From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2007
« Oct   Dec »
Chemical Technicians. 2.
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 8:30 pm

What kinds of industries do chemical
technicians work in?  There is no one
easy description.  For
chemical techs
contribute in many ways to many
industries (covered in topic 1. of this
series) in start-ups, small, mid-sized
and large companies.

One concern, curiosity and key level of
alertness is for safety and safe
.  For chemical techs
working in industry, we find ourselves
working in organizations with “capital
intensive, computer  controlled
processes, with low operator
“.  As a result, there is
generally a low injury rate yet there
could be exposures to chemicals and
mixtures that require knowing how to
handle many different chemicals under
a variety of conditions.

While the tasks are quite varied,
systematic, organized attention to detail

is an asset.  The focus will be different
for an analyst, pilot plant operator, an
electrochemist, or synthetic chemist.
Chemical technicians plan, organize,
and decide what they do in teams
on responsibilities and the company’s
needs and priorities.

While formal education is helpful,
experience (learning on the job)
is a more
telling teacher.  While giving good
presentations is appreciated, hands-on,
problem solving and the ability to

get things done in spite of problems
is valued.

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Chemical Technicians. 1
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 8:12 pm

If one visits nearly any lab, chemical
process area, equipment lab, research
and development company now,
technicians of many skills and
proficiencies (chemical technologists)
will be active and involved in attaining

Interestingly, the skills and activities of
many of today’s technicians are what
specialists of an earlier generation would
do.  Just look at the incredible list of job
of today’s chemical technicians.

Click on a job title and it opens up into
a encyclopedic listing of everything
For a chemical technician
“conducts chemical and physical laboratory

making qualitative
quantitative analyses of solids, liquids,
materials for purposes, such
as research and
development of new

products or processes,
quality control,
maintenance of environmental
and other work involving experimental,

theoretical, or
practical application of

chemistry and related sciences.”

Sections of the O-NET report also include:
Work Activities
Work Significance

This background information helps organize
competencies and accomplishments
to prepare one’s resume and responses
to interview questions.  Chemical technicians,
despite their formal education, are accomplished
professionals playing essentials roles in many

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Mature chemists. Preparation
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 10:03 am

In one of her slash/career views on career
transitions, Marci Alboher offered good
insight for thinking, preparing for what
we do next and some things we
might overlook.

She offered:

-   set and re-set challenging career goals.  Move
between related segments. 
          +  Examine different outlets for your
              creativity and expertise.

-   trade places with people as part of your
personal growth– research to manufacturing,
operations to staff, applied research to

-    consider all size of firms, that translates to
looking at the big picture for your next steps
not just narrow, ‘the way it is usually done”
steps or changes.

-   mentor and be mentored.  It takes time but
is essential for personal growth and grounding. 

-    be current in your appearance and early
meeting gestures.  This is so often overlooked
and hard to overcome when not done well.

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Reference: How do you deal with a poor one?
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 5:09 pm

 ”Hi Dan,

  Just wanted to provide an update [on my
job search.  Several promising interviews.] 
It seems[, however,] that I have a problem. 
After talking with K{name withheld},
… from
W…, I found myself staring at a job
seeker’s worst nightmare… 

A boss [providing] …a bad recommendation
… I need to work out a plan with which to
counter this…”


This was not a situation that could be handled
via the Internet.  We talked.  And after we talked
I reached out to some in my professional
network.  So, this blog entry will talk about
several responses to help LJ sort through
alternatives to professionally deal with
a poor reference.

LJ clarified several issues that had arisen in
their relationship.  LJ offered that the
supervisor indicated that he would
provide a positive reference for the kinds 
of positions LJ sought.  That gave LJ
confidence that LJ could include the
supervisor in LJ’s list of references.

First we talked through what was the precise
nature of the controversy.  The controversy
seemed to highlight the supervisor indicating
what experiments and interpretations 
not expecting discussion
.  In a sense, the
supervisor offering top-down management.  

LJ then provided a specific example of a
starting series of experiments which were
interpreted incorrectly and since corrected.

This is not an easy thing for most people
to take from a less experienced person.

I offered to LJ that there are four general
for which a boss asks for specific
tasks to be done.  They can be displayed in a
2×2 matrix with Urgency and Importance placed
on either axis.  Thus, High and low for each
of the two factors.  Research experiments
could be either High Importance/High
(where it is critical to do it the way
the supervisor asks in a critical time fashion)
or High Importance/ Low Urgency
(where it is most important to do the right 
thing.)  The situation seemd like it could be
High/Low.  So discussion could be
warranted from one point of view. 

However, if the supervisor expected no
discussion and to simply have LJ perform
what he prescribed, there could be a
difference of expectations.

