In the last two days I have enjoyed conversing
with two people who both mentioned: I have been
just too busy that I have not had time to network.
Now when they are searching for a position, and
many sources tell them that networking is the best
way to find positions, they feel as if they are coming
up short. It will take them longer because of a
“less-well developed network.” That may or may
not be so.
The bottom line: networking is your professional
investment responsibility to yourself, that is, invest
in yourself, it is part of your professional
We all know the need to invest for our future–
to afford desirable living conditions, enjoyments
and retirement. Similar rules of thumb about doing
research and continuous learning apply to in our
financial investment world as they do in our
professional investment world. It is not a “save
and hold” strategy that often succeeds but
experiment, learn and change that does.
I like Peter Fiske’s rule of thumb about the
80-10-10 rule. Peter and I met several years
ago and his message resonated with me and his ideas
“80% of her workweek doing the best work she
could possibly do. 10% of her workweek
focused on her personal and intellectual
development, and the remaining 10% telling
as many people as possible what a good job
she was doing during the 80% of the time
she was actually doing her job” (networking
in a sense)
Manage your time sinks.
Touch things once
Email management (PF)
Electronic networking management
selectively add memberships
smartly manage passwords
contribute value added ideas
to blogs, your own or others
Learn and use exit strategies
(PF = Peter Fiske, source)
Develop your personal goals that provide
richness and enjoyment and value to you
Journal your ideas (PF) and capture valuable things
Establish and share your priorities
Recognize when things are critical, your time
is short. Preparation and start-up time
minimization should be part of your game-plan.
Find creative ways to contribute your talent
and to grow your skills
Act as a mentor
Carpe diem, Experiment.
Erase your ‘pain bodies’ 1 2
You never know what you come across.
A week ago, we talked about good networking
practices 1 and I started following what Deep
Neshar suggested. Got a LinkedIn.com update
and clinked on Andy Gilicinski’s page which
led me to the ACS Patents and Related matters
2 page showing some interesting ideas for those
interested in pursuing careers in patents and
technology development and transfer.
An item of interest was an interview with
Le-Nhung Mcleland, Esq., a practicing Patent
Attorney, about careers
for chemists and
scientists in intellectual property and legal
issues, with special emphasis on Patent
Many of the books at bookstores list all sorts
of interesting things. For instance, consider Gallery
of Best Resumes, by David Noble. How many
distill things down as a chemist would do for
identifying a valuable product?
Resume reviewers often look at style and substance.
Style– chronological (can’t easily hide information),
easy to read (bullets with clear statements
using action verbs)
key information in the “action zone” of the
resume (1st page, middle section)
Substance– most important information the
reviewer needs to see
express strengths and
accomplishments using key words
in the field
include information that will allow your
candidacy to get to the next level–
references, well-written cover letter
Be certain to spell things correctly.
A member seeking a position in a community-oriented,
state university region asked near the end of our
conversation, ‘What should I do first?’
She described what she has done and how she has
broadened the scope of her search to include a
wider range of chemistry related endeavors.
Recent postings confirmed the general economic
situation– there are not many position openings
appearing. Where they are appearing, they
seem to be in small and mid-sized firms and
some agencies of government.
The flow of the conversation discovered
- the extent of her dependence on print media and
use of internet tools.
— checking a few company web-sites and chronicle
of higher education
- the focus of her search on limited academic
but has broadened to local industry
We explored how she is finding out about positions,
suggesting that she
look over USAJobs,
visit and get to know her local Chamber of
Commerce offices, and
understand how she might identify fields of
companies by their SIC codes.
We reviewed the frustration of submitting resumes
on-line and not hearing back from the firm. This
pointed out the urgency of developing a stronger
network which would allow her to provide someone
in the firm to submit the public relations documents
to. She should consider not just a 2-page resume,
but also a List of References and List of Publications
She indicated that she was not sure if she desired
to work full time in a company. So we discussed
conducting informational interviews with both people
working in the firm and people who hold positions
in the same field.
We further talked about the job search process of
- defining what she wanted to do (self-
assessment) before writing the PR documents,
- having her resumes be targeted for specific job
- having the resume and PR documents reviewed
by career consultants before submission
- using her network to identify people to submit
her documents to
- using ‘interviewstream’ to practice doing
interviews before going to interviews;
since resumes need to focus on company needs
and resumes lead to screening and on-site
interviews and interviews lead to job offers.
Near the end of the conversation, one of her
questions was what does she do first? Things are
changing so fast– an academic opening just
appeared and two local positions were announced.
Do things to define aspirations and goals and begin
activities that have both immediate returns and
long-lead times. Helen Scully did a nice job
summarizing various types of situations when we
say to ourselves — now I know what I want to do,
there are so many things, what first. See also 1 2.
