Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search. It points out the importance of networking
 , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that your can build your
career by taking related positions. A career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.
applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
it was too late, they had already considered a candidate.
This year they contacted me. So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.
Career is a Process:
A senior level manager:
- Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
- what I do not like, and what I like.
- given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that. I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe. But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these
things (as long as it is not wrong).
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
- were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
- ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
- Talked about SAP and Oracle.
- He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
- if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
- asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
Recently I have received requests to review resumes and cover
letters for people who have completed several post docs and
wonder what can they do to attract interview attention.
First it was important to realize that they do not see the
changing role of push-pull marketing using on line profiles.
Since online profiles can contain much more information than
resumes and can be accessed in a multiplexed mode, quite often
this is a leading recruiting step. Push marketing is typified by
sending your resume to a recruiter or uploading to a website.
Pull marketing occurs when recruiters review profiles on line.
The online profile needs to be very good and show
communication savvy, while being consistent with your resume.
Second. When I examine the profile/ resume/ cover letter package
I ask for the job description. The exact title [cover letter], job code
[cover letter], and keywords [cover letter, resume, online
profile-Linkedin] need to be listed in the documents. It is critical
since screening is often done by ATS applicant tracking systems.
Third. While the ATS examines the full document, human reviewers
will want to see information that is easy to read, error-free and
specific to the position. Please:
- avoid long paragraphs of information in cover letter or resume
- insert your experience section before education, after you
reach five or more years beyond your last degree.
While it might be very true, statements like the following are
not taken seriously:
‘I believe I am a
quick learner as demonstrated previously where
worked in various fields (materials, analytical and clinical)
papers. I hope my skills and background are a
fit for to satisfy the requirements for the … position. I thank you for
your time and enthusiastically look
forward to hearing from you
soon. ‘ [note too many ‘I’s’– whole letter had >16]
for we know other interpersonal, cultural, and nonverbal
factors can dominate. [Technical skills alone are not enough.]
While the ACS offers good general suggestions about
writing documents, specific situations require outside-the-
- when there is little evidence for scientific accomplishments
via patents and papers, consider creating a List of Projects
addenda that might mention project work on proprietary
material ethically and legally.
- when seeking positions of some authority and responsibility,
providing information in the affiliations or highlights section
or in the cover letter or in the Linkedin profile where you
point out project and team leadership and responsibility
So often articles and blog entries talk about hiring trends
for recent graduates. When I peruse them, it seems most
are either anecdotal (few specific examples highlighting
certain concepts) or statistical summaries that are often time
a year or more earlier than the date of publication.
This entry looks at your second and subsequent positions. So,
in another perspective, we can take a longer, career view.
A career is a process, not an outcome, with many transactions
-learning new skills,
-defining your strengths and building on them, and
-articulating your values so that others will understand
and appreciate you and your contributions.
As scientists, commenters
bring up the discussion of being
that of an occupation formed by setting up formal qualifications
offered by education, internship/apprenticeship and examination,
a regulatory organization which admits and restricts and has a
code of behavior.
Honestly, however, scientific disciplines, like chemistry, may not
be bound by discipline tracks when thinking about job markets.
This may be less important when we look at markets for
wrote a remarkable article on career mistakes
that hinder personal growth and happiness that we obtain from
careers. I contend these apply to advance degreed scientists.
Let me highlight five frames of mind that restrict the “real job market:”
1. hold off pursuing positions of interest due to <100% match to
musts and wants [lack of confidence, weak in resilience, fear of
failure; be willing to learn on the job and seek help]
2. lack of self assessment knowing your strengths and what makes
you thrive and be constantly challenged and engaged. [engage
psychological and economic instruments outside of your employment
chain of command]
3. fall behind in your learning curve of new skills and experiences
to those who extend themselves [could be in work environment and
professional/ volunteer organizations]
4. fail to take an outsider’s perspective of your industry, organization
and department. This can be a situation where you ‘coast’ for a while.
