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

August 2010
« Jul   Sep »
Academic Employment Initiative. Boston reflections
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:52 am

If the first time you present your academic
poster is at the Academic Employment
Initiative for the purposes of being
screened  for academic positions, it
might be too late.

At the Boston meeting, I very much
enjoyed meeting many of the more than
seventy poster presenters looking for
academic positions at PUI (principally
undergraduate) and R1 (research
oriented) institution.  Several of the
posters and presenters were true
models of my impression of people
who will be invited for academic interviews.

The orientation, offered at the meeting
by Laurel Goj, who succeeded in this
process a few years ago, is a must for
people who expect to do well.  She spoke
about things to expect and what people
will be looking for.  Even for the experienced
it is a good reminder.

In the practical exercises, I had the
pleasure to meet a couple of colleagues.
One in particular, asked me for coaching
which I gladly listened, learned and
provided items that triggered “light-bulbs
in my mind.”

Distinguishing features of posters and
presenters were:

-  presenters who performed an audience
analysis in a conversational introduction,
don’t rush into the technical details

-  presenters who seemed to comment
about how they loved working with
students– passionate, engaging,

-  presenters who engaged their audience
with short, meaningful stories

posters were readable from 6 to 10
feet away. [small blocks of text do not
make it;  long detailed equations are
less effective, unless it is truly novel;
pictures; not too busy]

-  posters that contain acknowledgment
for support and other colleagues

hand-outs (and business cards, CVs)
 that are informative and clearly constructed

-  one clear difference maker is sending
thank you notes to visitors containing
pertinent links.

These are screening interviews for academic
positions and treat them professionally.

Students who visited the posters with
me learned a lot by seeing these posters
before they do it in a future meeting.

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Future Trends in Technical Careers. Chem Expo
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:18 am

The Boston meeting Exposition taught and displayed
some interesting and amazing new areas to consider
looking for positions (International Atomic Energy
Commission), new insights and publications using
the Internet (Journal of Visualized Experiments) and
emerging technologies in all the things we do (e-books,
green lasers, search engines)

Contact:  Allision Holiski
  State Dept. link that lists all UN (and some other
organization) vacancies (updated every

  two weeks) and internship opportunities. 

Challenging and important opportunities are available
in the international arena, some shorter term, some
permanent.  Some of the positions will require US
citizenship.  Allison is a marvelous person to explore
what you may be seeking for your career.  Email to
arrange a conversation if this area “floats your boat”
[it is Boston, after all!]

Contact:  Leiam Colbert
Associate Editor for Neuroscience
Journal of Visualized
Experiments  JoVE

LINK Example:

21st century publication is moving on line with
blog commentary, selective publication of self
published material and novel podcasts of
discussions.  .JoVE is a video-journal that
portrays laboratory techniques to conduct
experiments.  The journal team films a
demonstration at your lab and produces the
video.    This journal has been needed for some
time in providing safety minded proper teaching
of experimental methods.

green lasers and search engines
Nearly every publisher had some component
of eBooks in their product line.  There was
a “reservation only” seminar which I signed
up for, came late to and was unable to get in
as it had limited slots.  Oh, well! 
Various search firms continued to highlight
their unique strengths.  Nothing really new
appeared, compared to SF.  There is a
need to keep material proprietary, so I
wonder about “cloud based” searching and
Corning, in their deliberate, focused way,
revealed some amazing applications of
solid state devices.  It is worth a look at
their web page.

Workshop discussion. First year on the job
Filed under: First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:58 pm

You might call these things “zeroth order skills.”

In the Boston ACS meeting workshop on ‘First
year on the job for industrial positions,’ which
could be for academic and governmental
roles as well, we had a lively discussion.

One question a participant asked:  What do you
do when you enter a room full of people and you
know no one?

Well, (1) if you were the speaker, a panel
discussant or
other figure, it is not a bad idea to
ask for the organizer
or chairperson or host(ess). 

Now, the usual case is an (2) attendee entering
a room. 
There are two or three strategies.  Of
course, before
entering the room it is not a bad
idea (2a) to visit the
restroom and check yourself
in the mirror.  Entering
the room, one strategy is
(2b) to look for others who
are individuals and look
like they are open to your
introduction.  Similarly,
you can (2c) observe different
groups that seem to
be open to accepting new people in.

