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

November 2009
« Oct   Dec »
Presentations. Importance and thoughts on things to prepare
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 8:17 pm

Many times we have seen that highly
candidates do not receive
offers because their
  - “bombed” or rambled and was
   - was less than organized or
contained mistakes

Scott Berkun authored a book
Confessions of a Public Speaker” that
adds some helpful
ideas about the item
that is one of our worst
fears.  For a
number of speeches, audience

expectations can be reasonably met by
competences that most people can meet–
  - be prepared, arrive early, test all the
components of your presentation
  - know who is in your audience, or
early in your talk who is there,
  - have a back up plan for whatever can
wrong and practice (hold off on being

  - have controlled enthusiasm with “hot
items to raise the energy level of
the audience

  - focus on meeting the needs of the
rather than on covering all the
power point slides

Belkun wrote that most audiences will
tell a speaker things other than ‘that
was great.’  (Balanced book review  1  )

Honest review of videos and anonymous
feedback might prove helpful.

For interviews, it is hard to recover from
ineffective presentation, where your
skills are portrayed.

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Networking. Consequential Strangers
Filed under: Networking, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 7:51 am

We all hear about using our networks to
find opportunities.  The expansion of social
networking does not need much description.
The interesting notion of “consequential
strangers” should also be introduced to us.
These are the people who bring regularity,
information and novelty into our lives but are
not part of the inner core of our relationships.

M. Blau and K. Fingerman’s book describes
it as the people who seem not to matter but
really do.  For the action oriented person,
who does not want go into detailed explanations
take a look the book’s 2 appendices to help
you analyze your “social convoy” and determine
your  rewarding interactions.  Refer to a
blog on the topic to self explore in a quick

Interestingly, this concept is quite useful for
managing all ages and stages of our lives.
Liked it very much and will explore it
in detail myself.

Careers in Chemistry. Future Trends 21. Fine Chemicals.
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:06 am

One area of continuous chemical
business employing
chemists and
people with chemistry related
backgrounds where people develop
successful careers
is “customized”
fine chemicals. 

Interestingly, it is part of productive
paradigms for
many industries that
either outsource large quantity
or assemble components from many


One of the architects of this field,
Peter Pollak,
was profiled in C&EN 11-9-09,
p. 34 (membership needed to view online). 
article is a “tip of the iceberg” piece
in that what
is visible here is only a small
piece of a
sprawling, world wide business
Pollak visualized this and
comments on
some recent features
and observations.

Google keywords and look at a wider
.  For example, his 2007 book
Fine chemicals might be interesting
reading.  Genzyme
has published a
white paper about a segment of the
topic . Dig a little deeper and explore

what future roles may be opening based on
this business model that is a component of
current and future global chemical business.

Note:  It has been around and successful
for a while.  1

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Watch-outs 15. Medicare, Beneficiaries, Financial Planning
Filed under: Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 11:42 am

Topics related to setting up
retirement plan beneficiaries,
strategies for tax-wise sharing
of wealth, dealing with the
medicare choices and overall
financial planning are mentioned.

While these are not formally talked
about in career discussions, the
Internet and the “long-tail”
gives us the responsibility to
broaden the scope of career
management beyond the usual

Source:  K. Greene, Hand down assets
in retirement plans
Retirement plan benefits are not formally
set up in your will.  Benefits are passed
to the beneficiary(ies) in your beneficiary
designation form in IRAs and 401Ks. 
Several “what ifs” are discussed in the

Source:  J. Zweig, WSJ, 10-3-09, p. B1
Transferring wealth via the Bank of Mom
If your sibblings are seeking loans,
people with assets can offer loans
and gifts for some or all of the amount.
This article reports the pros, cons and
requirements of IDGTs, GRATs, and
SCINs for those who are well-endowed.
It also gives insights for the rest of

Source:  WSJ, 
K. Greene, “Medicare
” and
WSJ, 11-14-09  p. R4
, G. Ruffenbach
Money Matters column
The open enrollment period is here
and decisions have to be made on
insurance for 2010.  We do not have
an inkling of what our future medical
care plan will be.  We will want to get
a handle on that.  K. Greene’s article
gives some guidance for the your path
through the Medicare maze.  It could
also benefit those with parents who
are facing this challenge.

