One of the interesting learnings in the “networking
conversations” section of class yesterday was the
process by which MA was interviewing for an
international company in western Asia.
She re-established contact from the US with an individual
whom she had met while in-country. Following a
resume/cover letter, she was invited to take an
“intelligence test”, like a GRE.
Then, she was invited to participate in a
video teleconference where she was
at Yale (a company designated site) and
the interviewers were in the home country.
After passing this hurdle, she was invited
to complete a problem solving test.
These all were factors in the hiring interview
Some companies list their approach to find
the candidates that match companies’ in
See for example:
WSJ April 22 published a pull-out
section on the state of
wrote “we no longer
view ourselves as an American company,
one large corporate CEO said. We
act as a global corporation in all of our
This is a vanguard of changes that are
happening in company health insurance
and retirement plans.
economy are the
primary drivers of
benefits and compensation trends
within our borders—
1. American manufacturing base
is [eroded in some
cases and] gone
2. Over dependence on other
nations for energy and
3. Ever growing dependence
on other nations to
4. Not enough qualified Americans
This is an important topic that all chemical
professionals need to be tuned in to and
have some place to look for forecasts.
Two comments follow on information and
(As the articles pointed out, there are
other benefits but that do not command
near the amount of attention.)
During the interviewing segment of the NSYCC 2008
workshop in Brookline MA yesterday, one question
requested clarification on what business acumen
It is one of the Key Performance Factors KPF that
companies might consider important. Business
acumen refers to having insight, skills, motivation and
drive in working with customers in a satisfying and
profitable (for both parties) way. Business
savvy and wariness are other descriptions.
A powerful new book came to my attention that
addresses Breakthrough business by Vijay
Govindarajan and Chris Trimble from the Tuck
School. It might add some coherent thought to
chemists and technologists pursuing careers and
business ventures in emerging and uncertain areas.
The book distills what they learned in a series of
ten cases. It is not enough to have an earth-
shattering idea. VG and Trimble refined
characteristics they say “strategic innovation”
high revenue potential
in emerging or unclear areas
be unafraid to depart from previous models
look for new knowledge and new strengths that
drive discontinuous value creation (profits, applications,
Think of ipods, GMs OnStar, P&Gs Tremor,
RFIDs, and so on. The book does a fine effort of reducing
data and implications with easy to understand
graphics and tables.
Three following comments share valuable insights
1. characteristics of innovation models
2. creative imperatives (also known as commandments
of an intrapreneur)
3. differences in efficient and creative
“Don’t pick me to be interviewed, I am too
nervous!” she said. “Well, I will do it, if you
can help me overcome my nervousness…”
she thought, then blurted out in excitement.
Needless to say, S was one of the two interviewees
chosen Thursday for the mock interview
During most interview situations, we all will notice
one or more physiological effects that tell ourselves
that our adrenaline is flowing. Body sugar is
consumed that makes our mouths feel dry. We
may speak faster, get out of breath or blurt
things out due to faster breathing rates. Your
body can feel like it is “on alert”. As more blood
is flowing, you may change in body temperature
(either up or down) in hands, foreheads, arms
and even flush.
My perception of these situations is that
they are normal and can be used to enhance
my performance, if I
- am aware of them,
- manage them and
- look for my personal control measures.
We can not turn them off. If we do, we lose the
advantage they give us– positive energy,
alertness, and peak performance.
In fact, these same behaviors affect top
athletes and entertainers.
What we learn is that there is a “tipping point”
for these behaviors where we go from
having the adrenaline flow helping to
S did quite nicely in the interview. We
formed a common ground in our
conversation, as all interviewers strive
to do. Once this was done, we explored
a few behavioral questions, traditional
questions and she posed some questions
of her own. After the interview, she
remarked that her abs were as tight as
they have ever been, her mouth was dry,
and her hands were moist to the touch.
S displayed a quite competent performance
in which she smiled, made appropriate
eye contact, and made a very good case
for herself. She learned she could do
this despite the unease she felt.
