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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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04/18/17
Watch-Outs. 102. Statistics and Radioactive Elements
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:48 am

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.  

.
So in our final class we talked about three features we should
look for in evaluating statistical data.  [I am always amazed that
their relevance is not emphasized in classes.]  variation, shape
and central tendency.
.
In our daily lives we are faced with statistics for nearly everything
and given “selective” interpretations to sell or convince us of various
positions.
- insure the data provides its sample size and range and variability
[small sample size, limited range, no measure of variation should
not be basis of a general position.]
- If the data is presented with many significant figures, it should
raise “red flags” in your mind.  [10,234,511.39 ?]
- The shape of the distribution of measure reveals critical insight.
[power law, normal, bimodal, skewness…]
- What is the appropriate central tendency representation?  Mean
if it is normal distribution…Other than that, questions are needed.
.
This leads to a link to be part of your toolkit for how to get “facts.”  
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has researched USA
government statistics
and presents them in various forms.
.
There are two radioactive species in our environment that we
should be aware of some things.  One I encountered when I was asked
by a middle school student about a science project on radioassays.
That is when I learned about technetium.  Technetium-99 is most
useful as a radioassay measure for imaging internal organs.
CEN published a short factoid recently about this lightest, artificially
produced element.  ”Technetium cows” were developed by BNL
researchers and have been in use for more than 50 years in 
medical diagnostics and research.  In addition, technetium is a
by-product of U-235 decay and thus can be a valuable monitor
for nuclear reactor spent fuel rod decay and storage.
.
A second radioactive element is the gas, radon.  Radon is naturally
occurring in the environment and is attributed to be an effector of 
lung cancer in humans 
.  Radon decays naturally producing alpha 
particles.  Maps of the prevalence of radon in the US point to where
it is.  This should be a point of reference for us where we live
and work.
comments (0)
04/08/17
Professional Behaviors. Teamwork with uncooperative team members and recalling emails
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:33 am

Our Professional Development class is interesting because
we can use feedback from class members for future discussion
items and exercises in class.

.
One feedback card read:  Could we engage in networking
conversations and elevator speeches from each person in class?
It is better than describing them.
       
>In subsequent classes we asked people to deliver elevator speeches
to their team mates [which should be done in all team situations].
Then when we brought in guest speakers, we asked each class 
member to deliver an elevator pitch to the guests.
.
A couple of other situations that are intriguing.  One class member
met privately and said she did not know what to do as her team
was unresponsive to requests to work together and complete tasks
on time.  We talked about it and in class performed an exercise. 
What can you do to work better as a team?  There are many excuses:
too busy, lazy, procrastinate, think the assignment is dumb….
>
  • plan ahead; discuss the work assignment
  • know yourself; study your teammates behaviors, values, likes
  • keep in touch; communicate, even over-communicate
  • offer help if others have trouble understanding/solving the assignment
  • Team formation usually follows easily recognizable stages, known as
    “forming, storming, norming, and performing.”
    YOU ARE EXPECTED TO GET TO NORMING QUICKLY
  • learn about your team-mates: their values, behavior, goals, time lines,
    honesty, promptness, caring; strength and weakness
  • When do you report to higher Ups?
  • Influence: consistency, scarcity, authority, trust worthiness,
    social proof
  • Work together, share ideas and don’t just divide up the work.
  • Use people’s strengths and interests to produce something that
    exceeds expectations.
  • Become familiar with due dates, put buffer between team
    deadline and final deadline alert people in advance
  • Givers succeed most, reciprocators are a close second
  • Adam Grant’s book “Givers and Takers”
.
A second class exercise was inspired by an incident where a class 
member forgot an attachment when sending an email.  It happens to
all of us.
.
The class came up with several and discussion ensued about how
some recipients might feel it revealed lack of attention to detail or
how you perform under pressure.  There are technological solutions
that we should know and use.
    Outlook
    Gmail, Virtu
    Attachments in Gmail
comments (0)
03/15/17
Profeessional Behavior. Interview questions and post Interview Negotiations
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 4:37 pm

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
are key.

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
purpose. 
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.

1 comment
02/10/17
Professional Behavior. Winter Travel and Communication
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:05 am

It is that time of year again.  Remember the challenges last year?

