From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

July 2014
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Savvy Legal Advice. Affidavits, recordings, and legal perspectives
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 10:44 am

Several entries of this blog link to Alan Sklover’s blog,
“Sklover’s Working Wisdom”  for it contain both state
of the art information and suggestions, as well as a
professional legal resource for more personal issues.
Legal and ethical topics previously identified include:
  Important considerations in offer letter
  Checklist when starting a job
  “In the meantime” clause in Employment contracts
  Noncompete agreements and subpoenas
  Unemployment compensation considerations
Each of the above items are widely useful contributions.

More narrowly applicable items he has discussed are:

1.  After a complaint, your employer’s and your responsibilities
(Use of affidavit)
2.  Legal issues of recording conversations
3.  How to respond to question of managing people
4.  The phrasing and meaning of “term of appointment” in an
offer letter.

Keep Sklover on your radar screen in “bookmarks.”

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 62. Security, Shortage of Skills/Positions, Trends in Technical Societies
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:30 pm

Over the last few years in graduate student self-assessments, one
of the leading values that is expresses is Security.  In a sense, we
can all relate to the desire for a secure future. 

Very recently an accomplished scientist who was hired by a drug
discovery company CEO was publicly fired (ie.  story in the WSJ)
for not rapidly have his team develop new profitable products.
He has been there but 7 months
Security needs “a 21st century meaning in technical careers.”
It is the ability to look where fields and needs are moving and
proactively seek out skills preparing us to contribute and
have further development plans.

Desperation, exasperation, and despair appear in the eyes of many
STEM field graduates about what they will do for STEM JOBS.  It is
more about “minding the gap” between what is taught and practiced
in your education and training and what is needed in emerging and
growing fields. 

Just as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky said ‘pay attention
to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.‘ 

What societies do you belong to?  What local sections do you
actively participate in?  How do you decide?  What is offered and
WIIFM (what is in it for me)?  Just as the Internet has triggered
changes in marketing and sales of books, consumer items, and all manner
of knowledge sharing (MOOCS, weblogs, webinars) it is also changing
the playing field for technical societies. 

SOURCE:  Career Planning Career Mapping Tool MONSTER
Monster has put forward a forward seeking tool that might
be of value to your thinking process about managing your

However, leaving this on a computer or in a cloud file
while seeming to be current misses the urgency humans place
in face-to-face interactions. 

Plan to develop mentors, sponsors and referrals by working hard
to help others meet their goals.  Lou Adler offered salient advice
- get help in being a “perfect fit” for an opening.
- people who refer you for an opening, help themselves by helping
- know what recruiters seek when filling a position (they work for
the company), and give examples in your resume and relate stories
when you interview

is also about protecting your valuable information,
reputation and computer resources
.  In a podcast I recently listened
to I became convinced to explore ‘Krebs on Security.
- security tools
- patches

We need to “keep up with the times.”  If my university is not dedicated
to doing it, I need to find other avenues.  If my employer does not have
the funds or give me the time to do it, I have to find other avenues.
We must keep abreast of evolving needs of employers. 
EXAMPLE:  25 years ago only a few places sought HTML coders. 
Ten years later, your entry card was punched with HTML experience. 
HTML is less a key but a commodity today.  Jobs can be had with a
lower salary or for niche hiring (projects). 
Other experience with cloud computing and analytics seems a better path.

There is a “gap” between curves of skill level in what we learn and
what is needed in positions.  Peter Grey points out to independently
learn and gain experience in emerging technologies and critical ‘hard
skills’.  Gain experience and meet goals in new areas of challenge
instead of repeating previous career path efforts.  Learn from and keep
peers in your network.

Further reading from a recruiter about STEM jobs.

The debate goes on:  Is it worthwhile to belong to a technical
professional organization

The presence of the Internet and online Open Access Technical literature
might influence some segments of the professional population.
The need shifts depending upon the fields that you are involved,
your current and future needs, and your personal assessment and
how you would use the society for your advantage (WIIFM).

Some questions to help you decide about society membership:

Are you stuck where you are with little or no help out? (connections,
networking, sense for where field is moving and what is emerging,
access to leaders and hiring managers, finding solutions to problems,
finding resources and tools to solve problems)

Do you have mentors to ask about alternatives for decisions?

Do you feel that you are doing something that has already been solved
by someone else before?
  (Googling your question does not help!)

Are there situations that a group effort in advocating a cause would
be much more effective?

Some questions to help you decide about belonging to a large, broadly-
involved organization or a smaller, more cutting edge, faster moving

Do you want to be elected, volunteer for and serve in a leadership
?  (chances are better in smaller org.  or a local section)

How are you planning to continuously improve and update your
skills to be prepared for the future

How will safety and common good be served best?  Prevention
(like checklists) rather than band-aiding failing flow chart or procedures

BONUS:  It is noteworthy to point out an organization that is
reinventing itself as it sees the changing landscape in publishing.
The way they are doing it is an example to point out.