An alternate approach can be used when food or
is being served.  One can (3a) approach the
bar or table
and “queue up.”  While waiting (3b)one
can engage in
small talk and introductions, which can
last beyond getting
one’s drink.

When entering groups or meeting individuals, it is
not bad to offer compliments, ask non personal
questions or add something to conversations by
keeping things flowing in a positive vein.

In a sense, the is a zeroth order element of networking.

A follow-up question came from a very professional
young lady, “What should I do when people call me
Sean?”  “I don’t feel flattered when people call me that
and it is not my name,” she added.   “My name is
Shauntrece.“  I can understand this somewhat.

What I might do is offer the following kind of
anecdote.  “Once I was in a meeting room and
came to the doorway and yelled, “Sean!” 
Three guys
immediately got up and looked at the door, 
I didn’t get up.

I honestly like my given name, Shauntrece,
and feel much 
better when people use it. 
Could you please?”

Offering a more negative comment does not feel
good for either the speaker or the recipient.

Another professional in the room had an unusual
for America.  Her name is Aimee and she
asked how
to help people to use it.  Another attendee
up offering that these were two of the first
pronouns in English.  So, she might say,
“My name
is Aimee, you know like two first personal
in English, ‘I-me’” 

Use what you prefer to be called and give them
a ‘thought hook’.

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Recruiter Interactions. Advice request on an interview situation
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Recruiters
Posted by: site admin @ 3:30 pm

While walking through the ACS Boston meeting
Expo a familiar voice called out, “Hey!”  Most
often a woman doesn’t respond to a man with
this, but guys don’t mind responding. 

I had seen her from the corner of my eye and
did not think she had seen me.  So, rather than
continuing on my random walk, I walked over
and greeted her.  She said she intended on speaking
with me and asked when was a good time.  I said it
was a good time then and asked if she would join me
for lunch. 

She is a successful mid-career chemist with a strong
track record.  Interviews have been coming her way
while she had been successful in a part time teaching
assignment.  Offers have not been coming her way,
however, for several reasons [that are not our present

She told me she had a conundrum now.  In the
recent past she went on an interview trip to Texas
and was offered a position.  Together with her
family, she decided it was not best for them to
take the position.  The interview was facilitated
by a recruiter who was on retainer with a firm. 
She then received another interview invitation
with the same company, in a different location.

Should she apprise the recruiter of the invitation
to the second interview at a different location one
month later?  It was not clear whether it was the
same position just relocated to another site.

We clarified some details and offered some thoughts.
Please view a couple of nice web-sites for
background on working with recruiters  1   2  .

Two career consultants offered her similar
reflections.  Namely, working with recruiters involves
working with people with whom you have developed
a relationship.  If you wish to continue the relationship
it might be prudent to phone the recruiter and advise
him that a second position and location has arisen
at the firm and you have interviewed there.   It is
your call to call before or after the interview, yet I
would pose doing it before the interview to get
a pulse of the organization from a different person.

Do it with a phone call rather than an email as then
there would not be a written record.  The recruiter
might not even be at the firm now.  Her motivation
was to insure the recruiter benefits if she obtains
a job. 

We crossed paths later at the meeting and she
had even more promising interviews.  Things
were looking up.

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Academic Position. Preparation
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 8:52 pm

Speaking with Prof. Laurel Goj a career consultant with
the ACS today I learned several things about training
programs and websites to help prepare graduate students
and post docs for academic careers.

Laurel indicated that a number of leading universities will
already offer students courses and programs to help them
do well early in their careers.  But she indicated that there
is a new strong initiative called Project Kaleidoscope
preparing the faculty of the 21st century for enhanced
STEM teaching and learning.

supports this program and offers publications
that Laurel said can be helpful for preparing for academic

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Mid-career Career Management discussion. 3. Reputation
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 7:24 am

Besides the human behavior of ‘white lies,’ fabrications
and story telling which the book “Freakonomics”
reminds us we all do, being unprepared for an interview
or following the ‘party line’ without considering the
unintended consequences. (See also discussion
in NYTimes Freakonomics blog.) are serious
issues for mid-career scientists and managers.