Thus, the basis for the controversy could
be simplified as not seeing the working
relationship eye-to-eye
.  This has led to a
respectful falling out between the two.

Whatever the root cause, have a fair
and truthful understanding for the places
where the reference is currently listed. 
When it is requested, preface the list with
the expected reference.  Alternatively
consider using other references familier
with LJ’s work in place of the supervisor.

Also, if the relationship is cordial, consider
talking with the reference.


Following comments speak to alternate

-  on LinkedIn
-  take legal action
-  find several other references at same place
-  “move on”
-  ‘assistant could have written note, use HR’

Informational Interviews. Update
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Recruiters, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:09 am

Informational interviews have a history
in this blog.  A tutorial is listed in the “Links”
section.   Several case studies have
noted that this is one way to help
identify how to figure out what a person
wishes to puruse in her or his career.

Recent posts by Lisa Balbes(11-1-07), 
 Marci Alboher and Steve Wilson add some
substantial updates on the topic.
All are worth studying…

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Biotech and Biotech manufacturing jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 5:11 pm

For those interested in Biotech and Biotech manufacturing jobs look at the site.

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Nanotechnology Jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 5:04 pm

For those interested in Nanotechnology jobs look at the site.

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Twenty-somethings Podcast
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 6:10 pm

Ten things you should do

Blog talk radio:

Keywords advice, career, college grads, Generation X, Generation Y, Millennials, real life, real world, relationships, self-help


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Mid-career. Stalled Job search
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 8:43 am

Mid-career people who do not have the
benefit of an outside-the-home office
or an outplacement firm, can find their
job search stall for a variety of reasons.

Are you able to submit your resume to
ten companies or individuals a week?
-  this speaks to your networking and
personal outreach.
-  there is a tendancy as Perri Capell
notes to spend too much time on the
internet.  The internet seems appropriate
for “down times” when you don’t have
other appointments, when you are
preparing for interviews and when you
are researching firms, industries or
specific opportunities. 
-  Prepare a short statement that you
can tell people what you are looking
for and what you have and can do.

Is your resume getting you interviews?
-  Send it to individuals who are
decision makers or can refer you to one?
-  List pertinent and needed job skills
Perri Capell points out and not too
many that are not related to the position?
-  Point out recent upgrades to your
skill set?
Are you reviewing your skill set, looking
at the job market requirements, and
upgrading your skills or refreshing your
skills?  Sometimes mentors can help
you perform a gap analysis.
-  seek out unemployment agency centers
that offer on-line training programs
-  seek out specific training opportunities
in employment areas of interest and job
potential– biotech, health and safety,
environment, green chemistry, process
skills, etc.
-  seek out volunteer oppportunities that
can expose you to practicing either
technical skills or “interpersonal strengths

Are you helping other people in your network
when you find something possibly of interest
to them?

In the end, it is not “luck” that moves you
ahead but hard work, paying attention
to the details and persistence.

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Postdoctoral conversation. 5 Changing career paths
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 9:47 pm

Besides having done career changes
myself (L. Balbes summarized my
experiences in her book), I have not
had the privilege of working with
chemists doing major career changes
for a post-doc or after a post-doc. 
There is a terrific piece by
Kendall Powell on whether to leave
the “Ivory tower” and go to (as my son
has mentioned) the “dark side” or
nonacademic field.

If these thoughts are entering your
head like they were mine when I was
finishing up, “how do you go about
making a big career transition when
you have only been exposed to academia?”

Powell offers “that every graduate
student should commit to going to at
least one seminar or activity per week
to explore other career opportunities
and make more informed career decisions.”
Several other constructive ideas are
provided to peak into this post-doc
subset, the nontraditional realm.

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Overcoming Unemployment Blues
Filed under: Recent Posts
Posted by: site admin @ 12:01 pm

So, as you might recall, my last day of
work was nearly four months ago.  My
state provides some re-employment
which I am learning from.  In
a previous note, in fact, I reported about
improvements in my functional skills
.  While it has not help me obtain
a position, it was a good learning

While I am searching, my habit is to try
to organize to get several identified tasks
done, if I am close to or able to get a second
item done while I am doing a primary task
I choose to do it.  So schedule to accomplish
tasks in managed bunches
It is a general philosophy that perhaps many

So, a recent consultee PW mentioned to
me that he was going to a different “assistance”
office and had completed an online course
on Microsoft “Project”.  We talked and he
indicated that it was available to all people
enrolled in his “assistance” office.  Interesting,
so I inquired about it in the “assistance” office
where I am enrolled.  It is not offered nor
available at the current time.  Hmm, there
could be interesting things to learn.  Can I
use PW’s “assistance” office.  Sure can,
just show my card.