It is important to continue connecting and keeping up with your
5. miss opportunities to learn about branding your skills and abilities
and be visible in more than one organization. In the information era,
this can seem to be trying things that are not immediately rewarded
in one organization, but opens up opportunities in another.
[no funding to attend a professional meeting; become a volunteer,
offer to assume organizational responsibilities, show that you can be
Some people are in roles that it is an asset to remember and
use people’s names. Sales, interviewing, teaching, politics and
guess what, leadership roles.
[They offer F-A-C-E: Face the person, Ask how they like to be
called, Cross reference to links, Employ the name in conversation.]
In a recent podcast
I learned another acronym that might be useful
to recall names that gives useful advice: C-H-A-R-M. from Jim
- Care. Showing that you care enough to remember a person’s
name reveals a connection.
- Hearing. Often we are thinking of something else when another
person offers their name. our attention is not focused on listening
closely, Distraction leads to not hearing.
- Ask. How do you spell it? Where does it come from? What is
the meaning or who were you named after? How would you like to
- Repeat Say the name and impress yourself with the name, situation,
- Marker. imagine the names spelled on their face, or link their face to
another face with the same name and jot it down in another medium.
FL and I have been working together for several years,
first during a post-doc, then, a second post-doc and a series
of interesting temporary positions. While the post docs
were related to her graduate training in advanced biomaterials
and coating technology, the temporary positions were in
a wide variety of disciplines from project management and
accounting, to analytical services, to quality control.
FL contacted me from outside the US about negotiating
a higher salary at a 10 year old company where a network
member currently works. FL was offered a position for six
months, after which there would be a review to determine fitness
for longer term. The contract specified starting date, supervisor,
and broad assignment responsibilities along with a starting
The initial request involved discussing what can be expressed
to bring up salary and that the salary being offered was
lower than current pay as a temp. The position is located in
Toronto, so it is a stretch to correlate ACS salary survey data
results, based on limited data and currency differences (although
I did approximate using estimated analogies.
SALARY INCREMENT IDEAS
First, however, thank the company for the pleasant news that
was received for the generous offer. It was highly sought and
enthusiastically received. FL is flexible in scope of the position
and hours of work, however, is there any room for compensation
discussions….wait, don’t fill silence with excuses, let the hiring
manager think and respond. State what your needs and desires
are before offering up give ups (you never know if your spouse
might not have separate benefit coverage.).
Ask for the firm’s annual report, employee handbook, and a
formal job description. After you receive and review them you
will be better able to discuss the offer details.
FL sought a $10K improvement. So we reviewed areas of
possible approaches– spousal health insurance, no relocation
expense, day care needs, hours of work, self improvement plan,
other deferrable benefits. Since FL’s spouse has family health
care coverage and there are no relocation needs, these could be
offered as “give ups” to measurably increase salary. FL is flexible
for hours of work and has no immediate day care needs.
If salary is not negotiable, ask if a sign-on bonus can be brought
up to compensate for the difference from your current position
and the unique bonus you might forfeit leaving your current
Have a list of other negotiating wish items– personal computer,
loaded with professional responsibility software, professional
society memberships, special training programs, special
commuter passes not listed in the employee handbook.
We also shared details of negotiating workshops brought up
It is worth asking for details of the firm’s current and recent
past finances that would be listed in the annual report. That
not being shared, along with number of employees and
ownership of properties where company activities are
Through Fidelity Investments, we were able to share
financial data on this start up. It is relevant to see if the
same data is offered. Going to work for a company is just
like investing in the company and it is important to perform
due diligence in its financial and commercial viability. Who
owns the company, what is the market value and trend
and are there legal issues of concern.
After critical elements of the position negotiation are resolved
satisfactorily, request that an updated offer letter be sent for
approval. Since its location is relatively close, it might be
a nice gesture to personally go to the location, sign it in
person and meet other employees with whom you will be
Send thank you notes to all members you meet. It will
leave a positive impression.
to support business research
Meeting with many Ph.D. candidates who fret about
not having accomplished a series of publications in
peer reviewed journals is confounding these days.
