Have you read Ann Marie Sabath’s
small book, “One Minute Manners,”
2007 Broadway Books.
It is a quick read with some interesting
insights on seven business related
politics and meetings
Let me share some that struck me
as being helpful.
Liked the suggestion about business cards.
If you are offered a business card by an
important colleague, and you do not
have any with you, as soon as you
can send one of yours in return send
yours in return with any results
mentioned in the conversation. This
demonstrates you wish the
relationship to grow. Plant spares
in several places.
- Two larger chapters that are probably the second
best topics covered in Ms. Sabath’s book.
Although business casual is common
for many American organizations, our
appearance sends signals about you.
There are also company culture
unwritten guidelines that point to
whether you are fitting in. My
impression is similar to Ms. Sabath’s
you never know what each day will
bring, so be prepared for whatever
Dress at least at your level.
- Several good topics are brought up
and some recommendations seem
Politics and meetings
Examples of professional behavior in
‘challenging’ situations, like overhearing
about a friend’s termination. Her
suggestion: see no evil, hear no evil,
- This is probably the strongest section.
Many traditions consider a thankful wish
or prayer before eating. She recommends
keeping it to yourself.
- a couple of dozen other topics many on
etiquette are nicely reviewed.
Being prepared is critical. Arrange to
meet someone at the event; bring
business cards; have a mental schedule
how long you wish to stay and where
you wish to go next. Plan to approach
three people, exchange cards,
acknowledge people you know and
leave when you plan or with who you plan.
- Variety of situations are touched with
Whenever you travel with others, be
prepared to pay the full tab and ask
for receipt. Have ample expense money,
note other rider information on the receipt.
- thirteen listed with a number related to air travel.
Bowing or shaking hands with Japanese
guests or hosts. Mirror your counterpart
and understand some subtleties.
Topics of conversation and how one positions
oneself reveals a common understanding of
Being on time is a strong sign of respect
in several cultures. (Germany, for example.)
- several others related to business meals.
Recently I discovered a book by Jason Ryan
Dorsey that you might enjoy even if you aren’t
a 20-something…My Reality Check Bounced:
The Twentysomething’s Guide to Cashing in on Your
Real-world dreams”, by Jason Ryan Dorsey,
Broadway Books, New York, 2007.
Dorsey covers critical issues that may help us
figure out what each of us is looking for in our
careers. Intelligently constructed with stories
to help make points he stresses that understanding
who you are and what your values are will position
you to figure out where you want your career to
Who will you talk with most on the phone
The experience of working in a private equity
firm is not like working for a larger, more formally
staffed firm. In a sense it is like a start-up,
with much of the equipment and some of the
people in place.
Having worked for a very large firm, a medium
sized firm and now a down-sized private firm
has given me perspective. While Carole
Hymowitz may be right that managers have
fewer layers of bureaucracy, more operating
flexibility and need to be responsive to a
different drummer, people in the middle levels
- don’t know the stability of the firm,
- where it is going (limited long-term perspective)
- what time they will be getting home that
[”Fast-pace, High Stakes Lure Executives to
Rapid change is more the buzz word than stable
operations. One is often responsible for more elements
with tighter constraints on spending and execution.
So, as you look for places of employment consider
the possibility of being taken over in a private equity deal.
After an offer has been made, fully explore the one to
three year horizon the company sees for itself.
It does have some positive returns but it will have
a different feel than most other employment arrangements.
Here is something that can help anyone
who takes an interview for a position!
Develop a response “plan” for the question
What was your most significant accomplishment?
Some seasoned interviewers have said that this
question is so significant that it could be the only
question for which they seek answers. The reasons
are several. If this basic question is followed
up it can reveal
- ability to learn,
- applicable experience
- drive and dedication
- interest and motivation to do what was required
- technical skills
However, this should not mean that an interviewee
simply develops one description and refine it. Much
more is involved….especially listening to the interviewer
descriptions of the position, the key issues the
company currently faces and their expectations for
the person taking the position…
If the interviewee concentrates solely on her or his personal
goals without learning the cues the intervewer offers, she or
he will miss key chance.
What this leads to is the need to formulate STAR
stories describing your accomplishments. Keep
in mind the need to construct several that might be
pertinent to different aspects– problem solving,
leadership, working in teams, creativity, customer-
oriented goal accomplishment, and several others.
If one is experienced in business, give specific details
relating to the position where you improved processes,
increased profits, introduced / invented new products,
or influenced business directions or decisions.
This also points to a documenting approach
- actual results achieved: details, compositions,
- importance of the accomplishment to the company
- when and how long it took
- your specific role and the 2-4 problems you faced and
solutions developed (personal initiative)
- team you worked with, your role, aspects that you learned
- project plans and goals, collaborations and things
you really enjoyed.