Watch-Outs. 61. Peer reviewed publications, Politics and Intuition
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:01 pm

One of the criteria for graduate degrees, promotions in academia,
and measures of scientific leadership is publication in peer
reviewed journals and chapters.  In the Internet-age this has
undergone several changes that are not readily apparent but
should be more broadly known. There are a few elements to
this including the “google effect” [the more times a fact
shows up in searches, the more popular.  See comment], 
“New York Times effect” [if it is in the NYTimes, it is true.],
and scientific findings are “truth.” Several evolutions in peer
reviewed publications are revealed.

Politics is something that all organizations are susceptible
of and many people feel crushed by not being able to come
across and compete on an even and fair playing field.  A couple of
links are offered to provide some background on causes and
what you might do.

Intuition is an unscientific ability that people with technical
training use but can be unconscious of its importance and
that your can train yourself to get better at.  A good read
link might show you where the ‘intuition gas pedal’ is.

The technical literature aims to publish factual detail,
results and conclusions.  A review of manuscripts by
peers knowledgeable in the field certify uniqueness, value
and worthiness.  A recent WSJ editorial excoriates science
for mistakes and errors that were reported and found.

The op ed, by a person who seeks to gain from the notoriety,
misses what science can teach us.  It, as a nice comment
to the online version reveals, teaches us the findings of
particular experiments.  Peer review allows others to consider
the results and compare it with their knowledge.  They may
even seek to repeat or discuss to clarify the results. 

There are other distortions to the classical concept of
peer reviewed publications especially in the Internet age with
online publications.  W. Arms brought many up in a Journal of

Electronic Publishing review.  There is no easy answer as
one of his main claims is publishing in a “top flight” publication
with enhanced editorial review.  “Cut and paste” journalism is
becoming acceptable.  Consider the Jonah Lehrer affair.

In 2012 the New Yorker hired Jonah Lehrer a science reporter
with best selling publications in neuroscience.  He was found to
“recycle” large amounts of his work and plagiarized other
in unacceptable ways.

This is an area all editors know well and have tools to manage.
Nonetheless, it is well to note science is done and reported
by humans.  Mishaps will pop up and it is responsible to be

SOURCE:  S. Shellenbarger, WSJ 7-9-14 p. D1
 ”Ever thought how did he get promoted
She reveals research on skills people use to gain attention,
influence, and advantage over others.  People displaying
these behaviors may not know, if done once.  If it is a
pattern of behaviors they will be detected and their careers
derailed since they are interested in short term benefits for
themselves .

Brian Tracy in “Create Your own Future” recommends:
  assume personal responsibility;  stop making excuses
  be compassionate;  avoid judging others
  express kindness in thought, word and deed
  build friendships, thinking of others
  be gentle to others

In the Accelerators Blog M. Webb talks about
partnering with people known for strong relationships
with others.  He also indicates the need to craft
agreements to meet each partner’s goals while
protecting and keeping confidential secrets.
The agreement needs to frame work, rewards and
commitments appropriately.

Avoid partners with “sharp elbows” and who
optimize for their individual gain.

BONUS:  Brian Tracy, “Create your own future:  How to
master 12 critical factors of unlimited success

John Wiley 2002.
There is much to like about this book.  I especially benefited
from his section on using your “superconscious mind” to
build capabilities to size up new situations and recognize
patterns to make decisions. –> tool kit for Intuition.

Branding and Career Management
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:46 pm

Most scientists and engineers are trained and the belief is
passed on to avoid snappy sound bites.  Most readers are
familiar with the “big bang theory”, not the sitcom, the
theory about the formation of the universe.  In fact, most people
in the western world would be tuned into this phrase and its
meaning.  Interestingly, though, it was first mentioned by
someone, Fred Hoyle, on BBC as a “poppycock idea”, for
he was a strong proponent of the competitor “steady state”
theory.  “Big bang” is a brand.

In our Career Management seminar Friday, Marisha Godek
spoke lucidly about how, in her company and industry, she
realizes the importance of developing a rapport with colleagues
and customers whose training and expertise are much different
than hers.  She also observed that being able to be a person
called on when there is a problem to solve or be invited to the
table when decisions are made calls on developing your personal
  It is sort of your colloquial “reputation”.

We see “branding” of science all over the place.  Scientific
publication is fabulously being rebranded in various contexts
by free access to publicly funded research results, to online
communities that discuss results and interpretations and implications,
and about evolving publication models.  In the last, note that
ACS now offers access to 25 articles without subscription, as
a temptation to inspire more journal subscriptions.
Stanford’s library did an excellent review of publication branding.

