On Friday afternoon, NSYCC is hosting its annual
Chemistry Career Fair. Helpful links and references
for attendees and others interested appear below:
Finding jobs Exploring yourself
Planning in advance
LinkedIn 1 2 3
Ron McGowan book
Public relation documents resume transitions
cover letter alert
Importing documents into websites
cover letter tips and tricks
Interviewing virtual video interviewing set-up
I really “dig” the NYTimes interview of
Richard Anderson (Delta Airlines) exploring what
he looks for when interviewing people– the questions
he asks and the skills he says mean a lot in top
- Writing skills
- 21st century time management know-how
1)Touch paper once
2)Do your homework (prepare)
3)Return calls promptly
4)Set and keep to a schedule (my words, as much as
Just finished perusing Stephen Gould’s book
“Full House” on the topic– observing the
world as variation.
This blog entry is offered in the context of ways
of estimating the future and looking for where
careers are moving for chemistry and chemistry
(See previous comment on predicting business
He shares that most things do not change in strictly
logical ladder-like [or linear growth] fashion in
a narrow view.
He opines that one needs to view the entire system.
Cultural biases tend to self fulfill themselves into
There is a tendency to peg ideas on over-used
central tendency descriptors, and overlook both
non-normal distributions and better central tendency
representations. These are important for us to see
Gould observes: Many phenomena are either right or
left skewed, if they can be simplified, or part a more
complicated series of related distributions. (In a sense
this is stating the Boatright, et.al. observations on
business in statistical terms.)
Future changes in Science and technology is one of
three cultural elements he comments about. He starts
‘Any history of an entity (a group, an institution and
evolutionary lineage) must be tracked by changes
in the variation of all components and not falsely
epitomized as a single item (mean, typical value, etc.)
moving along a linear pathway.
There is not a drive to the right-tail distribution of
human performance (upper-limits). History invokes
the story of life as a movement away from the left
wall of minimal complexity.’
Cultural change (science, fine arts, performing arts)
on the other hand receives a powerful boost
from amalgamation and merging the best features of
different traditions. Further, learning and education
advance younger generations even further.
An optimistic note is that science as a discipline is so
far from the ‘right wall [in knowledge and merging
disciplines]’ there is so much more to understand and
Can’t help but compliment some folks who have not
thrown in the proverbial towel, still manage their
affairs professionally, continue to develop useful
network elements, and remain focused on their targets
yet are open to newer ideas.
One friend indicated that they applied for ACS
waiver of 2009 dues and received a notice. The
response was a late notice. Not giving in, this person
found someone in LinkedIn.com and a contact
person to help resolve the issues. Although still
registered as a student and membership renewal
is May, this member has been assured to be
approved. Good effort and worth it. Keep on
using member services.
Another friend mentioning some language and
cultural difficulties opening up and being
pleasantly persistent. This person was encouraged
to pick up new insights by reading Larry King’s
book, “How to talk to anyone, anytime,
anywhere. The secrets of good communication.“
Picture your career in the 21st century
needing current tools, solid advice on
what you can do given current long-term
investment planning advice and helpful
insight into your mature years.
Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn.com) interview
Source: LinkedIn Blog April, ‘09
How does the innovator of LinkedIn
see it now? How does he use it and
suggest to others how to use it?
See a terrific video interview by
Charlie Rose, embedded in this blog
IRA Contributions in difficult times
Source: WSJ April 17, ‘09 K Greene
Q&A about a situation that may be
shades of the same- in retirement,
mature working years, part time work
and unemployment. It is the combined
earnings of a couple which counts for
determining the maximum IRA contribution.
Boston College Center for Retirement
Source: WSJ April 17, ‘09 staff
Insight into policy, practical and
strategy issues. An item that caught
my eye was related to when and how
to begin taking social security benefits.
Depending upon situations, it is possible
to withdraw and pay back benefits that
is an investment. Worth looking into.
