Many articles we find about requesting for salary
increments overlook the need to do three things–
This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in
Reading a book that you may wish to get your hands on.
HPM SBR EDR
draws on memory, focused on topic focused
experiences and on exploring
focused on you
History - Specific Emotion
Philosophy Broad Details
Metaphor Related Restatement
H reply to comment
using personal experiences on a topic
this reminds me of…
what a coincidence…..
P personal stance on a topic
I always enjoyed….
there was a famous quote ….
this allows for a subtle change of topic
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S ask to go deeper, more specific
B ask to springboard into subtopics
R explore into tangential topics
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E It seems to me you feel …. You are…. Other people’s emotions
D define the details
what were they wearing…
how was the weather…. How did you deal with it…
R employ 5 Ws to complete a restatement
is this what you mean?….
Reading a blog entry by B. Perlmutter, reminded me of
a section in the second class of our Professional Development
class. What I like about it is that he creates a nice context
and story about factors we need to consider in making
Our class offers fewer steps and a template to consider
classroom exercises that students might face now and
will possibly face in the future.
1 determine the facts
2 identify the stakeholders
3 identify the ethical choices
4 make a decision
5 double check the decision
Perlmutter frames his process and story in terms of situations
and risks to reputations in a golf tournament. Early in his
ethical process, he points out recognizing ethical problems,
even before knowing the stakeholders, interests and
At first, this order of process steps is not one better than
another but a different perspective about something
scientists and engineers are not often trained to think.
Ethics can be ambiguous and relative. In Perlmutter’s
perspective, ethics needs to be considered earlier. I
think this can be good and a point of emphasis.
Not long ago, this blog offered a legal perspective of
ethical decision-making. It appears different than the
first two in that it asks questions about legality,
reputation and consistency with values.
We need to understand that different people will
make a case for processing their thinking. Forni
I think states it best and has me thinking Perlmutter
says it best for me. Forni outlines the urgency to
develop and place good thinking habits as
a priority. Good thinking makes having thought,
having thought leads to a wider range of viable
choices; Good choices offer the chance for good
decisions that lead to a good life that lead to
Perlmutter’s process is documented in the
Last weekend we were part of a team presenting a job search
workshop for undergraduate chemistry field majors at UConn.
It was well attended and provi ded resume reviews and mock
interviews in addition to four topical discussions tuned to this
Four discussion areas from the day workshop are presented to readers.
1. Thesis or non-thesis masters is a graduate school option that was
new to many. The thesis option involves a specialized project with
a professor. It can require a longer term of study due to the research
in your domain. The non-thesis option often involves a mini project
or a comprehensive exam to meet the requirements of the degree.
The exam is taken after you have completed certain courses.
Choosing the thesis option can allow you to receive an assistantship
during your program.
Some fields prefer the thesis option as it allows a learning by doing
a new project to come up with outcomes. If funding is limited, a
project reaches an end or facilities are not available the non-thesis
option can be preferred. Some fields, like geology, have reported the
non-thesis option has advantages as reported a Colorado School of mines.
2. Some firms reportedly use Jobvite to facilitate hiring. People
have reported problems uploading their documents. Jobvite specifies
that resumes need to be Word or “unlocked PDF” file formats
and that after uploading to populate application fields, you need to
use the attach button to include part for your application file.
You need to follow uploading instructions to the T. Some instructions
include word limits, some seek a specific number of writing samples,
and others have specific deadline dates .
Barbara Safani points out that many people make the mistake of
taking their formatted Word document and uploading it into a text
box on a company website. Formatting is lost. So it is prudent to
follow the specific job search instructions.
3. Traveling to an onsite interview can be a challenge. Ask for
specific directions to specific gates before you go. Know who you
are to meet and their telephone number in case of a delay, expecting
to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled first meeting time.
Interestingly a number of companies now require following ITAR
regulations. Thus to facilitate the special ITAR badge bring your
passport with you if you are an international candidate.
4. I was surprised that my colleagues felt it was fine to ask about
salary during the onsite interview. This might be the case, if you
had a very promising position in hand or were working in a good
You should always be ready to respond to a salary requirements
question or what has been your salary in the past three positions…
There are pitfalls for coming in low or coming in high. So, a response
to that query would be here is a range and you would consider any
reasonable offer where you can make a difference doing something you
are good at.
This post reports on a class given graduate students on
Listening Skills. It was inspired by Nichols and Stevens,
yet the concepts described by Brenda Bailey-Hughtes and
Tatiana Kolovou were built upon with practical exercises
which were specifically reviewed for teachable moments
and subliminally presented for different learning styles.
Honestly, there is a special combination of formal
learning, study and experience that allows us to gain
self knowledge from assessment instruments.
This topic may apply to working in teams, dealing with
customers and managing challenging situations. Three
useful concepts come out of Leonard Greenberger’s
soft cover book, “What to Say when things get tough“.
What counts is your audience’s perception of what is happening
and whether or not you are trustworthy and credible source of
See events through the eyes of others.
Facts do not equate to winning people over. When people are angry,
worried and suspicious, they absorb and sift through information
with the emotional areas of their brains.
Life is divided between things that make you feel and things that
make you think. This is hard for scientists and engineers to
fathom. Situations seek reassurance and empathy. Understand
how others feel, rather than offering facts.
To achieve success, remain positive. Words used can often
embody the feeling. But receivers may pay more attention to
Use third party resources to provide supporting feeling and input.
It helps that they have higher credibility. The closer to your target
audience is to your source the better.
C. CODE FOR DEVELOPING TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
Caring and empathy 50
Openness and honesty 10-15
Dedication and commitment 10-15
Expertise and competence 10-15
Angry, worried and suspicious people pay attention not only to
what you say but also to what you do with your eyes, hands,
posture, clothing and other nonverbal cues.
Caring and empathy accounts for about half of the trust and
credibility judgments that people will make of you.
Telling relateable stories can be key.
3. trust resulting from adhering to legal or social
norms that prescribe and restrict behaviors and actions.
Reading Chris Voss’s book on negotiations convinced me
that we need to keep learning. Don’t ever stop the process
of gathering new information from different sources,
2. 3 kinds of “yes”: commitment, confirmation, counterfeit
3. Ackerman plan– set your goal, then first offer at 2/3 point,
calculate at three smaller increments
use lots of empathy and different “no” strategy to counter, before
you increase your offer.
use non-round numbers in your final offer
after final number, throw in nonmonetary items
Some universities have a section of their graduate
school orientation that will involve self assessments
for each. It is so important that this part of
technical professionals education is incorporated
as it is so often missed or at least delayed so that
reflection and use of the learning can be part of
- Who likes “small talk”, working by themselves,
who gains energy from crowds.
- Pointing out the difference between the
“golden rule” [treat others like we want to be treated]
Scientific thinking has undergone an evolution in the Internet
age. Science commonly rationalizes outcomes based on
each effect has a cause.
With several requests for career paths outside the US
and in non traditional technical roles, we learned,
advised and compiled useful documents for each:
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
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.
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.
“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.”
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
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 action: set 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
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
prompt assistance when I am in trouble
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