What Marisha was relating to is the importance, in corporate
and some institutional environments, of branding yourself.  This
is not a subject area that most scientists and engineers are familiar.
In her case, she seeks out mentors in her business realm, senior
director levels and multidisciplinary leadership backgrounds.

Quintessential Careers, Katherine Hansen, has a strong
commentary on how to brand resumes and profiles

Skills  +  Personality  +  Market need  =  Branding statement

and provides a list of brand representations for various industrial and
organization job seekers, for example

Able to deliver industrial engineering insights, gained through strong
record of accomplishments to your firm in manufacturing engineering.

Eager to strengthen the mission of patient focused pharmaceutical

Eager to contribute recent degree in Environmental Science and
strong applicable, hands-on testing and evaluation field experience

PRINCIPAL RESEARCH SCIENTIST, with a proven track record
in developing and bringing to market surgically relevant innovations.

1 comment
Watch-Outs. 60. Trends in Linkedin Job Seeking, Setting Goals, Businesses and Investment
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:30 pm

We need to spread our information gathering “net” out wider
and deeper and even do some ‘Levy’ Flights [how animals of
prey search for food in a prey-starved environment] to find
information pertinent to your career.

Tom Friedman interviewed Jeff Weiner CEO of Linkedin
in our first link.  He talks about new tools linkedin is
developing for managing your career.  Also he points out
five attributes employers are looking for.

John Bogle, Rosebeth Moss Kantor and WSJ panel wrote
about important emerging trends in business, investment
and research on companies.  We need to note that when we
go to work for a company we are “investing in that firm and
industry/”  Thus, we should know quite a bit about it.

As a bonus, I share a recent book you might find useful for
setting goals, by Brian Tracy.

SOURCE:  D. Madey, Linkedin blog “Linkedin’s vision for
an Economic Graph”. 
I know you will find this interview of Jeff Weiner compelling
in that he talks about his vision where Linkedin is moving to
help you manage your career.  He also indicates five attributes
employers now seek in new hires:  business acumen, resiliency
in leadership (come back from defeats), get “stuff done”,
vision of where technology is moving and shifting, and good
fit with the business culture.

SOURCE:  WSJ 7-8-14, P. R8.  “Why  global companies will
behave more and more alike
“  R. Moss Kantor
Now more than 100 of the world’s largest 500 firms are
Chinese and the former US corporate models of governance
and proliferation are “shape-shifting” .  She talks about “triple
bottom lines” of financial statement, requirements for the
environment and social reporting as represented by responsible
citizenship, carbon emissions and sustainability.
SOURCE:  WSJ 7-8-14, P. R22.  “The Incredibly Shrinking
Financial System
“  John C. Bogle
Bogle suggests a bubble in the international financial system
and that the 300 largest institutional managers who own 2/3 of
US stocks and will seek to influence longer term investing.
His four points are worth detail study as they signal the direction
of changes.
SOURCE:  WSJ 7-7-14, P. R10.  “How should Potential
Investors Evaluate a Top-performing fund
What goes up, must eventually go down, in the market.
Things don’t last forever.  Avoid chasing short term
performance and seek the “back story” of what is going on
in individual companies and wider industries.

BONUS   Brian Tracy, Goals:  How to get everything you
– faster than you ever thought possible, BK, San Francisco
The book title is a promotional one, but what he has to say
is worth listening to and studying.  There are some recent
google SEO findings that point out the negatives for setting
goals.  Do not let that get in your way of giving serious thought
to Tracy’s ideas.

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Watch-Outs. 59. MOOCs, Email changes, Posture effects of computer technology, Experiments in cloud, Virtual Unreality
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:09 pm

As is often said, the only constant is that things will change.
Several links to nonlinear Internet trends are offered in
this post. 
Regarding Massive Open Online Courses–
who seems to benefit, what is happening in traditional
‘brick institutions’ and start up companies.
Regarding attempts to improve email efficiency,
Regarding the unintended effects on people’s posture
of our Internet based society.
Regarding where the cloud is moving next.

SOURCE:  The Economist, 6-28-14, P. 20, “The digital degree
MOOCs  is upsetting previous models of higher education of
lectures, cramming and examination.  As most technical areas
of study include texts, references, laboratories, computational
resources and sophisticated equipment, there is a gap.  This is
despite the improved access the Internet provides.

