Just back from a visit to my original home area and enjoyed
meeting a number of relatives, friends and new associates.
Combining this with two other ideas is the basis for this
entry. First–CJ’s mailbag from 5-21-18 CEN, p. 27
Question/Answer: Is it better to jump from one company to
another or stick with a company long term?
Second– I met with a doctor friend who shared a disease and
treatment he recently learned about–Hemochromatosis
prevalent with northern Europeans and especially Irish and
Celtic origin bloodlines. NEW NEWS, WHAT TO DO,
AND LONG TERM IMPACT
While the question was an appropriate one, his short
answer was not satisfying. (It was: no one knows!)
Where I come out on this question: There are five features
that will help you answer the question for yourself.
1.CULTURE AND GOALS.
2.YOUR BOSS AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND POLICIES
3.YOUR FAMILY SITUATION AND NEAR TERM GOALS
4.YOUR LONG TERM HORIZON
5.YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND ASSIGNMENT AND
WHERE IT LEADS YOU AND ALLOWS YOU TO LEARN
1. CJ offers the big company, small organization
argument saying larger firms desire loyalty.
My view suggests that you might assess whether you are
comfortable in the company culture of how things work and
what your title, responsibility and security-opportunity-
influence triad balance is.
2. Do you like and communicate well with your boss and
your support staff? Is there trust and honesty. Are the policies
flexibly meeting your needs for the present and the future? Look
out for more than the present. Can you ask hard questions and
get honest answers?
3. We work to satisfy our particular families’ needs, first.
Are hours of work, travel, stress level such that it allows your
personal needs and wants to be met? outside of work life.
4. We all must stop being an employee at some point. Do
you want it to be your choice or business conditions or an
arbitrary “committee beauty contest” selection? When you
leave will it be fair and open, on good terms? Can you
have the benefits your family needs and are they protected?
5. Are you challenged and learning important things every day?
Do you feel positive about what your goals are and look forward
to each day’s challenges?
Telling the truth, for myself, and for those for whom I
have mentored, have a mentor team that will help you
pose questions and look at the big picture for you.
I could not have gotten to where I am now without the
outstanding help of mentors. Two qualities that I felt
they provided were persistence and outside of the box
You should always have radar ‘on,’ to learn about your
field. You should always have an early warning system
telling you the good and bad (remember: management usually
holds back on delivering bad news and too often uses
rose colored glasses and a ‘bow on top.’)
We all can relate to how our existences are consumed
by cell phones, computers, wifi and alexa. AI is not
far behind where we relate more and more with robots
and devices for many needs, wants and desires.
Nonetheless, the art and reality of being good at conversing
with others makes human relationships hum.
Sherry Turkle wrote of an interviewing technique in her
“Employers have come to appreciate the vulnerability of
the new generations. Some businesses explicitly screen
for an ability to converse.” A big pharma exec told of a
conversation with an applicant. Then, at the end ‘I tell the
potential recruit that their homework is to organize what we
have discussed and from that make an agenda of interesting
themes for our next conversation.’
This approach emphasizes the importance of listening skills,
getting a clear understanding of each person’s ideas and
purpose and being able to synthesize a cogent argument.
This is not to say that the advantages digital technologies
are not used and important. It emphasizes the “and” in
conversation and digital technologies, in addition to knowing
when and how and when not.
The author states some well demonstrated doctrines like
practice with conversation and digital technologies is key–
use it or lose it…
She adds in texting, punctuation is everything (it is easily
I liked where she relates the motivation for using digital
technologies (the Goldilocks effect) and what it does in
This easily readable book is a recommended read for
technical professionals who want to get ahead and seek
some good advice.
Three things have come to my attention. One was a recent
graduate’s interest in a consulting firm position. So we
have been in discussion about how she might prepare for
developing her cover letter, resume and other documents.
A second item relates to an important technical area that
Bill Gates has indicated demands more attention– preparing
Finally, an interesting letter to the editor in CEN by
Professor Adam Heller talks about mitigation work
needed to deal with the growing global warming threat
we all face. I note this because Adam has always been
at the forefront of where technology needs are…lithium
batteries, lasers, biomedical devices and more.
The initial volley involved getting information on the company,
seeing the job description and related information from
insiders and Glassdoor.com. As is found from many of
- desire blending information technology and management
- recently graduated from top institution with credentials
- skilled and experience with using software and developing
learning tools in C++, Java, C# and other platforms
- demonstrates outstanding communication skills in all phases
So this provides some hints about important things to include
in application documents. But we do need to go further. Using
Linkedin, and the firm’s website we can learn more about
the kinds of project areas and notable citations. One citation
came up about a highly touted recent book on consulting that
the CEO wrote. Probably would be good to pick up.
