We recently observed close friends living in CA who lost
their home and most of its contents to wildfires. Another
friend was overtaken by back pain making it difficult to
work. A third friend lost her husband suddenly.
You learn and train in a wide range of technical skills,
develop writing ability creating public relations documents,
perfect public speaking and presentations in universities.
Have you looked at the proposed FY2018 budget for science,
technology, health and engineering? Mostly flat or cutback.
except for defense related expenditures (and the “wall”– which
will be paid for by someone else..)
From Dennis Brown:
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.
ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
We should all be alert to what happens to employees at
DuPont and Dow as the two leading chemical corporations
as they process their merger and carve outs forming new
entities. We may not be directly involved but it adds to
what technical professionals will face more of in our future
Jacob Bunge wrote that 1700 job cuts will happen in
Delaware to DuPont (see also Morningstar source) which
will flood the market with outstanding talented scientists
and engineers. It can be traumatic for each person directly
or indirectly affected. It is a message that there is no “safe
harbor” and job security is the knowledge that you can obtain
another desirable position if your current one is in jeopardy.
It can also mean that you are given some time to evaluate your
options and pursue your personal and career goals.
SOURCE: A. Tergesen, WSJ1-2-16, “Target date
funds must rethink bonds“
There are a number of comments to this article that describes
how bond components of target date mutual funds might be
overweighted. This impacts retirees, the author emphasizes.
Target date mutual funds one commenter points out is a marketing
tool for those needing investment advice in making investment
choices mostly in tax advantaged funds.
Another pointed out the benefits of target date funds are
risk management and “diversification” with a projection
of lower price. Because all managers “race” for yields
risk has been sacrificed. Conditions have shifted so assumptions
about return projections and costs have changed. There is no
prescription for those who have invested in target date funds,
but it does indicate another risk factor, not in the prospectus that
nearly no one reads.
SOURCE: A. Sklover, 1-6-16, “16 Questions for joining a
There are several things Al Sklover brings up in this
article about joining a start up company to aid in decisions
about joining and negotiating what things you and other
employees, founders, advisers and consultants should share.
The way it is done is classic-Sklover, tell a story and its
outcome and offer salient principles, actions and resources.
More than thirty Chemistry field majors attended a workshop
Effective job Searching last Saturday. The topics included:
Matching your skills and interests to the job market, Job
search strategies, Resumes and cover letters, Giving presentations,
Interviewing in larger organizations, Mock interviewing and
1. More organizations are using recruiting firms to perform
screening resumes, screening interviews, and reference
checking. They are adept at the process and are generally
not responsible for the final decision. It is not ununsual for
the position to be temporary, but there are legal limits on the
length of temporary employment.
2. ITAR review to enter certain industrial sites. Organizations
who design, manufacture and work with a number of government
agencies are required to comply with International Traffic in
Arms Regulations ITAR. Thus, if you are invited on site for
interviews you will need to bring along a birth certificate,
form of ID with your photo and may be expected to leave
your cell phone at the door (no photos)..
3. Problem solving interview questions are popular again.
These may require out of the box thinking. They may require
how you might work with other applicants to solve a problem.
They may be time limited, may have no set answer and may
just demonstrate how you deal with unexpected situations.
We observed a mock interview asking: how would you design
an emergency evacuation system for this building.
4. It is hard to justify the one-page page length rule
of thumb for resumes for all kinds of positions and applicants.
Each resume, however, does need to be targeted for each
situation using keywords. It is an advertizing document for
you with a readable form and both computer and person
designed content. It needs to be brief, concise and specific
with no errors.
5. MBTI assessments were brought up several times as
helpful for preparation for your job search, for informal
meal interviews and for audience analysis for presentations.
We do not see it but we expect remote control and
digital data access connected through wireless devices.
This provides challenges, opportunities and a need for
perceptive awareness for each of us.
One of the journals that I receive is Interface which
contains startling in-depth technical reading for a
general technical audience. Several top-tier articles
on energy conversion and electrochemical production
of essential feedstocks. There are several catching
articles worth perusing, from which I highlight one
on ammonia. It is far more than just headlining
A continuing debate among scientists and engineers,
innovators and inventors is the role of patents in
progress. While not part of most graduate and post-
graduate training and more importantly reading, a
deeper awareness of the patent realm is highlighted.