Dice.com career site provided an interesting and
helpful resource of the process of screening
resumes and interviews
- list specifically what you resume should specify
wish the successful candidate and highlight the MUSTS
to be able to do
- KEYWORDS are tactically List clearly how
important recently and
specifically in the
what you accomplished
or solved using desired
keywords in the job
- formal questionnaires are ten questions or less
emerging in application tracking help rank your
system application. Leverage
key technologies and
skills in questions.
- ensure that each candidate has focus on on-the-job
the required capabilities and skill usage and job
genuinely wants to do this work specific
what has been
With what kind of resources and team? Over what
kind of timline? These are questions that will really
help you predict on-the-job success and performance.
- see how each candidate would be prepared to deal
work through a simplified problem with simplified real
- find people who honestly are what did you do in
looking for this kind of job for previous roles:
this company and industry what did you dislike
or avoid in jobs;
why do you wish
to work here..
- do the interview “right” Expect to start
on time; ask fair
allow enough time
to pose questions
RE: John Vlasteika
Surfing, listening and observing. It seems like people
are experiencing more uncertainty in their positions
and those who are successful in their projects are not
being rewarded as in the past.
Anxiety and preparing for worst case scenarios, if
not this week, then perhaps in a couple of months,
is encouraging many to adapet to continuous
networking. It is not just the urgent tactic of
our unemployed colleagues. How do you do it
when fewer people can attend ACS meetings?
One way is doing more on line.
The time commitment is considerable to work
on our networks online. Laura Holson’s article
offers some tips. (Please pass on yours!)
- create an electronic file (.pdf) and attach it to
and email you send to yourself to be ready
- create a tailored message containing a
research summary or project list or
management philosophy on a personal
Google site (Sites.Google.com), personal
web-page or blog, Add a link to your
signature line might do the trick for
- do be careful about posting information without
permission if it relates to limited access information
or there is a confidential agreement of any kind.
- be aware of other references to our names
which might show up in a search. Google yourself.
Is some sort of win-win outcome possible?
An articulate article revealing many aspects of the problem
provided case histories and elements of the current
high unemployment problem. Several items struck me:
- many of the terrific innovators have immigrated
to the US and developed whole new industries
Andrew Grove Intel, Jerry Yang Yahoo, Vinod
Khostla and Andreas von Bectholsheim Sun,
Sergei Brin Google, just to name a few.
- It is not unusual for talented people to have
either separate family lives, or be located in
Canada with occasional mutual visits to the US
- Stuart Anderson in a WSJ letter to the editor
(4-14-09) points out that we are endangering
America’s innovation leadership by restrictive
immigration. Nonetheless, it is hard to debate
the facts of double digit unemployment in many
places. Is it one for one?
If you are consistently getting interviews, but not
receiving job offers, three things could be reviewed.
Your technical presentation, if you gave one:
Was it geared to the audience? Did you do an
Did it point out your competences and match of
skills to the needs of the job?
Did you cover the material on high quality graphics
within the time limit?
Your fit; how your personality and style match the
personality of the boss and workgroup. (small talk)
Your references; Lubin authored a solid piece on
references in the hiring process. She cited:
1 carefully cultivate your endorsers
prepare them for tough questions– “what is
wrong with this candidate?”
2 make sure your references care for you
3 keep an up to date list of references geared to
the positions you seek
4 prepare the references for the hiring managers
- send the resume you used for application
- provide reminders of your joint work history,
memorable achievements and relevance to the job
- negative queries, what have you and
are you doing — training, new methods, etc.
Contact your references after they have spoken for
you. Use creative ways to stay in touch.
IDEA: Send a nice “thanksgiving day card”. These
are not common and will send a purposeful message.
IDEA: Set up a Google alert for them. When
something happens for them, congratulate them.
Create a LIST OF REFERENCES page for each
submission. This is likely to be different for different
positions. Do not use– References are available on
Don’t offer outdated for big names who barely know
Consider the reference. Keep them informed. If
you do not accept an offer, let them know why.