G. Ruffenbach offers a framework
for financial planning and some
estimates that may help.  Those
in retirement or close to retirement
will benefit from the Greene article
first.  I liked a number of links
provided in the Ruffenbach article.
See other pertinent topics:
diversification, retirement planning,
withdrawal rates and strategies.

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Negotiating and Deciding. Reading Employment contracts
Filed under: Networking, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 11:37 am

Few of us are lawyers or have legal
  So, one of the links in
the blogroll is a leading
firm in the
job security and career success

area, Alan Sklover.

In a recent post on his blog, he
writes about
significant subtleties in
contracts, he refers to
words of intention.”  

While we hope that the hiring documents
you receive and are asked to sign are clear
and fair, legal language can make them
He lists a number of “red flags”,

  - ‘subject to …‘ phrases
  - salary limiters
  - bonus conditionals
  - benefits limiters
  - the word “MAY
  - words around termination.

He also speaks to remedies or what you
do if you face legal red flags.
This is an item worth sharing with your

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Interview Protocol. Meeting someone you do not know
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 2:41 pm

A funny thing happened at NERM.  We
had a workshop beginning at 1 pm on
Friday and I had planned and arranged to
mock interview a person who agreed
to do so.  We had only conversed on
the phone.

Time was getting close so I walked out
of the meeting room into the mezzanine
area.  As I walked I surveyed her trying
to figure out something, “Hello, Laura,
[name changed] glad you made it. 
I’m Dan.”

“Hi, Dan,  How did you know it was me?”

Well, a very common thing interviewers
do now is search the people who they will
meet.  The search profiled her and provided
her  photo from intercollegiate athletics.

It came in handy.  It also gave me some
interesting information that we used in the
mock interview.  She was quite surprised
by how the mock interview process

Let me add, this came about from a
problem ‘Laura’ had.  She is an undergrad
at an institution driving distance from the
meeting and learned too late about
registering for the workshop.  She wisely
contacted the meeting organizer and
asked for help.  The organizer and I
agreed she could be my “guest” at the
meeting and would be most helpful if
she could be our first interviewee.

So, her “problem,” wisely managed,
became a “triple win”– (1)she attended
the workshop, (2)we had our first
audience participant interviewee, and
(3)she had a mock interview.

Then, to top things off in marvelous
fashion, the sent personal “thank you”
notes to the organizers and ACS.

Thank you, Laura!
[I think she has what it takes and will
do quite well!]

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Academic Position. Teaching Philosophy 2.
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 1:17 pm

What are some necessary criteria for
a person
to review and comment on
a Teaching
Philosophy statement a
member has created?

(1) Has he taught relevant post-
high school
courses with scientific
(2) Has he
written his own
teaching philosophy and
and commented on other peoples’

(3) Is he willing to read and assume the
author has integrity?

With this out of the way, when I review
teaching philosophies, it takes me about
10 ‘read-throughs’ to adopt the mind of
the author. 
that teachers be gifted communicators
can appeal to their audience in
the first
paragraph, or even the title. 
Think of Tom
Friedman the NYTimes
columnist, for example.

Communications must lead through
and factual example to a
logical and ‘telling’
conclusion in excellent
composition and form.  [These are
academics, after all.]

The author must also bear in mind
who the
intended audience is.  The
analysis of the written word
probably needs
to examine the institution’s
mission statement
, core values and
student body.  So, a statement
to a
research oriented large class size
might not fit with a liberal
arts institution
or a military academy,
as extreme examples.

Visit the university, speak with people
who have written successful statements,
and submit your drafts to people who
the critical background mentioned

Sure, it may be possible to create your
document by reading through
power points
of ‘how to’s’  but I have
seen only one of those
– not mine!

CONTENT:  Refer to

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Undergraduates. Frequently asked questions
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, Networking, Recruiters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:52 am

As the idea comes from Lisa Balbes,
let me thank her for
her generosity
in posing the question.

There are a number of common
questions we are posed
undergraduates.  One, I remember
from the Undergraduate
program at
NERM in Hartford was: 
How much
will I
make on this job, as it is not
listed in the job description?

First, this is one of the “Don’t ask topics“ 
an undergraduate
or anyone else, for that 
matter, should not ask.  Nonetheless,

it is one they need to research.

[Other don’t ask questions:  {salary},
training, benefits
(vacations, flex time,
insurances, memberships, etc.),


This question should not happen in your
cover letter or any conversations.