- how did you influence and motivate others
For those with less experience, the same influence clues
can be helpful. If one can respond with technical
accomplishments it may be the process the interviewer
seeks. Other approaches can use personal
accomplishments especially if it reveals goal-setting,
dedication to completing objectives, discipline and
working under competitive or team environments.
Joe Turner wrote a neat article that opens the
discussion about dealing with skeletons in
a candidate’s background in “Addressing
‘Skeletons’ in the Interview” in Yahoo Hot
Jobs. The issues could be
- being out of work for a longer time
- left last position in an unfavorable manner
(fired, often this will not be formally mentioned)
- worker’s compensation claim filed
- long term illness, recently recovered
- criminal record in a person’s past
Mr. Turner poses the strategy to readily raise the
issue early in the interview discussion, telephone
or in person, in the best possible light. Let the interviewer
decide its importance. If the interviewer appeciates
the forthrightness, she will indicate it and continue
with the interview. On the other hand, if it is a
show-stopper, both parties times will not be wasted
and the interview will end.
Please consider two other concepts in offering
the possible distressing item. One is working with
a mentor develop a
“what did you leard from this experience” story
that can be used in response to a particular question
type. Work with a mentor to understand how this might
The second is to not mention the personal challenge
yourself, but ask a reference to bring it up in a positive
light. This is something one can do by working with
your references so they know and understand you and
your situation and how it fits into your life’s goals and
Recently, I was asked to connect with Andy Gilicinski
through LinkedIn. Andy and I were executive committee
members in the Electrochemical Society together.
We exchanged a little bit about what we are currently
involved with and then shared how we were benefiting
Andy gave me permission to share how he uses
social networking as an R&D professional. Andy found that
he has been able to make connections to a particular
business, capability or person. The connections provide
useful “inside” knowledge (positive meaning of the word
inside) that enables him to identify good opportunities
and also how to intelligently approach it.
He provided a specific example where he was interested
in the concept of word of mouth advertising. Not only was
he able to find a connection to a friend who specializes in
it he also was able to conduct a teleconference and
receive a presentation on the topic within a week.
Andy thinks this is an ideal tool to explore many things
related to developing your career, or learning helpful
things about switching careers…
Two recent articles point to certain firms beginning
to do “virtual interviewing with AVATAR.”
in the Washington Post where it substituted for telephone
More information was givne in the WSJ article by Anjoli
Athavali “Some employers are experimenting
with Second Life, the online virtual community
owned by San Francisco-based Linden Lab,
to screen prospective hires. The program
allows job seekers to create a computer-generated
image to represent themselves — known as an “avatar” —
and communicate with executives of prospective
employers as though they were instant-messaging.
A number of big companies put the new medium to a
test last month, when recruitment-advertising firm
TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications
LLC hosted a virtual job fair with employers such
as Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., Verizon
Communications Inc. and Sodexho Alliance SA, a
food and facilities-management services company.
TMP says it will host another virtual job fair in August.
The use of Second Life for recruiting marks yet
another way that employers are incorporating
popular Web sites into their talent searches.
Employers have already set up pages for prospective
hires on Facebook, the popular social-networking site,
and have posted recruitment videos on Google Inc.’s
YouTube, the videosharing site. Some companies
troll for prospective job candidates on News Corp.’s
MySpace social-networking site.”
The trend is growing.
A member asked me to comment on a
series of Pubic Relations documents he
has used. Here is the email, then the
document. A comment follows….
March 14, 2007
Gx Os, Inc.
Human Resources Department
Dear Sir or Ma’am WHAT IS THIS: Ma’am?
I read with great interest your advertisement for an ISO
Lead Auditor in the March 4, 2007, edition of The Sunday
Times and ask that you consider me as a candidate for
this position. SEE THE ATTACHED COMMENT.
I am currently employed by HNL in
a Technical Specialist. I am also currently employed
on a part-time basis by American Analytical in
responsibilities with both organizations have included
oversight of the Quality Control Program as well as
working to maintain regulatory compliance with regard
to each laboratory’s Accrediting Organization. This
includes performing system audits and data review,
writing and updating Standard Operating Procedures,
training coworkers on new systems, and providing
technical leadership in the laboratory.
CAN YOU DO WHAT WE NEED AND
I have also been employed by National Medical
Analyst. While employed by National Medical
Association, some of my responsibilities required
that I observe GLP Guidelines in my work. I also
participated in the development and implementation
of the company’s Health and Safety Program.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH
My extensive experience with regard to quality control
in the laboratory, as well as my desire to confront
new challenges and to take on new responsibilities
has helped me to earn the reputation as a valuable
and dependable staff member. I believe these
experiences will be a tremendous benefit to me
as I apply them to my work with Gx Os, Inc.