This article gives an intriguing status, offering
-  MOOCs are likely good for experienced, degreed professionals
who have goals and specific outcomes in mind
-  ‘digital courses are intertwined with existing curricula…
half …at MIT take a MOOC as part of their course.’
-  a second generation of MOOC, with a MOOC Masters in
computing parallel to an on-campus course at Georgia Tech.
-  some MOOC companies are ‘pivoting’ their models, Udacity
-  all is changing; it is far from the initial idea of John Newman’s

SOURCE:  R. Feintzeig, WSJ 6-18-14, p. B7. “A company without
Email?  Not so fast.

Email usage continues to explode.  It remains preferred and widely
used to collaborate.  Yet, it is inefficient.
This article alerts to innovations to substitute some elements of
email and their early results.

SOURCE:  J. Whalen, WSJ 6-24-14, P. D1.  “Slouch at your own

Our body positions and posture are affected by sitting in front
of computers and hunching with smartphones in our hands.
These activities experts attribute give rise to a chronic
condition called Kyphosis, affecting back tightness that
many feel and even suggested a depression of mental

It feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it.

SOURCE:  E. M. Rusli, WSJ, 7-1-14, P. B4.  “Research
labs jump to cloud
There are some experiments that can be contracted,  dialed
into into robot routines and analyzed with appropriate
outputs.  This is an emerging trend, just as ’round the
clock’ experiments around the globe are used to accelerate
progress.  A couple of start up companies at various
incubators are developing routines and cataloging what
is working and their associated business models, in a
way like does for customer relations

A new book by Charles Seife hits hard at all the places
that should be scrutinized in our world of virtual people
and devices, including SEOs, photo hoaxes, dating
scams, fake news reports, discrediting personalities,
and many others.

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Preparation for upcoming projects: Communication skills and Career Management
Filed under: Recent Posts, Public Relations docs, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:25 pm

Performing detailed research, preparing meaningful stories
and developing engaging exercises are the focus of recent
efforts in organizing an article and preparing a future seminar. 
These efforts offer an opportunity to study others’ amazing
work and see where important insights from one field can
be useful and merged into another field
where there might
not be an immediate connection.

Enough set-up, let’s get to setting goals and maybe equally
important developing habits and learning about the concept of

Habit Stacking“.
SOURCE:  S. J. Scott, “Habit Staking: 97 Small life changes...”

The author has a website and has suggested an incredible number
of mini routines that just make sense to ordering and improving
our lives.  Habit stacking involves formulating a checklist of these
mini-routines in a logical order where you complete positive
habits without even a second thought, like jotting down key things
you want to say before you speak and allowing yourself personal
self control to have eye contact with your audience, breath and
pace your message for maximum impact and employ demonstrative
nonverbals for tuned effect.

There are habit stacks for internet marketing
wellness, fitness, careers, strengthening willpower.
See SJ’s 203 good habits.
One of his first is writing down personal goals…

SOURCE:  James W. Pennebaker, “The Secret Life of Pronouns:
What our words say about us,” Bloomsbery Press, NY, 2011

I was stunned reading that certain words you and I use don’t
carry a lot of meaning but connect the content of what we say
and reveal much of our thinking, what we pay attention to
and our relationship to the reader or listener.  These words
are “function words”–pronouns, articles, prepositions,
auxiliary verbs (ie, is), negation (ie, not), conjunctions (ie, but)
quantifiers (ie, few) and common adverbs (ie, really).

What generated this field of study, that may have wider application,
is the use of software LIWC (Logical Inquiry and Word Count;
“luke”) that “google-izes” emails and text of documents and
speeches to assess the words the authors use and infer thinking
details.  Examples:
-    2d, 3d person personal pronouns-  attention to other people
-    past tense verbs-  attention to past events
-    1st person personal pronouns- reveals self reflecting
It is more the higher frequency of use, rather than a single occurrence.

Thinking style:
complex vs. simple:  Complex thinking uses larger words, longer
sentences and complicated sentences involving “language markers”
for categorization. except, but, until, without, unless…

dynamic vs. categorical:
  Dynamical can be more abstract and
ever-changing principles.  Categorical uses concrete nouns to
describe objects, events and particular people.


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International Business Travel. VAT Refund
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:03 pm

A traveler visited three major universities in the UK in
2013– King’s (London) College to see the image and
equipment of “photo 51“, Oxford University Genetic
Genealogy Department to explore genetic Y Chromosome
studies, and the “uni” at Edinburgh University.

They were able to apply and receive a refund for
certain expenses
(also 2  )being affiliated to a university
in the US. 

It is something to consider for those spending some
time in the EU.  The application process is arduous,
the rules and regulations are strictly adhered, but
the reimbursement can be worth the effort.