So I did.  I picked out 10 online courses of
interest and reviewed 5 within an hour…
Sarbannes-Oxley, Retirement Planning,
Design for six sigma (I am a BBM), negotiation
and interviewing skills.  The Interviewing
and Negotiating contained some interesting
tidbits that are covered in comments to this
blog entry.

However, the main reason for the trip was
not the ”assistance” office, but to visit with
PW.  PW mentioned in our exchanges that
if I visited his office let him know.  He wanted
to meet.  That meant to me that he needed
a visit.  We had coffee and this is where
real substantive exchanges happened.  These
are things you can’t pick up in phone and
Internet exchanges

There were real confidence, bitterness to
previous employers
and story telling
weaknesses that will hinder PW in most of
his job seeking.  They “screamed out to me!”

[Now, in the following, I am going to oversimplfy
and lay out bottom lines rather than elaborate
on the full context and conversation.]

CONFIDENCE.  Speak while looking the
conversation partner in the eye.  Don’t
apologize for all the has happened or gone
wrong,  Be ready to lead or follow in conversation
with good stories that speak to “moving
forward” after being “right-sized”. 

Let’s go through this analytically.  It is bad
if, after 6 years, you can’t have 2-3 good,
promising, productive or funny situation - good
outcome stories to tell about a company, its
customers or fellow workers.  Don’t make
anything up.

He was ”let gol”.  What is an honest description
of this?  He was “right-sized, in a totally business
decision.”  He had the skills, performed well
but had too high a salary for the tasks he
did.  While it was not pleasant, he was asked
to leave.   Many people find themselves in
this situation of little or no doing of their
own.  Accept it and move on.

Don’t harbor these feelings for long, they
burn at your heart, steal your energy and
degrade your attitude.  Move on.

STORYTELLING.  You can’t realize how
reflective of a personality our stories reveal
of us!  Whille we might just talk about a
situation in our family, if it is done
thoughtfully, it can tell bundles about your
personality.  So, I told him about how a
sour situation was turned positive by
quick thinking in an emergency.  Other
stories were exchanged about what he
liked and intriguing riddles solved.

All stories were about 1-2 minutes, but
they have a way of livening the conversation.

Even our walk to the coffee shop revealed
something.  He knew nearly where it was,
but not exactly.  So,  without hesitation,
went into a chocolateer and asked the
young owner, “where was Starbucks?”
“Two stores down,” was the response.
“Thank you.  I will be back after we are
done,” I replied as I closed the door…

Resume Objective: Should you have one?
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 10:51 am

One of the first things a resume reviewer
will read is our objective, if it is in the usual
location below the heading.  It is one of
the “great resume debate issues” that a
good friend of mine has developed.  That
is his way of saying that the decision is
the resume writer’s and it depends on the

The blogroll lists a link to “Mature workers”
which might help a subset of readers. 
Nonetheless, there is an item about
objectives that most every
one can benefit from on

They point out ”some guidelines to help you
determine whether an objective is right for

Situation:  career fair or a networking event
Suggestion:  resume without an objective
    This is a place where a QUALIFICATION
    statement might “open opportunity doors.”
    They need to include keywords that match
    relevant skills and abilities for positions
    in the screening companies.

Situation:  well defined position, your skills
     and and background match
Suggestion:  customize the objective
     to the specific position which you
     are applying and qualify for.
     Include a Highlights or summary
     section pointing out key features
     and proficiencies.

Situation:  applying to a company but cannot
    be specific about job you are seeking
Suggestion:  propose not including objective
    A good substitute is your QUALIFICATION
    statement including keywords that link to
    desired proficiencies found by research
    on the company and jobs available.

Situation:  applying to a company but feel
    that you may qualify for several positions
    or a range of job titles.
Suggestion:  propose not including objective
    Again this could be a situation that would
    use your QUALIFICATION statement, as

Situation:  recent graduate entering a field
Suggestion:  tailor an OBJECTIVE to meet
   the position or enter the field using
   keyword terms gleaned from other job
   Avoid “over-reaching” or “flowery”
   creative comments.
   Consider including HIGHLIGHTS or
   SUMMARYof skills to support the

Situation: changing fields to enter a new
   field of endeavor
Suggestion:  tailor an OBJECTIVE to meet
   the position or enter the field using
   keyword terms gleaned from other job
   MUST provide HIGHLIGHTS or
   SUMMARY of relevant skills and
   accomplishments to validate your
   Could also consider substituting
   QUALIFICATION statement in place of

Situation:  mid-career person trying to
   locate in specific area for undefined
Suggestion:  consider substituting a
   QUALIFICATION statement using
   keywords for narrow fields.
   section as above.
   Consider a final “KEYWORDS” section
   that lists different ways of describing
   expertise.  For example, NMR– MRI,
   also, process scale-up– process safety
   management.  These are terms familiar
   to specific fields.