We learned about negotiating with hotels and airlines to minimize
the impact of east coast snowstorm causing travel hiccups.  Maybe
I was overconfident when it happened again this year.
With two presentations planned for Pittsburgh on Friday and
Saturday I booked flight and hotel leaving Thursday and returning
Sunday.  The storm struck Thursday cancelling flights.  I should
have looked at the path and factored in leaving earlier, say one day
in the week, arriving Wednesday.
SWA was helpful in allowing my one day later flight enabling me
to arrive in Pittsburgh to partially be able to meet my commitments.
However, it never occurred to me that the plane I was to fly out
on Friday am needed to arrive Thursday.  It did not.  So my flight
Friday morning was cancelled just like Thursday morning due to
the storm.
Now I had to cancel hotel reservations and work with my colleagues 
at the other end to determine what could go on in my absence.
Expedia was willing to help.  First with changing the initial plans
from a 3-night stay to a 2-night stay.  Then, cancelling the reservation
due to weather created flight cancellation.  But, I had to provide all
information 
that Flight 622 was cancelled on Thurs. and Friday
due to the plane not arriving and there was no substitute available
that was available. 
Lessons:  Possible storm caused delay or cancellation of flight–
change my reservation to leave one day earlier, not later than when
the storm hits.  
              You can not get charged for room if you have all the facts
at 
hand when you call to cancel the hotel reservation.
               Have all the cell phone numbers ready to call to deal with
the 
situation promptly.  Call as early as you can to avoid last minute
surprises.
comments (0)
02/05/17
Linkedin Updates. Dennis Brown Suggestions
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:03 am

 From Dennis Brown:

Ideas 5 and 8 are applicable.  Remember online marketing is
the current state of the art.  Job seekers can use this tool 
for “push Marketing.”
  use of keywords
  involvement in groups
  online presence
  links 
  connection to “hubs
comments (0)
01/31/17
Small talk suggestions. Patrick King tips.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 4:10 pm

Reading a book that you may wish to get your hands on.

That is if you are interested in improving your “small
talk” skill.
I know I am.  So let me tell you more.  I am visiting several
friends and new acquaintances and am looking at how I can
improve my “connectability.”  We have brought up the critical
nature of this “co-curricular” practice”.
Patrick King wrote “The art of witty banter…” that offers
ideas that are encapsulated in three acronyms for different
circumstances.

HPM                         SBR                          EDR
draws on memory,    focused on topic       focused 
experiences and                                          on exploring
opinions
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…..

  personal stance on a topic
I always enjoyed….

M
   metaphor
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?….

comments (0)
01/15/17
Watch-Outs. 100. Negotiation insight, Title IX-Parental Leave, Continuous Personal Development
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Leadership, Mature professionals, Technicians, Legal matters, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:19 pm
INTERVIEWING AND NEGOTIATIONS
MONEY12-2016  Trends in 2017 (Job Market)
In negotiations it is not unusual for you to be asked
“How much do you make now?” and Something 
like, “What are your salary expectations?”
.
Recent ideas have materialized into legislation in
MA where it is no longer legal to ask about salary
history for in-state positions.  Note, too, that a later
paragraph states the law takes effect in 2018.
.
The article offers a response to the salary query–
“.. personal practice to keep salary confidential, as
my research has provided employers compensate
qualified employees with a salary between $xx
and $xy, and your being a leader I would not be
surprised to hear from you in the upper portion of
that range.”
.
PARENTAL LEAVE GRAD STUDENTS, POST-DOCS
L
inda Wang CEN 1-2-17, P. 23-4 PARENTAL LEAVE
Let me shout out about Linda Wang’s meaningful
article in the first issue of 2017 CEN on parental leave.
With the continuing trend of very long graduate
school tenures followed by one or more post doctoral
stints those wishing the fulfillment of family life
either learn too late that certain people or organizations
frown on or discourage distractions from their goals.
I dare say there can even be blacklisting or not offering
strong recommendations as noted in 
Mason’s fine
article on Title IX
.
CONTINUOUS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
What can we do to remain employable throughout
our careers?  We do not think about that until often
it is too late.  It is in the present that we carry out our goals.
You should choose positions that provide personal satisfactions
day-to-day so you stick with it.  Engage in activities that 
have outcomes that coincide with your personal longer
range goals.
.
Early on in your careers you should realize that doing the 
same things over and over is self limiting.  You need to 
bring to bear what is emerging in the larger employment 
market (artificial intelligence, computation, robotics) and
seek out and complete career focused education, experiences
and certifications.  The Economist highlighted observations
and some trends.  (1)Self examination leading to Curiosity
is critical to continually learn and
(2) knowing your learning style and adapting content to
meet your style for long term application and near term
demands is your responsibility.  
Large questions remain, namely,
(a)does the training and knowledge get recognition and
reward for the time and expense?  
(b)Will there be experiences, skills and abilities that will
be useful where I am now and/or in other organizations?
.
ACS seems to have a working model for continuous
education and needs constant input for what would benefit
members.  How can we better offer soft skill development?
is one specific area, for example.


comments (0)
12/13/16
Preparing for Decision-Making. Ethics
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:31 am

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
decisions. 