Then, consider making use of your network to glean other
useful information and tactics to allow you to stand out, like.
the name of the recruiter to send things to.
PREPARE FOR NEXT PANDEMIC
In a recent ScienceAlert post Bill Gates talked about an
area of high need. Gates told of a simulated disease
spread model of a flu borne pathogen. It would create
devastating consequences that we are not prepared for.
Strategies and organizations need to be formed to
identify the mode and source and rapidly develop
mobile operations to isolate, treat and inoculate larger
populations. This is long range thinking well beyond
the fiscal and election cycles that should be of interest
to technical professionals interested in being part of
something larger than themselves and making a difference.
In a Letter to the Editor of C&EN on April 30,
A. Heller wrote of the high need to report in their
pages the critical need for scientific research to
develop and test strategies to global warming
catastrophes the earth faces.
Where C&EN fills its pages with alternate energy
and conservation, these are “tip of the iceberg”
solutions. Trends point to global wealth and the resulting
use of resources without sustainable management as
the dominating input for continued earth warming
in addition to a series of unintended consequences of
loss of ice caps, changing climate patterns and severe
natural events in tropical areas.
Work on Geochemical approaches is needed and
has to be reported in C&EN and to the wider
Did you sign a non-compete agreement with your current employer?
Did you keep your employment offer letter that promised certain
What are your retirement benefits from your first employer–
did you maintain your employee handbook? [if the company
still exists and functions…]
These are valuable insights that Al Sklover poses in formulating
a defensive “go” file in case you need details of your
take his prudent advice.
While surfing to learn about a former employer and
possible future changes in its pension arrangement,
I came upon a practical wbesite that I wish to share
with you on financial matters.
BFG. Interesting discussions are provided on:
Recently, Listened to a podcast that got me to thinking
about peer review in Chemistry. Many of the people
I meet are so concerned about being an author of a set
number of publications as a basis for completing their
degree and for being considered a candidate for
Then, in mid career motivations can include:
make money, get promotions, grants and recognition;
get things right, publish or perish, demonstrate expertise
and accomplishment. [In the commercial world, publications
represent modest benchmarking for achieving goals.]
discussion that brings up the motivations for publishing
in scientific journals, replication, hypothesis testing
and peer review.
It is instructive perhaps to get an idea what happens
when an article is submitted for publication. ACS and
Royal Society have tutorials on what is involved web
sites describing the process. … assuming it works properly.
The professional scientific process depends on this. Just
like general publication conclusions errors can happen and
negative results are most often not presented.
Science is a slow process that involves error corrections,
application and refinement. Perfect peer review will not
happen. Earp opines that crowd sourced peer review of
pre-print articles might be an improvement over the
Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.
We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a
match to what they believe are their skills and interests. They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities
are often limited. So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial
business models. Heintz et al
show how business models can be
different in different cultures. This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them. This
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
pictures families of business models.
- flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
- exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value
So two examples to make things concrete for readers. Think
about the way we consume news. Newspapers in the 20th
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media. Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected. Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power,
miniaturization and software versions and security.
As we use artificial intelligence more and more and depend
on machines for decision making, critical thinking becomes
more important. In particular topics like false positive results
and limits of detection. This was brought up earlier in a
misused when we apply statistics to test results. It indicates
that a given condition exists when in reality it does not.
This conclusion can many times result in unnecessary
testing and costs (both to clinical patients (anguish) and
The previous entry pointed out limits of detection series
by Deming. Two other notable contributions– one on being able
to compare quantities resulting from different methods (
My experience is where a physician recommends a
prescription for a chronic condition based on analyte
readings. The algorithm is designed to predict a per cent
likelihood of an outcome. However, the clinical testing
is much more complicated with false positives entering
the picture. Not all of the people have have a minimmum
value will reach that specific outcome. This is not
revealed in the analyte results.
This leads to needing to ask more questions of the
results and their “true meaning.” Often the physician
will not assess these critical elements leading to over-testing
and over prescribing.
After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.
Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program. Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter
at this time.
IMPORTANCE OF IN PERSON COMMUNICATION
In our present time, digital technology, through FB,
Tinder, MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!
One of my critical findings about IDPs Academic inspired
Individual Development Plans is it completely “whiffs” on
I fear that if you ‘fill out the forms’ for IDP you miss nearly
half of the skills many employers desire in applicants.
intelligence is revealed. It is not about using big words and
offering elaborate details about technical concerns.
1. asking questions of yourself, like
how does my mood affect my behaviors, thinking and
what subsurface influences affect me and others?
to uncover self and social awareness.
