Continuing in the discussion pointing out
where chemical careers might be heading
are some interesting items extracted from
Mike Wallace’s book on
What things will be like 50 years from now.
Many eminent spokes-people were invited
by editors to contribute their thoughts in areas
in which they are most familiar. Seven stand-out
Major fuel usage - biotechnology - population
(1) G. Smoot and N. Borlaug contributed segments
suggesting that population will level off at 9-10
billion, with growth in developing countries and
accompanying global wealth. Fuel usage will
transition ever more with a biofuels component.
(BP is now referred to as “Beyond Petroleum.”)
Biofuels will compete with crops for genetic
(2) Water will remain a limiting resource.
It might be better to learn to manage the trends
resulting from global warming than to try to stem
the human impact of it, Borlaug states.
Human health - habits - pharmaceutics -
(3) People in the middle of their life in 50 years
could be less healthy than their parents due
to obesity and high risk life styles. People will
work into their 70s with more options for
people in their 60s. Life expectancy may plateau
(4) E. F. Torrey suggests that psychiatric illnesses,
and diseases, like, MS, arthritis, and some cancers
may result from infectious agent transmission from
animals. Dogs as a result will be kept as pets,
many other animals will be less common pets.
Smoking will not exist and vaccines for infections
(5) Genetic profiles in early life will be routine, doctor
office visits will be a thing of the past, preventive
medicine with new, small imaging devices and rare
physical specimen sampling, and gene-based therapies
Health will emerge as a global investment. A
person may have access to their personal medical
record in their own devices.
More organs and tissues will be manufactured.
Stem cells will find a host of applications.
Patient care by robots that will monitor and
More prominent use of performance enhancing
pharmaceutics PFPs (R. Clarke)
Nanotechnology - biologics - artificial intelligence
(6) Billion - fold improvement in information technology
(R. Kurzweil) will affect everything from energy use
to biologics to turning on genes to artificial intelligence.
(Law of accelerating returns - Kurzweil)
Buildings will be able to weather catastrophes
Education - learning
(7) Ideas will move without restrictions of borders and
Depending on who you speak with, they either
complain about being too busy, not being able to
take all of their vacation and being overworked
that they realize everything shifts more rapidly
often affected by external factors,
in order to thrive in one’s current career world
one needs to take personal responsibility
to be best positioned and make the most
These are compelling statements of mid-career
and earlier-in-their-career generations.
Effectively, there is a generational divide. We
observe some fast adapters in their mid-career
and mature years adopting earlier generation
tools and attitudes.
We may not feel that chemical careers are
changing along the same trajectory as other
technical fields are in the temporary employment
Barbara Moses points out that the culture of
busyness (former model above) is what is
destroying work-life balance in professionals’
lives. She offers that people need
to engage in seeking strategic relevance to one’s
life. See several of her writings for details
and examples of professionals’
- authenticity (being true to oneself),
- the apparent attitude shift to “free agency” and
- being able to thrive on more temporary employment
She points out (1) Know your desires (combination of one or more)
- independent, entrepreneurs - autonomous
- lifestyle choice - flexible
- satisfaction in personal growth - learning, contributing
- self directed career enhancement - advancement
- authenticity - self expression
- identification with organization - belonging, membership
(2) Understand your behavior style and how it can
thrive with other styles
There is no “one best” style.
(3) Develop growing mentor relationships.
Understand that often you can’t go to your
manager to be your mentor, there can be a conflict of goals.
(4) Develop self confidence , esteem and emotional
(5) Be proactive about your career.
Thrive on change and constantly re-prove yourself.
Education does not have an end product, it is an
During an interesting consulting conversation
two core elements developed.
AREA: One is an interest in applying his skills
ROLE: The second is that RW wishes to get
immersed in the business side of helping people
by curing diseases.
An interesting reference I shared with RW is
“Jobs in the Drug Industry,” by Richard Friary (2000).
It poses some things RW was interested in
what to anticipate and expect in interviews
and Friary does a nice job describing what will be
asked and how to “sell yourself” as a
viable and enthusiastic candidate in Chapter 7 (pp. 214-
221. “Foremost among the traits … are enthusiasm,
industriousness, a sense of urgency, and cooperativeness.”
A recent book by Barbara Moses,
“The Good News about careers,” (1999) talks about
20-something’s need for self expression..
It can be construed as different from an earlier
generation. Here, we talked about RWs need to
provide a compelling case of how and what is special
about being involved in the business of curing
This is a statement of his motivation, rather than one
from which he would receive personal satisfaction.
For he can continue to strive at something in which
he is motivated to achieve, where as a person’s
attitude will not be changed permanently by
getting that pay raise, promotion, new
supervisor or benefit. (satisfiers)
The underlying point for us, one of the critical
items for job seekers to be able to do in an
interview is reveal her or his motivation.
This could be
- striving to compete,
- love for challenging work,
- desire for advancement and increased responsibility,
Self-expression seems to be more common
among people of his generation that the previous
one and so it is significant to realize this difference
and listen for people speaking about it in
conversations. See Rita Casey for some
background on motivation and satisfaction.