Recently, a colleague of mine shared a complicated
job situation in which he was involved. His
supervisor has changed five times within the last
year and project pressure has increased beyond the
breaking point. The last two supervisors were
remotely connected. One was located 400 miles away
(he met him twice before he left). The most recent
is located 3000 miles away (and he has never
He has gone through a highly stressful three week
period with the latest supervisor, where she emailed
him problems daily and set unrealistic time lines and
berated him for not meeting them. No understanding
of the tasks and issues associated with them was
permitted. He went to HR and asked for help, then
a transfer. Both were rejected. So, he expressed
displeasure and voiced his willingness to leave, as he
was personally stressed by the communications
So he contacted me for suggestions.
This is quite unfortunate, but happening more
frequently with businesses stressed and not pleased
We developed and drafted a resignation letter
using many suggestions from Sklover. Three highlights–
1 state that it is a “forced resignation due to health
reasons”, not voluntary
2 state that the last working day is one of the first
days of the following month (for insurance coverage)
3 send it by email and make it very respectful.
It is possible to negotiate a severance Sklover outlines
some helpful steps. He also provides
a resignation checklist
steps to apply for unemployment insurance 2
other precautions for leaving a firm
Continuing the discussion of 21st century chemistry
professional careers this entry mentions insights
from two books.
The first “How to find work in the 21st century” by
Ron McGowan covers a lot of good ground in a
very readable manner. The author convinced me
to continue reading by revealing that jobs in the
present economy are different and not advertised.
The traditional statistics do not describe the situations
of under-employment, outsourcing, project oriented
roles, and options in searching the “hidden job
market.” [He cites 80% of positions are hidden.]
He notes the following trends and suggests helpful
method to define yourself and what to do.
- temporary-to-permanent or contingent positions
- increased hiring by smaller companies with less
security, wearing “many hats’ where you may have
a bigger impact
- bigger need to continuously network to both
keep abreast of industries, career paths and what
you can do to help your company and yourself.
- outsourcing of “non-core” functions
- increasing number of non-challenging roles people
are asked to assume for which they are
Knowledge of self [I like this section, pp 30-38.]
In a checklist format, he assists the reader in
- personal characteristics (strengths, talents),
- work values (best environment, satisfying aspects)
- career characteristics (work style, career action
plans, written development plan)
Finding positions and marketing yourself
- be a “news hound”. Stay on top of trends; attend
seminars, network and participate in organizations
- look for real benefits in less permanent career
path: control of your own destiny, most jobs are
not advertised widely, taxes, “trying before
- need to develop higher level marketing skills
for self promotion. Communication is ever more
important. Seek valued mentors who both keep
you focused and broaden your search field.
Also included are a good summary of cover
letter concepts and “business based resumes.”
The focus is what they need, not what you
The second book “Career Warfare” by
David D”Alessandro and Michelle Owens
deals with the technical and business world
offering ideas on business savvy.
While this may feel like going to the ‘dark
side’ for scientists and engineers, ‘hard work
and accomplishments’ will get chemists just
so far, your personal reputation is what will
separate you from the crowd.
- offer something that the organization is
- provide something of value to higher ups
- Demonstrated business recognized qualities
earn money for the organization
tell the truth
make people want to work for and with you.
This is another in a series of entries on post
doctoral studies as a step in careers in
Two notes of interest are brought out for your
attention. The first is a link to a broad discussion
about the pros and cons of doing a post-doc
as a step before obtaining an industrial position.
It complements previous discussions in this blog
about careers in pharma 1 2 , non-profits,
industrial R&D and academic careers.
The second note is part of a response to a
member who is nearing the end of a post-doc
at a Research 1 university and wishes to go
into an academic career. She has not found
success yet and has discovered her previous
teaching experience at a non-US institution does
not translate to experience at a US institution.
Her work has explored some new areas of
biotech but not produced many publications till
this point. Since she is keenly focused on an
academic career, her next option is to consider
academic post-docs which focuses on the many
elements of teaching chemistry. My suggestion
“There are teaching post-docs that will enable you
to separate you from others looking for academic
positions. They can be found at Boston University,
Trinity University (San Antonio), University
of Georgia, University of New Hampshire and
Tufts University. Look at each one to learn what
their expectations are for teaching, course
development, educational research, etc.”