Second, do your research using web tools,

  the ACS Salary Comparator and other

   (be wary of when and from whom the
information is taken.),

and using your network,
   since you will have a network helping
you on the search

   ask them how much their starting salary

   ask current employees in your network
about salary
administration and recent

Remember, salary is only one component
of an overall
compensation package.  The
value for you will be
different than for
another person’s situation.

Third, be able to respond to this question
if you are asked how much do you expect
to make.

If you are working with a Recruiter, he or
she will likely
ask you this question.
It can also be asked in an interview.  Several
previous entries have talked about this.
1  2  3  4  

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Mid-career. Severance economy
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:15 pm

A number of sites and news articles
pointed to a “severance economy”
with a
number of highly paid employees
out of a
job.  Must I protest?  What
about all those on ‘extended

unemployment,’ that is severance
from the
state and federal government
for the
financial collapse precipitated
job losses?  What about people who
neither qualify for severance nor

It is not over yet, the lay-offs, mergers and
longer times to find next positions.  People
are finding their positions more constraining
and less exciting.  Will they be voluntarily
leaving their positions too?  Even without
severance and unemployment….

The stock market while showing credit
loosening is only pointing out that more
job losses are in the offing.  It is cost-cutting
profits that is moving the market.

might consider taking a hard look on what
they need to do if they face ‘no pay weeks.’ 
Those, who are fortunately accepting new
positions, should be conceiving back-up
plans.  Take this as a time to think about
where you want your career to go.

If you are not in, join and

If you are not active in the ACS and learning
marketable skills, join and participate,

If your income and expenses are out of

balance, evaluate steps you need to take,

Evaluate options while you are in roles and
devise your suitable action plans,

If your resume, completed project
summary, industry or patent or research
summary are not up to date, this might
be a suitable time [Straits],

If your firm offers you a severance and
separation benefits, understand there is
much to gain from professional coaching
and mentoring at times when you are
“out of balance,”  [Diva]

There are a number of unemployment
   packages  [leave so that you maximize
health insurance, vacations, and retirement
   qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance.


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Confidence. Surprises when you go one step further
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 8:29 pm

Rosebeth Ross Kanter points out there
are three
essentials to confidence– 
collaboration and
initiative to seize the

Let me tell you more about these
learned from
R. Kanter’s book.  She
describes these in terms
corporations, yet they apply to
and entrepreneurs.
Accountability describes the
combination of
sharing data, information
and know-how,
assuming responsibility,
and setting and holding
high standards.
Collaboration with partners to achieve
Initiative to take action and do what
is necessary
to make a difference.

This book came to my attention as I
read her
book “Supercorp” in which she
describes the
emergence of a 21st century
class of companies,
she calls vanguard
.  These firms develop
humanistic values and motivate

employees to solve problems and help
needs as leading components
of their business

Let’s return to Confidence.  Kanter
the term as the situational
expectation of a
positive outcome
Because of this expectation,

 - effort is applied,
 - resources are directed and
 - people stick to specific courses of
action in

What sets this work from others is she
  - specifies what things to notice to
turn things
around (positive attitude
and behaviors),

  - what things to do when things
are going
well (prepare for worst case

  - encourage leadership in every place
(opening up innovation, new ideas, and
’stretch’ goals)

Confidence can be taught and has
to be
earned and is something leaders
need to be
constantly assessing in
candidates and

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Negotiating and Deciding
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:36 am

Negotiating is an integral part of a
good decision-
making process.  The
question is usually, at least
for recent
graduates, what and how should I pose

a negotiation process?

A member recently contacted me with
a delightful
problem.  He had two
hard-copy offers in hand,
with $13000
difference in salary, difference in

company size, differences in vacation,
savings and investment plan
and effort in bringing
him on board. 

We talked about the excitement he
has with each
position and he felt he
would do well in both
places.  He
would learn quite new skills (proposal

writing and negotiations) in one, he felt. 
His spouse
will relocate and need to
find an exciting position
for herself
in both situations.

The ACS salary comparator was of
value in this case.  One (higher)
position’s offer was
$8K below the 50
percentile value ($91K;  note
in high cost of living area);  the second

was $2K higher than benchmark ($68K). 

[SUGGESTION:  this is should always
be done
for every position for which
you interview,
before the interview.]