Having fun developing a presentation for
the Philadelphia National ACS meeting on
using blogs and video-interviewing in
one’s job search.
If I do this right, several contributions in
this blog can be added information
references for the presentation.
Building on Bill Carroll’s ideas for chemical
entrepreneurs, one can also enhance one’s
resume and reputation by creating and
maintaining a blog. Using it, one can also:
1. demonstrate unique communication
skills essential in leadership roles
2. define technical and innovation skills
for new fields one wishes to move into
3. share and advocate forward-looking
assets and ideas possible for introducing
concepts in academic environments.
Blogging will be discussed in this entry.
Three CONcernS that need to be managed
for using blogs are:
a. being “dooced“- losing one’s job over a blog
b. huge number of blogs - Technorati trends
>60 million, adding 10^5 per day
c. short attention span of most readers.
Implement Jakob Nielsen’s usability ideas
for blog structures.
Some Pros of using blogs is that they can
1. “long tail theory” of topics and ideas and
that most books, articles, marketing, and
discussions cover the “top-80%” of common
denominator or topics. Firms like
Amazon.com have recognized this and
made a terrific business model on the
long tail of books, for example.
2. Humans are informavores
We look for “information scent of things.”
3. Blogs are searchable.
Several major decisions one makes at the beginning
of your career is the choice of one company over
another or in some cases the choice of one benefit
plan over another from the range of choices.
Most of these have little or nothing to do with
ther kind of job you accept, or whether it is
in a biotech or nanotech firm of consumer
product firm or university.
How much should I put into the 401K?
Should I choose a Roth 401K?
Which medical plan should I choose?
How much life insurance should I take?
What is the significance of disability insurance?
Ron Lieber authored a nice primer with
references that is useful input.
In our case, my wife joined a firm with
exceptional insurance policies. This allowed me
not to take higher priced insurances at my
Fortunately, when she retired, the insurances were
part of the the retirement package. This is a
very large, non-taxed long term benefit.
When making your decisions take time to learn
what is important to you, which insurance
protection is most needed by you in your
situation, and how you can change your plans.
Several of the young professionals at the NWRM
regional meeting of the ACS, wanted some insight
into career paths they might explore. RS for
example had his act together and projected a
solid business acumen. He just needed to have
someone tell him that.
Others present themselves less and may need
a combination of explorations. They need to
define their values, their needs, and their
passions. They might also wish to explore
the current conditions of the job market. For
this, most detailed, well researched publications
might oftentimes be out of date. Downturns
in the economy can happen in one industry
and not another, in one region and not another
and they happen rapidly. Situations like
the term “tipping point” can be inferred.
S. Shellenbarger authored a nice piece
on some considerations of using career
instruments to ferret out the direction one
might go. This blog has mentioned resources
at Quintcareers site, story telling and informational
interviews, all in the blogroll.
Market projections are also significant
considerations. What are the long-term,
“hot fields”? This is a question this blogger
is trying to discern.
Earlier this week, I met many bright chemists
at the Northwest/Rocky Mountain regional
meeting of the ACS. It was fun working
with the organizers to de-confound scheduling
conflicts to allow as many members get the
most benefit from the program.
The workshop schedule was modified with the
agreement of the audience. It allowed me to
set up counseling sessions (ie., career and
resume review) in late morning on Monday.
The first person SG was graduating in December
with a joint major and looking at career options
of working for the spring semester and summer
and attending grad school in the fall. What public
relations document(s) should she prepare?
We talked about having a CV for academic
positions and targeted resumes for specific
industrial and some governmental positions.
It might be a valuable practice to generate the
CV which would be a “master resume file” for
wherever she decided to create targeted resumes.
Many grad schools appreciate savvy students
who experience the business, manufacturing or
industrial world. They begin their graduate
program with some real world experience about
working in teams, problem solving and learning
how to communicate effectively.
2. Short term hires may not be desired
A person who does this must understand that
a new hire is not productive right away as they
need to learn many things. This process “slows”
down others who train, check and monitor them.
So, companies may not wish to hire someone
for 6-9 months, only to see her leave for school.
One needs to be aware of this going into cover
letters and interview sessions about a possible
negative factor being a short term hire.
3. Short term hires may be just what a
Such situations, however, may be ideal for being
hired through recruiters.
So, SG and I reviewed the major differences
between resumes and CVs and how many
parts are interchangeable.
Resume file CV
objective OR qualification –
honors & awards honors & awards
NOT PART OF RESUME [part of CV]
Pubs, Patents Presents. pubs, patents,
Research summary research summary
These last 3 resume segments can be part of
the “resume file” and one should consider developing
One of the tips of a person’s abilities to
get along is being able to carry on small
talk productively and know how it fits
in an interview situation.
Whether it is an introduction meeting, the
ride in to a site, or over a meal small talk
is needed to establish common ground and
relax all participants.