Responses in a LinkedIn forum to a query about the
causes of the current status of the chemical
business in the US where, as one respondent put it,
there is a decline in some of the big names in
American business, include:
- OFF-SHORING: shift in the business model to
focus on cost of operations which does not include
the social costs of unemployment and dislocation.
The low “cost of operations” countries
dissolves the America’’s manufacturing
demotivates science and engineering professionals
and students from innovating and producing valued
tips the scale of trade making the service economy
a debtor economy.
- CHEMICAL FEEDSTOCKS continuing use of
suboptimal designs which floods pollutants into
unregulated areas. This points out the uneven
regulatory control of processes and the lack of
strategic R&D to evolve and invent processes
with less waste. Manufacturing goes to locations
where the feedstocks are closer and no one is
looking. Price jumps, due to supply and demand
and the global slowdown, confuse this even
Comments suggest that revitalization can happen
with major shifts in
-strategic R&D (longer term focus),
-practical fact based regulation of production
and disposal (instead of politicized regulation) and
-strategic management of human capital as an asset
(instead of a cost to be disposed).
Ever consider a career in chemical or
technology patents? At the last couple
of national meetings a workshop on
Patents and Proprietary information
has been offered.
As we see more situations there are
several job titles that are involved in
this field in companies and law firms.
Two of the more significant roles are
patent agents and patent attorneys.
While patent attorneys have responsibilities
for all the following activities, patent
agents perform only the first four”
- assess concepts
- write patents
- File patent applications
- prosecute patent applications
—ONLY PATENT ATTORNEYS
- conduct or defend infringement cases
- prosecute or defend law suits
Tools to seek patents:
- patent lens
- LEXIS NEXIS
- google patents
- spark IP
patent and literature search tools.
While most people who decide on a career in
academics understand that three major elements
are factors for achieving tenure, namely, service,
teaching and research in chemistry or chemical
science and teaching.
This entry highlights several topics discussed in
a workshop held both in programs for Preparation
for Life After Graduate School and at national
meetings…First Year on the Job- Academic
Focusing on principally undergraduate
institutions PUIs and research intensive R1
programs, although nearly half of chemical
education occurs at other schools, we provide
insight into the gap between what most people
who enter the field know and what you should
know to succeed.
“Research notebook” - begin a detailed new
ideas and concepts book upon which one
develops her(is) research proposals and concepts.
What is your research philosophy? discovery,
exploration, observation, analysis, collaboration,
independence. Who should be involved and
how should they be aligned?
Plan to get something done quickly. One does this
by working in the lab and inviting visitors into
the lab. Consider collaboration to leverage
your skills and develop future students.
Network and get known in the field.
attend significant meetings (Gordon conferences)
give seminars, mail reprints, organize symposia,
keep an updated website, even write or
co-author a book with an experienced person.
Know the literature.
- people locations, applications, theory,
- competitors and ethical concerns
Remember names, faces and history.
Know many sources of funding.
Teach a senior level course and or first
year grad school course.
Start with well-defined projects that can
be done by first year students.
Seek out people who can discuss ideas
and review proposal draft ideas.
RESEARCH - PUI
Research and publications are important.
the focus is on training students.
Remember that undergraduates cannot
work in the lab alone.
There is a low chance for post-docs.
Networking is critical to permit
“mining for gaps”, seeking out pverlaps
and avoid work areas with specialized equipment,
areas with low probability of success or
Being able to teach more than one principle
area and take it seriously.
Be aware of and proficient in novel
Be involved in outreach, interdisciplinary
Study effective teachers and become
skilled with technology.
TEACHING - PUI
Develop organizational skills– people,
communication to multiple audiences and
become effective and efficient.
You will have a large effect on students.
The variations in preparation and motivation
will be greater than you expect.
Finally, Academia runs on a set of
- Learn by observing and listening
- Work within the system
- Trust but verify
- be aware of institutional cultures
Rule of thumb: “Do unto others, as you
wish done unto you…”
Be a problem solver and someone who
comes up with new solutions.
Remember some answers are often concealed
in the question.