influences
3- can forecasters predict outcomes consistently?
yes- SKILL          no- LUCK, or bad question or phrasing

Being able to look at any outcome and appreciate the
contributions of others, nonetheless will influence
attitudes and future opportunities in striking ways.
Look at every chance to express your appreciation
for that will be an influence.

LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity + action comments (0)

05/20/16
Did you know? Pre-employment Testing
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:50 am

Al Sklover posts a “did you know…” blog post every once in a
while.  So, I thought it might be worth mentioning something
some applicants would consider after interviewing.  Knowing
something about what else may be expected from each
successful applicant includes polygraph, credit, security
background and

Applicant medical evaluation and drug testing.

You might be aware of mental and competence testing that
some employers have third parties administer.  Also, it is required
by federal law to pass alcohol and drug testing of blood and
urine.  There is a benefit for employers since insurance premiums
can be lower.  In addition, employers seek to maintain a drug free
perception, which also includes nicotine from tobacco products.

Complications occur with medications and statutes that legalize
controlled substances in certain states.  Thus, marijuana is listed as
a schedule I drug under federal statutes leads companies to fire or
refuse to hire, if detected.

Certain prescription medications may also trigger a red flag, so it
is worth knowing about medications that physicians prescribe for you.

comments (0)
05/16/16
Can Job Security be decided by an Algorithm?
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:54 am

Can job security be relegated to  rely on algorithms?

My short answer is probably not, because it makes assumptions
to achieve an outcome in a reasonable amount of time.

Our careers make many shifts, turns, abrupt endings, transitions
and shifts at many unexpected times.  Why are they so
unpredictable?  For one thing, they are human endeavors
that result in and from mistakes or put another way less
than optimal outcomes.

I viewed Derek Lowe’s blog “The Algorithms are coming,”
in which he discusses and Angewandte Chemie article about
developing optimum and projected synthetic organic chemistry
paths to making synthetic target molecules with computer
algorithms.

As we decide it is a more efficient habit to employ algorithms
in our life, it is appropriate to ask such a question in relation to
important outcomes like dealing with job security. 

An algorithm is a set of commands or instruction steps designed
to achieve a suitable outcome or optimization, like page-rank,
min-max, and many others.  Algorithms have been in vogue
for centuries.  We observe many situations where robots, laser
optical devices and machines are making tasks minimizing human
intervention and judgment.  In fact, many “aggregators” use
algorithms to match up job descriptor keywords to display
positions a job seeker might apply for.

There will be an increasing marketing of career path algorithms
to lead you making your choice.  It is a very complicated
series of decisions that has a very long lead time, building
up of experience in some cases, developing soft and
wise skills and assessing your own desires and needs,
which often cannot be put into a search tool keyword list.

I found McHenry Community College has a nice list of
suggestions offering that it is not just a concern when in
a job seeking mode, but throughout our career as things
change.  An algorithm will not do this.

 

comments (0)
05/11/16
Hot Topics. Free the Science, Chemistry-Economics, New Materials Methods
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:51 am

How can you bring new ideas to an organization?  When
first mentioned, members will say–that’s crazy!  We’ve
done it before or it has been tried and look what happened….

Three possible revolutionary (and helpful) ideas are
offered here.  One has been mentioned before, free dissemination
of high quality chemical information
.  Free the science!

There is a large hew and cry about increasing employment
opportunities
for people in the chemical enterprise–
technicians, engineers, biochemists, and many sub-disciplines.
Are we asking the blind where to look and how to find trends,
opportunities, and ideas?  We should have a whole division
entitled, Chemistry and the Economy which uses Economists
tools of data analysis and superforcasting!

Can we predict the outcome of experiments?  Yes when we are
lucky… that is why we do experiments.  A group from LANL,
I heard from a member of my network, uses informatics based
adaptive design to define new materials.

DISSEMINATE KNOWLEDGE FREELY
Many are not aware but over a hundred years ago a group of
scientists
separated from the ACS and formed their own
society since their needs were not met.  At this time the
critical needs of the world are not met by large commercial
interests and privatized, high cost journals.  There is a
critical need to radically change how good information is
shared.  A model for this has been published and is being
implemented.  The incremental, “nibble at the apple” approach
that is not affordable outside large institutions should change.

NEW DIVISION:  ECONOMICS AND CHEMISTRY
Chemists are not economists.  Economists are not chemists.
Why are we asking chemists to assess the economy and
report on how the chemical enterprise evolves and what
will be viable career fields in the future.  You can not look
at the past to predict the future.  Things change fast.
We need, as a society, a new division dedicated to asking
economics questions about STEM fields.

