So I have my first on-site interview
coming up, with
J-M, right outside
Philadelphia. I wanted to ask you a
1. When I have meetings with different
already asked for and
received the list, with names and
positions) should I
bring a copy of
my resume for them and give them a
One or the
other, both or none?
2. Also, how should I address them
if I don’t know if they
have their Ph.D.
Should I assume they do and call
them Dr. xxxx and let
me, or address them by their first name.
Thanks again for your
help with the
mock phone interview. it was terrific
experience and a great learning role,
since they are bringing me in for
a site interview.
Do you know how it is when you are seeking
one thing and your eye sees something else.
That is how the following site came to me.
It does some marvelous things. One is
identifying for interviewees different
ways interviewers can pose questions
looking for similar information.
For example on the topic of seeking
your strengths or strong points it lists
‘Why should we employ you?’
When a member contacts an ACS consultant
for assistance or help in figuring out what to do,
where to go, or test ideas about careers,
documents or interviewing, it might be
interesting to know what the consultant is
The consultant is not considering a negotiation.
She is certainly seeking to be educated to learn
what is important to the member and to satisfy
both what the ACS member believes he wants and
what the member may not sense he wants or needs.
Then it is a process of changing minds by either
filling in information gaps or exploring how a
member can better express or describe goals,
desires, skills, what is desired, etc.
Howard Gardner, “Changing Minds” offers an
interesting framework for career consulting
and other situations. His book describes “r”
levers and provides examples that aid the
process– reason, research, real-world events,
resistances, resonance, representational
re-descriptions, resources and rewards.
One can envision each career consulting case
can be outlined with
counter-content format(s), and
Thus, working with WW on a career case,
we are focusing on
1. defining specific industries and companies
where he wishes to work.
2. Then, clarify through several networking
means what roles he is best suited to help
the firm(s). [blogs, supervisors, previous
graduates, LinkedIn.com, successful
3. Once this is done several stages of message
and story development will follow– for
resume, for information interview, for
the various employment documents and
The “r” tools involve
resources and a heavy dose
Gardner’s book is highly recommended
Is it fair to say that two trends remain strong
whether we like them or not–
1 employment is not as permanent as it
once was and
2 despite recent successes nearly anyone can be let go
from a firm.
Add to this, you should always stay alert to
trends within your company and industry that
can affect you. They may not happen right
away, but signals are being given.
Notice if a “chain-saw consultant” or manager
comes in. (someone brought in to contain
costs by cutting people and projects)
Look for “bozo explosions” (rapid increase
in less than competent employees while
skilled and valued people leave)…
from ‘Bizzwords’ by Gregory Bergman.
These are situations where one might refer
back to two posts– one about updating
your resume and the second about always
being prepared for lay-offs. Especially,
locate Pam Skillings blog item about being
Erin Chambers talked about career turning
points in a WSJ article today. While all her
points are valid, and I will highlight the leading
ones, DON’T GET CAUGHT SURPRISED.
Take immediate steps while working by
EXPANDing YOUR NETWORK and developing
mentors. When a project is completed,
get a nice letter written to your file or keep
a hard copy of notices and awards.
Keep a good history of your accomplishments.
As Erin points out, when the lay-off happens,
control your emotional response and
confirm the departure and severance arrangements
use your good relations to extend using resources
explore outplacement services
send final emails and note where you can be
contacted in the future (email, phone)
define your unemployment situation, learn from
others what they have experienced and plan your
what are you going to do on the first day, week
what will you learn
who will you contact– network, mentors, alumni,
Understand the nature and value of excellent
references to not only put you over the top,
but also to get you in the door for
There are postings on ACS web-site to
advertize one’s unique skills, chem-insight
and technology transfer to commercial
realities. My eye was also attracted by
a NYTimes article on Innocentive, one
of several firms involved in solving technical
While these are not formally career
elements it is a problem-solving branch
of our discipline that with the increasing
reach of communication technology is
within our reach and benefits many.
Laurie Parker’s blog is a ‘first step read’
that will help participation.
This entry is related to the June 22, 2008
one on the use of blogs in job searches.
The focus is on virtual video interviewing.
v.v.i. (Virtual Video Interviewing) is a
tool that is slowly being accepted and
will be used increasingly in screening
candidates for interviews. This blog is
set up to provide references and a point
of contact and discussion for the
symposium presentation at the Philadelphia
national American Chemical Society
Briefly, most screening of candidates to
determine who is a serious candidate to
invite in for an on-site interview is done
either at job fairs, career fairs (like the
ACS national and regional meetings), at
university placement centers and via
telephone interviews. They require
- travel (in all but telephone),
- specific location arrangements,
- time commitment of at least 45 minutes,
- meeting some employment
regulations for balancing age, national
One can find several links sharing experiences
of virtual video interviews, where specific
advantages were highlighted:
1. significant time savings especially
when strong communication skills are
essential (American graduates in foreign
countries and vice-versa) for the
candidate to be successful
(sorts out many language issues better
than a phone).
