Al Sklover offers some sage advice for a person
who received a WARN notice. It is worth learning
what this should indicate you should do next if it
happens to you.
Resumes come in several forms, but for the
most part, they need to have
- key useful information up front,
- be easy to read and
- have key search terms embedded in
Some things people who are in transition
should be aware of are
After your first couple of years in industry,
re-order sections of your resume so Experience
comes before Education
Remember to highlight the benefits your work
has provided to the company– new methods,
patents, savings, customer satisfaction,
completed projects, etc.
Remember the last 5 years of work will be
what many reviewers will be looking at first.
(recent grads) Don’t list all the things done
during your graduate school days. The further
back in time, the fewer bullets.
Working in industry may have given you
the chance to lead teams, organize and
develop FDA documentation protocols,
conduct audits and many other functions
(annual personal reviews, hiring, firing,
Do you list roles and responsibilities?
it depends, but generally, not first, if
you are seeking a technical position.
What do you think the computers will be
scanning for? key terms. These functions
will not be listed. Your position title might
be key so do not forget. Have the title signal
what your responsibilities entailed. Scientist
II tells very little to a resume reviewer,
but Methods Development Analytical Team
Leader might. Project manager says little
but Coating fluids pilot manufacturing
manager offers more specific information.
[this needs to be carefully stated in that
it needs to reflect true roles.]
Working in one industry, how do you
convince reviewers in another industry
to consider your skills and accomplishments?
Remember, clear, understandable and
specific statements about your work are
what reviewers seek.
Consider listing a keywords section at the
end when describing terms different industries
use for the same thing.
Consider using references who are familiar with
your transition. References may have made
transitions like you propose and can show
why it makes sense.
Show how you have been able to pick up
new areas and contribute quickly in your
Place your name on top of each resume
Have enough space on the boarder of each
page. One inch recommended.
Know what each field “expects” to be
included in resumes. [Pharma, biotech
like a 1-page research summary.]
Professional life brings about difficult decisions.
A recent email came from a bright young analytical
chemist who requested me to contact an individual
through LinkedIn and introduce him to this hiring
Long story, short: I don’t personally know the
hiring manager. The person is one step removed
from me, so I went to a direct link to ask their
relationship. The outcome is that I did not follow
the request since the downsides were too obvious
and outweighed the short term personal gains.
This is a long entry highlighting segments of several
In fact, it is possible to increase salary by
hopping from one company to another
early in one’s career. It catches up to
professionals who “job hop” from one
employer to another without major
accomplishments. In technical fileds,
as opposed to MBAs working for
consulting firms, an accomplishment
track record developed with patents,
or publications, or improvements in
processes, products or innovations.
Now, if the desire to move is motivated
by drop in sales, closing down facilities,
or things like this, it may be appropriate.
It feels to me I should provide a
seasoned view of what can happen.
hope this makes sense.
Hi Dan, V TO DAN
Thank you very much for your emails…
I am glad you asked me this [motivation]
question [listed above]. I will try to
answer it, and perhaps you can tell me if I
am thinking in the right direction…
First of all, I would like to tell you what
I am aiming for. These are all ideas in
my mind. I am not sure if they will
work. But it will be a dream come
true if I can achieve these goals. When
I was a Ph. D. student, my research work
involved the use of a lot of instrumentation
… During this process I decided that I
want to channelize my career more into
scientific instrumentation. My goal is to
obtain expertise in one of more such
instruments and one day eventually
start a small business of my own with
new innovative ideas…
The reason why I am trying to get in
touch with C[name withheld] is a
job posting on the P[name withheld]
website which was related to analytical
instrumentation… The current
company that I am working for …
gives me the chance to learn about
industrial … analytical R&D …
I feel everyone looks for better
opportunities and better pay. In
my case I am also keeping an eye
on my goals that I want to achieve
and hence I am trying to move in
Let me take the liberty of switching roles–
In my job search, I (NOT REALLY ME,
BUT YOU!) have found that I am limited
#2: I need to earnestly build trust with
my co-workers and superiors that there
is great communication allowing the
real problems to be surfaced and solved.
Make your boss look good.
#3: I need to be part of the solutions
to the problems. What is prized most
at your company… process improvements,
cost reductions, following FDA rules and
still remaining keenly efficient, be a
‘go to person’ for customers, a product
manager? You will see this in who
receives promotions, salary and
recognition, challenging assignments.