HETNETS, 5G CONNECTIVITY IN YOUR FUTURE
SOURCE: Fortune Ad Section August, 2015, p-51-3
PCIA informed us of amazing transformations happening
in our lives as we carry and use portable remote control
and communications devices with us. A ten-fold increase
in global “traffic” is expected in four years.and we will
all be affected. So it is “join us or get out of the way.”
Software is replacing custom hardware in creating
HETNETS heterogeneous networks and robust remote
applications, like surgery, is being conceived.
View PCIA webpage for more.
OPEN ACCESS PUBLICATION: AMMONIA
SOURCE: Interface Summer 2015, 53ff
J. Renner, L. Greenlee, A. Herring K. Ayers,
“Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia: A Low
Among the many things we see emerging are open
access publications of high technical merit like
the ECS journal, Interface. One stalwart article
in this quarter’s issue is on the “mastery of nitrogen”.
The article brings together President Millard Fillmore
state of the union address, BASF’s Bosch Haber
process and selective catalysts to point out where
chemistry can make a difference in reducing where 1%
of all energy is used and 3% of all greenhouse gases
See, for up coming article sourced above.
SOURCE: The Economist 8-8-15, p. 11
“Time to fix patents“
After defining what patents are and are not, hearing
many sides of the controversial issues of patent
protection and legal rights might be a good place
for people not versed in this important technical
topic to read and study.
The Economist offered a slanted journalist article
to shine light on an everlasting topic. The comments
to the article reveal a much more complicated, many
sided landscape, even including some interesting
innovations in the European patent system.
Nearly 80% of the members of our graduate course in
Professional Development rank security or certainty as
a leading desire. Thus, a high percentage sense a higher
level of un-certainty.
I led a seminar recently on ‘Dealing with Uncertainty’ where
the attendees were asked what were they uncertain about.
Was it how to make good decisions, or
What should be their next career step, or
Should they stop with a MS, or
How to do a good job search, or
How long should they expect to stay at a job, when should
they move, how do you look for a position while working,
What do you do if your boss disagrees with you or
does not like you, or…
You might get the point. Then, I asked them to share
their uncertainty with others before asking them to
discuss what feelings do the uncertainty evoke?
Did they feel confused, or anxious, or frustrated, or
stuck (and not able to change or move), or making false
starts? The top three feelings they expressed were:
anxious, confused and frustrated.
We talked that many of their situations were created by
the circumstances that they were in influenced by outside
forces. They have relatively little control over these.
What they each have control over is how they individually
respond to the feelings that the circumstances evoke.
Those who felt confused might lack VISION. What are
their career objectives?
Have they done a S-W-O-T, strengths-weaknesses,
opportunities and threats analysis?
Do they participate in setting goals, performing a “gap
analysis” and design a personal development plan?
Do they have a Z Plan, a personal desired outcome
when everything comes out “jelly-side up”?
Those who felt anxious might lack the NECESSARY
SKILLS. Have they performed a personal self assessment?
Do they know soft and wise skills that they are expected
to display and will provide advantages? Do they know
how to manage and build personal self esteem?
Ref. Brian Tracy
Those who felt frustrated might not have developed and
used available RESOURCES. Have they mentors that
seem committed to them? Are they aware of legal
counsel of Al Sklover for employment issues? Are
they aware of the WRAP method (Widen options,
Reality check solutions, Attain distance/perspective
and Prepare to be wrong)
Working through these brought some clarity to dealing
with each person’s sense of uncertainty.
Thanks to Hari Narayanan for bringing the uncertainty
matrix to my attention.
What do you know about the documents you sign
when you are employed by an organization? Al
Sklover provides deep insight into what they protect,
require and imply in one “watch out” link.
When studying organizations to determine pros and
cons for their mission and strategy we are faced with
some unfamiliar terms. The Economist reviews some
current popular styles that can provide help in your
WSJ projected where manufacturing jobs of the future
will be. It provides “down to earth” reading that society
publications might not be as forthcoming with.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANT DOCUMENTS
SOURCE: A. Sklover, “Non-Solicitation agreements
from A to Z” April 2015
An authoritative description of restrictive covenants is
agreements to limit your future work-related effort, Al Sklover
offers. They include: non-competes, non-solicitation and
nondisclosure. The site renders thoughts and opinions about
what wording to look for and seek an understanding of, if you
are faced with such agreements. Clear language and integrity
stand out in the “working wisdom blog.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY DEFINITIONS
SOURCE: The Economist, Schumpeter, “A palette of plans“
5-30-15. p. 66
Business life cycles, mergers and acquisitions, patent litigation
and joint ventures, product recalls and new updates dominate
the marketplace. When you evaluate firms to consider working
at, it might be helpful to have a clue on the business strategy
since working there is truly investing your time and very likely
your resources. Schumpeter summarizes a Boston Consulting
Group book on business strategies. It describes:
niche-dominating, adaptive-evolving (4E model), blue ocean
(whole new market), broad-partnering, and being-nimble-
striving for-efficiency strategies.