LinkedIn.com VP Deep Nishar revealed his
online networking tactics in a “style section”
WSJ 5-14-09 column.1 Your network works
for you and is most valuable when you [think
you] don’t need it [my insertions].
- 15 minutes every day business contacts
responds with appropriate notes and links
- posts personal status 2 or 3 times a month,
sticking to topics of interest to his network
- personal videos and photos, limiting access
to a few
- keeps it professional
- invites people who he knows well and has
common interest in specific areas
- passes on responding to invitations from
“Just anyone else”
We may set out on our careers with
with one thing in mind. When the time
comes, things may be different. Have
early warning systems, continuously
monitor and adjust to changing
conditions and incorrect assumptions.
So you want to be a professor
Source: WSJ 4-23-09 by N. S. Riley
Cut-backs in faculty positions are
happening. Also, interestingly a number
of departments plan to reduce grad
student enrollment. This eye
opening editorial talks about the
academic job shortage, ‘freeway
flyers’ and the state of higher
education, in general.
IRA Contributions in difficult times
Source: WSJ 3-24-09 Ask Encore
Kelly Greene Tax rules are changing.
It is prudent to develop a current
plan for IRA distributions. Do the
first distributions before 65, if your
tax rate is low.
Protecting retirement funds from
Source: WSJ 5-9-09 Kelly Greene 401K
plans have strongest protection from
creditors. Trade off discussions about
where to keep retirement funds offering
pros and cons of rollovers and 401Ks.
Suggestions of how to protect funds
in IRAs are offered.
On the other side of the interview table,
the reviewers’ side, there are some trends
to learn about. R. Flandez surveyed small
companies and presented hiring projections.
Less hiring is expected. [We also note
correspondingly fewer chemistry related
job postings in print media.]
Combined with lay-offs and unemployment,
this implies more fierce competition for fewer
positions. Companies are being flooded with
resumes. M. Laurano has offered that this is
a blessing and a curse….More highly qualified
candidates are available; it is hard to do a
serious review, interview and selection
management without dedicating much more
So, several strategies are emerging to deal with
screening, background checks, and screening interviews
to reduce the number of candidates down to more
manageable candidate numbers.
More use of computer inputted questionnaires
to sort candidate. Job seekers should expect
this and understand this is taken seriously.
If seekers have limitations, what can you do to
make your case–
seek out “employee referral” programs,
read the job descriptions carefully and
respond to only those where you match the “musts”
Also, develop your online presence with links to
accessible demonstrations of your skills, like
list of pubs, patents in .pdf format, gmail docs
that are posted on the net, and organized
- Background checks
First off, receive an agreement from people
to be “good” references for you.
Let them know what you are doing and where
you are applying.
More and more, outside firms are being
contracted which requires you to explore your
own web presence and deal with unusual outcomes.
It is prudent to do this earlier than later. Remember
their role is only to rule out candidates.
Flandez reports direct contact with candidates
as one current strategy.
- Screening Interviews
As mentioned in this blog several times,
virtual video interviews, like Interviewstream,
is being explored. This tool requires serious
organization, coordination and practice.
As we see it, the tighter job market means
following up on
-your LinkedIn.com profile,
-more polished appearances in Interviewstream,
-correct, error-free online presence,
-attention to screening questionnaires and
-good communication with references. .
The phone message said, “Received an email
from a PI responding to my resume submission.
What should I do next? I did not expect to
hear back so soon.”
“I will send you the email. Hopefully, we can
The email contained quite a bit of information
describing a lab manager/ researcher position
musts and wants.
This is a position that is of interest for this
young mother as she nears the end of a post-
We reviewed several essential items and developed
a near term plan.
what are the essential needs– opportunity for
relevance, child care, cost of living, minimum
is there a good match between musts and wants
for the job and her background– very good match,
even mentioned in the response letter from the PI.
develop a statement ( specific example)
supporting each item that there is a good match
for in the job description, describe equivalent
transferable skills statements (specific example)
for other “musts”
Need to learn:
how much does a person in this position make?
what are the benefits?
does the institution assist in green card issues?
Check with colleagues and administrators where she
currently works. BUT DON’T ASK IN THE
PHONE INTERVIEW OR ON-SITE INTERVIEW.
BE PREPARED TO RESPOND IF ASKED THE
does anyone have connections at the institution
in the organization where she currently works?
(follow up with a LinkedIn.com survey.)
do a detailed literature review before the return
call to develop common interests and show where
you have used or see the importance of published
work. Have this information available for mention
in the telephone interview.
Create an action plan and timeframe
The next steps include a (1)screening interview, (2)
an on-site interview, (3)a job offer and (4)a spousal,
family living arrangement visit. (So you can
anticipate what will be expected from you.)
What questions should be asked that will be helpful
for deciding whether this position is for her and her
- Ask what the next steps are?