What is the criterion for being granted a degree?
Can you publish just anywhere, not just in high impact
Is peer review of a journal article a justifiable measure?
What do we do in controversial topic areas when bias
can enter into decisions?
What do we do in the digital era which has replaced
RESEARCH AND HALF LIFE OF FACTS
Further enlightenment about the pursuit of “truth” is
that, as Uri Alon
so elegantly described, research invites
a fruitful path. The write up glosses over the learning
by failure and describes the “obvious” positive direction,
showing how novel and precise the idea is.
Samuel Arbesman looks back on the search for “truth”
and finds most being only half-correct as time moves
So why is getting published in a journal so crucial?
I get it that graduate degrees are conferred by judging
work being of such quality meriting publication. Martin Paul Eve
nicely describes the fuzziness of this
criterion since it could be published just anywhere after
rejections. As we know, rejection
does not mean lack
of value either.
As we are into the third decade of the Internet era of
publication providing OA Open Access there are many
ways to both read and access articles and publish our
This raises questions about what is a valid way of
demonstrating the level of expertise for a degree, even
for granting tenure and promotion.
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
- 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.
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.
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
. Radon decays naturally producing alpha
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
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,
- Work together, share ideas and don’t just divide up the work.
- Use people’s strengths and interests to produce something that
- 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.
This is a story about two conversations. The first is
one with a very accomplished senior grad student.
The second conversation is one of a series with
a department of chemistry chairperson.
Ph.D. LACKING NEEDED SOFT SKILLS
Almost Dr. Smith (not his or her real name) wanted
to talk about a situation in which she finds herself. She
has received several promising offers, only to be rejected
after providing references. She has learned from a reliable
source that the reference supplied the information that her
writing skills were not up to acceptable standards, whereupon
the offer was pulled.
She asked what can she do now? Learn by various means–
reading for style and formatting, specialized training to write
for specific audiences, and practice, of course are several
possibilities. Shouldn’t the grad school provide that for her?
The answer is generally, not in today’s climate.
Second conversation, now.
PROPOSAL TO CHAIRMAN TO OFFER PRACTICAL
[Bring a solution, when you ask about a big concern you
When the new chair was installed I went to her with the
concern that many graduates do not have essential writing
skills and other “Soft skills” that we need to be successful.
What are some courses, programs of study, and tutoring
assignments (shadowing, draft writing, editing, reading)
that are offered or can be offered? We will bring it up to the
dean, was one response.
Another time, post-docs are people without support,
representation or a voice. What can be done to help their
case? That is up to the individual PI was the response. I reflected
on several national labs, medical schools and NIH programs
and received the feedback. That is not something I can do.
I pursued: Why not? some of the ideas are nice, but I would
be stepping on people’s [departments] toes and it is imprudent
to do here.
Another reason is that I can not impinge on the time they are
working in the lab. They have so many distractions and
commitments as it is. To add another requirement would take
time from the research work that needs to get done.
So, it goes. Outside speakers emphasize it is important to “get
out of the lab” and learn extra-curricular skills through different
activities, internships and volunteer roles. Most students immediately
reflect that their boss would not like them doing that. Most say
they feel pressure to be in the lab 7×12 getting results.
While I receive consistent support for Professional Development
activities in summer and both semesters, I am only one and
so much more could be done to make a difference. What we
do is as much or more than is offered in other R1 institutions.
Please send in ideas and concepts working in other institutions.
I look forward to them.
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.
What is my future like? many are asking as we face an
uncertain future. It seems as this was the case decades ago,
but it is more uncertain now.
What is the reason? What are the drivers?
Harari has something to say about this. Look at his TED Dialog
1. We have lost “our story”. The narrative that describes modern
life in the 21st century is not what previous generations’ stories
were. This is one of the major roots of upheavals seen around the
2. Technology is bringing people together in many ways while
it separates us into many many subgroups. The wealthy, in
information-rich positions, influence the decisions of authorities
and will take advantage enhancing income mal-distribution.