The ACS, NESACS and other sections and divisions have
no influence over creating jobs in the private or the
public sector.  There is a crying need for the ACS to
define a new and important role, outside of the chemical
realm that asks the questions we are not able to develop
answers or even superforecasts.  Please let’s develop a
new division!

LANL INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Many have learned that hunches tested  by trial and error
have yielded new materials for practical materials.  Think
of for example lithium battery cathode material.  The
LANL group has developed a partial factorial designed
experiment approach that is quicker and more efficient.
This brings in innovations in statistical design much
needed in designing materials of the future.

1 comment
05/04/16
Professional Behavior. Cultural fit, Productive Habits and Pausing
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:19 am

Approaching a job search and change feels like a change in mental
frame of mind, yet it should be little different than our routine.

Since what we think and how we behave comes down to routine
actions in response to a cue to achieve an outcome, certain habits
should be our professional pattern.  However, in different circumstances
and millieus, it might be different.  Thus, we need to figure out our
professional presence in these settings to be productive.

Some elements of our professional presence are expressed in
Charles Duhigg’s latest book.  Duhigg writes about
 a motivation (in particular “the five whys”)
 b teams and group norms that matter most
 c managing our focus (understanding reactive thinking and cognitive
tunneling)
 d stretch and proximal goal setting (plan with probability, not certainty)
 e decision making (using Bayesian psychology and probabilities)
 f innovation (using scaffolding and choice combinations)
 

Much of this we learn after the fact and some we do not ever
recognize.  If a job is not a good fit, we can feel less confident and
it seems like an act.  Trust can be missing with co-workers. 

Much has been discussed about what to look for in our careers.
Anna Hunter described it well when she mentioned the cultural
fit of us into an organization is the highest indicator of satisfaction.
The fit, she indicates, is a feeling (emotional), matches our interests
and values, involves tasks and interactions that serve our skill set

to continually grow and improve.

What tasks engage and excite you?
With whom did you work with and how were you related to them,
relationship-wise? [SUPERVISOR-PROFESSIONAL,
PEER-PEER]  What was the nature of your role?

Early in your career it may be helpful to experience different situations
and perform a pause moment to think about the experience both during
and reflecting afterwards on its bigger picture.
Pausing will help you prioritize the cultural aspects

When we are involved in the interviewing continuum, which happens
earlier now than in the past, we would seek out directions rather than
destinations and explore what we need to make progress.  Many positions
are not advertised and we need to match our intentions which we need to
put into words and demonstrate in competences and potential.

comments (0)
05/01/16
Critical Reading. Patents, business results and technical literature
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:48 pm

One of the short discussions we had in our class this year was
on the role of critical thinking.  It was not elaborate or drawn
out with many inferences and examples like it could.

It was about reading with a “thinking” attitude.

One of the members brought up how he would teach undergraduates,
especially how to read the technical literature.  The citation he used
mentioned the old paradigm structure of the scientific method, as
if it were gospel. 

SOME QUESTIONS
Another view is to seriously evaluate the source who funded
the work, who gains from its publication and the true value?  What is
it do you want to learn from the report, communication or
article?  Is this too hard to ask?

This blog has cited Galea’s Fortune piece which points out biases.
Scientific literature can be read [or mis-read] with a structure
to influence the readers’ take-away message.

CORPORATE RESULTS
The Economist offered a remarkably insightful piece about corporate
financial results on which we depend on for employment, investment
and purchasing.
  It should be totally unbiased and reflect truth as
well.  The article puts forth the “carnival of confusion, obfuscation,
and fibbing” that would make “even presidential candidates blush”.

The article speaks to Valeant, Microsoft, SunEdison, GM, GE
restating earnings, adjusting figures, and using measures of
profit that do not have regulatory significance. 

Rules of thumb:  profit should be revealed in standard accounting
rules, without adjustments for mature firms
                              firms should not have large and persistent gaps
between official accounting and adjusted profits
                               firms should not have low tax payments, since
it should be reporting profits to investors and government
                                look at the “cash flow”
Look at this before sending in your application!

TECHNOLOGY REALITY CHECK:  PATENTS
For the first time I have seen CEN talk about reading the patent
literature
[and not an ACS journal article] to learn about something.
The recent issue revealed more significance can be gained
from reading the patent literature
.  While not the headline
or example, this statement is something we will not find
many research professors teach our students and post-docs.