2. how do you control your reaction to things that affect
your emotions. You have little to manage your emotional
take on things, but how you react can reveal your character.
3. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?
4. Empathy for others; not meaning agreeing with others
but trying to understand others.
5. Do you intentionally commend and show appreciation
6. Do you keep your commitments and help others?
conversely, do you apologize for short-fulfilling commitments
and even guard yourself from being taken advantage of
by being manipulated?
Please note: Sklover’s Working Wisdom remains a leading
resource for us that I highly recommend. Recent notes of
importance are highlighted in this entry.
PROMISES: KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK
In a clearly written post, A. Sklover indicates two specific
questions you should ask when offered a bonus, promotion
or something of value–(1) ‘when’ and (2) ‘what conditions
need to be met’.
Specific date or time frame is the only acceptable response.
Conditions that must be met should be under your control
If this promise is part of a job offer, it needs to be inserted into
the offer letter. If the promise occurs at another time, like
a transfer or termination, for example, clear email statement
with a return email confirmation of the negotiation request
is important to document.
LEGAL TERMS IN CONTRACTS
One item I have a basic understanding for, but have the
experience that when I asked too many questions, it raised
a red flag with the organization. Do not waver, reach an
This formally includes more than one agreement between
parties which may limit or remove protections for you. It
is a flag to review each agreement and note the wording,
asking for clarity for your circumstance.
A second contract term is a new phrase.
“– [yellow light : caution]
Review every provision and understand this phrase mitigates
any reward or limits outcomes for you. Al Sklover points
out this can increase risks to you.
Spam? What do you do to protect yourself and the sender?
I recently received an unexpected email message from a
colleague that I did not expect. We know each other. Yet
the message seemed unusual…”I need your help.”
The message was sent from her gmail account, which is not
unusual. Yet I know of her from her university.edu account.
So, I replied to her at her university.edu account professionally,
indicating that the email was not what I expected. If however
she did seek my help, what is needed. She responded in
short order indicating that the message indeed was spam.
She had been ‘phished’ and was working to repair the problem.
The trick is not to not reply to the trick email for you do not
know if there is anything that can get your account into
trouble by opening her bogus email.
Two resources to share on this topic, and I am certain all
of us will face a situation similar to this…
Two organizations that employed me had rules for
absenteeism. One was quite strict in that you could
choose certain number of days off with pay. Requests
should be made in advance.
Importantly, attendance records were criteria for
advancement and ‘perfect attendance’ was clearly
and widely recognized and rewarded.
Thus, even when you are ill, with a flu or fever,
people were expected to come in, and ,if you could,
visit the company nurse who could dispense some
over the counter remedies.
Another employer left it to supervisors to decide whether
it was in appropriate to report not coming in to work and
exposing everyone to the spreading of illness. Interestingly,
it was recorded but did not seem to make a difference in
assignments or promotions. [We were to call the supervisor
and report illness. As many sick days as needed were
granted. I do not know of any specific limit.]
in the workplace, noting its costs to employers to be on the
order of half a billion dollars. Since absenteeism can cost
in productivity and revenue, time off for illness has varied
treatment and risks. Many places seem to go the route of
PTO paid time off for vacation, special event or illness.
Others provide an annual number of sick days one is
entitled to take.
Various medical organizations have investigated personal
illness and its impacts on the organization and the individual.
While it may not be part of policy, one might argue a case
- encourage people to take preventative measures
- limit contact with others to avoid spreading; even
stay home 24 hours when symptoms are real and invasive.
- supervisors should be proactive at every level in protecting
individuals and noticing symptoms
Recently, this writer was beset with a sinus like infection.
I limited contact as much a possible for as long as spreading
symptoms existed. It meant sending condolences to events
I was expected to attend. It is important to be the first
example of proactive behaviors and enforce similar
recommendations on others. It should start in the class
room and grad school research labs.
Then, practical policies of dealing with this perennial
issue of staying home when you are sick can be the general
policy, with appropriate checks and balances when
While Pier Forni leads the way, I believe, in helping us
see civil behavior in organizations and different
situations, the updated Emily Post book adds some
useful suggestions for what your digital profile includes
and pointing out problem areas.
Post indicates what each professional should consider
as components of their digital profile. Update each
regularly and keep them consistent..
* complete and update Linkedin profile, with
* have a well maintained blog and website
* have links to published content in your name
* list membership on boards, charitable/ educational
groups and organizations
* include awards and achievements
* cite positive press
Just having a solid digital profile is not enough. Be
aware of potential trouble areas, like:
* privacy protections on Facebook
* uncensored, overly personal
or controversial history
* less than flattering photos tagged to your name
* old media that does not reflect who you are now
* unflattering press
Search your name and some name alternatives
Social Networking Tips
1. Online privacy is an illusion. Just about everything has
a digital fingerprint.