She needed to establish that she could
still perform well, despite the unease.
Yet, we also talked that this can take
a lot out of a person and if done long
enough, a person can lose the composure.
So, managing the physiological effects is
important. How do you do this?
- Sleep well the night before.
- Eat appropriately for yourself (this is different
for most individuals. Some eat well before
hand, others prefer to have light yet healthy
- Hydrate, just like runners. (Consider speakers,
athletes who hydrate regularly during
- Hold a good body posture, sitting on the front
half of the seat with feet flat on the floor.
(For S body posture was a telltale sign.
She displayed a slouching body contour that
compressed her abdomen and crossed her
legs. She was twisting herself up in a pretzel.
No wonder she felt very tight.)
- Visit the restroom before your interview,
and feel comfortable, run water on your hands
to bring them to an agreeable temperature.
- Check yourself in the mirror.
Kristen Welcome has pointed out that it
can be helpful to wear something that has
special meaning to you. It shows you how
much someone believes in you.
Remember, our nervousness is normal and
caused by adrenaline flow in uncertain
situations. Once we learn we can use it
to our advantage, we have a “tipping point”
where it can dominate us, and we can take
positive steps to manage it, we will look
forward to interview situations.
Although the scientific and technical fields may
adapt to (1) an online resume slowly, like the video
interview, it is interesting to keep alert to
developments in this arena.
Look at an item in Kathy Hansen’s blog
(”storytelling” in the blogroll).
She also points to a new concept about
previewing jobs in a different way than networking
and information interviews, called (2) realistic
job preview. It is a trend when there are fewer
potential hires than positions.
In preparing for a seminar this week, please let
me organize “out loud.”
After a conversational introduction asking the
audience to assume some responsibility for
the outcome, the plan is to perform 4 group
The exercises underscore that leadership
is demonstrated by effective communication,
assuming responsibility, participating in
problem solving in teams.
All of these happen better working with
networks and mentors.
A 21st century game plan for leadership
- manage communications
touch items once, plan
- define key objectives
prefer mindfulness over multi-tasking
have “an easy start-up ramp”
- develop measured response plan
act rapidly, but know when to go slow
work on high priority items, ask questions.
Next week April 24 Northeastern YCC (Career
Fair link) of ACS will conduct a career fair.
Sure, I am presenting there. That is not the
main reason for mentioning it in the blog.
I will comment on my planning for it
inside the comments package.
The reason for mentioning it is to point out a
terrific note on preparing for job fairs in the
Washington Post.by Susan Kreimer.
1. know who will be there
2. select the firms you wish to visit
LOOK ON YCC WEBPAGE FOR COMPANY
3. search what they have done recently
4. look at their web page and determine if you fit an opening
5. gear your resume to match the need
6. prepare a cover letter that assists the representative at the fair
7. prepare a “30 second pitch” what you are seeking
8. appearance matters, look sharp
9. look for opportunities to be noticed
START AT THE FAR END WORK TO THE
FRONT; LOCATE YOUR TARGET COMPANIES
10. bring business cards
11. use it as a networking opportunity
Comments that follow:
Sign up for a resume review
My workshop presentation preparations
While some of us, like Ken Dychtwald has written,
know precisely what they will do as they pass 55.
(Age not speed limit!) Many of us are still trying
to figure it out.
At a session last week, “crowdsourcing” was
done on two questions. What safety nets should
one develop or have in place, as one passes
A second question posed the audience was
what items were they going to give away, share?
what knowledge, experience or concepts did
they want to share and how were they going
to do it?
Crowdsourcing was new to them. Some embraced
Another topic areas was the future of employment
is evolving in many ways. It is up to them to
determine what is best for them and their customers.
As an endnote, what is becoming clear is the need
for us to be better forecasters who determine
possible outcomes and their probabilities. This could
be a role of the ACS.
Many excellent firms offer chances for technically trained
and productive people to advance within a pay and responsibility
structure in the technical side of the dual ladder system.