There is something legally binding in patents.  When researching
the literature about your work or potential job applications,
patents should be a must area to review.

1 comment
04/22/16
Rules of Thumb. Dealing with new or unanticipated situation, American Business culture, Responding to No
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:39 pm

Connecting a phrase used on Royal Pains that we are “binge
watching” with a recent book I have finished provides the
inspiration for this entry.

F-R-E-A-K
Jeremiah Sacani (played by Ben Shenkman) utters a rule
 of thumb psychologists are attributed with for dealing with
new social connections or unanticipated situations– F-R-
E-A-K 
an acronym for 1- face the person or situation, 2- react
in a way that gathers information and understanding, 3-
empathize
in a way that reveals you are looking from being
in another’s shoes, 4- affirm what is going on in our minds
and what we think, 5- “kill it” and reach a conclusion.

CREATIVITY IN AMERICA
Alan Webber wrote a thoughtful book, Rules of Thumb  ,
that touches a cord that resonates with many audiences.  Part
of that is he lists 52 and the other is that it seems like
authentic Americana.  One in particular struck my funny bone,
having to do with what Americans like.  Thus what resonates
with American businesses and audiences.
 - Want things that work;  pride ourselves in getting things
done, and making things happen.             Does it work?
-  What will make things better;  look for ways to adapt and
make things better or find another use.  Can it work better?
-  What is new or next or never been done;  what can we do to
innovate and even self-improve.      What is new and better?

This brings up a rule of thumb connection to a connection in
Adam Grant’s TED talk on what brings about Creativity.  Three
disciplines that make a positive impact are:  allow ideas to
percolate up
and problems to germinate in our subconscious; 
manage our fear and doubt by partitioning it into doubt of
ourselves and doubt of our ideas
and then say ‘what have I
to lose if I do.’
His example is a thought provoking one making observations
about the internet browser we each use.  See the TED talk….
Fear not the possible failures, realizing that we are judged on
ideas and growth mindset.  Try many new things.

NO-  WHAT DOES IT MEAN
Webber’s Rule #13 is Learn to take “no” as a question.  No
is not necessarily a negative and can teach us critical things.  
It is said we are not trying hard if we do not hear a no.

Webber’s come back for no is:  Thank you– for the time,
attention and feedback.  We should try to not take things
personally and pursue what is
     missing or
     expressed wrong or
     mis-timed.


comments (0)
04/15/16
Weakness Discussions. Have trouble “saying no” to requests
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 6:20 pm

After you have a conversation with people and
see how they behave and react to requests you
can predict one of their weaknesses is they
have trouble saying “no” to requests.  Even
when the requests are not in their best
interests and may go against them.

I encountered two people who were surprised
when I predicted that they would agree that was
their weakness.  Both a young man and a young
woman were from international cultures.  The
same can be said with some American traditions,
but there are some slight differences.

This blog entry is about identifying people who
make such requests that are not in your interest. 
It is also about what we should be doing in a way
that realizes we will face these and what we can
do to more easily and more honestly deal with
these requests and feel good about ourselves.

SELF CONTROL
Pier Forni has written that exercising self control
realistically is working toward your goals, but
refraining from doing so at another’s expense in The
Thinking life (2010).
If you reach out and help someone else reach
their goals while reaching your goals you are
exercising “self-control” at its best.

The first step in defining when and when not to
say “no” is: understanding what the steps are to reach
your goals.  Then maintain self control to identify whether
a request aids in helping someone else reach their
objectives and yours.

PERSONALITY TYPES
Mark Goulston wrote about the different personalities
we will encounter who might ask for our help.

He classified them into a series of toxic people and Givers:
Toxic people are needy as they demand constant attention
and help, use emotional blackmail to get what they want,
and offer gratitude only if it “keeps you on the hook.”
    BULLIES - go after “easy prey” - your actionset boundaries
    TAKERS - ‘hit you up’ every day for an easy favor - your action:
immediately ask for something for them to do for you in exchange.
    NARCISSISTS - want to be the center of attention - see them
for who they are

    PSYCHOPATHS - cold, self-centered, ruthless, manipulators
- avoid

Then there are GIVERS who reciprocate, share and pass on
credit and attention and look for the benefit of the team and
each individual contributor.