2. Think twice about offering negative criticism online.
Can be easily misinterpreted, especially in the absence
of facial expression, tone of voice
or nonverbal cues…
3. Opinions will be formed on everything you post and
much can be taken out of context.
4. You bear responsibility for online image
A respected colleague of mine, Christine Kelly
points out that much thought should be devoted
before you send your application for a position
There are several aspects to knowing yourself and
how you can present yourself to prospective employers.
they might fit into each organization’s culture.
MUSTS AND WANTS
The job description can be a help in describing what
successful candidates will bring to the organization.
I like her dividing job descriptions into short and long.
In the long ones observe the location and number of
mentions of key skills (note the keywords used and
employ them in your documents). In short ones, examine
Linkedin for people who have similar titles to see what
skills they list and what accomplishments they summarize.
Study the website for detail.
Above all, research via your network, including
Every interaction with every representative is part
of their interview of you. Christine points out in the
screening interview or information interviews
act and present yourself professionally.
In all interactions, virtual, visual, oral and in writing,
your future employer is interested in what you have
to offer. In discussions, listen carefully to the questions
of what people are seeking to learn and respond to
their queries. However, remain positive and phrase
negatives in ways that show your creativity and ability
to progress and learn from failure.
Do practice interviews. Anticipate and write out
answers you can use. Ask for feedback from
Industrial positions are often the description I hear
from PhDs and post-doctoral fellow. Honestly,
these professionals seek a position as a scientist or
engineer in business. That means ironically that
they need to project a profit motive or problem
solving motivation in their background and interests.
As you probably know recruiters are bombarded
with a large number of public relations packages.
So they use many times either a screening routine
or software ATS for uploaded documents that screen
the packages for keywords and words in context.
The recent issue of Money magazine has an article
Kristin Bahler. I agree with many of the concepts
yet the interpretation is significantly different for
professionals with several years of experience.
Bahler presents things that business might be
expecting for recent BS candidates. It is altogether
different for Post-doctoral fellows in terms of content.
For them, there is a need to convert an uninterested
reader to an interested professional reader. Thus,
critical information about what professionals are
expected to do need to be incorporated, like
- ability and experience in a fast paced environment
- experience winning grants writing proposals for
- managing budgets and negotiating experiences
How do you represent this if you are a post doc with
more than a couple of years experience?
Consider creating a new addendum for your resume
package called a “List of Projects” where you list
project work, areas of leadership responsibility
(often outside the technical realm) and interesting
projects that required you to do the extraordinary.
Some mention of List of Projects might be presented
in your Linkedin profile (which must be up to date)
and your web-page (which leading post docs will
have for an internet presence.).
Another conversation might address internationals
seeking employment in US. So often, Visa issues
cloud their futures. One of the questions they might
pose during their post doc is to ascertain if the
sponsoring organization will sponsor their visa
application. The range of potential employers is
limited if their Visa situation is problematic. Can
they seek employment in a start up for which they
are well qualified? Since start ups can fail and make
them need to fall back on a back up job search,
sponsorship can be lost.
It seems imperative to seek employment in large
organizations or government institutions where
the visa can be obtained with commonly more
What might a post-doctoral application contain:
-resume (with reference to Linkedin profile)
-list of references (not part of resume)
-list of publications, patents and presentations
-list of projects
easy to read, error-free, neat looking,
One of the skills not often addressed in our formal education
is audience analysis. It is one of the wise skills that we need
to develop in our career.
Dealing with problem solvers: Black hat thinking
Here are the major problems, brainstorm possible causes and
Eliminate weak points; develop back up plans.
Dealing with data analyzers who seek trends: White hat thinking
This is what we know [charts and statistics], all the hard
numbers and outcomes. What can we learn from them?
What is missing or how can we fill in detail?
What are situational or critical trends?
Dealing with people integraters who seek collective good
feelings. Red hat thinking
Appeal to shared goal and appeal to team spirit and coordinating
efforts. Each one is important. Give everyone attention and
Dealing with innovators and new approach, different angle
people Green hat thinking
This is an opportunity to be open minded and go outside
routine or casual solutions to problem or possibilities. Pursue
creative ideas with little or no criticism/ rejection.
Dealing with optimists Yellow hat thinking
This is a group to whom you present benefits and future
positive outcomes and implications. Don’t give up now,
hard work and persistence will pay off. Realize and
restate your strengths and the pay-offs will soon be realized.