Commonly, there are three ways to advance into this
ladder. One is self nomination. The second is to be nominated
by a sector manager recognizing a person’s contributions
and potential for advancing technology in the company’s
core competency areas. The third is by nomination from
a recognized society.
Erin White authored an article about this in the WSJ and
cited five ways to grow in the technical track.
- Be recognized in your field by publishing papers, especially
reviews in recognized and refereed journals. Technical
oral papers are valued in certain fields.
- Research and compare compensation packages, including
options with peers and peer organizations. Understand
what it is worth.
- Make a list of accomplishments, including
new product ideas,
beneficial technical collaborations and
- Support past contributions with examples of use and
future work areas which will benefit the bottom line.
With this information an individual might approach
a supervisor or member of an honored technical group
of a company and make their case for continued
As each of us who have supported unique recognitions
like this, the support and coordination of advisers,
mentors and supervisors takes effort and insight
that benefits all people concerned.
Al Sklover has generated a useful list of
employment related topics that are
poignant reminders of items at times of
transition– hiring, moving on, and
review times. His blog is listed in the
Last week, it was a pleasure to meet and conduct
mock interviews with a dozen ACS members in
The first thing that we do in each session, my
good friend and mentor, Herb Silverman, points
out is become friends. Then, we assist the member
in ‘getting a feel’ and ‘firmer footing’ of what an
actual professional job interview is like.
One of the wonderful people was CK. CK
is seeking an industrial position after attaining
her Ph.D. in food sciences. She is very bright
and had many accomplishments and academic
awards. She is a green card holder, thus, could
work full time in the US.
We mostly realize that in new situations we are
all anxious when our career and life style is
potentially on the line. CK was affected by this
and an uncertainty about what career path she
should seek. The time we shared focused on
relaxation, identifying her values and opportunities
and offering some mock interview questions.
Our half-hour session did not comprise of
introduction and Q&A and feedback, but more
of a friendly table talk where the obstacle of
nerves was arrested and CK developed
personal strategies to recognize and use her
anxiousness to energize her interaction.
ACS national meetings are an unparalleled
chance to pursue valued member services.
CK took advantage. Others should consider
doing this as well.
One of the most noticeable features of the ACS
national meeting career center is an innovation
developed in the career center. It is the learning
tool called networking conversation exercises.
It is included in a couple of workshops and is
such a fun and positive experience for the
audience that they almost don’t want to stop
and want to attend other sessions just to do.
One of my colleagues demonstrated to me how
useful it is to do the exercise more than once.
The networking conversation is a real life, turn
to your neighbor and introduce yourself and hold
a conversation, be attentive listeners, describe what
you do, where you are from and what it is you seek
or wish to learn.
The first time the exercise is performed the feedback
is modest. Some participants are experienced and
share and can probe in a friendly manner. Others need
to learn and experience.
The second time results in a conversation performance
that is a crescendo of an orchestra in the meeting room.
The audience does not want to stop. Business cards
are exchanged, the audience enjoys the new partner,
and the feeling is uniform. A third time results in people
enjoying more opportunities to be guided in a stimulating
growing experience that they want more of
During a session I was delighted to meet a fellow who
was awarded a polymer science recognition and the
editor of Nano-materials that dynamically expanded
my appreciation of the tool.
Please attend this highly recommended learning experience.
This week the ACS provided a workshop to put
into practice some new models of some skills
professionals can use in their careers.
They were based on a learning model for which
I wish to obtain feedback on and convince
myself of. The model has four elements:
1. Underlying principle or direction is
the basis of what the learner should do or use
2. Simplified example of what success is
like or revealed by is provided
3. Practical exercise probing the skill or process
for the learner to attempt and experience the
activity is attempted
4. De-brief that clarifies behaviors and concepts
and opens up alternatives is facilitated.
The recommendation is that professional skills can
be appreciated and developed by using this complex
process. These steps provide a logic for developing
the concept logic.