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.
This is a story about two conversations. The first is
one with a very accomplished senior grad student.
This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in
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?….
One of the requests from one of the new students is “how
to get involved in entrepreneurial ventures.” It got me to
thinking about things we could bring up.
Riding on a flightI learned about CCA Global Partners which
R.Nicholls and L. Stevens presented a case that listening
is an underappreciated and poorly instructed skill that
has many barriers.
Also, it is incumbent on our educational system to
engage students in regular exercises that will be an asset
in all endeavors.
Nicholls and Stevens write about a University of
Minnesota approach that improves outcomes. Notable
are four activities of the listener:
The authors provide some appropriate cases and
suggestions some of which may apply in your situation.
Then, Zenger and Folkman reveal what you and I
think what we should do and that those things are not
enough to be a great leader-listener. As the key
requirement for being a leader is listening to others —
Key among them:
Can job security be relegated to rely on algorithms?
My short answer is probably not, because it makes assumptions
to achieve an outcome in a reasonable amount of time.
Our careers make many shifts, turns, abrupt endings, transitions
and shifts at many unexpected times. Why are they so
unpredictable? For one thing, they are human endeavors
that result in and from mistakes or put another way less
than optimal outcomes.
I viewed Derek Lowe’s blog “The Algorithms are coming,”
in which he discusses and Angewandte Chemie article about
developing optimum and projected synthetic organic chemistry
paths to making synthetic target molecules with computer
As we decide it is a more efficient habit to employ algorithms
in our life, it is appropriate to ask such a question in relation to
important outcomes like dealing with job security.
An algorithm is a set of commands or instruction steps designed
to achieve a suitable outcome or optimization, like page-rank,
min-max, and many others. Algorithms have been in vogue
for centuries. We observe many situations where robots, laser
optical devices and machines are making tasks minimizing human
intervention and judgment. In fact, many “aggregators” use
algorithms to match up job descriptor keywords to display
positions a job seeker might apply for.
There will be an increasing marketing of career path algorithms
to lead you making your choice. It is a very complicated
series of decisions that has a very long lead time, building
up of experience in some cases, developing soft and
wise skills and assessing your own desires and needs,
which often cannot be put into a search tool keyword list.
I found McHenry Community College has a nice list of
suggestions offering that it is not just a concern when in
a job seeking mode, but throughout our career as things
change. An algorithm will not do this.
Approaching a job search and change feels like a change in mental
frame of mind, yet it should be little different than our routine.
Since what we think and how we behave comes down to routine
actions in response to a cue to achieve an outcome, certain habits
should be our professional pattern. However, in different circumstances
and millieus, it might be different. Thus, we need to figure out our
professional presence in these settings to be productive.
Some elements of our professional presence are expressed in
Charles Duhigg’s latest book. Duhigg writes about
a motivation (in particular “the five whys”)
b teams and group norms that matter most
c managing our focus (understanding reactive thinking and cognitive
d stretch and proximal goal setting (plan with probability, not certainty)
e decision making (using Bayesian psychology and probabilities)
f innovation (using scaffolding and choice combinations)
Much of this we learn after the fact and some we do not ever
recognize. If a job is not a good fit, we can feel less confident and
it seems like an act. Trust can be missing with co-workers.
Much has been discussed about what to look for in our careers.
Anna Hunter described it well when she mentioned the cultural
fit of us into an organization is the highest indicator of satisfaction.
The fit, she indicates, is a feeling (emotional), matches our interests
and values, involves tasks and interactions that serve our skill set
to continually grow and improve.
What tasks engage and excite you?
With whom did you work with and how were you related to them,
PEER-PEER] What was the nature of your role?
Early in your career it may be helpful to experience different situations
and perform a pause moment to think about the experience both during
and reflecting afterwards on its bigger picture.
Pausing will help you prioritize the cultural aspects.
When we are involved in the interviewing continuum, which happens
earlier now than in the past, we would seek out directions rather than
destinations and explore what we need to make progress. Many positions
are not advertised and we need to match our intentions which we need to
put into words and demonstrate in competences and potential.
ACADEMIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.
They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value. What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016: insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases (cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply. Each year it is
estimated that 2 million US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.
An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.
Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms: target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression. calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”. He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.
His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .
Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
- Separate people from ideas
- Lunch with Enrico
Get to know and like all the people you work with
- Plan to change plans
- Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
Challenge all assumptions
A colleague recently contacted me about applying for a
research position in his field of interest of brain imaging.
It is a small company with a limited amount of
of public information. He asked about who to address
in the cover letter and details about virus-protection
software that blocks link-containing documents.
He also wanted to explore why it was critical to join
and become an active member of a professional society.
USING MENTORS AND THE LONG TAIL
My first thoughts directed me to explore the company
in LinkedIn after studying the company website. It is
important to go beyond the website in looking for details
about any position. So a google search looking at many
pages beyond the high frequency first page is important
to use. This is also known as the search distribution
long-tail coined by Chris Anderson.
In Linkedin, I found a second degree connection to the
CEO and founder which led me to an information loaded
profile which I then shared with him.