- Ask what their time frame is?
- Ask what would be expected from the successful
candidate to do well in the job?
DISPLAY ENTHUSIASM AND INTEREST
- Although they should not be asked in the screening
interview, know what criteria are critical for you and
your family and the questions you need good answers
for– housing, child-care, health care, spousal
relocation, relocation assistance, etc.
Then, plan for the next interaction. If you can gather
all the information above or have it already, send
an email expressing interest and asking when of a
series of days that are good for you, would the PI
be able to speak with you on the phone. Provide
a number where you will have good contact and
will not be bothered or interrupted by others.
The purpose of a resume is to represent your skills
and interests with the object of attracting attention
and obtaining interviews. Different positions and
openings have different matches for resume content
and resume structure. (If you are getting interviews,
negative comments may not mean much.)
It is possible to get overwhelmed with feedback
from different people who offer it. Each person
you ask will likely provide different preferences
some can be constructive, some can be “less on
Louise Fletcher thoughtfully suggests keeping
your resume review requests targeted and specific
to individuals who know you and your work well.
Kim Isaacs offers that there is value in feedback
positive or negative but it requires a disciplined
1 face the criticism, does it identify credentials
that job postings specify showing how you meet
or exceed the qualifications
2 don’t be hard on yourself, learn from a
different perspective and explore satisfying
ways to meet the challenges.
.3 thank the reviewer, tell her that the new
perspective for the roles she had in mind was
something you had not considered. In those
applications you will deal with them with
inclusions of specific accomplishments or cite
specific methods in a keywords or methods
A few other items are worth mentioning:
- reviewing for typos and clarity always has
value [I know one reviewer who guarantees
she can find at least one issue on every resume.]
- recruiters who specialize in the field in
which you wish to work will know the key
terms and understand what hiring managers
seek for different positions.
- have mentors who you can ask for ideas on
how to include or modify entries to meet
the criticisms for submissions to certain positions.
As the economy improves, people are beginning
to get interviews. The interviews are leading to
some offers and a quickening pace of starting
Some ACS workshops have reviewed five topics related
to developing and working on when starting out on a
new position. They involve learning about company
culture, improving communication skills, adopting
noteworthy day-to-day working practices,
engaging in professional development and learning
from performance reviews. Erin Burt wrote a nice piece
1. contrasting the need to leave the culture of
procrastination and cramming at the last minute and
be proactive and
2. underscoring some strategic long-term career
steps for which one does not get immediate rewards
(mentoring, networking, being a team player, etc.).
The NSYCC sponsored Career Fair brought up
two topics that were covered and talked about
in some detail. In the very challenging job market
that looks to last for the foreseeable future,
discriminating Internet use and the art of
conversations will play more pivotal roles as
more positions will be “hidden.”
Suggestions for wiser Internet use:
- practice all phases with career consultants
- determining what you wish to do and where
- constructing and improving your PR docs
- practicing your interviewing skills with
interviewstream (available through ACS
- Information on businesses, industries and
trends: benefits, contracts, products,
- Social networking - LinkedIn.com;
- Technical competencies - assess what
companies seek and match your skill set.
- Apply online- create focused resumes
based on available job descriptions using
appropriate files that you make
- Examine competitor companies web-
sites for information on positions
- Up-to-date communication with your
Conversations are the heart of networking.
We practiced and offered tips and tricks
concerning how to open and things to do
to break the ice with the idea of getting
to know people. Special attention was
- listening intently (develop habits to
remember names and common ground)
- find ways to “elevate” your conversation
- enter into a conversation with the idea
of capturing “how nice it was…”
- develop a win-win outlook for each
- set, meet and exceed expectations
It can be hard to say enough about the
skill of delivering good presentations. After
all, it is the key way to explore a candidate’s
technical and communications skills.
Why is it that we see little about this topic
in most workshops? One annual program
has it as an item each year and Dr. S.
Sobolov always does a masterful job in
displaying how it can be done and how
to achieve a competency level.
She stresses both audience analysis and
continuous audience feedback when giving
talks. Once the size, expertise level and
length of time are factored in, the central
question or topic(s) can be developed and
offered to the audience.
Using high quality visuals (no handwritten,
error-free; think twice about multimedia),
whether active writing or power points,
use details to aid in understanding the findings
and conclusions reached.
Develop a sequence that allows you to
arrive at or support the central ideas you
wish audience members to leave with.
Spend sufficient time providing an appreciation
for all the people who supported your work
and especially the audience for their attention.
Practice the experience of presenting with
the idea of being audience centered rather than
material centered. Recognize the need to adjust
how and what you do depending on how the
audience in that situation is responding and
It has been said here before 1 2 3
about being passionate, engaging and enthusiastic
about body language messages and
about voice maintenance
are other pointers to include in being someone
that people want to listen to.