Things to consider:
- save the receipts for every expense, especially hotel
charges and ask for separate listing of VAT (VAT on
hotels is reimbursed expense)
- obtain the correct application form.  In UK it was
Application for refund of VAT
- obtain a letter from IRS certifying US residency
Form 8802 from IRS ($85, in 2013;  takes 2 months)
- must apply before Dec. 31 of the year of travel
- payment will only be in GBP sterling by wire, only
- required to set up an account that will allow wire
transfers from UK to US.  Most banks and credit unions
do not do this.  Fidelity Investments brokerage accounts
do handle this kind of transaction but it must be set up
in advance with specific information that needs to be
provided on your application for refund form:  

1.  Bank Account
2.  IBAN (Int. Bank
A/c No. Europe Only)   
3.  Bank
Identification Code                      
4.  SWIFT Code                                          
6.  Business Bank
Account Name               
7.  Bank Name                                             
8.  Bank Address                           
For Credit to                                  
For Final Credit to          

1 comment
Watch-outs. 58. Microscopes, dealing with stress, inside info on legal profession and etiquette
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:10 pm

One of the related professions scientists and engineers can make
a contribution in and a living is in the legal realm.  There is a
guild-like restrictive ownership structure and admission requirements
that should be more widely known and perhaps challenged by free
market alternatives.

An area that seems like it may have arrived due to nanotechnology
and new designs for manufacture is microscopy.  The technology
has incredibly broad applications, especially when combined with
other discriminating technologies.

While it seems to be a  common fact of existence in society to
“cope with stress” the accelerators (WSJ) covers some stress
signals and releasers that might be broadly beneficial.

A bonus segment on appropriate apparel this week is offered.
It might be viewed with controversy, as biased, or old-fashioned.
It does stand up to the test of time.

SOURCE:  The Economist, 2-2-13, p. 12, “Guilty as Charged
In more detail in the comments, this link opens an area often
identified as an alternate career field.  Cost, time and restrictive
structures limit entry, keep outsiders from challenging and
the free enterprise system from improving.

This link and many comments may offer a sanity check for
those interested in the realities of a legal profession after a
technical degree.

SOURCES:  The Economist, 6-7-14, p. 4 Technology
Quarterly, “Yours to cut out and keep“  M. Freebody,
Biophotonics 2013
Refreshing to see not only creative lateral thinking
to design a “foldscope” by Manu Prakhash, but also
applications to diagnose diseases, avoid milk-born
parasites by boiling, mites and fungi from infesting
beehives.  Combining foldscope ideas with STED
or fluorescence microscopy is not
far away.

SOURCE:  WSJ 6-19-14, p. B9, Coping with Highs,

Four things are highlighted in this short entry to reduce
stress– using a gym, having professional mentors,
sleep hygiene and remembering “why”.  Why are
we devoting time, energy, resources to accomplish
a task or meet a goal?

Signs of stress:  loss of empathy, building up anxiety
and stress of team, friends or family, ’short fuses.’

BONUS:  Professional Etiquette
While a WSJ article on special programs at
consulting firms for influencing interns to learn and
dress appropriately for business and professional
situations, the University of Kansas slideshow appears
more helpful.  It covers not only attire but also,
introductions and communications.


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Trends in Technical Careers. Networking, Elevator Speeches and Using mentors to make decisions
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:26 am

Assisting others and offering suggestions is a pleasant
experience especially when we get feedback that job
offers result.  Recently, a half dozen people have asked
for ideas and information in their career management

After interviewing at three firms and attending many job
fairs, one person had to decide what to do with three
post-doc offers.

After working for three years in neurochemistry, another
post-doc had to decide whether to work at an exciting
start-up company or a subsidiary of a larger organization.

After interviewing for a small firm and for a post-doc in
a different field, a third person asked if there were other
things to consider.

A half dozen trends people in science and engineering
fields should know are:
(1) Hone a strong elevator speech.  Use plain, understandable
language, based on audience analysis.

(2) Don’t be dismayed by not immediately getting
interviews, or if getting interviews, not receiving offers.
Refashion your goals; refashion your approach;
ask for help.
Think about nontraditional ways to use your skills.

(3) Improve and develop your networking skills.  Now,
networking leads in improving your chances and more so
after your first position.  Don’t wait to start doing it.

(4) The interview is not over after the meeting and you
have sent your thank you notes.  There is much more that
needs to be done well.  Consider the ‘After section’
in the interviewing continuum… and
Steps in accepting an offer (5:07 point in video )

(5)  Your first position after your degree and or post-doc
will last an unknown length of time.  Then you will need to
find your next position.  It might be wise to not wait and
start your career management process earlier.

(6)  Your job search should continue even after you
receive your first job offer.  Follow through with the
process at other places you have made efforts at. 
Consult with mentors on how to respond professionally.

