You know, I am a strong proponent that scientific professionals
have a strong understanding of working with statistics and
perceive the hazards in our environment, that have good and not
so good effects on humans.
Our Professional Development class is interesting because
we can use feedback from class members for future discussion
items and exercises in class.
Yahoo had an appropriate article by Maria LaMagna
about the consequences of lying in an interview when
asked how much you currently make.
This could happen in various interview formats…
screening, on-site, wrap-up with HR, or during
salary negotiations. Preparation and research
In all cases tell the truth, as they may ask you to produce
a pay stub. Alternatively it is fair to ask what is their
I feel it is appropriate to state that salary is one
component of an overall compensation package.
While it is a gauge on your value to the company,
it is fair to point out that other factors may be equally
important to you…vacation, citizenship work papers,
insurances, location, travel requirements, etc.
It is that time of year again. Remember the challenges last year?
From Dennis Brown:
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
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.
Tom Friedman on Meet the Press restated the current situation
many job seeking technical degree individuals face.
Ten years ago R. Jones edited a series of factors
giving rise to the apparent trend involving the
globalization of chemical enterprise industries.
We have urged ACS in this blog to report and
follow the Economics in the Chemical
Enterprise as the older model (of globalization)
is less valid now as an important concept for
Yesterday I enjoyed a conversation with a resume reviewer
who has a senior level position in a government organization.
He shared several poignant remarks about his experiences
when he often reviews resumes to bring in candidates to
interview for technical positions.
The global pace is speeding up. To meet the needs and
interests of members and institutional stakeholders the
Society needs to incorporate broader and deeper aspects
of economics in the technical and scientific aspects of
the chemical enterprise.
Scientific thinking has undergone an evolution in the Internet
age. Science commonly rationalizes outcomes based on
each effect has a cause.
Various publishers promote journal impact factors JIF to
measure ” the importance of articles by the number of times
an article is cited. This measure in light of the continuing change
of technical literature is changing and deemed less significant.
Did you know you can change irrevocable trusts that you create
with your attorney when (1) tax law is revised or cease to exist,
(2) family circumstances change, (3) errors exist in the the documents?
This is a document professionals should know about and
decide if and when it fits in your financial plan.
Linkedin profiles have not and should not replace resumes.
They are part of your professional presence and a
link is offered.
Ewen Calloway summarized recent discussions on the use of
journal rating and previewed articles in various fields that
suggest it going away. Worth looking at.
FINANCIAL DECISIONS FOR YOUR FAMILIES
Trusts are often created to save paying federal estate taxes in
relation to a specific tax law. There are, according to Cody,
Cody and McCarthy, five ways trusts can be modified: (a)
have a judge restate your intent, (b) adjust pay-out options
to current situations, (c) change the terms of the trust due to
unforseen circumstances, (d) invoke a trust advisor without
going to court, (e) consider another “do-over” trust.
So, if you find a need to modify your trust, or you waiver
in creating an irrevocable trust, there are things you should
know to help you.
Robert Hellmann wrote that resumes and profiles have many
of the same information. But a resume helps us obtain interviews
and the profile does support the interview screening process
and much more. Hellmann proposes an active profile approach
in your job search.
Don’t indicate openness to opportunities in your Headline
Don’t put unemployed or looking for a job in your profile
Do consider using more informal language than the targeted
Hellmann’s article is worth taking seriously in your career
BONUS VIDEO SERIES: The Australian series “The Future
of Water” is definitely of high value to view. Each segment
offered incredible insights into the bigger picture. I was
very surprised by the underground reservoir in South
America that was recently defined.
One of the books I have read recently was “Predictably Irrational“
by Dan Ariely, ‘The hidden forces that shape our decisions.’
Three concepts were revealing in understanding certain decisions
1. arbitrary coherence that directs preconceptions
2. market norms and social norms influencing what is considered
in explaining resolving conflicts
3. how ownership pervades our life and shapes many things we do.
Arbitrary coherence signifies an anchoring effect (being first to set a
price or cost or salary) that encroaches on our minds for decisions.
Considering where this preconception arises and how irrational it
may be can allow us to bypass this habit of mind. (think: negotiation
and other numerical choices)
The most telling concept for me was the difference and impacts of
market and social norms on decisions. Social norms seem to be
common in collective cultures. It results in collaborations that lead
to a benefit to one person or group and builds on a social relationship.
Market based norms are revealed when money is involved and you
feel like you get what you pay for. It can be controlled by contracts
or involved when rewards are given that have a certain monetary value
Companies like to influence a market based transaction by bringing in
a social component. It is this mixing of market and social norms
that changes the nature of decisions and the appearance of ethical
Companies also like to bring in social based norms in motivating
Finally, Ariely highlights how we feel the influence of owning a
physical (house, shoes, pen, whatever) or
nonphysical item (idea, virtual, insurance)
on decisions to change. Ariely introduces several lines of thought
that help us manage our urges when ownership can impede our
There are many situations where managing these psychological
concepts can lead us to more professional behaviors.