2. academic employment screening is
aided since several people can view the
identical performance at different times
and more than once.
One nice starting point link that
aids interviewees offers types of
questions and suggestions for preparation
is from the University of South Florida.
Several university placement centers, like
the Univ of Maryland, tout the use of
virtual video interviewing
as a way to practice and improve
with and without the help of consultants,
(Babson). Others (Cincinnati)
coordinate v.v.i. with hiring
companies as part of current
This is influencing the nature of career
fairs, such that NACE and WSJ are now
piloting virtual career fairs.
While I regularly refer to Alan Sklover and Associates
articles and blog for legal issues, I have not seen
topics related to patent protection gridlock that stalls
innovation. This represents a significant factor in
technical innovation and thus careers in chemistry.
“With lawsuits over patent infringements
of money and potentially years in court;
of companies have decided to
do something to stop them before they
Google, Verizon, HP, Cisco Systems and
Ericsson are thought to have come together
to form the Allied Security Trust. The aim
of the trust is to buy up patents before
acquired by third parties and
bypass the legal action completely.
Each member will pay around
$250,000 to join the group and then a
further $5 million to put towards buying
It is unknown whether other tech
companies will be able to join
The trust bypasses any antitrust issues because
it is a non-profit
venture and the companies
involved just license the patents rather than
owning them. Once licensed they also intend
to sell the patents.”
Read more at The Wall Street Journal
An interesting comment consultants report hearing
is that a candidate wishes to be a manager.
Another interesting comment is that candidates
enjoy challenges and rapid-paced environments.
Technical people in commerce and industry should
think of desiring both. That is one of the underlying
themes that emerges from Bossidy and Charan’s
book, “Confronting Reality: Doing what matters
to get things right.” While the book states a
target audience of entrepreneurs, mid-level
managers and CEOs (pretty broad) and is a
sequel, it is well written so that most people
seeking industrial roles can read and get
something significant out of it.
Especially, things like:
why is my company shutting down plants?
why is my company being bought out?
what is the real impact of globalization on my
industry and field?
It can lead to learning some important
questions a candidate should ask in the
what is the business model?
what are the external realities affecting the company’s
and industry’s near term and long term future?
what are internal activities that you will be involved
with and that affect you?
Look, we see a number of events happening
- large companies taking over other large companies,
- major lay-offs in broad segments,
- slow downs in earnings and expansions,
and many other things.
Bossidy and Charan’s book offers a pair of night
vision goggles to see what is happening.
Comments will be added to point out interesting
Sound business model notes
Quick hint: those interested in
leadership roles (RW) look at Chapter 12.
This is a fascinating continuation of an
interaction with DW.
We met at a mutually convenient (or
university library where we would not be
disturbed and could use the resources
The university is between sessions and
thus access is easily available. More
importantly, it forced DW out of his
routine, and into the exploring mode so that
he had several appointments to do after
meeting with me.
In our last conversation, he indicated he
had several things to do. One related to
the extension of unemployment benefits.
It benefits all who are out of normal work.
He learned that he is eligible for 13 more
weeks, if needed. Many others will be
as well. Check with your local
DW met with a colleague we both knew
well. This started a series of conversations
paths, some bore fruit, others didn’t.
(Notice the nature of the note– our
informal agenda, specific topics covered, and
points of value to him, me and everyone else!)
BW, our friend, shared a strong
willingness to help for he had been out of
work 9 months and knew how troubling
this feels. He shared his story and
that he used personal contacts
(networking) to develop the situation
that led to his position with which he is
By doing these things we were lowering
any tension that may have existed before
getting together. Next, we talked about
what did DW really want? He just wanted
to get together based on our previous
conversations and offer. It is hard for
many to put into words, so we just explored
several avenues– his approach to interviews,
his mannerisms, his style. (His resume was
strong. Sure, a couple of minor suggestions
were offered to simplify wording and line up
references that can work for an experienced
person. The point being that his resume
was getting interview results. Focus
on interviewing for improvements.)
In all of these he revealed a tensenss
that gets in the way of his confidence and
ability to get down to business and get things
done. We explored relaxation strategies.
He talked about a self-awareness activity
that he learned that works for him.
This is one of the things he will do now
before an interview. He revealed that he
uses his notebook a little too much,
especially early in a conversation. Rather
than underscoring his attention-to-detail
style, it might reveal to some a lack of
confidence and focus of attention away
from the interviewer. The suggestion
was to look more closely at people’s
nonverbal signals. Seek clarification, but
more importantly, “listen between
He was encouraged to identify his strengths
that were what the job description provided
and communicate evidence with stories
that he had them.
