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

May 2008
« Apr   Jun »
Careers in Chemistry. Future trends
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Recruiters, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:22 am

Recently, a “heady” book came across my
desk.  Entitled “The Design of Things to
Come” it covered so many elements that
hit upon so many different segments of
this blog’s readership–
  -recent STM grads,
  -manager types
  -mature people in STM
(STM = science, technology and mathematics)

Vogel, Cagan and Boatright (authors) are
business school professors at Carnegie
Mellon and offer penetrating insights that
I have never seen the likes of before!

In “The design of things to come” they
identified consistent
patterns they
observe that lead to innovation…which
they say will make all the difference in
our futures.

The remainder of this entry offers comments
on:  “powers of ten” analysis, blanketing IP
for brand identity, and leveraging outside

These insights apply to people trying to

 - figure out what they want to do or
shift into          BE PROACTIVE
  - forecast what may happen and
impact on our futures  STAY AHEAD OF

To aid in identifying trends the authors
suggest considering three frameworks

 - social framework:  the market’s
cultural undertone, its impacts on life
style and political dynamics

 - economic framework:  the market’s
focus and limits of buying power

 - technological framework:  significant
advances, new uses and technology

Clearly theirs is a different, a marketer’s,
perspective.  Chemists may be more
familiar with the technological window
and not look for the social and
economic.  Their value is in viewing
“markets”.  Their added value is to
frame windows to see where the market
is and what pressures the market is
driving to seek and want.  It is that
gap between the current and the
future desires or wants that will
emerge new products.  Some may have
been in the drafting stage for a while.
Think:  hybrid vehicles, windmills,
netflix, and a myriad of shifts.

Careers in Chemistry. Canadian issues
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:32 am

There were three groups of chemists who were very
engaging and fun to be with at SUNY at Buffalo
last week.  One was a group from Brock University,
the second was a group from McMaster and the
third was an invited speaker who was a McMaster
grad speaking about biotech/pharma careers.

BF spoke about his experience that his
company usually will support hiring desirable
Canadian candidates for chemistry positions, since
they are joining, for the most part, a global company.
It is part of their operations to bring people in and
have them be part of their global workforce,
where they might accept transfers in locations around
the world.  In some infrequent instances, at the end of
the year, their legal department/ HR department may
ask for a delayed start date until the beginning of a
calendar year to help manage the workload,
visa quota, and budget elements that can occur.

For most of the students in the audience, while
the workshops did not bring out citizenship questions,
conversations during the “booze and smooze”
sessions indicated a limited at best awareness of
citizenship and visa issues.

Although Canadian citizens do not need to obtain
a visa to enter
the United States , they are subject
to the same employment and compensation
as citizens of all other countries. Canadians travel
freely to
the U.S.  However, the government
considers these entries
to be for tourism
purposes only.

Tourists are not permitted
to work
in the
U.S. There is no
exception to
this law for citizens of
Canada .

In order for a citizen of Canada to be
employed in the U.S. he or
she must be
admitted in one of the visa categories
which permit employment

Exchange Visitor
Temporary Worker
     TN .

Good information about obtaining visas for
citizens to work in the US is found
at the

     Department of State site.
Further information about tax liabilities can be
found at the IRS site.

comments (0)
Mid-Career Re-focus
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 11:04 am

Based on a LinkedIn Invitation


>> Daniel
Eustace wrote:


>> * RE: Join my network on


>> Hi HS,


>> Trust you
are well!


>> Glad to collaborate.

>> Let me know
how I might be able to

help you.

>> Regards,



>> PS:  Polaroid—is no more!  But

there are plenty
ex-Polaroids out
>> there willing to network

>Dan, I have overstayed at my current
> position. Despite myproduct
line now

> being 40% of sales per year… in the
> downturn I am being [affected in] pay and
> benefits equal to coworkers who

> [much less]. I do not want to

[Good companies] post many jobs
> but I cannot find an “in”… for example.
> Appreciate your advice.
> HS
Hi HS,

From what I have seen, a possible strategy is
to do three
1) network into the top firms you really want
to get into

volunteer in professional organizations
showing your skills, 
ability to
work with
others, your top notch communications

skills and your knack to
get things done.