3. National priorities have no connection to reality in many global
issues. Job loss, despite all the rhetoric, is not as strongly
influenced by immigration as it is by robots, algorithms and AI.
4. Political leaders have very little influence to do good. They
have great influence in doing bad and it is usually not one
individual responsible, because there are many supporters and
people of influence.
See some of the reviews
of Harari’s work bring up several other
disconnects we observe and may not easily explained. Knowing
allows you to define for yourself
the meaning of joy, satisfaction, happiness and help.
In a blog we summarized three posts on Economics that are
critical to understand Rana Faroohar’s book Makers and
Takers. A fourth entry went into “black elephant”
events which are very unlikely negative events that everyone
can see but feel that they cannot do anything about.
We point out here a video narrated by Matt Damon,
“Inside Job” that is must see for everyone.
A second item is a very interesting piece about using
spectroscopy on archaeological artworks.
Finally GENomics contained a piece about evidence
that a bacterium known to originate gum disease also
triggers rheumatoid arthritis using Mass Spec.
BLACK ELEPHANT - “Inside Job”
[available on Netflix] Many of us were directly or indirectly
affected by the financial turmoil of the 2000s. Downsizing,
lower profits, stagnant economy, job loss, hard to find a new
We think we have gotten out of that mirth, but this video
nothing has been done to the perpetrators [Greenspan,
Paulsen, Bernanke, Summers, Fuld, Fed, the Huge
Wall Street Investment banks], the federal bureaucracy,
and the regulators. They are still in an inept situation
with more to come.
We only see things second hand and we need good leadership
to throttle the flow and trajectory.
SPECTROSCOPY DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN
SOURCE: Biblical Archeological Review Mar/Apr 2017
T. R. Hanneken, Digital Archeological’s New Frontier.
The spectral signature of a pigment in one region can
be distinguished from a pigment with a similar appearance
from a different region. Archaeological application devises
new techniques– low angle “raking”, reflectance
Transformation imaging and InsciptiFact Digital Image
Library which incorporates texture, color and non-visible
characterization of archeological pieces.
PROTEOMIC ANALYSIS LINKS ARTHRITIS TO GUM
There has been a clinical association between periodontal
disease and RA (arthritis) and both diseases triggered by the
same factor. Aggregatibacter Actinomyecetemconmitans
induces citrullinated proteins detected by mass spec.
Bacterial secretion of a toxin to kill host immune cells which
allows a flux of calcium thus activating an enzyme that
This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in
individuals when they seek different career paths. Then we
We pointed out that much of our life is quite unpredictable
and that what we start out wanting, doing and behaving
changes throughout our life. An interesting piece in Quartz
reported on statistical data where in the past we could reflect
on anecdotal instances in changes.
In the short term there remains a consistency in our wanting
doing and behaving, however. Here we might pose that Luck
and Skill arbitrate on what happens in our careers.
CAREERS = LUCK + SKILLS
LUCK = preparation + opportunity + attitude
We suggested it is useful to set objectives, develop a plan
to achieve them and look for opportunities to be and act
professionally along the way. Build your committed network
ask for help, create and learn from “teachable moments”,
continuously learn, and be optimistic.
Two pieces of feedback from our class offered questions–
1- how can I network better? What should I learn and practice?
[understand your current personal values, behaviors and emotional
make-up; small talk, understand others’ make-ups and adapt
to achieve win-win outcomes]
2- it seems like the skills you list are just things to trick people on.
What is the basis for each item on the list, they wondered.
[real life often is a series of unpredictable events with little time
to think. Thus our habits will determine our behaviors. We wish
to figure out what our habits are modify them to be more effective.]
It is hard for some to learn that professional work is strongly
influenced by our cultural, personal and value-based habits.
It is often the case that how you do something is as important as
the outcomes that you achieve. Sometimes the result is “pure
luck” but as we know we “create much of our luck”.
