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

October 2008
« Sep   Nov »
Interviewing. Tough times
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 7:50 am

How long the tighter economy lasts, no one knows.

Recently heard about a book “Who: the ‘A Method’
for hiring
” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street that
talks about hiring the right person for the job who
can fit into the culture.  Four things are highlighted
from the employers perspective that might help
job seekers:

  Best sources of candidates
  Problems to be alert to in screening interviews
  What differences to look for in the best candidates
  What to learn from candidates’ references

These are covered in the four comments.  Hope this
offers useful insights to job seekers of what recruiters
and interviewers are thinking.

Mid-career. How to influence getting noticed
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:47 am

Let me tell you about an interesting case came
to my attention recently.

A person was “let go,” not because of his actions or
lack of effort or skills applied to business results,
but based on a pure business decision.

A resume can’t reveal this, or at least not that
has come to my attention.

A second factor is that the ‘person’ is a seasoned
veteran with double digit years experience in one
company and has been searching for a while.

He called and requested a reference, having given
my name (previously arranged).

Little did I know that he had done several smart
things in the process– researched the company
well, networked into the company, sent his resume
to a person with who he was acquainted, and
other things in preparation for a screening telephone

Action steps:
  secure excellent people who can reliably provide
superb references of you and your work.
  network like crazy.  Look at 1 listing
several strategies
  create a strong set of submission documents
and web “presence”.  Look at 2 for some

The reference should have your submitted
public relations documents and an idea why
you are well suited for the position.

Remember when you are out there looking
with or out of a job, be prepared with items
ready for your next steps.

comments (0)
Interview Question. Managing risk
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 9:44 am

Both in times like these, with slow-downs,
reductions-in-force, hiring freezes, and the
like, and in some career circumstances we
face risk-benefit trade-offs for actions or
decisions we make,

These are possible scenarios that one could
use to respond to interview questions inquiring
about how do you manage risk or how do you
deal with situations– are you risk averse?

Thus, in one career situation a person was
faced with the offer of being the technology
transfer point person developing an improved
product and bringing it into full production.
The sector manager asked him to come into
his office and asked him if he would accept.

Looking back on the situation, it was a prime
position to move up in corporation management
with high visibility, exposure to new areas and
technologies, and exciting challenges.  On the
other hand, this would pose a big change in
location (6 miles from home to 60 miles),
longer work hours (even weekend meetings
and travel), and, while not clear at early stages,
greater uncertainty where his next position would

This was a situation that required a decision
and senior people used it to assess decision
making ability and risk tolerance.

An interesting approach to managing risk is offered
by Mind Tools.  Mind tools provides a framework
and protocol that gives a logical flow to

Many times it is not easy to provide an answer
to these kinds of decisions.  They are not straightforward
and the response is expected immediately.  Just
like in an interview.  So, having a framework
for thinking about these situations can be helpful.

The decision offered at the moment was not to
accept the technology development position.
The individual responded to the director that he
wanted to finish implementing several specific
improvement projects in his current assignment
before moving on.  (Note:  work related item
benefiting the business.)

In hindsight, if I had used the Mind Tools format,
I could have delivered a stronger strategic
case for not accepting the position and kept
the door open for other similar assignments.

The way it was received was that I was not open to
such positions. 

It would have been entirely appropriate for me
to have checked in with a mentor to help
understand the nature of the question and
how my actions would be interpreted. 

comments (0)
Nonverbal communications. Honest Signals
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 3:04 pm

An “executive briefing” caught my attention
this week of Prof. Sandy Pentland speaking
about nonverbals.  Although I am a
believer and an advocate of the importance
of nonverbals, the interview provides some
follow-up leads, click on:

 - “honest signals
 - other Sandy Pentland videos

Things to Note: 
  timing of conversation responses,

  mirror neuron-triggered gesturing (mimicry),
   fluency (consistency in tone or motion)

are important.

Emphasis:  importance of face-to-face
nonverbal interactions in human persuasion
and information believability.

comments (0)
Career Focussing. Guarneri podcast
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 1:06 pm

Susan Guarneri did a terrific podcast that has
good insights for job seekers.

She talks about four cornerstones in assessing
where you should work.
  - know your ‘burn-out’ skills (you can do but
drain you); know your ‘motivated’ skills (you
love to do and lift you up.)
  - know your passion areas
  - know your personality tendencies:  
Myers-Briggs, DISC assessment that  affect:
       how you process and deal with information
       for women, “lipstick test“  how you wear
your tube down

  - evaluate and understand your values and skills
       want out of life
       what kind of person are you
       what are you willing to do

revealed in:
         online profiles
         public relations documents


1 comment
Watch-outs. 2. Insurance sign-up, IRA provisions, SS
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Technicians, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 2:39 pm

It is that time of year when most companies ask
you to sign up for your insurance preferences for
2009.  The default is to continue 2008 into 2009.