Find a way to make significant
accomplishments for the company
every day. Focus and channel your
energy for success for the business.
#4: Don’t lose sight of other areas of
interest. Find ways of networking to
stay abreast of leading companies,
learning of new advances, and
bringing something back to your
When I was at Polaroid, I read an ad about
the Center for Process Analytical Chemistry
at U. of Washington in Seattle (3000 miles
away!). I thought this could be valuable in
the manufacturing plant that makes film. So,
I contacted them and asked about their
programs. With all their information, I
went to my senior manager and proposed
we explore this and find technologies in sensors,
statistical tools, and flow injection analysis
for at-line or in-line process analysis. He
liked the idea and sold it to his boss’s boss.
A week later I was in Seattle. A quarter
later I was there again as an industrial rep
on their affiliate’s board. The next year, I
was asked to write a review article in
Analytical Chemistry and a chapter in a book.
Several years later, I led a team that developed
NIR methods for the lab, all based on reading
the CPAC ad and acting on it.
Several times in my career this kind of
proactive, creative thinking, combined with
good communications and trusting relation-
ships with bosses led to positive results.
Earning a salary provides for you and your family.
The proverb is (I I don’t know if I should blurt this
our.) you can’t buy happiness. Curing a disease
can make you happy. Helping people learn things
and get satisfying careers can make one happy.
There are many ways you can develop your
innovative skills that can make you happy.
Consider developing a supporting, helpful and
fun network. YCC at ACS should be part of this.
Learn leadership skills, entrepreneurial skills…
V, I believe it is, unless your company is having
a hard time now, too early to look to move on.
Set personal goals and achieve them. You will
be viewed for your next job on how fast you
come up to speed, how much of a difference you
make and how your co-workers like working with
I hope this truly helps you.
When we sign up for our unemployment benefits, we
are expected to log all of our employment search
activities in writing. As Al Sklover points out it is
a record of your good faith efforts to become re-
employed and can include: networking, career
counseling, resume and public relations documents,
interviews and exploring all the print, internet and
recruiter contact postings.
Sklover, always the valuable resource points out
that it can also be valuable for two other situations.
We can certainly see where (a) it helps keep track
of the progress and details of your search, providing
feedback, reminders and tracking. (b) It is also a tool
for litigation if needed in situations where the need to
provide details of a person’s contractual duty to
mitigate their damages from job loss (that generates
So some severance agreements may have wording
specifying that an individual must seek employment
and provide evidence of a continuing job search.
So, be aware of provisions in employment contracts
relating to mitigating damages. In fact, Al Sklover
[”In negotiation of an employment contract, it is
wise to insist upon the
inclusion of a provision:
“Under no circumstances shall
be under a duty to mitigate damages resulting
employer’s default or breach of this
agreement, or any part of it.”]
There is a continuing increase in the number of
tools and sites to go to for career issues. How
many can we use at a time?
My suggestion is to explore one or two deeply
and continually screen others. My searching
and digging continues to find LinkedIn high
on the list of “go to sites.” My digging has uncovered
some suggestions from the Q& A section of
- developing small talk topics/ find people you
will meet and know something about them– their
schools, hobbies, acquaintances.
- unearthing information about turnover, key
employees and prospects of a company–
search for company name and uncheck “current
- sensing snapshots of industries and leading
issues– search people who worked for competitors
and even companies that no longer compete (sometimes
not easy to find…but think of photography and
- Guy Kawasaki’s blog seems to contain a
wealth of other ways to explore in LinkedIn
Another site is 1 .
We all know how much value we can obtain and
share from ACS membership. Within the last
week many of us have received our annual
dues and membership renewal paperwork.
What can you do if you are unemployed? If you
are in this category and seeking full time
employment, a member in good standing can
request a dues waiver by checking off box
#7 on the back of the renewal form, signing
on the line requesting special dues consideration
and mailing it in. The waiver only applies to
local section and national dues, however, not
to journals and division membership.
It is pertinent to note that other categories for
also exist for disabled members (full waiver)
and members with long term obligations as
a family care provider (half dues waiver).
A second year is possible for unemployed
With lay-offs and cutbacks happening to people
it is a little bit of help to know about this
One of the neat things in career consulting is
that we learn more than we teach or train.