3) if there is a new skill or a refresher on
an existing skill in
demand, go out and get
trained and educated

Certainly, creating information
files about
each leading firm.
getting all the financial
information and
sourcing them for information

on the internet will happen as part of the

networking.   Know their business
inside and out.


If one cannot find an “in” one is just not trying

hard enough, I am
sorry to say.  What do they
value the most?  Product
use of new science…it will be in their annual

You need to read between the lines.


Then, consider doing an information interview
with someone you
connected to or request
based on your investigations.   Google

interviews” or look at for information interview

Chemistry week, speak at local schools, or
in some way where
you are making a
difference in your professional
When someone
‘googles’ your name they
will see several facets of a
unique individual.

Hope this helps.


comments (0)
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 10:04 am

Attended a marvelous Graduate Student
symposium last week, meeting dozens of interesting
and talented people and was exposed to some
very interesting new research. 
The 26th GSS at SUNYAB provided win-win
opportunities for all attendees no matter what
their formal skill level or position.

Several posts that will follow will be based
on things that I learned and were interesting
to both me and the people I met.

Take a look at wonderful sites on nanotechnology

     International Council
     Nanotechnology jobs

comments (0)
Mature Workers. Exploring the unposted world
Filed under: Recruiters, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 12:44 pm

What is the most important compensation element
for you as you seek your next position?  Is it health
care, like it is for many?  “Short term temporary
positions generally will lack such benefits,”
Sarah Needleman reported in the WSJ on
May 13 (”Employers tap executives for
temporary jobs.”).  You may have control over
your  schedule and “limit  your presence on-site”.
[You are likely to be compensated “with base
salaries commensurate with their full-time
counterparts, covering housing expenses…”]
Thus, compensation, challenge and pursuing
passions would be consistent with short term
temporary assignments.

This is in exchange for providing technical and
leadership savvy without having to train or go
through a long learning curve.  To then have your
name placed on radar screens for these roles, one
needs to review their accomplishment history
and be able to be identified with production
scale-up, technical start-up or problem-solving,
team development, developing alliances and
project management.

Contacts with key referrals and previous
key stakeholders need to be made.  Let them
know of your interests, seek out ways of extending
your network.

Using your homework, refocus your resume
and resume file documents to caste a revealing light
on your skill sets.  A project management or
alliance management philosophy document might
be an influencing document for this file, for example. 

One informal route involves professional networks
and exploring professional social networks.  LinkedIn
and technical professional meetings (ACS, and
single technical topic meetings)should be included
in this.

The formal specialized recruiter network is another
viable approach.  They will in fact ask for all you
have prepared (mentioned above) and more.
Like, specific salary history and what you
seek and many of the questions
you would
anticipate in an actual interview,
ideal role,
what motivates you, why you
are available now,
etc.  It is important to
understand that the more
prepared one is
for this and having the idea that
a personal relationship with the recruiter

will lead to a working relationship.

It needs to be planned out.

Mature chemists also need to enter with
more than formulaic questions.  The questions
need to explore your candidacy, the true
facts about the organization and the position
that seems like a good match.

One can’t go in without really looking to
accept a “good fit”.  One needs to work the
relationship diligently and with integrity.

comments (0)
Technical Presentations
Filed under: Interviewing, First Year on Job, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 10:24 am

While it is clear that practice is essential for delivering
great presentations containing material that you understand
well to an audience that you understand, Timothy J.
book, “The Exceptional Presenter”
provides both informative anecdotes and strong

He points out that exceptional presenters are not
flawless. They are passionate, organized, and engaging
deliver to the audience a message they can use.
It is not what they say that counts, but what the
audience internalizes and can use.  The impressions
speakers make by their stage presence and attentiveness
to details that strike the audience are ‘tipping points’
using a common phrase. 
-  Al Gore’s loud sighs,
-  Richard
Nixon’s 5 o’clock shadow and upper lip

-  George Bush’s watch gazing
are things that he points out.

We recognize that our interview presentation is
one of the main ways our technical competence is

Some take-aways for presenters:

60/20 rule - arrive 60 minutes in advance, line up
all presentation elements for 40 minutes.  Spend the
next 20 minutes meeting information gathering and
rapport building.

