Post-doctoral positions are exciting
positions that in many cases provide
professional competences, unique
skills and perspectives and necessary
networking contacts and tactics.
Many topics have been covered in
previous posts, targeting
government post-docs 1
foreign student seeking US positions 2
international post-docs 3
non-profit post-docs 4
PfLAGS insights 5
Academic post-docs 6
Post-doc planning 7 8
K. Kaplan points out more industrial
post-docs are targets for scientific
doctorates. The article lists the
company web-sites are the place
where these positions are listed when
they list them.
America is viewed as a “land of opportunity”
from its earliest days. Pressures from costs,
bureaucracy, inspection crack-downs,
supply-demand cycles, unemployment
statistics and other influences change the
landscape of the Visa topic. 1 2 3
The “technology sector” has big interest in
using H-1B visas. When the economy is
slack, most companies hire fewer technically
talented people and seek fewer visas to work
full time in the US. That is what the WSJ
This situation provides an opportunity
for people who wish to work in the US,
yet have the citizenship hurdle. There are
more than ten thousand visa openings for
this Immigration and Naturalization year
cycle. Where in previous years it took
a few days to exceed to quota, this year
many slots remain even after months.
This is an opportunity that should not be
wasted. All the pressures that bear on the
program could change things next year.
Using the ‘long-tail concept of blogs’,
we touch on four items. Action items
for “stalled” job searches, considerations
when one is less satisfied in a current
position, business perspective of
biofuels future industry, and gadgets
that may be part of our future.
STALLED JOB SEARCHES
Source: S. Needleman, Giving a stalled
job search a jump-start, 10-20-09
To keep resume numbers manageable
and meet lowered budgets, companies
are advertising less. This urges
applicants to explore more networking,
more informal meetings at exhibitions
and fairs, and considerations of looking
at temporary positions. An overlooked
idea is that if your resume or other
documents don’t make the cut– then, spell
check, use correct terms [for the company/
industry] and include necessary and
compelling documents in your package.
Fill a skills gap is another contribution
of note in the time of unemployment.
CONTINUED ENTHUSIASM IN CURRENT
Source: MIT Sloan Review, 10-26-09
Sometimes looking at what the best
practices of leaders to keep talent can
be inverted to provide what the best
talent should be seeking.
Seek responsibilities that solve an
important problem, communicate to upper
management what you like or wish to
explore, and increase your understanding
of sustaining the business and your
career into the future.
FUTURE BIOFUELS INDUSTRY
Source: Economist, 10-26-09, p. 72
The positions we seek should be ones that
survive for the foreseeable future. There
are so many ventures in science and
technology that begin with much hype,
achieve technical feasibility, but end up
“duds”. This can short-circuit our efforts
and our futures. The business side of
Ethanol from biofuels was covered in
Two points: (1) if you desire to work in
this alternate energy field, it is essential
that you keep up with the international
business debate ; (2) with few
exceptions, it is incumbent on chemists
to have greater awareness of
multi-disciplinary aspects and implications
of our work.
MOBILE HANDSETS IN OUR FUTURE
Source: WSJ 10-12-09, p. R2, “The latest
buzz on… by Michael Morgan
For the instant contact, 24-7 crowd, more
compact, increased functionality devices
MIDs, mobile information devices
are being used by people for business,
professional, recreational and navigation.
Funny thing is you will be “branded” by
what you use. Also, adapt or move on.
Thanks to J. Petoff and twitter, let me
share a link to Bill Carroll’s comments
on considerations for the chemistry
fields you might make for your career.
There are some meetings you attend where
most everyone needs little introduction to
everyone and the people have a history of
working together. That is, unless you are
new to the group.
That situation happened to me yesterday.
It was fun to apply some of L. Lowndes ideas.
This was my first time attending this meeting,
so I made it a point to be introduced to the
organizer and try to offer help.
First thing we did was set up our presentation.
Well, the hotel, we learned, charges $150 for
use of their screen and extension cord. It is
another $450 for use of their projector.
OMG! We brought a projector so we could
substitute ours and went out to the local
hardware store for a $10 extension . As
anyone knows these add-on fees are
outrageous. In our smaller room setting,
we could project on a white board and
ask attendees to gather closer to see.