FORECAST: FUTURE MANUFACTURING JOBS
SOURCE, WSJ, 6-3-15, p. R6,”Where the manufacturing jobs
of the future will be“
This article is a litmus test for job forecasting of technical
professionals. Realize that things will change, like the fracking
revolution for jobs in the oil patch and flexible innovation
when oil prices suddenly declined in the last year.
The article does not relate directly to PhDs and post-docs,
but it does indicate the health of certain industries and
the top locations of chemical plants and plant systems
BONUS Sklover Working Wisdom: Topic OVERTIME PAY
A provocative concept introduced by Daniel Burrus
is transformative [rather than incremental] planning .
This concept results from a realization that there
are “wider” and broader forces influencing changes
beyond linearization of recent events. Burrus calls
our attention to industries and organizations who remained
in their ’silos’ of view and perished or were left behind
due to total changes in context and culture. (think:
iphones, ipads, and remote storage in place of cameras
He teaches us anticipatory planning for what does not
even exist now. He advocates a broader network of
information gathering and screening to be prepared
to explore in our information interviews and networking
interviews to be part of the future trend rather than trying
to catch up. [ See blog.]
An example of a company seeking to adapt and adjust
A recent ad in Atlantic elaborates on AOT Analytics
of Things which is being incorporated into our daily
lives via predictive maintenance for safety, health
and efficiency and up-to-the-second awareness.
The situation facing many soon-to-be science and engineering
graduates, doctorates and post-doctorates can seem daunting.
What job directions or career path should I consider and figure
out how to choose?
At a recent post-doc seminar with three dozen attendees one
half chose, at first, academic and industrial career paths. Many
of those had little clue about what they would value doing.
The other half did not have a firm idea and did not know where
to begin. As Al Sklover points out: “good counsel requires
personal knowledge”– strengths, hard and soft skills, what
motivates you, your values and ‘likes and dislikes.’ So, a
personal self assessment might start your screening process.
Then, a couple of useful processes before interviewing in your
checklist might be information interviewing positions and
organizations, networking interviews (using your elevator
pitch to market your interests and skills) and mock interviews.
This will fill your checklist with several actions and tools.
A helpful figure is presented in Vision 2025 (Marinda Wu)
offering where our technical skills can be applied. With
slight variations this view can be applied across the board to
STEM fields– For chemical enterprises (substitute bio,
physics, geology, computer, biomed, etc.):
1)Chem focused jobs, 2)Chem-based services and regulatory,
3)Science & Engineering management, legal and policy,
4)Science & Engineering inspired government & business.
Consider using other resources in your search as you gather
relevant information and trends in a “Levy flight search”
which recognizes the importance of the “long tail“.
Besides the CHEMISTRY JOBS section of the Yellow Bar
Venture Philanthropy 2 3
Consider not too tightly restricting your search in the
What can mentors do for you? They can offer insights
and perspective that are not readily available in one
They can give you specific information that reveals to
a company interviewing you that you have done your homework
and are “on the ball.”
They can give you typical interview questions that you can
think about and prepare responses to.
FL recently was invited to interview Intel and I could
have shared information Dwight Hunter presented two
months ago that it is a leading designer and manufacturer
of computer, networking and communication products
with locations in over 60 countries, employing >100k
employees, 80k of which are in technical roles. It is a
highly recognized brand (top 10) listed as one of the
top 50 best to work for (Fortune), and is aggressively
pursuing growth segments in data center and personal
computing businesses, while extending into newer market
Other relevant items about Intel are part of the package.
What questions would a screening interview ask:
Fundamentals of physics and mechanics of the fields they
have high interest in:
How does NMR work? IR? Fermi resonance?
What is the Si band gap?
What type, size of beam and energy lasers have you used?
What is the half height of the UV-Vis dimethylgermylene spectrum?
What is the differences betweem Si and Ge reactive intermediates?