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
use of keywords
involvement in groups
While many observations are continuing themes, the
following should be noted before newer items:
1. Avoid formal pre-built cut-and-paste templates.
Although reviewers do seek out specific sections and,
2. Apply for each position with a specifically tailored
document that is truthful and consistent with other
4. Make your resume scannable
, reverse chronological
order. Some sites may have specific formats required for
submission. Check in advance.
- include Linkedin and twitter addresses
- clean up or make facebook and/or other personal accounts
private. They will be searched.
- include specifically relevant skills for your field and position.
- soft skills are of questionable relevance
- There is an open debate about using Objective section. It can
be valuable early in your career, with little experience, or if you
are changing career paths.
Different kinds of positions look for different pieces of
information that characterizes your key attributes that qualify
you for the opening, like summary, profile and highlights.
- cut out unnecessary information. provide schools relevant to
the application… degree granting institution, major and year.
Linkedin may provide fuller listing. Your goal here is brevity and
- guideline is generally 1 page for each 10 years. No more
than 2 pages.
EXPERIENCE, HONORS, AWARDS, AFFILIATIONS
- these reveal accomplishments, the key measures supporting
your second section and your candidacy.
So many times we see over-the top adjectives and the expectation
that degrees and publications are qualifications. I found jobscan.co
an interesting tool to compare what ATS might find
when scanning your resume.
I have seen some newer formats
, but have not seen whether
they have been generally accepted.
`How do you figure out appropriate information that is important
and verifiable, relating to your interests and goals?
We can subscribe to publications. Does that provide what you need?
We can view broadcast media or skim Flipboard or other “news
aggregators” or subscribe to twitter feeds for our philosophy matching
We all have limited time and viewerships.
- Set your short and longer term goals
ASK GOOD QUESTION
A good question is not concerned with a correct idea.
A good question cannot be answered immediately.
A good question challenges existing answers.
A good question is one you badly want answered once you
hear it, but had no
inkling you cared before it was asked.
A good question creates new territory of thinking.
A good question reframes its own answers.
A good question is the seed of innovations in Science,
politics, and business.
A good question is a probe, a what-if scenario.
A good question skirts on the edge of what is known and not
silly nor obvious.
A good question cannot be predicted.
A good question will be the sign or an educated mind.
A good question is one that generates many other questions>
A good question may be the last job a machine will learn to do.
A good question is what humans are for.
GOALS- Think through your “purpose”
1- Do you like what you are now doing?
2- What do you feel and think you want to do? Like is not
enough. Purpose is about setting up a direction and a path
and pausing and allow back up plans and ideal case formulation.
3- Can you do what you want? Know the difference between
your wants and what you are competent at. Understand your
priorities and values and your organization’s priorities and values.
4- Have you define your next and following steps involving
awareness, action and accountability
5- Who can you depend on for good, reliable advice? Who
will tell you the truth without involving their personal interests?
6- What are you willing to re-pay, offer up and return?
7- What do you to learn or gain experience in?
It is useful to consider the words we use. ’Truth’ is most often
not strictly absolute, black and white. Yet there are certain words that
do not trigger the outcomes we desire.
NEED very few things “need” to get done. OFFER, maybe, WHAT
DO YOU THINK ABOUT… or HOW DOES THIS SOUND…
CAN’T you probably can. In reality, there are multiple or opposing
EASY This is a way to describe other people’s jobs
. Notice how
many times that speak about their jobs as easy.
“Cousins” of these words are everyone, no one, always and never.
It is amazing to realize the rapid changes in career
management factors we face. Psychology, economics and
-inference are longer term factors for our careers.
Let me list some specific examples:
ROUTINE TASK AUTOMATION
leveraged loans to automate functions with software and
robotics ) puts middle skilled workers in precarious straits.
[Read: recent graduates with no experience or internships.]
Those who do non-routine work (low-paid, unskilled and
richly paid, highly skilled) are in demand. We see this Job
Polarization in many situations with supporting elements
being stagnating wages and reallocation of roles from
specialization to variety of roles with less specialization.