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Watch-outs. 57. Graduate Student Career Development, Inheritance planning and Physics of the Future
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:10 am

Three activities inspire the links provided in this
contribution.  The first activity involves planning
a future workshop on goal-setting for graduate students. 
While we have mentioned the first step in interviewing
is a personal self assessment, a DP provides an
elaboration of this.  Several universities encourage
their graduate students to develop personal development
plans DP and career goals as part of their graduate
formal education. 

Investment and withdrawal strategies in retirement
have rules of thumb.  An interesting feature is that
each so-called rule is based on a series of assumptions. 
A link provides discussion on the assumptions.

A third topic, based on a recent book, provides a link to
some rational analysis of what the future may lay in
store for us.  The writing and perspectives are clear and

SOURCE:  University of Minnesota publication
What will you do with your graduate degree and
experiences?  What other things should you be doing
to grow professionally?
Several organizations, like FASEB, provide a tool
for post-docs to express career goals and what
is needed to achieve them.  Many features are included
in this U-MN planning tool.  Also, this document gives
an updated outline and template for completing
this process earlier while in graduate school.

SOURCE:  A. Coombes, WSJ 6-3-14, R5
“The Most Valuable Asset to Leave to your Heirs”
 Coombes has written that seniors feel is passing
on the “family story”  to younger generations.  Not
Some will want to leave money.  The author provides
some discussion about the assumptions considered
in retirement savings withdrawal plans.  It fills an
information gap for the simple rules of thumb that are
commonly offered, like ‘4% of your savings per year’
and ‘defer taking social security’.

SOURCE:  M. Kaku, “The Physics of the Future” Anchor
Insightful writing capturing the integration of 300
mentors into a coherent picture of the strong influence of
physics on civilization and forecasts of what our world will
be like in 90 years, in 30 years, in 10 years.
He writes that humans’ sense of pattern recognition and
practical ‘common sense’ are our strengths to continue
to imbue.  Yet, our “caveman” outlook generally restricts
our adoption of novel technologies.

The next cycle of advances he predicts will be based on
advances in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology,
telecommunication and biotechnology.

comments (0)
Watch-outs. 56. Severance negotiation, Linkedin, Lost cell phones, School Career offices
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Recruiters, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:40 am

As we know today career management is less about
tactics and cleverness for short term gains and more
defining your values and pursuing longer term meaning
while understanding you will evolve (and shift/change).

Job searching is an activity in career management
that with the Internet has evolved into a marketing
activity with its proverbial “push and pull” mechanisms.
A place of importance is Linkedin and we provide
an appropriate link to two articles about profiles there.

Another trend in job searching from colleges is
moving career services to their alumni centers.

Recovering your cell phone when lost (or stolen) is
pointed out.  While many know about it, perhaps it
is time to do something about it…
Just like your linkedin profile and figuring out what
you want to do.

SOURCE:  A. Sklover, “Lower job, severance or
Unemployment Comp
.” Sklover Working Wisdom
Whether we like it or not, downsizing and its
consequences are a fact of life for most.  Al Sklover
offers compelling thoughts and tools for dealing
with wrenching issues in his blog column.  His
discussion and tools offer value.

SOURCE:  L. Garver, Career Hub Blog, Part 2
We highlighted Louise’s first part and feel part
2 might be compelling reading for some.
She offers:
-finding articles that others may benefit from and
sharing it in Linkedin without expecting anything
in return is valued. 
-Sending alerts about meetings and talks that you
attend is useful. 
-Use alumni tools, from your education, previous
employment and volunteer work to explore valued
-Explore connections who might shed light on
what it is really like at a firm or industry or in a
specific position.
-Be up-to-date and consistent.

SOURCE:  M. Korn, WSJ 5-28-14, P. D3
Job Search meets fundraising.
A twist that might mean allowing students to
imagine what it is like in a new position can
happen when career services moves into the
alumni fundraising office.  Some call it
Student advancement and suggest that is
reveals how the school intends to be accountable
for what is happening after graduation.

SOURCE:  G A Fowler, WSJ 5-29-14, D1
“ catch a thief…
Handy apps can be used to re-capture lost
cellular tools.  The article points out other
things that can be done and mentions cautions
in pursuing your lost device.

BONUS: W. McRaven, WSJ  Commencement

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Watch-outs. 55. Retirement Calculators, Patent troll Actions, thoughts on Better Decision-making
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:52 am

Despite our daily pressures, realize it or not we are
working for our family’s benefit and our later years.
One finding reviews tools to forecast and predict
what retirement might be for each of us.

Another finding talks about how states are dealing with
recent patent law changes and the evolution of patent

For those in important decision making positions
and who aspire to them, we report on factors that
affect decision making.

A bonus reference about manners is added at the end.