What is quantum tunneling?
what did I do with carbon nanotubes?
how did I synthesize the composite materials? How did I determine
Any suggestions about how Intel can satisfy Moore’s law in the future?
Think seriously of investing time to have and develop mentors.
They can make all the difference preparing for an interview.
For those looking for positions, seeking help with their
documents, and getting practice interviews, the virtual
career fair ended today was a membership granted opportunity
you should not have passed up.
I know I met with ten members who told me their expectations
were exceeded and they learned and practiced and received
advice on critical issues.
public relations documents needed for industry and
what to include in them– keywords
importance of the “resume red zone” the middle
third of page 1
items to include in the heading and name on each
page with page number
form and content of resumes
importance of the interviewing continuum
knowing about the zeroth level of the interviewing
how to conduct an informational interview
how to conduct a telephone screening interview
how to conduct a virtual video interview
Wise skills — being allies for each other, committed
Recent PhD who delivered their baby girl now wishes to
return to the work force, how should she respond to time
Recent graduate who wants to find a job in the Chicago
area, who do I network with
What are the hot areas to look for positions– employers,
What companies in Canada are hiring
Strategies for dual career families
Through more than a half dozen years, nonverbal communications
has been a topic several times in different situations.–
Confidence posing (Amy Cuddy)
The latest update in Wikipedia offers an in depth discussion of
nonverbal communication. A shorter, more readable version
lists how nonverbal reveals
revealing a person’s emotional state and response
displaying the connection or relationship between people
supplying feedback from one or a group to another
signalling communication interaction
At three recent seminars, I noticed several intentional signals
that underscored the connection between people..
- after providing a solution to a job seeker’s dilemma of working
for companies that failed, he “fist-bumped” me. It was both
inter-generational and at an unexpected event. But I “got it.”
- at a student event where each person introduced themselves and
offered “factoids” about themselves and where they are from, one
“veiled” lady taught her classmates how she greets new people.
Introducing oneself at meetings, women are expected to offer
their hand for a handshake. In some cultures, women do not touch
another man and should show arms cross, hands open bow to signal
that this is their cultural tradition.
SPEAKING AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER
- soft-spoken members need to tailor their expression to the
situation. They should start their comments louder at first,
gaining attention and favorable intention as an audience member,
enunciate consonants clearly and settling to their normal
volume so that people can hear.
- additionally, face as much of the audience as is practical
and while addressing one person create eye contact with others
in the audience. Involving them.
BALANCING THE NEED TO TAKE NOTES AND LISTEN
WHILE PROVIDING NONVERBAL FEEDBACK
- in many meetings, there are presenters, listeners and one
or two notetakers. In one meeting, our conversation was
warm and genuine and we reached areas of substance where
I noted that she frequently reverted to the notetaker role.
Do you do this often at meetings, I asked? Yes, in fact, she
is often asked to send out her notes for the meeting. At
certain points in careers we need to realize the secretarial
role is presumed to be lacking leadership skills, whether
true or not.
- occasional notes seem fine. “thought-hooks” It is more
mature if one seeks leadership responsibility to understand
that nonverbal signals send underlying and nonstated
messages. True, they should be “tested” and verified. Too often,
the notetaker while getting all the words, misses out on the
GIVING A PRESENTATION
- in a seminar a presenter had to manage the A/V, maintain the
attention, and engage an unknown audience. She smoothly
navigated a path to manage the program by walking the stage
smiling and asking feedback and input from different
areas of the room.
It is not enough that you know the material. You have to be
an actress as well and have a “stage presence.”