Thanks to advances in deep learning and AI, computers can
perform not only manual but also cognitive tasks better and
faster than humans. This augers the result that highly trained
specialists are replaced by internet enhanced software, a
specific example is radiologists since much of their work
are “routine cognitive tasks.”
BLACK ELEPHANT SITUATIONS
for alternate energy sources, energy independence and electric
” A black elephant is a cross between a black swan, a low
probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications–
and the elephant in the room, a problem that is widely visible to
everyone, yet no one wants to address, even though we
absolutely know that one day we will have vast, black-swan-like
consequences.” Ocean acidification is an example.
Black elephant events can provide a once in a lifetime opportunity
or the end of the line for industries (think chemical photography),
companies, and directions in our careers.
COGNIFYING AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING
Adding AI to various tasks enables us to do more at lower cost and
higher efficiency. Add AI to laundry to tell washing machines to
adjust to the contents of each load as directed by the clothes (sensors).
AI added to chemistry can aid discoverability and optimization by
performing virtual experiments to reduce the number of lab
experiments to reach a goal. Think of the way Netflix and Kindle
come up with customer recommendations.
This is cognifying. All cognition is specialized. In this continuous
learning process we need to work with AI and robots and let
these tools take our routine tasks and help us dream up
new work that matters. There are four classes of jobs:
1. Jobs humans can do, but robots can do even better.
highway driving, tax preparation, routine x-ray analysis,
pre-trial evidence gathering, etc.
2. Jobs humans cannot do, but robots can.
remote locations, hazardous environments, monitoring,
then signalling an alarm. Jobs that would not be done without
robots and sensors.
3. Jobs we did not know we wanted done.
4. Jobs only humans can do– at first.
creativity (on what we should do), new situations, one of a
Our human assignment should be to keep making jobs for
robots and software.
HL and I had an interesting discussion about a job
application for a pharma position. We arranged the
position via email where we asked and sent draft resume,
musts-and-wants and the job description.
It is important to realize that each cover letter, resume
and contact network association needs to be targeted
and properly researched and framed.
What kind of position is being pursued?
What specific skills or experiences will be expected?
What are your specific skills/ experiences that may apply?
Who do you know who might help and provide a reference?
The position seeks BA/BS with some senior research
experience or an MS. The skills sought are LC, MS and
working with bioassay prep and data analysis.
It is a stretch to have a senior undergraduate having
these, but our discussion proved that HL had good
experiences that could be of interest. HL had done
a semester of undergraduate monomer synthesis research
in junior year. Quite interestingly, HL had completed a
semester research abroad where detailed discussion
revealed working with and troubleshooting LC-MS and
data integration systems for study of metal binding to
It is now a challenge to create a document that points
out the specific instruments and work done both abroad
and as a junior. What keywords were used in the job
description? Find a way to articulate HL’s work using
those or comparable terms. Experienced reviewers will
We talked about the big difference in working in a
research lab where things constantly go wrong or need
maintenance and calibration compared with doing an
analytical course lab experiment where everything is
pre-ordained and set up.
Then we spoke about another element– who were HL’s
references? Has HL spoken to them about interest in
the position? Can each one of three provide “good
references? Does the reference know anyone at the
firm? Can HL get to meet or speak with the possible
network referral to learn more about the position, hiring
manager, and company situation?
Does HL have a quality Linkedin page? Let’s look.
What will be critical things to provide realizing the
first use might be for this LC-MS bioassay role?
What keywords, content and organization should the
Linkedin profile have?
What started out as a request for a resume review, morphed
- job description study,
- revising a draft resume highlighting key experiences
- critically thinking through references and the roles they
assume (and, also including a reference list in the PR
- critically thinking that a professional presence is
expected (Linkedin profile and working on that)
- outlining and drafting a cover letter for submission
- seeking out people who could be referrals for the
six other important steps.
Three top line topics have appeared this year:
1) Evolving trends in technical careers
2) Professional Behaviors that can help you
3) High Need for New Division in ACS– Economics
and Chemistry [Not only short periodic webinars that
are at 30,000 foot level and CEPA]
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