Non-verbal communications
BAD - T-rex posture;  prefer good posture not leaning
with head up and smile.  Show energy and enthusiasm.
- claw - notice the tv weather woman
- fingers - to show numbers, one, two, etc.,
- horizontal hands to indicate levels and emphasize verbs
- pinpointing dates with vertical hand motion.

actually,            frankly,
to be honest,    I mean, …

Manage elements of nervousness
  - Have your first two minutes “down pat”
  - cheat sheets
  - segment your talk
  - keep the audience wanting more.

comments (0)
Checklist Tools for evaluating offers and interviewing performance
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 3:52 pm

Consider looking at a fresh view site that
provides a
tool to self evaluate a job offer
using some
objective measures.  This
‘Bridging the gap’
site has several useful
tools for job

comments (0)
Careers in Chemistry Wiki
Filed under: Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 10:11 am

Thank you to Patricia of The Road Less Traveled
for providing an information resource on
careers in the form of a wiki.

Another post containing iTunes U was
an interesting way to gather info.  I still
haven’t figured out how to take notes while
driving and listening…..

comments (0)
Interviewing. “What if…”
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 7:04 pm

In interview scenarios, develop quick-thinking
plans for the unexpected.

Sometimes, although you prefer landline telephone
connections, cellphones are unavoidable.  Catch
the name (spelling, too.), return telephone number
(in case of disconnection) and email.early in
the conversation.

Learn about strategies to deal with the unexpected.
It carries even further than this.  Today, in a class
mock interview, we set up two unexpected
scenarios.  One was a lady was simulating finding
out at the airport that her flight was canceled.
(This is not unheard of these days)  What should
she do?  What is the back up strategy?

Call the interview host and inform her? 
Do you contact the hotel, car rental too?
When are next flights available?
If the next day, should you still travel?  Something
to ask the hostess…
Could you arrange an alternate presentation mode?
Say, video interview presentation at your university?
(Make sure you know how to do these, they are not
trivial and require preparation and practice.)

Have your calendar handy to reschedule during
the call.
Think about where your bags and essential interview
items are.  Think about using only carry-on bags
for interview travel, as they will always be with

What typically happens to travelers when flights are
canceled?  Learn through your network how things
are done.

The second mock interview scenario was with a
gentleman who had received an offer.  A competing
company was interested in potentially wishing to
interview him.  Should he accept an invitation for an

We contrived a situation where I invited him to have
a meal at an Italian restaurant (more to find out if he
would order spaghetti, he did not).  We engaged in
a conversation over his offer (what he should say and
what he should hold in confidence) and the enthusiasm
and confidence he should display.

Both of these situations are unexpected and it is
helpful to “air them” giving some suggestions.

comments (0)
First year on the job. “Smarter” objectives
Filed under: Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 6:38 pm

While listening to a guest speaker talk about
the importance of doing things well in your
first years in a position and what things to
do, she spoke about “SMARTER” objectives.

This is an improvement on SMART objectives,
the acronym commonly referred to in project
and leadership circles for appraisal and performance
management systems.
Looking at wikipedia they list (The link
provides suggestions of origins and other
elements.) the terms as

Letter   Term             Less frequently used terms
S          Specific         Significant, stretching, simple
M         Measurable     Meaningful, motivational,
A         Achievable     Agreed, attainable, assignable
                                    appropriate, actionable,
R          Relevant        Realistic, results/results-focused
                                     results-oriented, resourced
T          Time-bound   Time-based, trackable, timely
E          [added]          Exciting, evaluated
R          [added]          Recorded, rewarding, reviewed

Understanding these terms in the context of the business
and project goals will help define workable objectives.

Another new learning is that these smarter objectives can
have shorter time-frames for review, reflection and revision.
Whereas it was institutional to do this at mid-year and year
end, she spoke about one-month, two-month and three-
month intervals, especially when first starting out, in fast
moving areas, or more fluid areas.

It was very good that the students were exposed to these

Mature workers. Financial alerts and speed-bumps
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 1:24 pm

Two neat articles in the WSJ point out pitfalls of
working beyond the retirement age and an intriguing
capital gains benefit for early retirees.

T. Gutner authored a nice piece (print Apr. 29,
about benefit reductions for even part-time
workers with regard to defined benefit (pension),
social security (although there is pending
legislation proposed to reduce the impact)
and medical insurance coverage.