I expect to earn an annual salary of $50,000.
OH NO! SEE THE FOLLOWING
I look forward to the opportunity to interview
for this position and have enclosed my resume’
for your perusal as you consider my qualifications.
Please contact me at home if you have any
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Have to hand it to Ram Charan to neatly
describe what appears to take volumes
for most others…business acumen.
He published an article in Yahoo! finance
on business acumen– what every company
should know. This is important for chemists
in industry for one of the classical things
interviews seek in managers and senior level
people is business acumen.
A brief highlight of his article is that there are five
measures to understand:
- the cash position and cash flow
- both the bottom-line (net) margin and the
- the turnover of raw materials to finished goods
and the inventory
- factors to improve the return
- where is there growth.
This one looks like a keeper for start-up company
There are several evolving trends in using the
internet to finding jobs and to having recruiters use
the internet to screen candidates.
Some were referred to in Bob Tedeschi’s
E_COMMERCE REPORT “Listing top jobs but
charging candidates to seek them” in the web
version of the NYTimes (links don’t always work
in accessing the original article).
As a “price of entry point” for higher salaried
positions, a set of niche sites are slowly emerging
that charge a fee to access job ads. Testing
a couple out I came away with this being fruitful
for some areas, like medical, biotech and
pharma. The competition for these sites is
from several directions– recruiters in niche fields,
added features of existing free sites, and operations
in societies, like ACS.
An interesting twist is how recruiters are using
popular social networking sites to explore candidates.
While site users of places, like LinkedIn, are aware
of job notices appearing, potential candidates
are also screened, as poeple have broad access
to what we put in these sites, like
- recommendations we have obtained
- detailed information about background and
even who you have linked to in common
- developing some leads on questions to ask.
As time marches on, new trends will emerge.
How many times have you heard someone
suggest to you that to improve your interviewing
skills do a ”mock” interview?
It is so strongly felt by the ACS that it is offered
at all national meetings, since as far back as
I have been consulting at them (and further).
A workshop entitled mock interview demonstration
offers several interview experiences where
attendees and viewers can vicariously learn from
the experiences of another member. The learning
comes from observing and reflecting on the
comments from experts in the audience. Then,
applying the learning to yourself.
When we attended a MARM several years ago
at Rutgers, I met Janet Jones of the Placement
office. She showed me a tool they had been using
that used computers to simulate the questions in
an interview. She introduced me to two vendors
and gave me an opportunity to try it out.
This emerging technology may be available to
you. But I was recently struck that it has even
been used at the high school level. Archbishop
Mitty of San Jose CA offers it as a training
tool for its students to develop
necessary interviewing skills for internships.
That is amazing….
They have developed an online interviewing guide
that is worth looking at if you wish to pursue this
tool to help develop necessary skills. It is becoming
quite common to have this available at many junior
colleges, colleges and university placement centers.
While I am not endorsing one vendor over others,
we have used Perfect Interview for a couple of
years in conjunction with the ACS and found that
it is helpful expecially in conjunction with working
with a consultant who can point out body language
and response suggestions.
In Chicago, we introduced it in one Mock Interview
Demonstration workshop and it was well received.
The developers also speak about companies
using tools like this to perform screening interviews
long distance without requiring the travel. This may
evolve into one of the approaches of the future.
Just provided a response to a close
colleague about what a person might
Situation: survivor in a series of
While the response is a personal history
through similar experiences, a most
valuable one was “re-discovered” in
a blog entry and terrific feedback from
in an interview with LinkedIn’s founder.
Read the whole thing and then, if you have
not signed up already, sign up.
Never thought a lot about this topic,
assertiveness, related to leadership.
It seems to be relevant.
Was directed to an interesting article
and research on the topic by Daniel
Ames at Columbia…from the Columbia
“We encourage some of our students
to focus on their listening behaviors.
For other students we draw their
attention to their aspiration point in a
negotiation, encouraging them to set
higher goals for themselves.
But we’ve found that it’s not just about
behaviors but also about expectations.
People who are high on assertiveness
expect that if they eased up, they’d
lose a lot of their gains. What they
don’t realize is they would maybe lose
a little bit of ground but gain a
tremendous amount of rapport,
respect and trust that can create
gains for them in other ways.
People who are low on assertiveness
often exaggerate the perception
that if they push back, their partner
won’t like them. What they don’t
realize is that if they push back,
their partner will actually regard
them as entirely reasonable and
intelligent, and it doesn’t destroy the
relationship. One of the things that
we’ve found very effective is
encouraging people to test these
assumptions and see what happens.
A lot of our students find that once
they’re focused on testing those
expectations, their behaviors fall in
line and start to bring them the results
that they want.” [from the article]
Interesting. Would be interested in
conversing with him!