I learned the company was a start-up, had recent funding
and had advertised the position he had interest in. So,
I forwarded a suggestion to contact the CEO by Inmail
and ask to engage in a short conversation about the
position. Before doing this he should prepare thoroughly
by having stories to tell about how he uniquely qualifies
for the position, by using information at hand about
salary ranges for the position in that area of the country,
and by having critical questions outlined for him to ask.
This is a common information interview.
Listen carefully to keywords he uses that can be
incorporated into the cover letter and resume.
If salary comes up in the discussion, reveal what your
research has provided. Then ask, how much is budgeted
for the position, rather than saying how much you wish.
Defer that discussion until you have an offer, know
what the job entails and get a sense that you like the
culture and they like you.
So, contact a person in the company before uploading
documents. This way it is not a “cold contact” application
without assessing keywords to use and a person to
address and follow up with.
COVER LETTER AND DOCUMENTS
There are three clear objectives that a cover letter provides–
explains gaps, shows a clear match for you in the position
and provides your thinking about your career movement
into the position.
Documents we upload can be blocked if they have
links in the cloud by software. So, either delink the
documents, in Word, or use .txt format without links.
People in professional fields use societies to continue
to learn important elements in their field through meetings
and publications, to share what we learn with other
professionals and to be part of the professionals
advocating for the growth and importance of the field.
We all should be members of professional technical
Good luck! ended the reply, where
LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity
Top Line Issues: Linkedin, Branding, Job search management
A. Linkedin: Kat Moon
-Summaries, Headline, and photo need to be strong and professional
graduate assistant is not good
goofy photo is a turn-off
past history bio will not convince recruiters to contact you
-Content that describes your skills needs to be relevant for new situations
course history is like a book you have read and half forgotten
proper use of verb tense, past and present for current experience, stands
out to recruiters
descriptive action verbs for accomplishments, relevant skill
endorsements need to be prioritized
B. What few words can you use to describe your most relevant skills,
applicable knowledge and abilities/contact network? Your Brand.
-Practice how you display and perform it.
-Be aware of unique features of your being- voice, smile, etc
-Show that you care and care about yourself and others.
A collaborator on several projects recently shared some proposal
writing links when we were networking recently. We had a
conversation a couple of years ago about proposal content.
N. Wagner, this time, shared letter writing for SBIT/STTRs which
is the federal governments seed funding arm for technology
development by small business who collaborate with research
institutions in Phase I and Phase II, bridging the gap between basic
science and innovation commercialization.
Let me tell you about a recent exchange with a job seeker.
He asked, ‘hey what do you think of hirelifesciences?’ To
which my response was, ‘Sorry, that is not one I have worked
with. When I visited it I noticed it lists companies and
locations, but I did not see how people are compensated,
how recent the listings are and the business relationship
to client companies (is it part of a society, for example).’
I went on to describe websites listed in the blog left column
and indicated that most jobs are not advertised. They are
found through networking and direct contact with people.
I recently heard about a field that may have large impact–CRISPR.
Take a look at a short video worth our learning about. Related
information for job seekers is a business article on firms
involved in this business. Did you notice how the idea connections
were made– not through a google search or a screening of lists
of positions, but through making business-technology-career
Have you seen the series of unsolved scientific mysteries in
The Economist? Each of the six reveal factoids connected to
a lead story in fascinating stories. Here are the first four
BEGINNING OF LIFE
MORE THAN ONE UNIVERSE?
DARK MATTER/ COMPOSITION OF UNIVERSE
CAUSE OF “LIFE EMERGENCE”
Their challenge is to paint an interesting landscape to a
broad readership. One, these should be interesting topics to us.
Two, there is something to learn in how the stories are told and
illustrated. Third, if there is some way to connect our work to
these articles it provides a nice context to our work.
Negotiation Process was the topic of last week’s seminar.
Interesting possible items that might be considered were:
school loan repayment (Federal positions offer this) and “fair and
reasonable compensation” when a new position has higher deductible
insurances or rates. See Barb Safani. It is critical to consider the
“overall” compensation package and implications of bonuses and
incentives on taxes.
If you are asked to sign documents, you could inquire if they
will compensate you for having your lawyer review it for you.
Recently several requests for connections to people have come.
It is interesting that some seek referrals far afield from STEM
in areas, like Medical Science Liaison and Patents and law.
The relationship the requester has and the shared feeling
of reciprocity, of willingness to give back generously, must be
communicated both in the request and in the following reply.
Comments on one’s wording are shared.
A strong post from B. Sucher is linked offering that we
be a “detective” when seeking career opportunities. This goes
for people fully in the job market as well as for professionals
in their current position who sense some uncertainty in
One common thread in our capitalist society is wondering
how much salary compensation different positions offer.
A web resource guide is linked to assist you.
Since federal legislators have missed opportunities to deal with
inequities and huge increases in patent infringement claims,
many states are creating measures to limit “patent trolling”
and other legal bottlenecks. It is worth keeping a finger on
the pulse of these to be able to understand some questions to
ask should you be involved in a related case.