It is worth looking up, if you are in this situation.

K. Hube wrote an article (also not on the net)
about a new 0% capital gains tax rule (print
edition:  May 3-4, 2008).  From
2008 to 2010
long-term capital gains and most
are tax-free for taxpayers whose
AGI is less
than $65,100.

You need to be in the 15% bracket.

This will take some planning and is geared for
early retirees who have not started withdrawing
on social security or have a significant taxable
ordinary income.  She points out several practical
ways for us to take advantage of this.

Pass this one on!

comments (0)
Resume Heading
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 3:24 am

Dear Dr. Eustace,

“Thank you very much for your message.
appreciate your
kind help with my job

search. Attached is a sample application
package. It might
give you some

information before we talk on the phone. ….

Basically, I got my PhD in Analytical and
Physical Chemistry
with more on Physical

Chemistry side. I studied the interaction
between small
dye molecules and

polypeptides and other biomacromolecules,
and its effects on
the conformation and

aggregation of polypeptides and other
system properties. 

Now as a postdoc, I am working on the
conjugated polymers and conjugated

Since I have been working with

instruments (such as HPLC, GPC,
UV-Vis, Fluorescence, Laser, FT-IR,
for system characterization, I

would like to find a job in analytical
fields, working with


I look forward to talking with you soon.



HJ and I spoke and exchanged some
useful information about how reviewers
might read his resume to match their
openings to fill.

1.  first 7 - 30 seconds:  Key information
up front that matches needs
2.  after first cut, review about 10% of
resumes for supporting information
displayed clearly, briefly and with
3.  depending on number at the end of
second cut, look for other intriguing
factors that may help candidacy.

It is important to list key information
on top half of page one.

Let us focus on the Heading.
Our conversation determined four
items not revealed by his
first draft of his

1.  He has employment authorization
document and will not need H1b
sponsorshipThis should be placed
in the heading because of “foreign
sounding” name.

2.  He is currently working as a post-doc
at a Florida school.  His resume heading
could list two columns on the tophome
address with one email and phone AND
his department address and university.
It indicates to the reviewer that he is still
“It is easier to find a position, when you
still have a position.”
3.  The email address from the university
is not always reliable and available.  His
gmail account is one he uses from all
contact sites.
This should be the email he lists on the
resume.  It should use a business-like
4.  It is much more common now to
list cell phone number as the contact
number.  Make sure important phone
calls occur
where there is good reception.

comments (0)
Career Fair Feedback
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Recruiters, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 12:20 pm

In class this week two individuals spoke about their
wonderful experiences at the Boston YCC 2008 Career Fair
last week.

They benefited more than they expected and had several
tips for others to follow to succeed even more.

They both arrived early enough to scope things out and
determine their priorities and plan how they would
meet their needs.

One reviewed the companies participating and help
provided– resume reviews and workshop presentations.
The second spoke about first having his resume reviewed.
It was gratifying he said that he had his resume re-written
after review.  The feedback he heard was that his resume
was well prepared and addressed all the things in the
order that companies would be interested.  Items with
low interest to companies, pointed out in the in-class,
review were pointed out again.  Thus, the in-class resume
reviews should be done by all students.  If students did
not do this, the job fair would be an ideal place to do this,
and have it done again.

One student visited several companies in the exhibition
area.  One pharma company asked if the student had
known about the company.
Suggestion:  before the job fair, go to the web site of high
priority companies and learn about products, services,
news items and status of the industry.  Have some things
to say about each company displaying your interest in them.

Same company
Mistakes:  don’t mention bad news items, he did.
Good things:  develop some rapport, exchange business
cards, express top items on their list of needs.  listen to
others as they speak and hear the responses.

Follow-ups:  Pick up that business card and send thank
you notes.  Establish a relationship which can at least
help you build up contacts within desired companies.

Other company:  One company seemed to display
unprofessional response to one person who visited
their table.  Remember this communication goes
both ways.

This student uncomfortably left the table and shared
the information.

A person can be “turned off” visiting representatives
as well as companies can be “turned off” to
individuals.  People can walk away from
companies.  Companies can not walk away
from individuals.  They can pleasantly change
their attention to other individuals or other
things.  When you are in the public view
all need to respect the needs of each other.

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