Two examples of this are from former consultees
who sent recent emails. One shares examples of
questions, the second asks for suggestions. Please
look at comments for suggestions offered to the
second. We can learn from both.
#1: “Hi Dan,
I apologize for the delayed response…
Yes, I did do a post-interview evaluation of myself
and it pinpointed my strength(s) and weakness(es).
It was very helpful, thank you.
There were about 15 behavioral questions
in the interview which for the most part is
a blue. Most of the questions I expected
and have read in your blog, like:
- What is your biggest accomplishment?
- How do you feel about and deal with
There were a few I had not seen before, namely:
- Describe an instance where you had a
good relationship with a co-worker that
helped you overcome a problem?
- Describe a situation where you used
your power and or persuasion skills to
solve a problem?
- Describe a situation where your ability
to be a good listener allowed you to solve
a problem more efficiently?..SC”
#2: “Hi Dan,
I haven’t written you for a while. How
is everything going? Hope all is well with
I received interview messages. I had one
phone interview with … and one on-site
with … I’ll be having another phone
interview with …
To improve my interview skills, I want
to ask you two questions:
1. how to answer the question “what
salary do you expect? (this is a hard
question for me…)
2. when they ask”do you have any
questions?” what kinds of questions
should I avoid asking? …WW
Last week an interesting call came from an
individual Ph.D. chemist who joined the ranks
of the unemployed recently.
While he was obtaining some initial interviews
(4 in 3 months) he has not been successful
recently and wanted some assistance
attracting more interviews and getting
over the interview hurdle. While he views
ChemJobs, Monster and other job boards,
he wonders whether he should continue
looking at these boards. Most of his interviews
are coming through a recruiter.
It has been some time since we brought up
NAICS and SIC codes. They are
classification methods. It is important
in a job research to identify your chosen
industry’s correct code(s).
The SIC/NAICS codes group together
similar products or services produced
by businesses. It describes the primary
business in which a company operates.
Establishments often operate in more
than one SIC/NAICS category, especially
when they provide a variety of goods
and services. It is these code numbers that
will assist you in finding major
manufacturers in this field, where they are
located and what the trends are in the
A fine intro is given 1. See
Websters Online seems to offer one approach
to discovering companies. The Dept. of
Commerce is another.
The NESACS held an Undergraduate Day
Saturday featuring talks and show-and-tells by
researchers; graduate school
industrial internships and
summer Research Experiences
One of the presentations on future trends (”green
chemistry” will morph into “general chemistry”)
The program was coordinated by a spirited
group of undergraduates at Simmons who looked
at every problem as an opportunity to demonstrate
creativity and leadership.
Two individuals had career discussion/ resume
reviews that resonated. As a presenter/consultant
at these kinds of events one does not really know
the impact on the students. However, this blog
may be a way of ‘connecting the wires to complete
a circuit’ for some. One person (graduating in < 1
year) really did not have a sense for what she
wanted to do next. She came in and viewed
what was on the board–
(SEE COMMENTS FOR DETAIL SUMMARY)
information about how to figure out what you want to
do with your degree
Where people go with a chemistry degree
Information about salaries
A second person came all the way from outside
Cleveland OH to attend. She plans to graduate
in about a year and seeks a summer internship
in formulations She wanted her resume reviewed.
So we spoke about ways, referring to a resume
contents outline, to organizing her public relations
document. Then we spoke about other elements
that will be needed to land a rewarding internship
including: (SEE COMMENTS)
Mark it down! It will not be enough for chemists
to know nomenclature, structures, synthesis,
reactions, analysis, analytical tools and processing.
They will also need to understand toxicology
and mechanisms of harm, as well.
This is a forecast John Warner cast to 60
undergraduates today at Simmons College
as he told them that this is an “exciting time to be
a chemist.” Your skills will be essential as we
redesign products and processes that are
benign to organisms and the environment.
He advised that we are constantly surprised
how we find out about unrelated hazards with
unintented consequences because we have not
incorporated molecules that do not harm into
our processes and products.
Certainly most have heard of the Green Chemistry
Institute, various awards, and new publications.
Still most graduates do not receive basic
instruction in toxicology and mechanisms of
harm. This should be a “critical building block”
in chemical curricula.