A WSJ article proposes to consider looking a
little deeper. 

Plans are changing at many employers, including
  -    higher co-pays
  -    shifts from co-pays to % of total cost
  -    raising the max employees are responsible for
  -    ‘tweaks’ to prescription benefits

Suggestions are offered.

Check some things out with financial advisers.
It happens that the bank bail-out package has some
features that are not well known.  WSJ reports
that a provision of the Pension Protection Act
of 2006 has been extended such that if you are
intending to donate money and you have to
extract money from your IRA, you don’t have
to report up to $10,000 donation.

Why is this important?  It can affect your
Medicare Part B premiums, taxability
of social security benefits and eligibility
to convert traditional to Roth IRAs.

If you don’t need to know this now, you
may in the future.  File it away.

Ok, we find we might need to work longer
because of the economy.  What if we need
to wait beyond 65?  SS does not send
annual estimates after 65.  Other problems
can happen (See ask Encore).

The article nicely offers short term
estimates.  Hard data will take longer.

comments (0)
Being a Consultant. Networking, Resumes
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 8:10 pm

These are challenging economic times for all.  In
the best of places there are slow-downs of projects;
the places that are ‘on the ropes’ will not last or
will cut back severely to limited operations.
In the middle are places that are most uncertain.
There will be lots of meetings, lots of wishful
optimistic statements (they don’t want their best
people leaving), and the assignment of no
promotions, hiring freezes, combining jobs
to the economic conditions.

Those who are consultants suffer all of these
all at once.  So for them there is a higher
level need for networks and being able to
catch information from insider blogs.

Information, valuable insight into what is happening
inside a company, is not enough, once a contract
is negotiated have proper legal counsel to protect
your position. 

Curiously, it should be standard that professionals’
networks include top flight legal representatives.
Rarely does one obtain solid personalized legal
counsel from a blog or a generalized talk.

When we are talking about members of one’s
network have your major competitors in
your network.  First, you can learn the most
from your competitors.  It is not unusual to
share what did not work and what worked
in situations.  Second, referrals, job leads
and not-available-contracts (situations where
you may want to take a vacation and not
available for work) can come from your
competitors.  Third, while trust is important
it is not inconceivable that competitors will
share their negotiated compensation
arrangements (how much they are paid for
specified contracts, how long it takes and.
who they successfully and unsuccessfully
work with).  Don’t forget to share with
you competitor the other or new things
you can do.

There is one area that consultants, especially
experienced ones, have a unique perspective.
What constitutes their public relations
documents?  Resume, portfolio of projects,
web-page, on-line web presence or article
availability are some representations. 
Having a presence in LinkedIn and the ACS
will also be essential.  Career Hub also has
some discussion.

The down times in an economic slowdown
might be a good time to network and update
those PR docs.

comments (0)
Careers in Chemistry. Future Trends. 11. Material science and Metamaterials
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:34 pm

Below the surface work, still years away from
breaking ground  is innovation revealed in some “ahead of
their times” publications and patent literature.  Examples
are higher capacity lithium anode materials, invisible
materials, higher capacity solar electric generators.

Look at several striking areas in which chemistry
is playing a role in Technology Review.

comments (0)
Goal-setting. The 8th Habit-Covey
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 10:01 am

Where in the order of habits, does the 8th
habit come?  I haven’t figured this out.
Franklin Covey:  “The 8th Habit…”  The Free
press, 2004

8:  Find your voice and assist others in their

Throughout the book are observations that
are restated into truisms.  In a sense Covey
embeds the 8th habit into the previous 7,
which he restates as:
 - make and keep promises
 - involve people in the problem
 - work out the solution together

There are several streams Covey’s book contains
that attracted me.  One involves the creation of
an integrated personal/relational/career planning
structure.  Based on the premise that structure
yields freedom to create and make choices, he
recommends developing daily and weekly plans
where one identifies roles set to achieve goals
consistent with your values and principles.

He brings out the importance of the planning
structure by incorporating helpful observations:
…’values are like fingerprints.  No one’s are
the same, but you leave them over everything
you do.’..
…’if you only do daily planning, outside of your
goals, values and [longer term] goals, you will only
fight fires and deal with short term crises (crisis
management) where urgency dominates action…’

Some may argue one may intuit the 8th habit by
doing the previous 7 (I think I read that somewhere)
however, consider picking up the book for it
contains some practical insights for people
at various stages of their career.

comments (0)
Resume Alerts for Chemical Fields
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Recruiters, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 12:53 pm

Every few months it is our practice to
bring up resumes.

Two links to view containing helpful
hints, concerns and discussion are 1  and 2 .