Some body language signals I observed
and used included
- first impression posture, smile and
- “glued eyes” with people, to show
interest in what they were speaking about
- treat people as old friends, that you
- invite people to your table to eat
with you, politely giving up your seat
so that others can sit and move on
[they will often want you back because
of the gesture]
Some small talk art that worked
- while one can stay with a conversation
partner, recognize it is more polite to
meet, introduce and circulate. Then, if
the situation arises where you can
continue the conversation with ease,
learn about what brings the person to
the meeting and travel
- ‘tell me more about…’ [conversation
the overnight train ride from
Boston to Philadelphia
the hobbies you like[ expressed as:
how do you relax] and do occasionally
the plays you like to attend
what it was like in Turkey and
- then share your adventures and recent
While the mock interview is highly
- credibility signals of posture, using the
whole room as the stage, reducing the
nervous energy and inviting late comers
to join the group and offer input.
- ask for help, but pick up on limitations
- set the agenda in the meeting room
and post it so that late comers can see
what is being done
- engage everyone in the group in
one way or another (groups less than
10, involve all)
- observe and take advantage of
every teaching moment, from
‘meta-language’, to crossed
arms, to appropriate distance
- build confidence in each person by
finding several positive elements on
which to comment.
Those that are good at it just seem
to have a little magic about their
style. Small talk needs to be
understood for it to be effective for you.
1. We live in a fast-paced, multiple-
input world which we cannot easily
escape. Those that have studied
multi-tasking indicate that it is not
always the best tactic. It is still done.
We take short glimpses and make fast
impressions as Gladwell in Blink writes.
Lowndes talks about fine-tuning our gestures
to be effective in business.
2. Small talk is less about the words
and ideas and more about interactive
empathy, effective listening (to detect
mood and energy), and enthusiastic
delivery. Lowndes gives nice tips about
‘naked city‘ - give where you are from
with a little known fact about it,
‘bait the hook‘ about what you do, giving
a significant factoid about the company,
products or work situation,
‘benefit statement’ accentuating the
‘com-you-nicate‘ when you want a favor,
“I wonder can YOU help me with…”,
using “YOU” statements.
3. Understand the conversation
cliches-facts- personal statements -
.4. Talking with “big shots”- speak about
a recent accomplishment.
5. Thank you’s- don’t let the phrase
stand alone. Say why and offer an impact.
We have not heard of problems of
people advancing to onsite interviews.
We can think of several problems that
have happened to us and suggest what
you might do, if it happens to you.
A. The interested company usually
makes all the reservations, after
conferring with you. If you have to
make the reservations, get their
written approval first.
B. EXPENSE REPORT PROTOCOLS
In one long distance flight from coast
to coast, reimbursement was delayed
more than a month. a)What helped
was promptly sending an expense
report with all, and I mean all,
receipts taped on sheets of paper.
b)Create a full set of copies of all
paper for your files.
c)I was able to contact a senior
officer of the company and describe
my problem. d)With copies of my
interview itinerary, copy of my
interview schedule and the receipts,
reimbursement was prompt.
C. HAND CARRY ESSENTIALS
Another problem can happen if your
bags are mishandled. Never check
computers, full text of your
presentation, or clothes that you
will wear the next day in luggage
that can be misplaced.
D. BAG PRECAUTIONS
If you have certain items in your
checked bag, have your name and
cell phone number in your bag and
outside your bag in a easy to see
location. Also, have a unique
colored ribbon or tag on your bag
for easy spotting.
E. ALWAYS LOOK GOOD IN
INTERVIEWS If you do not have
your needed item in time for your
interview, purchase an equivalent
replacement. Save the receipt. Then,
ask the company for help (at the end
of the interview process). Will they
reimburse or will they help you in
getting appropriate reimbursement?
If you need to leave the airport
without your bags, (1) seek and
write down the local baggage office
telephone number and name of the
supervisor. (2) Leave information about
your lost bag and number at which you
can be reached.
See if your credit card company or
homeowner’s insurance will cover loss
of items. If you purchased the air
travel with your card it may apply.
If you purchased the clothing recently
with your card it may apply.
Resolving the loss can come down to
not being fully reimbursed by the
airline for losses. Consider going to
small claims court for the difference.
Both N. Meanwell and S. Sobolov
had pertinent comments about
preferred ways of presenting
yourself at the NERM Career
Workshops in Hartford last week.
In cover letters, Nick spoke about
addressing the letter to specific people.
Even emailed public relations
documents should contain cover
In interviewing and networking
introductions, Susan could not forget
the importance of a good, practiced
handshake. In fact, she commented
that one decision-maker she observed
commented that he would not hire a
person, based solely on the first
impression and the handshake.
These and other similar helpful hints
were contained in a book recommended
by P. Forni [mentioned in a previous
blog], “Business Class” by J
Whitmore. Particular tips on making a
positive first impression, handshaking,
small talk, phone calls, and dining
Another topical resource is L Lowndes book,
How to talk to anyone which I came away
- conversation progression - cliches,
facts, feelings, personal statements, “we
- upping my small talk skills
- giving my body language a positive
Recall: Technical tools are helpful, yet
people hire people.