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.
One of the short discussions we had in our class this year was
on the role of critical thinking. It was not elaborate or drawn
out with many inferences and examples like it could.
It was about reading with a “thinking” attitude.
One of the members brought up how he would teach undergraduates,
especially how to read the technical literature. The citation he used
mentioned the old paradigm structure of the scientific method, as
if it were gospel.
Another view is to seriously evaluate the source who funded
the work, who gains from its publication and the true value? What is
it do you want to learn from the report, communication or
article? Is this too hard to ask?
This blog has cited Galea’s Fortune piece which points out biases.
Scientific literature can be read [or mis-read] with a structure
to influence the readers’ take-away message.
The Economist offered a remarkably insightful piece about corporate
financial results on which we depend on for employment, investment
and purchasing. It should be totally unbiased and reflect truth as
well. The article puts forth the “carnival of confusion, obfuscation,
and fibbing” that would make “even presidential candidates blush”.
The article speaks to Valeant, Microsoft, SunEdison, GM, GE
restating earnings, adjusting figures, and using measures of
profit that do not have regulatory significance.
Rules of thumb: profit should be revealed in standard accounting
rules, without adjustments for mature firms
firms should not have large and persistent gaps
between official accounting and adjusted profits
firms should not have low tax payments, since
it should be reporting profits to investors and government
look at the “cash flow”
Look at this before sending in your application!
TECHNOLOGY REALITY CHECK: PATENTS
For the first time I have seen CEN talk about reading the patent
literature [and not an ACS journal article] to learn about something.
The recent issue revealed more significance can be gained
from reading the patent literature. While not the headline
or example, this statement is something we will not find
many research professors teach our students and post-docs.
There is something legally binding in patents. When researching
the literature about your work or potential job applications,
patents should be a must area to review.
It is an essential part of the interview process that you will
provide references and they will be contacted. As we know,
it is wise to ask if a person can provide a good reference for you
before you offer their name for a reference.
Recently, I was asked if I would act as a colleague’s
reference. After her interview, she and I skyped to
share what the interview was like and to get prepared for
my part of her interview.
The reference checking can happen before you might
interview in places that know your reference. That can
act as a sanity check to go ahead with more detailed
It can happen after the interview in two or three ways.
One is a phone reference check. A second way is
to ask for your reference to complete a detailed form.
And a third variation is to ask for a letter of reference,
which would be similar to the common letter of
recommendation sought for academic position applications.
The reference checking process can be done by a HR
staffer or more frequently these days by a contracted firm
that specializes in this service. Both the candidate’s
performance and my credibility are tested.
So, during our Skype I asked the candidate what she learned
about the position and the company. In addition, I asked for
a few personal/professional details so that I could strongly
describe that I knew the candidate. She was involved in several
seminars, a course I led and we traveled to an international
meeting at which she overcame weather problems.
In our reference checking conversation, I confirmed personal
history and information about her strengths, weaknesses and
near term goals.
The person I spoke with, Sharon, politely confirmed her information
about me that the candidate provided. Then, she asked if it was a
good time to complete this assignment. I indicated yes.
There are standard questions that are usually asked:
- how long is the business relationship and what was the formal
- is there any reason this person is not qualified to work in the
- provide details of directly working with the applicant on a project
- assess the applicant’s performance on the project
- please describe the candidate
- what are her leading strengths
- what performance factors could the applicant improve
- would you recommend we hire this applicant
So, knowing specific personal strengths with examples and areas
the applicant needs to improve are very important. Having an idea
of the applicant’s reflection of how the interview day went will
reveal if the applicant was comfortable with the culture and
people experienced. The reference needs to find a way to express
strong desire with the opportunity and be an advocate.
A couple of interesting conversations spur this entry. One colleague
asked for help in developing a response to the question: What does she
wish to do next after achieving her PhD? [So as the advice goes: the
solution of many problems is in the framing of the question, its boundary
conditions and assumptions.]
She has a long term goal of reuniting with her family. This can be
achieved in several ways, in terms of relocating. Yet, she only viewed
it by one path of her returning to live at home [boundary condition]. So,
my response was philosophical that many more unintentional factors go
into our career choice, other than an initial goal. I offered salient
features of a self-assessment (values and interests) as one factor
and opportunities that open up to us…more practical
Then added ‘Fulfillment in your career often does not result from the
work itself, but in the quality and care you bring to your efforts.
Few of us find their career through logic. Many find their career
through connections and sometimes through coincidence.
We cannot really predict where we end up in our career. We may set
goals. They may not be realistic or realizable.’
A second conversation brought the question: How do I respond to
What motivates me? To that I responded, pick two from the