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

August 2009
« Jul   Sep »
Mentoring 8. Workshop questions
Filed under: Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 8:20 am

“Head-turning” surprises happened in the
workshops, some one-on-ones
and subsequent
emails.  The surprises
related to mentoring.  It was
as if it were
a new term, or something hard to do, or

something not common in chemically
related careers.  Some questions came up,

 - Who should I choose for a mentor?

 - How do I ask a person to be a mentor?

 - What do mentors and proteges say to
one another?

 - What qualities should a good mentor have?

Some rules of thumb for mentoring:

 - everyone needs mentors

 - a mentor is anyone from whom you can learn

 - effective mentors can be quite different from their
proteges (note the shift from mentee, a term that I
shifting from) and can be chosen by their

Characteristics of mentors include:
1. have time, interest and energy to commit
2. have a learning attitude, effective perspective and
strong communication skills
3. want to commit
4. can synchronize with your time frame and schedule
5. offer harmonious two way communication with fun
so that you look forward to working together

Mentoring is a joint experience that does not require
line management involvement or even knowledge. 
It can
be from outside perspectives.  Both successes
failures contribute to mentoring discussion and

Some quotes related to mentoring are in the comments.

1 comment
08/27/09 Resource for Interview background
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 9:39 am

Look at a couple of recent posts offering
how to
use to obtain an
and search for positions .

comments (0)
Interviewing. From the other side of the table
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 9:33 am

Time is on my side.

Rather than throwing out mail that comes
in the mailbox,
I can look at it for real
relevance.  Dice sent a career
envelope offering freebies, but I was more

interested in John Vlastelica’s tips for
screening resumes.

You should be too.

1.  Not only are they looking for keywords,
but also
for related accomplishments.  So,
if you can learn
specifically about the job
description it could be
beneficial to relate
some detail in a research summary

or achievement statement or business outcome.

2.  What is the nature of an applicant’s
In a tight job market, some just need a job. 
really desire to work for your company,
serve your
customers and work in your field. 
So, understand that
interviewers, at all phases,
will be exploring:
why should we hire you
  why do you want to work for this

company?  and
good fit of styles.

3.  John relates about companies’ need to
their brand.  We, as candidates, have
the same
need and should choose to accept an
off based on how
we were courteously and
respectfully treated.  We are
them as much as they are interviewing us

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Watch-outs 12. Random lasers, Blogs in Reviews and Lab management
Filed under: First Year on Job, Leadership
Posted by: site admin @ 4:03 pm

Source:  Yale Stone Group
An old radiation tool (laser) with unique
has been demonstrated recently. 
The “random
laser” one with single-
wavelength, multiply-scattered
await technical experiments and

applications (biomedical and micro-

Source:  C&EN 8-17-09, Communication
dot com
  1  2 
“Blogs haven’t replaced peer review.  But
are a supplement that is growing
in importance…”

“Becoming part of the process of science…”

Source: BLOG
Calculation tool for chemical phenomena.

Source:  HHMI
Human Interactions with scientific personnel
is beyond the general scope of science course
work, but not the business of science.  Most
miss out on this, one of the most important
parts of productive careers.  The learning comes
harder and sometimes more slowly, as a

Academia prides itself in getting credit for
doing things first.
Teamwork-focused companies force conflict
that can be under the surface and avoid
with it.  Carl Cohen ushers in good
in his book.

Several insights about science trained

Solid data and supporting evidence before
making a claim (preference),
Get as much information as possible before
making decisions (preference),
But these are not always possible….

Advise to
Listen to concerns, reason and persuade
rather than being authoritative

Models to motivate based on performance
are common but do not always
apply to such
“knowledge workers.”


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Job Search Strategies. Outplacement firm observations in Washington
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Recruiters, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 11:33 am

Wow!  The Washington ACS meeting
showed me
some things about how
outplacement firms “help”
who are let go in the 21st century. 
these comments might not be
general for the
whole industry and
they may be individual case
they lead me to suggest:  know
what you
want and ask for it with
outplacement firms to
get any value
from the service.

P. Dvorak and J Lubin authored a front
page WSJ article whose title expresses the
Outplacement firms’ perspective. (WSJ, 8-20-09
p. A1)

This activity, now standard for mid-sized
large firms to protect firms’ reputation
limit the impact of employee lawsuits
unemployment costs, is strong these
  Previously this blog has mentioned
we can tell an outplacement firm’s “stamp”
on resumes, a mile away.  In addition, the
“stamp”, while a suitable representation for
some, more business-focused candidates
does not provide the key “match-ables”
in the middle third of the first page that
technical professionals need.