At the end of the Professional Development class an
interested person asked for some additional relevant
reading references. This is the second listing of outstanding
books that I recommend: (First)
Tara Bennett-Goleman, Mindwhsipering: A new map
to freedom from self-defeating emotional habits
Harper Collins, NY 2013
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How self-control
works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it
Avery Penguin NY, 2012
Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, The New Digital Age:
Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,
Alfred A Knopf NY 2013
Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock When everything happens
Current Penguin Group NY, 2013
Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check: The irreverent guide to
outsmarting, outmanaging and out-marketing your
competition, Portfolio Penguin Group 2008
Samuel Arbesman, The Half Life of Facts: Why
everything we know has an expiration date
Current of the Penguin Group, 2012
Liz Wiseman Multipliers: How the best leaders
make everyone smarter, Harper Business, NY 2010
Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What
Riverhead Books, Penguin NY 2009
Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch: How to change things
when change is hard, Cengage Learning, Detroit
Sarah Horowitz, Freelandcers Bible, 2012
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: the Hidden
role of chance in life and in the markets, Second Ed.,
Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a mind: A secret of Human
thought revealed, Viking, 2012
Frank Partnoy, Wait: The art and science of delay,
Perseus Book Public Affairs, NY 2012
Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And other Secrets to
Success, One relationship at a Time,
Currency Doubleday, NY, 2005
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why we do
what we do in life and business,
Random House, NY 2012
Martin Lindstrom, Brandwashed: Tricks companies
use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy
Crown Business NY, 2011
Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How
we lie to everyone—especially ourselves
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites,
David McRaney, You are not so smart: why you can have
too many friends on Facebook, why your money is
mostly fiction and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself,
Gary Marcus, Guitar Zero: The new Musician and the
Science of Learning,
Penguin Press New York ,
If you were not able to attend the NOLA meeting, and you
seek your next position or you want to be prepared for
whatever may happen next in your career, did you think
to attend the “Virtual Career Fair” over the last two days?
Out of a job, need help? VCF is one of the services the
ACS provides— free…In fact one of the people JC I
spoke with yesterday via telecon [more about this later]
had let her membership lapse. She informed the ACS of
her situation and requested a waiver-membership extension
so she could attend.
RESULTS: We video-teleconned, via Skype, for 90 minutes,
where we not only reviewed her current resume and a cover
letter, but also prepared her for a video screening interview.
What to wear [she was professionally attired],
background set-up [we removed glare and unattractive
background items, placed her in the center of the screen, had
her sit back to we simulated being in the same room, and
suggested that she use a microphone for voice clarity.
Look into the camera[, as if, right above my eyes.]
Manage non-verbal behaviors.
Then I suggested JC to contact a recruiter who seemed to be
well suited to her quest who was also attending the VCF,
ZyomicJobs . Earlier, I had a warm conversation with Alan
Meyer who has a genuinely unique and helpful approach for
laboratory scientist careers.
There were four kinds of people who I observed in the VCF.
Browsers: less than 30 minutes to spend, what is it about?
Curious: Had one or more Specific questions and sought
People who wanted a resume or CV reviewed or a consultants
insights into the job market today and what they might do.
They were often willing to spend some time to engage a
consultant. Most did not wish to Skype.
These three groups were not quite ready to do a video-telecon.
The 4th group wanted to full experience of a virtual video-telecon
review and mock interview practice. They were ready to
Skype and got the most, by far, from the VCF.
- Specific questions asked and answered
- resume reviewed on the spot [They emailed me their resume,
I worked with them line by line to point out pros and cons and
what reviewers seek.
- mock video-telecon interviews on the spot.
Other specific examples included:
Career advice for recent mothers telecon from home taking
care of a newborn.
Where and how to find keywords for a dad waiting for his
teenagers to come home from school for his resume…job
descriptions and information interviews
…considerations about attending a regional ACS meeting
vs. a national meeting.
These kinds of things are much better to handle with a
RECOMMENDATIONS: This VCF approach is incredibly valuable
for members who cannot attend a national meeting. Preparation
is very important.
1. Have your goals established, questions prepared and your
2. Have back-up plans ready to go. Cell phone handy to call
in case of computer interruptions. [In fact most people’s
computer systems could not be integrated with the VCF
system to do a video/audio interaction. Many reduced themselves
to keyboarding which is a FAIL in my view.]
3. Dress professionally.
A person never honestly knows what interviewers and
recruiters seek when making their case for a product
manager or project manager position.
Accomplishing difficult goals, managing various aspects
of projects are common for experienced workers.
Read an interesting piece by Lou Adler in which he
indicates his admiration for people who have an “achiever
pattern” in their recent experience. There is more to your
preparation if this is how you wish to market your skills:
- Well thought through examples
- Understanding of what interviewers will be doing with
both your spoken (screening and on-site interviews)
and written (resume, etc.) data: comparison to other
- “Presence” in professional settings, Internet, and in
person, showing confidence. adaptability and
desire to learn
This is from a “recruiter’s perspective,” a perspective not
many technical people consider. He has presented this in
various forums (contains several resources) and it has a
following. For those with interest in start-ups, business
development and are open to new challenges in business
Adler can be a solid resource.
BUSINESS POSITIONS, WORKING WITH RECRUITERS,