BONUS LINK: Giving good presentations
SOURCE: R. Roberge, The best way to ask for referrals;
A. Doyle, How do you ask for a referral ;
Getsidekick, How to ask for a referral
For people I know and have a recent or long term connection,
it is usually a pleasure to share names who could be excellent
resources or have valuable information or connections. The
problem comes with requests with scant connections. They,
honestly, have to do more to have me work for them. Their
letter of request, if in an email, might only be an email reply
with links, if they don’t take the time to build a relationship and
enhance the connection.
Then, after the reply, a prompt ‘thank you’ is in order. If it is
not done or done in an appreciatively timely manner,
the next request will either be slowly responded or
less detailed and thought-inspired.
SOURCE: B. Sucher, Do you cry wolf?
Billie offers that in our environment we need to ascribe to
the habits of the best detectives to be successful and offers
over 30 behaviors. The ones that jump out for me are:
communication and listening, observational skills and
putting pieces together.
SOURCE S. Malanga, WSJ 9-4-15 “States move to do-it-
yourself patent reform“
There are wiser people battling over this issue and like in
wars the victors will write the final story. It is worth
looking into this if you live in VT, MN, NC and
skimming Law360 blog.
Be aware that it appears several sources are cutting back and
using the same output/survey result.
Entrepreneurs should consider new business and marketing
model described in Robbie Baxters book “The Membership
Second description by the author.
We all experience this model in societies we belong to or
consider and use internet tools.
Learned a lot from Mikey Rox’s article in the Christian Science
Monitor on Networking. While it is true this blog has carried
the topic of Tips for Networking several times but the ten items
in this article said something to me…
- Go it alone. This is a mature adult behavior that expresses
confidence. When attending an event with others, we reconnect
often, engage in pre-formed connections [dependencies] and
have attachments with the person or people we are with.
- Be a friend to someone new and or younger. Share and do not
seek your interests too soon.
- “Sweat-working” is working out, engaging in an activity sport,
team or otherwise and creating a bond and common ground in
other areas, like working out, basketball or exercise.
- Wear something that people will notice and or comment
on. It could be an alumni shirt, jewelry, or colors, or an interesting
shirt. But make it professional looking, or else the attention
you are expressing you want may not be in your advantage.
I recall attending a professional session at a university and one
student was wearing a Chewbaka image shirt.
- Sit at or near a bar. In the current age, it is a signal that
you are willing to switch it up a bit.
– “Pre-networking” which is when you share that you will
be attending an event and looking to meet others.
- Follow up after meeting with LinkedIn invitations, thank
you notes or continuing the conversation.
There are a few more ideas of note in her article.
You realize that a larger fraction of your communication
are the nonverbal signals. They are noticed more than
the words we use and ideas we express.
1. Posture- stand tall lifting your solar plexus so that
breathing is fuller and easier and head straight with ears
over the shoulder. This demonstrates and aids your confidence.
2. Open stance- avoid closed stance, with head down or
your body shrinking in your space. However, respect
others’ personal space.
3. Nervous tics- Have a mentor help you by noticing your
nervous tics. Everyone has them. Then, replace them with
a subtle outlet. Hold a folder, hold a pen, pointer; avoid
hands in pockets and giggling coins.
4. Eye contact (especially in US, Canada and most of
Europe)- engage your eye brows to aid your expression.
5. Slow your movements down– hands, pointing, listening
KF recently asked a question about networking into a company
through a university connection. The person is on an industrial
advisory board to the university.
He emailed: ” Today I was searching a company website to find
a person to possibly network with, and noticed something obviously
wrong. His email on the webpage is his colleague’s. I probably
already figured out what the company pattern for addresses and
his “real” address is. But, is it a positive thing to point out to
them the obvious error on the webpage? Is it professional or
unprofessional to do so?”
Two responses and a comment followed in our exchange (leaving out
more personal elements of the messages).
1: “If you know the person well,” I noted, “then it might be nice
to let them know about the “error” or something unusual.
Sometimes,” I added,” there is a role for an admin to receive
inquiries for a professional from people who are not well
known to the professional. The admin can redirect important
emails, as necessary. (This is a “gatekeeper” tactic in corporate
America, however. 2 Tactics that might be used with
“However, I would refrain from sending an email to alert them.
Perhaps, if you speak with them in the future you can ask for
their specific email address to use.”
2: An etiquette expert and colleague of mine, Mary Monica Mitchell,
offered: “When faced with a dilemma, like the one you posed, I always
ask myself two questions: First, would I want to know if the situation
were reversed? Second, can the situation be remedied? When answers
to both questions is yes, then I go for it.
No need to give a lot of explanation. Could sound something like “I
happened to notice… thought you might not be aware of… and that
you might appreciate a head’s up…”"
This is one of the roles we need to be aware of and develop friendly
strategies. My personal strategy is to remain very friendly, patient
and cooperative and do as much as I can in person. Face to face
and respecting the role and authority the gatekeeper has and knowing
that it is their decision.