Last Thursday and Friday at NERM
graduate student career discussions
we talked about the importance of
pursuing postdoc positions as a
significant and helpful temporary
position for many career paths.
Colleague, Megan Macnaughtan LSU,
gave a perspective on who should
seek post-docs; those whose career
- academics R1– in academics or
government [Also, see below.]
- postponement– mechanism for
getting back to a scientific career.
Choose your mentor/PI based on area
- academics PUI– possibly depending
on the job market. [See below.]
- industry, for those without green
card– quite helpful in getting needed
expertise and or green card.
- industry, in a tight job market– need
to do homework.
For those people seeking an academic
career, there are unique academic
research post-docs at:
- Boston University
- Trinity University (San Antonio)
- Univ. Georgia
- Univ. New Hampshire
- Tufts University.
M. Macnaughtan pointed out where to
look for advisers, what to find out and
ideas for contacting people.
Where to look:
your adviser and committee,
network within the field
What to find out:
actively seeking a post-doc,
agreeable and helpful personal style,
Contacting ideas: EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT
letter-very strong and considerate letter,
meet at a conference,
invite as a speaker and meet at home
Last week at NERM (Undergraduate
and Graduate student) career
workshops S. Sobolov talked about
the many things speakers need to be
aware of and practice in giving
technical and management
presentations. Her presentation
is one that sets these workshops
from many you will find on
One concept she spoke about is the
impact of certain specific words in
presentations (and also
negotiations and in interviews):
But: ‘You presented the results
The “but” inverts the positive
element of the first clause. Use
another word like
and … , or
insert a period creating a short
sentence and offer words of
consideration, need to meet
commitments, or complete projects.
Recently T. Jarvis authored a nice
article about the impact of specific
words we might use. Highlighting
Speaking with boss:
‘They do not know what they are
doing …..’ He offers Robert Reich
and Al Gore as sources indicating
that it would be better to have the
speaker accept part of the negative
element. This way they can be
viewed as contributing to the
‘We could do better in doing
[whatever is the subject] if we ….
[then offer suggestions]‘
Don’t just come in with a problem.
Come in with solutions or
suggestions of solutions.
Offering your suggestions or
opinions: Instead of labeling others’
approaches negatively, cite the
impact of others’ approaches.
The Jarvis article used Pres. Obama’s
police action prejudicial statement
’stupid‘ as inflaming a situation rather
than being helpful.
What are some management skills hiring employers
seek in candidates? The NYTImes “Corner Office“
column interviewed a CEO who provided tips on
what one leader looks for in candidates:
- looks at set-backs or problems as opportunities
- defines longer term goals for your career
- seeks and explores different perspectives
about the company business, especially from
within (Ms. Lyne ‘books’ 2 hours a week to
meet with anyone who wants to speak with
- acts as an exceptional co-worker
- knows how to handle challenges, providing
information on your style
- since humans make mistakes, is able to
describe mistakes (and admit them) and offers
how you handled correcting them
- what do you look for in a team and how
do you motivate the team members
- describes situations where you have
worked outside of your department and
division to get things done.
The Susan Lyne interview was thoughtful.
Think I will adopt this nice phrase and
acromym “AFTB Careers”– “Away from
the bench” Careers initiated by Brianna
Blaser. The term applies for all degree
Her talk 1 offers a discussion contrasting
bench, plant and AFTB roles. I also like
the “decision cycle” that she attributes
to Carney and Wells, as it has more
descriptive terms for the decision
process than a P-D-C-A (Plan-Do-Check
-Act) cycle. The Carney decision tool
Exploration [Info interviews]
Commitment [Training, volunteering, etc.]
While it may not happen to most or
even come to mind, situations can
sometimes result in totally no
response from all company references
for an individual who has left a position.
A. Skover has described a thoughtful
and “high-road” method, described next.
My additional thought is to seek out
other respected employees, perhaps
at your same level, who can write a
Sklover’s three step method includes:
1. write a “150% reasonable, pleasant,
respectful, concise and clear [request
for letter of reference]
- send it … using Fedex, or email, or
- ask for verification of reply
2. “if not met within 2 or 3 weeks,
send a second letter, just as respectful,
reasonable and clear,…, reminding her
of the terrible consequences to you.
Politely suggest you [may need to]
bring this up with the Board of Directors…”
- Fedex, email
- verification request
3. “if these still don’t work, write a
letter to each of the Board of Directors,
setting forth what happened, attaching
both letters, and asking them to intervene.
- respectful, and deferential
- consequences to your career, livelihood