Down-sized workers have non-standard
needs and desires, yet the outplacement
firms have been challenged to provide
a competitive, cost effective set of services.
This translates to output that I observed
in resumes, cover letters and interview
preparation that doesn’t put all members
in the best possible light for fewer, ever
more competitive position s.

Know what you want and need from an
outplacement firm. 
-Is it interview practice?

-secretarial service and assistance in public
relations documents?
-professional coaching
for presentations,
phone interviews, or
networking connections? 

Be aware:
1. very common resume format that may be
less approprate
2. documents not containing key terms in your
field (need field specific background)
[specific, recommended recruiters can be

3. resume files missing significant parts (
some fields want to see research summaries
or technical digests)
4. leading firms appreciate tech savvy
scientists who can provide information
in relevant formats not involving paper
(Internet based)
5. just providing job-posting sites, group
overview workshops, Internet based
material may not meet your needs.

Know your needs.  Check with mentors.
Talk to people who have been satisfied
with their outplacement experience.
Don’t let your documents be sent without
your specific approval on each item.
Ask a lot of specific questions.

Talk with recruiters in your specific fields.
Contact the career consultants program
of the ACS.  

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Workshop Reflections. Washington
Filed under: First Year on Job, Leadership
Posted by: site admin @ 10:43 am

The sense of several colleagues is that
meeting attendance
and vitality in
Washington increased over the spring meeting.

As I walked out of the convention center, I
encountered a
colleague who chaired
synthetic organic pharma sessions

and we both perceived a nice uptick.

Another colleague who attended med
chem sessions found
them engaging and
nicely attended.

It was nice to have between one-half and
of the seats filled in Wed.
workshops on First Year on
the Job in
Academe and Industry.  Many of the

attendees were energized by an engaging
format, but
also found useful:

- incredible awareness of body language
in listening
and how valuable a tool it is

- importance of not only telling about
valuable principles, giving examples, but
practicing them.  Teaching moments
occur when audience attendees don’t quite

meet the minimum expected.  Point it out
and move on.

It was strongly noted when people
exhibited professional
behavior they were
credited with it and the audience

sensed how and why. 
  -  reading facial expressions while
presenting material

  -  off topic comments that avoid getting
to the point.

  -  need to prioritize and lead with your

  -  how to work with your boss, so that
(s)he succeeds

  -  appropriate cell phone usage in
  -  goal setting and reviews

People interested in the academic careers
or changing into
academic careers, valued
having a
“research notebook”
and back-up plans when things don’t work
as designed

Industrial career attendees highlighted
working in teams
, having time limits, being
able to
practice giving summary responses
and feeling like their ideas were being heard.

The communication felt two-way to them.

It was a terrific professional experience.

Mock Interview Reflections. Washington
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 7:24 am

Monday, it was delightful meeting 16
in the mock interviewing area
in Washington.  While
consultants look
carefully at body language, verbal

skills and listening skills for areas of
in personal presentation,
five other pointers
can be shared.

Small talk:  It is common for interviewers
to “get
to know you” right at the
beginning of an interview. 
To do this, it
is common to engage in “small talk,”

discussion not directly pertaining to the
yet very important in human
interactions (in the
US).  1 

weaknesses and strengths and story
:  An often heard interview question
seeks a
person’s self-awareness or areas
improvement.  When one provides a
response for
such a question in an interview,
a useful point
and one we seek to learn
is what are you
doing to improve yourself
(in a story format
– STAR concept is

Strengths are also explored in interviews. 
offer that my boss has mentioned to
me that….
referring to a strength you wish
to convey.  Then,
please give an example
via a short story.

questions:  Please do have a list of
significant questions you need to
have answered in the interview. 
It is not
bad to ask similar questions of different

interviewers.  How did you get to your
  What do you like about working here? 
See also
2 .

overcoming nervousness:  How do you move
from the “uncomfortable anxiety” at the start
of an interview to the “alert and exciting
performing” level?  It does not happen by
reading books for most people.  It happens
through preparation, confidence and practice.
So, look for opportunities to have mock and
real interviews and presentations.

using resources:  Look for ways to use
available boards, papers and media
to convey your information.  If you are
savvy at tools or board-talk show it off.
  boards, papers, the visual dimension

1 comment
Resume Reflections. Washington
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 5:40 am

Yesterday it was a pleasure meeting with 14 members
in resume review at the Washington meeting.  Some

 - several experienced workers reported working with
outplacement firms set up by their previous employer.
They have not received any call backs and wondered
 - experienced workers have sent out the same resume
from the outplacement firms to many sites, agencies,

Each person needs to customize their resume, list
documents, and cover letter for each position. 
Most outplacement firms do a nice job offering a
SUMMARY as the item below the setting.  Many in
the technical and chemical community prefer,
to see, below the heading, either

OBJECTIVE targeted to the specific position

HIGHLIGHTS pointing out specific skill sets that
match the job description, or

QUALIFICATIONS statement (for job fair
submission, for example).