These considerations argue that a customized,
specific resume is constructed for each position
and application.

reveals what talents and abilities you bring to
make a profit and a difference for each company
to which you are asking for their consideration.
It needs to be keenly tuned, clearly written and
brief in easy to understand structure.

Since the OBJECTIVE can close doors, by

- revealing inaccurate information (say, asking to
be a lab manager vs. applied researcher, or
process research when you have limited skills
with the necessary components) 

- unneeded restricting the openings for which
you would like to be considered (analyst with
skills in separations vs.  analyst with strong
problem solving skills experienced in hyphenated
technologies… include the hyphenated methods
in the KEYWORD section.)

It is important to use it at the right times and
be aware that it creates a problem if not done

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Postdoctoral conversation. 4 Industrial position in Pharma
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 6:51 am

This is a fourth in a series of case
histories to help professionals see
paths they may take to develop their
careers.  This is a subject that has
so many variables that learning
people’s options and decisions to
achieve their goals can be helpful.

TL was awarded her doctorate in
computational chemistry and wished
to expand her background.  She “wanted
the area worked to be new to her…” and
“highliy valued by pharma and biotech

Dan> What are the main things one
should consider when thinking about
whether or not to do a post doc and/or
about where to do a post doc?

TL> The main thing to think about is how
the post-doc will make (you) [them] more
employable.  You need to grow as a
person and as a scientist in the post
doc role.  Post-docs do earn less so
that has to be financially feasible for your
family life, as well.  You really need to do
what is best for you and your family.

I was actually told by some people not
to accept a post-doc and that getting a
permanent position was more prestigious

That might be true in some cases, but at
the end of the day, you have to make your
decisions.  I do not regret my post-doc, it
was the right decision for me

Dan> Were there differences between
your expectations and reality in the
post-doc role?

TL> My post doc was in industry and I
did not really know what to expect. 
Working in industry is different from
academia and I knew that would be
the case, I just was not sure in what
areas.  The main things to get used to

- using the Outlook calendar,
- figuring out the corporate culture, and
- if or how much politics plays a role in
your department.

Dan> Did your thesis adviser provide
key help in finding your position?

TL> No, my thesis advisor did not help
me in getting this role.  Actually, my
current post-doc boss called me up on
the phone and described the position to

I had never met him before but someone
I had met at the previous AS meeting told
him about me.  He said the post-doc position
was mine if I wanted it.

DAN>  When you choose to apply for
an industrial post-doc, did you choose a
company and they
choose the mentor/supervisor? 
What happens here?  Do you apply for whatever
they are offering?
  Do you have a choice
of supervisor?

TL>  My experience was unique in that
they called me, not the other way around. 
Reputation, consistency, and networking
played a huge role in large pharma
seeking me out.

I was not even aware of the job posting
until my current post-doc adviser called me


Dan> Where does your research/work
direction come from?

TL> Almost entirely from my current boss
Dan>  Did you choose an area different
from your thesis to broaden your

TL> Yes.  This was my main motivation.  I
was able to work in a completely different
research area than my thesis work, which
made me more employable.

Dan> What was the most useful tool
you used to obtain the post-doc?

TL>  Networking

Dan> Have you developed mentors
in this role?

TL>  I have developed many mentors
in my current post doc role.
presentation style, organization, and
research skills were noticed by my
boss’s boss and then he had me
speak to our department deputy.  My
department deputy has become a
mentor and has given me career
advice and his outlook on life. 

Dan> Did you choose a mentor who
has a strong research and pub
record with a view to growing your
record?  Did you choose your mentor
with the thought that he would
help you attain a position when you
are complete?

TL> I accepted this position based
on growing as a scientist.  The area
of research was new to me but highly
valued by all the pharmaceutical and
biotech companies [as well].  I wanted
to be sure that I did something that
complimented my graduate work, not
repeat it.

Dan> If you were to do it over, would
you work as a post-doc or choose to
find a permanent position?

TL> I would work as a post-doc.  I was
able to peer into the inner workings of
the pharmaceutical industry without any
long-te commitment.  Also,… after all
those linear years of schooling it is nice
to have a moment to figure out what
you want in life. 

So much time and energy is spent on
obtaining your PhD that you sometimes
forget what you love doing most. 

A post doc gives you the opportunity
to work (and pay back some of those
student loans) and explore not only
your career options but also what
you personally want from life.

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