SOURCE:  L. Moyer, WSJ 5-24-14, B7-B9, “Calculating
your retirement.”

There are so many variables for calculating estimates
of whether you are on track and when you should
retire.  Add to that the uncertainty of all the assumptions
that should be considered.  Moyer reports on at least
8 on-line calculators and offers suggestions on SS
income, current and predicted savings and expenses,
life expectancy, inflation and rates of return.
At some point all of us will be doing this.  This is
a worthwhile reference point.

SOURCE:  R. Simon and A. Loten, WSJ 5-22-14, B6.
States revise laws to curb patent trolls
Recognizing the US Senate is not dealing effectively
with legal maneuvers of entities affecting use of
ATMs, email tools on fax machines and many others,
states are addressing perceived abuses of demand
letters from companies whose core is licensing and
litigating patents.

SOURCE:  A. Blackman, WSJ and
4-28-14, R1,R2  “Executive Brain“  2 
Deadlines and pressure limit thinking processes.
Finding resources to promote focus and relaxation
release our brain’s emotional centers to make better
decisions, the author writes.  Uncertainty exaggerates
and restricts thinking.activity.
An adjacent article offers lightening the workload
is a worthwhile behavioral adjustment. [A Dizik]

BONUS:  Mary Mitchell, “Modern Manners
Contains thoughtful reminders and thinking behind the
action to help us behave and act professionally.

1 comment
Watch-outs. 54. Merged airline Flight prices, External-success vs. internal-value, Near wins
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:56 am

We have a changing world, mostly out of our control.
Recently we can find airline prices for one part of a
merged airline be different than that offered from a
second part, although they are the same seat on the
same flight.
David Brooks spoke about a dialog individuals might
be having with themselves later in life, mostly, that
shines a light on perspectives of life.
Finally Sarah Lewis speaks about success in a different
vein where striving for personal mastery and why we might
do a blog like this.

SOURCE:  S. McCartney, WSJ 5-15-14, Airline Riddles:
the story behind price gaps on flights shared by American
and US Airways,…

While most of us know that airline seat prices for flights
can change from one moment to another based on
market and availability, this article addresses another
interesting phenomenon about the same seat being
sold at different prices by different parts of a merged
airline.  One suggestion in the comments is to use Expedia
to explore reservations.

Interesting reading for cost conscious travelers.

SOURCE:  D. Brooks, TED Talk:  Should you live by your
resume or your eulogy;
Modern society features a view, Brooks opines, that favors
cleverness and being a cold calculating person for advantage.
When a different view might be taken to earn the life well
lived.  You go into yourself examining your weaknesses and
wrestle with what you wish to be.

Brooks often writes thoughtfully about thoughts, actions
and consequences.

SOURCE:  S. Lewis, TED “Embrace the near win
Carefully articulate story telling about archers gaining
mastery over an art over time with patience, diligence and
grit.  It is different than the accomplishment of the moment,
called success.

Lewis hits the nail on the head for what professionals seek.


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Resume Format and Content Suggestions
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 11:21 am

Kudos to Jean Cummings on a nice post updating her
resume suggestions.

Resumes are confusing sometimes in the sense that some
reviewers wish one page only and others look for a detailed
chronological flow.  Some writers find it hard to figure out
what not to include if we have been doing work in several
areas or several projects.

As Jean and others have pointed out, many Internet submissions
use Applicant Tracking Systems ATS to match to keywords
and also explore your online presence.  The keywords will be
examined  as they are in an accomplishment context.  (i.e., not
“just listing” keywords, as might have been done earlier.)

- Please consider refraining from using Word tables, graphs, headers
footers, etc. as they don’t always translate in an upload.
- Jean and others suggest saving as .doc and .txt and uploading the
latter to save format arrangement for easy reading.  (If the instructions
specify .pdf or .doc it is wise to use the specified format.)
-  Jean suggests using ’simple form bullets’ rather than stylized ones.
-  ATS scanners recognize standard headings and not novel ones

Jean recommends not using full formal address unless restricted
to a geographical area.  We agree on listing Internet profile addresses
where appropriate.
-  Jean points out using a job description  in the experience section
where keywords can be inserted.  It might be that accomplishments
can provide the point of inclusion in technical resumes, detailing
the technical skill provided in the Highlights or Qualifications section.
Abbreviations or acronyms seem to be part of technical resumes.
The first time one is used the full text name should be given along
with the shortened version.

-  Consider including separate documents for depth of :
       papers, patents and presentations
       research summary
       management summary and
       other items Don Straits lists in his resume suggestions.
   keeps the “resume” shorter and readable and allows us to
expand on related items.  Keep the summary brief.

Of course Internet profiles will do a similar task in providing
breadth and currency of activities.