ACTION ITEMS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TROUBLE SAYING NO:
Look at the people who play a role in your life
Write the response next to their name to the following:
    Can I count on this person to provide practical assistance
                              emotional support
                              prompt assistance when I am in trouble
                              financial support

LEARN TO SAY NO
1.  Set Boundaries;  What are your goals?
2.  Propose another way or another person to help or delegate
3.  Ask questions for clarity;  do the right things the first time
4.  Create more “thinking time”
        schedule time to think;  think with partners
        turn waiting time into thinking time

           


comments (0)
04/08/16
Reference Check. What is asked and how you can help yourself
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:01 pm

It is an essential part of the interview process that you will
provide references and they will be contacted.  As we know,
it is wise to ask if a person can provide a good reference for you
before you offer their name for a reference.

Recently, I was asked if I would act as a colleague’s
reference.  After her interview, she and I skyped to
share what the interview was like and to get prepared for
my part of her interview.

The reference checking can happen before you might
interview in places that know your reference.  That can
act as a sanity check to go ahead with more detailed
interviewing.

It can happen after the interview in two or three ways.
One is a phone reference check.  A second way is
to ask for your reference to complete a detailed form.
And a third variation is to ask for a letter of reference,
which would be similar to the common letter of
recommendation sought for academic position applications.

The reference checking process can be done by a HR
staffer or more frequently these days by a contracted firm
that specializes in this service.  Both the candidate’s
performance and my credibility are tested. 

So, during our Skype I asked the candidate what she learned
about the position and the company.  In addition, I asked for
a few personal/professional details so that I could strongly
describe that I knew the candidate.  She was involved in several
seminars, a course I led and we traveled to an international
meeting at which she overcame weather problems.

In our reference checking conversation, I confirmed personal
history and information about her strengths, weaknesses and
near term goals.

The person I spoke with, Sharon, politely confirmed her information
about me that the candidate provided.  Then, she asked if it was a
good time to complete this assignment.  I indicated yes.

There are standard questions that are usually asked:
 - how long is the business relationship and what was the formal
connection

 - is there any reason this person is not qualified to work in the
position?
 - provide details of directly working with the applicant on a project
 - assess the applicant’s performance on the project
 - please describe the candidate
 - what are her leading strengths
 - what performance factors could the applicant improve
 - would you recommend we hire this applicant

So, knowing specific personal strengths with examples and areas
the applicant needs to improve are very important.  Having an idea
of the applicant’s reflection of how the interview day went will
reveal if the applicant was comfortable with the culture and
people experienced.  The reference needs to find a way to express
strong desire with the opportunity and be an advocate.

comments (0)
04/01/16
Comments on Individual Development Plan Templates
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:04 am

IDPs– We find these shortcut tools in many organizations.  We have
shied away from bringing this up after a conversation with Judy Grutter
a true guru in the field of career management and personal counseling.

IDPs are commonly planning documents or templates completed over
the next period, commonly, a year.  They are reviewed, revised and
discussed with supervision with the aim of guiding performance to
achieve  objectives leading to outcomes.

There is a common misapplication of this format to apply to managing
careers and long term goal achievement
.  No disagreement that
objective setting to achieve goals
is reasonable and important for
ourselves, teams and organizations.

AWARENESS OF STRENGTHS VALUABLE
There is no argument that a person is greatly aided in her or his career
quest by doing a 360-degree, self assessment
of emotional intelligence,
hard skills and interests, values and strong talents, personal behavior
tendencies, cultural biases, experiences and expectations. 

Expecting IDPs to do all this is just the beginning of expecting to do
too much.

There are other skills, soft and wise skills, that most IDPs seem to miss.
Some IDPs try to fix weaknesses and others extend a person’s strengths.
Nonetheless, the author needs to own the document and not be just what
the boss wishes.

What are some downsides of exclusively expecting IDPs to be a career
management guide? 
1.  needs to establish desired outcomes in an ever changing marketplace
2.  needs to have clear objectives
        getting a job, any job is not enough
3.  requires specific priorities and have strategies and keystone habits
to focus, limit distractions and understand perfect is the enemy of good.
4.  can put undue pressure on individual if someone else creates the
plan
5.  understand human’s Fear of failure and be resilient (wise skill) 
6.  adapt to changing conditions and needs

There are ways of dealing with the career management uncertainty.  We
need to understand both the piece that IDPs may partially provide, and
all the other pieces that must be supported elsewhere.

This blog suggests that career management have three options in
planning– specific focus, contingent outcomes, and a ‘Z plan’ where
everything works out perfectly.
 

1 comment