The rest of this entry offers
  what other consultants considered

  what items had some “wiggle room”
in the
discussions with both companies,

  some words and phrases that were

He was provided input from my cabinet of
 - some felt there was little to negotiate
this time;  evaluate the offers as is. 
recommendation:  ask each ‘Is this
best offer?’ and determine which
items to negotiate based on which had
‘value for him and his family.’]
  - most felt his decision would be
on where he would get the most
and provide greater personal

  - some felt questions could be posed–
dual ladder for advancement (get a
company handbook for details),
what are the details on bonus plans,
what happens after the first project is
what is the annual review process,
which is a better place to live and
with whom (people) was he most

Negotiable items included:  increased
bonus, increased relocation
max allowance, earlier
starting date (influences vacation,
quarter when certain
benefits start,
bonus plan, etc.), and
flexibility during
transition period (temporary housing,

travel allowances, automobile moves, etc.).

Key words and phrases: 
  - High level of respect for the
to work there,
  - describe the offer as fair, but is
possible to re-evaluate based on
a competing offer
from a Fortune 500

  - when accepting and rejecting offers,
accept the offer you want first, then
the second best offer.  (don’t go
  Confirm the details that
have been negotiated.

  - when rejecting the offer, indicate
that it
was a fair offer and the decision
was not
based on how he was treated
during the
interview process.  He was
delighted to
have met everyone on
the interview team
and wishes to
thank them.

  - With bonuses, can the bonus be
summed up” (taxes paid on the bonus)


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Resume File. Question about Volunteer roles
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 3:15 pm

A member recently sent me his resume
for review.
  He prepared for it by
evaluating his personal priorities
determine what is most important in
his life and
career.  It was a nice
forced ranking process.

He then developed a first pass resume
and listed
some volunteer work as
head or leader of
YCC in his area. 
It was successful in being awarded
ACS ChemLuminary award.

In his first pass, he created two bullets
in his
Highlight section and wondered
whether he
should enter his role in YCC
in his Experience
section.  My initial
reaction is that the Experience
should be the place technical

accomplishments revealing productive

activities.  Certainly, the YCC role in
a workshop on entrepreneurism
was a feat.
  I had my doubts about it
fitting anywhere else
than in the Honors
and Awards and Affiliations
sections of
a typical resume.  I might offer that

he led specific YCC programs as the
bulleted item in his Highlights.

He asked again.  So I solicited the
opinions of
my career consultants “cabinet”. 
Listed below
is what they offered in
capsule form:

L. Balbes:  “I agree that the leadership
be a single, last item in a
It might be
appropriate to include in the
Experience [section] IF he is
for a leadership
otherwise  either Professional

Activities, Affiliations, or some
such section,
would be a better


H. Silverman:  “He may
by> two resumes depending
on <
the positions for which he
He may one
for technical positions.> He
emphasize his management skill
in a second
{<> = insert text}

In the management resume he should
emphasize his  success with the

group . In both resumes he
should list the
groups award under a

separate section
headed awards. He
should be careful
about redundancy.

Don’t list the same
item in different 

R. Bretz:  “Placing a volunteer activity
in the Highlights section might lead the
reader to the notion that what he really
wants to do is public service or some
type of community work (i. e. working
is only a way to support his real passion).
This activity is definitely not Experience
but I admit that it could be a valuable
skill in the workplace.  Technical skills/
knowledge is what will get him the
role> should be
in the affiliations/
activities section.”

J. Shulman:   “The Highlights section is a
fine place to talk about leadership,
especially for someone who has a masters
in management of technology.  As Rich
says, Highlights should emphasize
technical accomplishment for a technical
job, with 3-5 bullets dedicated to this.  But
putting one (and probably only one) bullet
such as ‘Demonstrated leadership and
delegations skills’ can enhance this section.”

J. Jolson: “I agree that the passion and
interest in professional involvement could be
a final bullet in the Highlight section.  Specific
information about leadership involvement
could be placed in the Affiliations section
(ACS - XYZ Section, YCC chair).  If the
ChemLuminary Award can’t be inserted with
other awards in the awards section, it might
be OK to insert it in parentheses after
mentioning the YCC chair in the Affiliations
section.  Otherwise I would leave it out of
the resume and if a job descriptions comes
by the merits mentioning it, I would put it in
the cover letter.”

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