As we all recognize, technical skills alone will not
be enough to get the job.  However, it can
get you “in the door” and the first glimpse
revealing your technical skills is your resume.

1.  Please consider
the musts and wants of
the position for which
you are applying, .  Using
terms used in the job description and field, relate
how you specifically match in brief statements.
(Objective, Highlights, accomplishment statements
in Experience section.  Thus early in your resume!)

2.  Be brief and focus your information.  All too
often, resumes contain inconsequential information
that has little relevance for the reviewer.  It is
critical to be accurate but not overly precise (TMI:
[too much information] months included in dates,
multiple phone numbers, bolding or
underlining your name in publications,

3.  Reveal the critical skills you have via accomplishment
statements.  There is also a place in the Affiliations and
Honors and Awards to point out Leadership skills
and accomplishments working on teams.

4.  Except for those with managerial experience,
it is less valuable to cite areas of responsibility.

For ACS members, consider first using the
career consultants program to help create and
review your resume, before considering a
recruiter.  Recruiters can often be helpful,
but they don’t specifically work for you, they
work for the client company.

1 comment
Interviewing Preparation Planning and Pre-work
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 8:39 pm

Three recent consultees’ questions
forms the motivation of this entry.  One came
from Michigan, by way of California, a
second hailed from Tennessee, and the
third resides in Louisiana.

A brief run-down on the situations: 
one received a low salary offer from a
company and wanted help in determining
whether to accept.  The person questioned
the need for interview practice.

one had two interviews in two locations with
the same company and sought preparation

one is recently married and has an out-of-state
interview.  The spouse has a choice position
in-state.  This person sought suggestions on
the two-body problem.  In addition, this person
wanted to talk about what career aims to have
and how does one form them.

Each of these at an earlier point in this blog
would have separate entries.  They are
inter-related and previous entries can
relate to issues that need to be addressed.

There is no doubt as professionals in a very
competitive environment, a job interview is
comparable to competitive sports and
presidential debates.  In all cases,
professionals prepare, practice,
consider alternatives and devise strategies
to deliver their message.

Some preparation tips can also be found. 1 2

For technical professions, when we are asked
to give a technical talk, it is the primary way we
will be evaluated for our technical skills.  One
should ask about equipment availability, number
in your audience and who they are.  Then,
consider using it to show that you have the skills
that match the job description.

Practice, practice, practice.

Then, create a shortened version of the talk,
lasting no more than 5 minutes.  You will
occasionally be asked to do this.  Find a way
to use a visual aid that can be written on a
board or paper when delivering the
shortened version.  See also 3 .

See 4 .

See 5 .

See 6 .

See 7 .

1 comment
Watch-outs. 1. Laptops, Flight cancellations, IRAs
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:58 pm

Another segment listed here under the category
or “Watch-outs” will provide ideas and suggestions
that have relevance from a variety of sources.
(I will endeavor to cite each source.)

This entry gives three.
1.  Sending email from your laptop using WI-FI
and your normal email account.

2.  Flight cancellation action steps for passengers.

3.  IRA considerations in a market downturn.

1.  EMAIL 
Source:  WSJ  8-21,2008, p. D5;  “Gadgets”
Laptop is able to receive email away from home
but is unable to send email, like you would normally
be able to do with DSL or cable modem at home.

Problem likely to be:  WI-FI provider is blocking
outgoing email server  (SMTP server)on system.

Possible solutions:
 - use a web-based (gmail, yahoo, etc.) account
 - ask hotel of airport what SMTP server it does
allow and enter it into your email settings
 - use a data card from a cellphone carrier

Source:  Baton Rouge Advocate 9-21-08, p. 5F
“Flight cancellations need not keep you grounded”
by Samantha Bomkamp
Doesn’t it happen at the wrong time!  You
find that your flight is cancelled.  Airlines have
valid reasons, weather and safety being near the
top of the list. 

Possible actions:
a.  sign up for airline alerts to your cellphone or
b.  if flight is cancelled for airline reason. look at a
list of flights around your time of departure.  Know
that information when you speak to agent.  Most
airlines will rebook you on a flight within 4 hours
of your original flight.  If they can’t, hotel and meal
vouchers are negotiable.
c.  look at other airlines departures.  They can
re-book you on another airline.

3.  IRA moves to consider
Source: WSJ 5-27-8, 2008, p. B2
“Easing the pain when IRA assets take a
severe dip,” by Kelly Greene
Have your assets in your IRA decreased, like
mine?  Well, if you have converted a traditional
to a Roth IRA and those assets have declined,
you could recharacterize the Roth as a traditional.
This would erase taxes you paid on the value
that does not exist.
Deadline for recharacterization of last year’s
conversions is 10-15-08.

comments (0)