When do you start advising workers, employees, staff
and visitors about safety?
Are you looking out for your own safety and the safety
of others in your environment– present intentionally or
presents an important topic for discussion, as it
should, being a leader in the field. Safety takes on a larger
dimension when robotics and automation is involved.
Going one step further, safety when dealing with infectious
diseases and disease investigations…
Going even further, safety for military and police in challenging
zones of chemical or biological warfare.
Scientists need to be aware and take a leadership role in
personal protection of all kinds. See
Roles Responsibilities - [job opportunities, training]
- monitor trends in injuries associated with robotics technologies;
- evaluate robotics technologies as sources of, and interventions for, workplace injuries and illnesses;
- establish risk profiles of robotic workplaces;
- identify research needs and conduct studies to improve the safety, health, and well-being of humans working with robots and robotic technologies;
- support the development and adoption of consensus safety standards; and
- develop and communicate best practices, guidance and training for safe interactions between human workers and robots/robotics technology
Two interesting email requests arrived in my inbox, recently.
One was asking for participation in a job search workshop
by a professional society local section.
The second was a request from a graduate student seeking
help with his resume.
INTERESTING WORKSHOP DILEMMA
We were away on a vacation that delayed our responses.
However, I sent a follow up note to a colleague who was
a recipient of the job search workshop note asking to speak
before talking with the assistant professor who was coordinating
TH and I spoke on a telecon to address our concerns and
requirements before “meeting” with the prof and TH volunteered
to set up a Webex.
From this arrangement, several things emerged…
1. email is not a useful vehicle to coordinating a program between
different participants. It is so easy to misinterpret what is going
on. It is much better to do it in person, if possible, by Skype
or as a last result, telecon, if the participants know and trust
2. the resulting meeting request was misinterpreted. In addition,
a follow-up first discussion was delayed.
TH asked for a webex time slot. It was then felt that not everyone
responded to the professor…
The professor had urgent reasons for not being able to talk for an
3. The prof indicated his desired date is two months in the future
on a Saturday, but provided a date for Friday. This kind of
mishap can happen to any of us. But it suggests some problems.
On top of that there is a conflict with the Saturday date that
prevents everyone from participating.
BOTTOM LINE. These kind of workshops need to be planned
4-7 months in advance with back ups for most critical items.
It is useful to have a team of organizers.
PROVIDING HELP FOR INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCHER
This personal consultation can be related to the workshop.
In a way, this is one of the key goals of what a workshop might
The initial email request asked for help writing a resume for
a job. Well as we know it is critical to be both more specific
and have a strategy in mind for narrowing down options.
The first draft of the resume was sent as an attachment. It
revealed that the grad student was at “square one” of his
search. He inserted some relevant data into an online
resume platform without understanding the hard preparation
that needs to go into it.
A response email was sent with several attachments.
The email pointed out that
- multi-colored, underlined, fancy documents are not
well received for technical professional resumes
- the application should involve a well written cover
letter and other documents that would positively
separate your application from the other applicants.
- have a specific position in mind that provides the
keywords critical for inclusion in your documents
BOTTOM LINE: The process, timeline and goals are
not defined. So, as with the workshop planning,
creating a workable structure and organization will
be as important as developing viable content.
Academic world revolves around an academic calendar;
the rest of the world employs different time charts.
Job searching is often a full time effort usually out of
sync with the environment you are in.
Did you view the Netflix video on AlphaGo defeating
the top Go player in the world? I saw it this week. It
may be time for us to seriously consider using software
to design organic synthesis routes.
We live in a fast paced world with many unexpected
directions and influences. One item that can keep us
moving forward is optimism from leaders in our
organizations. We highlight a whole issue of a
COMPUTER ALGORITHMS FOR ORGANIC SYNTHESIS
software to optimize synthetic route in Aldrichimica
Acta in a recent issue. He highlighted Milipore
Sigma’s purchase of Grzybowski Scientific Inventions
organic software tool.
that it has become more figuring out what to synthesize
rather than how to synthesize particular molecules
based on a discussion of an Angewandte Chemie
OPTIMISM IN LEADERSHIP
Think about what helps us move forward…optimism
is a force multiplier, as military leaders say….
Fast company highlights over a hundred ways
cited leaders supply leadership. When I read
the methods most are what many of us would think
of ourselves. Read through it to see how you feel your
leaders are providing leadership….
- don’t overthink - attach meaning
- grow from setbacks - wow your customers
- listen - let your actions speak for you
- play nice - obey the golden rule
- focus - nix multitasking
- go the extra mile