 -  several members kept EDUCATION ahead of
EXPERIENCE despite many years of postgraduate

Consider after five years of post education experience
inverting the position of EXPERIENCE and

 - several members created a long resume for
submission to all openings.

Consider using the “long” resume as a “master
resume” using it as a starting point for selecting items
for “targeted resumes” for each application. 

1 comment
Interviewing Question: Response to Imperfect fit question
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 11:44 am

A highly qualified member currently engaged
in a post-
doc in neuroscience and sensor
development asked two
questions in relation
to a phone screening interview.  He
that the interviewer was seeking a physical

chemist with good background in chemical
kinetics for
a medical sensor development project.

First question:  How should a question be
responded to
if a person does not have 
experience in photo physics,
“we need a
person who can teach us that” how can one

deal with not having direct experience in a
aspect of a job description?

Second question:  Last Friday I called to
inquire about
the position.  They responded
that they were interviewing
a candidate with
the exact background for the position
and if
she interviews well they will extend an offer. 
I call them later? 

These are judgment questions so I posed
them to several
colleagues for their

the hiring manager will have
preconceived notions of specific
she seeks in a preferred candidate.  It is very

good if
(1) you can have her tell you those things. 
Then, it
is your task to
(2) show how your background prepares
you to
meet the tasks.  One might ask
questions to show how when
you are faced
with an uncertain project or question you learn

quickly and “connect the dots” and propose
experiments or
methods.  One can perhaps
(3) ask what is known already and
what is
done now.

I question whether responding that you can
learn this is
a sufficient response.
I believe you want to
(4) show how quickly you can learn and

apply new information and
(5) display enthusiasm that shows
you are
interested in the problem.  You will be
with “roadblocks” all the time in
projects, one might want
to show that you
are up to the challenges.


There are many occasions when you
can speak with people or make contacts
informally or formally.  If you sound anxious
and desperate, in a phone call, it is a
definite turn-off.

So, if you do have a reason to call, whether
if it is an expense form, or you wanted to
personally thank someone for meeting,
don’t sound desperate.

Other perspectives are contained in the

Career Fair Preparation 4. Networking
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 7:44 pm

Some of the best things that happened
to me at
meetings happened as a result
of having an
open mind to things. 
- Having a lunch and conversation
together with
someone I did not know.
 - Looking for and finding a person I
wanted to meet
and having a conversation
standing on line

- Volunteering to co-chair a session,
and helping speakers

Washington is a week away.  There are a number
of things that one can do to get the most out of
a  gathering like this. [See also  1 ]

Before the meeting:
1. Contact others, ask will they attend the ACS
    Plan to meet them
2. Offer something to others
3. Commit time to do things

Have some things to bring up in conversation:
 - travel situations
 - interesting talks, posters, and exhibits
 - twitter and share what you learned

At the meeting:
1. seek out opportunities to converse
  -people who are not already engaged
  -people in line, say hello
  -ask for help
  -offer compliments
2. developing a mindset that you want to
create and build professional relationships

After the meeting:
1. follow up on commitments made at
the meeting

2. continue new friendships with social

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Career Fair Preparation 3. Washington- Government positions
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 11:15 am

What better location for a meeting to be
in Washington,
of one seeks a position
in the government service?

While it has been my observation the
LLNL (Livermore)
has interviewed people,
a more visible venue for
agencies and labs
is the Exhibition Hall.  Listed below are

agencies and booth numbers one can find in
C&EN 7-27-09, pp. 78-96

 - FBI, booth1927
 - Federal Lab Consortium - mid-Atlantic,
booth 429

 - IAEA- UN, booth 706 (atomic energy
 - NIST, booth 1613
 - USDA, booth 1601.

Several chemical and recruiting companies
will also be
exhibiting and would be worth
bringing your resume,
business card, and
other PR documents on a visit.

comments (0)
Twitter and Job Search
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 8:21 am

A growing trend for finding jobs and really
having a presence on the Internet is Twitter.

Not an expert on it myself, but convinced of
its potential, just like blogging (to enhance one’s
resume), I have begun experimenting with it.
Careersolvers did a nice article on managing
your twitter account for job searching.

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