It has been noted that small talk can
“divulge way mre information than is
necessary.” The interviewer can let the
interviewee just go on and all sorts of
information not asked for can be revealed.
Even things that an interviewer cannot
legally ask for can come out. D.
Klingensmith. in “Go Ahead– Ask me”
points out that an interviewee should be
aware. I would add, the interviewee
- what they should say and
- when the interviewer is
transitioning from small talk to
“Tell me a little bit about yourself” is not
a small talk kind of question. It and many
others are attempts to match you and your
skills to the opening.
Similarly, small talk can lead into those
unforseen areas. Find your personal way of
politely sidestepping questions that you
may feel step into inappropriate areas:
“Forgive me, that seems like an awkward area
About travel or staying late:
“I can understand why you’d ask that question
and my best reponse is that I have the support
to meet the demands of the position.”
Remember, your tone, posture, facial
expression will issue your thoughts more
than what you say. Stay relaxed. Avoid
appearing intimidated or arrogant.
What is a good practice to do on a regular basis?
Update your resume(s) and CV.
While traveling on a plane ride, the thought came
to me to bring up the need to update your
public relations documents. We commonly
recommend building and maintaining your
general resume that contains your full listing
of your background. It might be useful to
also select items for one targeted resume in
case a situation arises.
It is a good reminder for those who use CVs
to insert their latest accomplishments, papers
Remember to update
- references: people move on more frequently.
use the latest contact information.
it is a good reason to reconnect with them
- experiences: projects completed, new skills
applied to accomplish objectives
- publications, presentations and patents: update
the latest information; also consider collecting
.pdf files of publications to share if needed
- affiliations and professional activities
Let’s also ask ourselves if this is a nudge to
energize your commitment to your profession.
Consider getting more involved — organize a
symposium, attend a meeting with a professional
purpose, and learn new skills.
It is worthwhile to ask for help. Speak to your
mentors. Request and connect with a career
consultant with the ACS. Attend a workshop
at a regional or national meeting.
We have often seen the term that chemistry
is the central science, having connections to
engineering, geology, biology, cosmology
and other fields.
Chemists are combinations of “knowledge
worker,” theoretician. practical innovator,
real time experimentalist and entrepreneur.
In this vein a chemist can consider
transitioning her/his career at different
stages– early, mid-career or mature.
Several concepts Bill Carroll wrote about in
a blog points out how “branding” can be
important for a segment of chemists seeking
to incorporate entrpreneurism into their
repertoire. Bill writes that some trends suggest
some chemistry related careers will be built by
accumulating skills, succeeding,
making oneself known in the marketplace.
This differs with an earlier generation which
[found] a good company and ’stay there for life’
approach to employment. He quotes W. Arruda
saying, “In the new world of work, jobs will
come looking for you. Job seekers will move
from being hunters to being hunted,
so they need
to make sure they can be found.” It is not fully
here yet, I might add.
Bill’s article cites the importance of
- professional networking
- online presence (web-site, blog knowledge
- differentiated value delivered asynchronously
to targeted audiences
Today I enjoyed a wonderful discussion with
a couple seeking to begin their careers within
about a year. Both will be granted Ph.D.s in
chemistry and have superb credentials and bright
RG and DW shared their respective PR
documents in advance and wanted help in
exploring what they have heard as a problem
in beginning their careers. They prefer not to
have to live apart and are passionate about
their work and careers.
This blog entry is a beginning point, as they
agreed to let me share some of our joint
learning as they embark on this process.
RG desires a laboratory role in industrial or
government; DW seeks as first priority an
academic position in a PUI. (principally
Our first conversation covered a lot of
ground and background. The bottom lines
- participate in their individual and joint
values, needs and behaviors assessments
(I will send them one, others are available
in the Links.)
- develop a “straw-dog” proposal of what
they eventually aspire to do
(this recognizes that post-docs are temporary
positions helping them reach their desired
starting point. They are highly valued in
- explore using networks, mentors and
informational interviews how they individually
reach their plan
- create a working plan
- develop at least one back-up plan if the
least likely event does not occur or occur in
a timely manner.
We made a specific yet brief effort to review
one resume and one CV giving major
improvement suggestions. Like
a) include education courses completed in a CV,
b) include an Education professor as a reference,
c) create a teaching philosophy, research
summary, research proposal for CV
d)define a clear objective in the resume,
e) Have a brief, keyword-filled , job-description-
matching list of Highlights,
among many others.
Several pertinent links are relevant in this
situation. Look at
as a typical case studies approach that a
search might find.
Many of us in our careers have faced situations
where positions are “cut” in our firms. More often
the changes don’t “hit” us immediately or directly.
Nonetheless, the situations feel real to us.
Our careers will be impacted by many things
outside of our control. We can expect the
situations to change continuously. Thus, a
career strategy is to be prepared. Surfing
connections to the Sunday NYTimes led to
a purposeful blog by author Pamela Skillings
that talks about career considerations and
preparations. It is a nice introduction for
mid-career and mature people to view.