Our class offers fewer steps and a template to consider
classroom exercises that students might face now and
will possibly face in the future.
Template steps:
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
alternatives. 

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
happiness. [paraphrased].

Perlmutter’s process is documented in the
comment.

2 comments
11/11/16
Listening. 2. Five aspects to focus on
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, First Year on Job, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 4:21 pm

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.

The class contained an international audience.  We have learned that
some  non native English speakers found  other behavioral 
psychology topics challenging.
Listening, filled with practical exercises giving examples of how 
we need to focus and 
how we selectively listen to people focusing on one aspect or
another.
.
Yet we have have to listen to many aspects:
 - details and specific facts
 - understanding the big picture
 - evaluating the content
 - observing and understanding nonverbal cues
 - empathizing with the speaker
.
The audience was encouraged to focus on improving their two weakest 
aspects and develop specific plan to make improvements.  Standing out
were pay attention to the “big picture”, nonverbal displays and 
hijacks that limit our rational thinking and attention.
comments (0)
10/23/16
Trouble Finding your Career Path
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:59 am

Tom Friedman on Meet the Press restated the current situation
many job seeking technical degree individuals face.

[Hard to locate in a hour-long program.  So, the statement
is cut-and-pasted into the COMMENT section.]
He has been writing about this for several years.
1 comment
10/10/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise. 2.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:18 pm

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
members.  
.

We observed that globalization is less
significant now and plays much less of a strategic
role as superstar companies that use an array of
qualities.  They have distinctive cultures and
traditions that many academic centers are little 
aware of, including seeking and following top 
talent (stretch assignments, accelerator 
experiences, and crucible roles) and keeping their 
focus on a long term vision (by modifying their 
shareholders’ voting rights) and managing finances, 
legislation and financial markets.
.
The Economist reported on recent trends in its
article as a new age of corporatism giving rise to
consolidation to stay on top “hoovering up talent,
buying patents and investing in research.”  We can see
this leading to problems ascribed to concentration of
pay, technology, top execs and vast amounts of
information.
.
In an interesting related piece in Cheeky Scientist Blog
is the five corporate departments that PhDs should know
which are critical to a company’s success.  While most
know “companies have R&D, Marketing and Sales,”
few realize also critical to success are finance, supply
chain and information technology.
.
I suspect these are all new to Chemists and Engineers
and this reveals the need for further education in these
and traditional areas that have further evolved.
1 comment
09/22/16
Resumes. “Master” and Targeted
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:09 am

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.
.

He expressed disbelief that some resumes seem to be
unrelated to the “must and wants” described in the 
USAJobs.gov requirements.  To him, it seemed they were
applying simply based on their degrees.  
.
Some resumes contain typos or do not meet the specifications
listed in the instructions to authors.  Others list out extensive
biographies with many bullets unrelated to the description.
Some are three and more pages long and don’t realize how
their resume will be evaluated.  [They don’t read the 
evaluation criteria listed in the description.]
.
There are some positive things he reinforced that can be
useful tips for people who are in the job market.  Have
a master resume, but do not use it for your submission
as it is too long with unrelated TMI (too much information]
items.  Use a “targeted resume” for your application.
.
Why have the master resume?  Well, because you will need
a little more detail to include in your federal positions, like: 
 - month/date for starting and ending roles 
 - details on your personal history, military service, VISTA
city, state and ZIP of employers, hours per week worked,
level of experience via roles and responsibilities, reverse
chronological order, specific keywords in the description.
[see the above link.]
.
Master resumes provide a useful resource that each of 
us can use throughout our careers.  It is not what we 
actually submit.  It is a data resource that needs to be
regularly updated and refreshed … think about former
companies who have changed names, and addresses
of your references, keywords, list of projects some which
were shorter term and even incomplete.
.
Targeted resumes are “marketing documents” that may
be read by people who without the formal technical
background.  Appearance makes a difference, so avoid
using ‘fill in the blanks’ forms. and software that does
not always translate when uploaded.
(.doc, for example– .pdf or .txt may work better).
.
Honesty is always expected and it is easier to verify
things via the Internet.
comments (0)
09/04/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Recruiters, Leadership, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:58 am

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.