Fabrications and stretching the truth happen in
resumes and responses to interview questions.
- Resumes:   dates, accomplishments, skills
- Interviews:  are you currently working, how
much you earn, how many people you supervise,
budgetary responsibility, why you left, etc.

Please know that you can guess nearly 80%
of an interview’s questions, so it would help if
you reviewed what might be asked and thought
about, wrote out in long hand and practiced
saying stories and responses.

Please know interviewers know about this
human tendency and look for and recognize
it in individuals.  It is often revealed in body

Your reputation goes much further than this.
You have an Online reputation that you need
to assess and seek repairs of if unflattering
things become associated with you.  (Seeking
redress, hiring lawyers, correcting records,
etc.).  The ACS in fact has been ’sweeping
under the rug’ serious reputation issues that
have come to light in blogs.  People in high
echelon positions in industry and government
have been fired and not re-hired for less. 

It is a lesson for members to learn that strictly
‘following the party line, not paying attention
to unintended consequences’ can be perilous.
Please note the link to Employment law in
the yellow column for helpful commentary.

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Boston Meeting. Career fair and internet presence
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Recruiters, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 3:19 pm

We are a month closer from the previous Boston meeting
blog and a week away from the meeting . 

Are you planning to use the venue to explore career
options– did you enroll as a job seeker at the Career

You can do this before or at the meeting? 
Are you unemployed?  Career fair is no cost to
members?  Membership dues can be waived, if you
are unemployed.

In the last few entries, this blog pointed out
  suggestions for resumes and CVs
  ideas for meeting people, conversations and body

   importance of having a professional internet presence

Have you read Freakonomics?  In chapter 2, Leavitt
and Dubner speak about the information asymmetry
that exists in many situations and how the Internet
reduces the information imbalance The employer-job
seeker duo is another example.

How should we help ourselves for the career fair?

1.  Ask the ACS to publish the companies and the days the
companies are planning to have representatives present.
Don’t wait, leave things to chance and behave like “finder’s
keepers”.  Be proactive.  The ACS should publish who
will be there.

2.  Do detailed research on each company with whom you
would like to work?  Use your network to learn
  what it is like working there,
  where their locations are?
  how business is going,
  what the latest news is,
  what the latest and most profitable products are,
  who is in management..

3.  Have samples of your work, copies of your resume,
interview outfit, professional attache ready and
set to go.

4.  Post your resume on the ACS job seekers’ web

5.  Update your profile and have
documents ready in the cloud to share

6.  If you seek an academic position in the future,
plan to attend the academic employment initiative
Monday afternoon and evening. 
  See what current job seekers are offering in their
posters and watch how they perform in their interviews.
  Take notes.  Collaborate with them– help them
and ask them to help you.

7.  Develop longer term relationships with people
at the meeting beyond the career fair and the
aei.  Attend and interact with company reps
in the exhibition.  Bring and share business cards.
Have your internet addresses on your business

8.  If you are presenting a paper or poster, consider
it an opportunity to show off your skills as in an
interview.  Treat them like part of an interview
revealing your expertise, your personality, your
insight and communication skills.

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Brave, new world. Things not to do
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:57 am

We have so many incredible tools at our disposal with
modern technologies. 
  We can instantaneously send an application to our
target via FAX, or email. 
  We can copy and paste segments of text into another
  We can provide salary information that includes signing
bonus, bonus and stock options with our actual salary.

I have seen each of these done.  Some would argue,
no big deal, everyone does it to some degree.

These actions seem to be something people ask for
forgiveness after being caught, rather than doing the
right thing, the first time out.

FAXING.  Resume submission rule addition
Fast is not best with resume submissions.  Now, more
than ever, fax transmission is received at a common,
public machine.  Your submission should be to the
identified person of your cover letter in a form that
retains your format.  So many companies now enlist
word scanning software to recognize key terms in
their resume screening.