Before the conversation was over,
several other contact names and
LinkedIn were offered to broaden the
THANK YOU NOTE
Before the day was out, DW sent off a pleasant
and professional thank you note. It felt
sincere and appreciative.
C. Hymowitz created a nice podcast about
innovative cultures which highlights a WSJ
article describing company cultures where
innovation is fostered by Austin, Devin
Stories and examples like these reflect
companies cultures and they may be
places we might want to work.
People have innovated simply by observing
and noticing accidents, by
surprising mental associations
achieving a goal by an unexpected way
stumble upon something valuable while
looking for something else.
These notions capture an element that we
might use in our story-telling and how we
The Austin et al article is interesting reading.
Just can’t help sharing a reference to a neat
book “Shaping Things” by Bruce Sterling MIT
We have moved from an age of artifacts,
made by hand, through complex
to the current era of “gizmos.”
These, I profess, will be the tools we use and
the things we make, by the processes we
develop from the materials we innovate.
New forms of design and
appearing, he writes. The future will see
new kind of object — we have the primitive
forms of them now in our
briefcases: user-alterable, multi-featured,
programmable. Sterling coins them
“spimes,” these future
with informational support so extensive
that they are regarded as
material instantiations of an immaterial
Spimes are designed on screens,
fabricated by digital means,
tracked through space and time. They
are made of
substances that can be folded
back into the production stream of
World of technoculture
Products are widely available, commercially
objects, anonymously and uniformly
manufactured in massive quantities using
planned division of labor, rapid nonartisanal
continental economies of scale and
supported by highly reliable
finance and information systems.
Gizmos are highly usable user-alterable
multi-featured objects, commonly
programmable, with a brief lifespan.
Gizmos offer functionality so plentiful
it is cheaper to import features into
the object than it is to simplify it. Gizmos
are commonly linked to network service
providers; they are not stand-alone
objects but interfaces.
Unlike artifacts, machines and products,
gizmos have enough
functionally to actively
Their deployment demands
extensive, sustained, interaction, upgrades,
grooming, plug-ins, plug-outs, unsought
messages, security threats,…
Spimes are manufactured objects with an
Spimes begin and end as data. They are
designed on screens, fabricated by digital
measures and precisely tracked through
space and time throughout their earthly
Artifacts pre-tool age to 1508
Machines 1508 - 1919
Products 1919 - 1989
Gizmos 1989 - 2004
Spimes 2004 - 2060
What a nice way for DW to re-establish our connection.
He emailed me telling about his 9 month adventure,
giving some current positive indicators, and wishing
to find a way to succeed where he has come up
short in interviews.
DW is quite talented with chemical process
scale-up and transfer skills. He is a dogged, attention-to-
details chem engineer with more than a decade of solid
experience under his belt.
He evidently has been able to get interest and interviews
through recruiters but has not been tendered an offer.
Although he is reaching out to his network he has been
attracting about one interesting nibble a month. The
troubling part is that he has been on the “short end of
the stick” each time.
He needs to convincingly state why hiring him as an
experienced professional is better than a fresh graduate.
is flexible and
grows in responsibility in his roles.
wait for problems to “bite you in the ass”,
He can take on responsibilities that are new and
succeed in them.
He doesn’t wait for a promise of promotion to do more,
he assumes the responsibility and works at a higher level.
INCREASE CHANCES OF GETTING INTERVIEW
- Expand his employers list where is wants to work
- Identify the best places to work in all related
Growing fields in greater Boston area: nano-tech, biotech
- Determine people who might provide connections
- Develop your list of references to include known
people in the fields that you are applying or
- send the list in with your resume; this is one
strong advantage an experienced person has
over someone who recently graduated, use it
- don’t list people just because they know you;
list people who know how to provide a strong
reference, are recognizable names who are
respected and will give you a promised good
- Continue learning important skills, doing valuable
things while you are not fully employed
- join and participate in valued organizations
- take a more active role in professional societies
- explore all possible ways to gain new skills
Be a volunteer A-V person in a national meeting short
Volunteer to help out in professional course work in
Attend free training sessions of new hardware in local
Attend governmental environmental groups meetings
IMPROVING INTERVIEW SUGGESTIONS
- Really work in preparation for interviews
- get the job description and be able to relate his
experiences to what the employer seeks
- find out who will interview him and get background
on them; read papers they have given, read
annual report and get insight on company’s
direction and ideals; tell stories that relate
- Listen hard to interviewers descriptions and comments
for key items they seek; relate strongly to them
this is why they want to hire someone… meet their needs
- customize your stories and experience in short stories
Finding a position in mid-career when you have been out
on the street for a while is tough and demoralizing. Hopefully,
DW made the right move in contacting me.
A couple of useful links for STEM professionals
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
for searching federal positions and exploring ideas
Federal Job Digest
(beware of the fee for each item. Many of these things are available free
from professional web-sites in the links.)