.
Think:  mergers and acquisitions; government funding of
CDC, EPA, NIH, chemical research;  international trade
arrangements; patent implications for different industries;
water, power, recycling…
.
This post recognizes the development of sustainability,
green chemistry, and internationalization of programs.  
Other organizations [ 1 , 2 ] have pointed out deeper and
broader economic implications. ACS has an ongoing
organization
to continuously update “historical” data for
members.   
.
We need to access disciplines that will continuously
FORECAST business cycles that affect the chemical
enterprise and describe implications to members and
constituents.
.
Robert Colvile has described how 
- more attention is paid to one issue rather than the
gradual and incremental changes all around us
- flashy and superficial is promoted
- faster and shorter-lasting dominates
- ease of money, ideas and pathogens moving around
with less friction and checking means disaster can
happen before we are aware
- industries and companies can disappear with a click
of a network or computerized trading micro-second
- trajectories are nonlinear and interruptable
.
One strategic area ACS needs to grow and foster
is economic forecasting.  This blog has reviewed
Tetlock’s Superforecasting and it is appropriate to 
bring up the Good Judgment Project as a seed for how
the ACS might bring economic forecasting to help
members.
2 comments
08/02/16
Professional Behaviors. Taste, choices and preferences
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:15 am

Scientific thinking has undergone an evolution in the Internet
age.  Science commonly rationalizes outcomes based on
each effect has a cause.
.

There are rules and boundaries and limits and established facts.
That may be for the physical world.  Does that also survive for
humans, for teams, for what we like and what we may choose and
decide?
.
Scientific work can offer results, interpretations and predictions.
There is a logic to this line of thinking.
.
Recently, I read TomVanderbilt’s book, “You may also like: Taste
in the age of Endless Choice
” that raised more questions than answers
about the dramatic evolution we see in our imperfect, more
unpredictable world.
.
In a scientific world where we work with teams, customers and 
suppliers, it is a challenge to deal with the concept of human tastes.
They can be quite different than habit and cause-effect processing.
We can also think of our own “tastes” in light of some things
Vanderbilt wrote that
- our preferences most often depend on things we like in frameworks of
categories
- tastes seem to depend on situations, circumstances and locations
- we choose and change choices and call upon a story for an explanation
[not the other way around]
- taste is comparative and adaptive
The Internet has brought about an explosion of the use, expression and
growth of our tastes, A/B testing, and recommendations.  We see this 
from Facebook, to texting photos, to Netflix as everyone can have and
express opinions which may or may not affect our thoughts.  We live
in a world of limitless choices so it behooves us to consider 
1.  shortcuts come at a price in what we think we like
2.  choices of words and meanings can bias thinking and feeling
3.  express why you like your choice/preference and it helps to consider
developing categories as our brain is a pattern matching processor
4.  it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘easy likes’ especially if we morph
what we see into something we think we see because we like.
5.  related to this is we like what we remember even if it is not true

comments (0)
07/25/16
Watch-Outs. 98. Disappearing Impact Factor, Irrevocable Trusts, Linkedin Profile
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:39 pm

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.

JIF DE-EMPHASIS
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.

LINKEDIN PROFILES
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
resume.

Hellmann’s article is worth taking seriously in your career
plan.

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.

1 comment
05/30/16
Professional Behavior. Psychology background on Decisions- Dan Ariely
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:14 pm

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
we make
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
or equivalence.
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
choices.

Companies also like to bring in social based norms in motivating
employees.

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
decision process.

There are many situations where managing these psychological
concepts can lead us to more professional behaviors
.

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05/20/16
Did you know? Pre-employment Testing
Filed under: Interviewing, First Year on Job, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:50 am

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
background and

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.

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05/01/16
Critical Reading. Patents, business results and technical literature
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:48 pm

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. 

SOME QUESTIONS
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.

CORPORATE RESULTS
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.

1 comment
04/08/16
Reference Check. What is asked and how you can help yourself
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:01 pm

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
interviewing.

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
connection

 - is there any reason this person is not qualified to work in the
position?
 - 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.

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03/24/16
Interview Questions. What do you want to do next and What motivates you
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:22 pm

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
the question:
What motivates me?  To that I responded, pick two from the
following six:

  1. career progression through the ranks and opportunities
    for promotion and advancement
  2. lateral moves with increasing job responsibility and skill
    building (like, rotational assignments in other areas, joint
    ventures, and others)
  3. Acquiring new technical skills (outside training, certification)
  4. Developing leadership intuition or managerial and administrative
    skills
  5. Balance in family life and work life
  6. increased compensation and other forms of compensation

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