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Dealing with Unfair or harsh criticism
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mentoring, Post-docs, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 11:02 pm

Bottom line:  Look for the main substance of contention
and explore positive ways to make the comments or
criticism improve your future performance and actions.

In previous posts, we mentioned “tee-ups” as a verbal “tic”
to be alert to when a person wants to harm you or your
reputation.  MindTools blog offers some tactics to defuse
the situation and make a creative outcome.

We can always do things in better ways, or address
weaknesses or mis-perceptions whether intended or
taken out of context.

Mindtools indicates remaining calm and displaying
respect and attention to detail is first.  Expressing
things in your own words and confirming intention or

Offer an openness to other positions, sometimes it can
be useful to summarize and state a forward-seeking follow
up action.  Where do we go from here?

Mindtools emphasis on maintaining confidence, offering
that your awareness of this can make you more effective.

Many times criticisms will be from third persons and you will
not be able to address them directly.  Nonetheless, remaining
calm in the face of words of criticism makes the critic even
more full of contempt.  It may mean to you that no clear
logical resolution is possible and you should move on.

1 comment
Future Trends in Technical Careers. Catalysts and Crystallography
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 3:52 pm

This entry begins with a little story and intriguing discovery.

2014 is the international year of Crystallography.   One of our
class exercises included a written team reflection on crystallography.
One of the teams volunteered to write on this topic, which allowed
me to do a little homework and learning.  It is fascinating to
explore not only all the Nobel’s crystallography has been part of,
but also where the field is moving.  See this video for a sketch.

Then a marvelous article by J. Wesolowski reported the consortium
of eight partners forming the BioXFEL (x-ray, free electron laser)
to perform the next generation of serial femtosecond crystallography.

Some of the work will be done at the Huaptman-Woodward
Medical Research Institute.

Please also refer to a remarkable article on advanced
on nanomaterials and biocrystals by Ourmazd .

Another student introduced me by way of reviewing his public
relations documents to the grand challenge of designing, developing
and modeling new catalysts
.  It is an eye-opening view of
programs to develop future catalysts.
Materials Genome Initiative:  Grand Challenges Summit by
Mark Barteau and Cathy Tway
[.ppt file:  Catalysis-MGI-webinar-FINAL-1]

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Legal Issues. Noncompete agreements and other issues
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, First Year on Job, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 4:08 pm

In this year’s class one of the items we brought up that
surprised many of the grad students and post-docs was
the concept of noncompete agreements that many are
asked to sign at some point in their career.

Those in the legal profession are uniquely skilled in
language and describe them as an understanding in contract
law where an employee agrees not to enter into a similar
employment situation which would compete against the
initial employer. 
The employee would gain competitive
advantage based on confidential information, sensitive
information, trade secrets, business practices, new products
or marketing tactics.

The argument is that signing such an agreement signs
away our career trajectory and disowns the “human capital
of knowledge workers
, since it severely restricts where we
might go and what we might do in our professions.

Recently there has been more discussion encouraging
policies and changes in the law existent for some time
to restrict or invalidate noncompetes, as is the case in
California.  O. Lobel wrote recently in HBR and Gov.
Patrick of MA proposed such legislation to encourage
a more vigorous innovation culture which is claimed to
be restricted by noncompete agreements.

Al Sklover represents employees faced with such
dilemmas, whether to sign when asked, what to do
if you have signed and wish to leave
and other contentious

Being knowledgeable about the contractual issues that
may be part of an employment contract is something all
professionals should  know about– have a mentor and know
resources who can support you.

Grand Jury Investigations.
A Sklover issued a post about what to do if you were issued
a subpoena to appear before a grand jury.  I don’t suspect
many of us will be in this situation.  But then again
surprises and unintended consequences do happen, so
“forearmed is forewarned.”

“His direct reply was:  Without question you need to …
retain an experienced …criminal defense attorney,
licensed in your locale and well versed in Grand Jury

Telecommuting and Flexible work arrangements

A Sklover issued an approach that falls under agreements
and good use of time and facilities.  Many are bringing
our work with us on our cellular and iPad devices.  It
is growing quite fast, meaning there are few protections
in place for professionals.  His 15 point checklist can
benefit you if this is something you seek or do.


1 comment
Negotiations. 2. Three things to avoid
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 4:54 pm

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.

3.  Do not start without establishing the employer’s and your
negotiable items
.  Have a plan of what your concessions might
be offered and what you seek. 
Commonly offer increases are 5-15%
Use positive language as you avoid responding “no” or “never”
to offer elements.  Ask for the final offer in writing stating the
specifics you negotiated.

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How important is GPA in Being Selected for Positions
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 7:31 pm

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.

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