Some people, recruiter or desired recipient, may
ask for a fax.  Then, consider a fax and also take
the extra effort and send a
hard copy with a cover

Every scientist should get into the habit of
providing acknowledgment and attribution for
the ideas and written work of others

Please recognize this is a “hot button” issue with
many.  It is not something that should be taken
lightly.  Even placing a footnote can meet your
responsibilities, in some cases.

There are certain venues where acknowledgment
is essential– public talks, funding applications,
your interview seminar, etc.

A detailed discussion appears in the NYTimes.

More often than I care to count, members have
told me the salary they told a prospective employer
was “inflated.”  It does no one any good to
misinform.  It can lead to dismissal.  So do
the right thing and, if you want to inflate, define
all the elements
-  “salary was …, bonus was
…, signing bonus, awards and reimbursements
amounted to ….”

Interestingly, these days salaries either are not
increasing, year over year, or are regressing
in certain fields where there is an over abundance
and not a lot of competition.

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Transparency in your job club, buddy system or network
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Recruiters, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 8:58 am

Let’s be real, “Job clubs,” “buddy systems,” ‘social
,” and “networking” are terms relating to
similar functions in a job search.  They focus on
the FOUR I’S–
  interviews and
the emerging fourth, ‘internet presence (texting,
etc–. one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one).’

Recently, a person asked if she should share all
her job leads with her job-club, buddy-system,
network [you put in the term…].  “My boyfriend
doesn’t think I should, as it will bring in more
competition for the opening.” 

My response was:  whatever you do will come
back to help or “haunt you”.  If you really do want
to network with integrity, share the job leads.  Help
each other make the best impressions.  Share what
you learn so that each person can benefit.  Employment
these days seems more fluid, and it means more than
just going with the flow.  Recognize:

Not every position is right for you.  Location,
travel and time requirements, responsibilities,
skills required, etc.

You are not the best person for every position.
While you will learn new things, it is equally
important to be challenged and find satisfaction.

You cannot possibly apply for every opening.  As
well, consider narrowing down what you seek in
a position.

Personality fit, commitment and adapting to
circumstances and needs stand out as behaviors
that lead to success early in one’s career.

Chandlee Bryan emphasizes five strategies.
Please let me “tweak” them–

1  Be selective in friends and colleagues in your
network.  It is not as important to have many
names, as it is dependable friends who you can
help.  This highlights “Choosing as a skill.”

2. Be a good friend by responding promptly
and studying different segments of the job
.  (Each of you do not have to replicate
the same elements.)

3. Be meaningful by reviewing each others’
documents, offering suggestions and offering
ideas on questions and situations.  Share
mentors viewpoints.

4. Be Observant on each others’ small things.
Help make each opportunity lead to new ideas
and new successes.

5. Be open and transparent about your goals and
aspirations, as they will be similar and different from
others.  Share your evolving needs, desires and

Now, another person then asked what should be done
in the circumstance that a member of her network
got a call back from a screening interview.  In the
call back, the interviewer seemed short, demanded
responses without hesitation, and pushed for
specific commitments.  This seemed like it was
a ‘bruising’ way to attract a candidate.  It may have
been a “stress interview” revealing how the
candidate deals with stress from a higher up or

Think about tactics you might use to defuse the
situation.  Learn about what specifically his needs
and time constraints were.  Explore items you, the
interviewee,  seek in a professional and well
articulated manner.  Share this with your network and
use this one call back interview as a lesson for all.


Body Language Attention
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 8:31 pm

You won’t go wrong being sensitive to both
the interviewer’s and candidate’s body languages.

Look carefully to understand what signals may
possibly be being unconsciously sent in these
nervous situations.

1.  some innocent gestures may be suggestive of
different signals– “I’m married”  “I’m available”
“I’m attracted”– raising hand to eye level to display
wedding bands, hair tousling, licking lips and eye
and eye-brow gestures

2.  maintain an appropriate distance between
interviewer and candidate.  If there is no table,
consider adjusting your seat to a slight angle,
making it still easy to have good eye contact.
Keep your feet on the ground and arms
relaxed on your lap, or involved in the conversation
and occasionally touching an interview table,
when present, are appropriate.  Crossing legs,
other than at
the ankles or folding arms,
is inappropriate.

3.  There are behaviors, even while waiting
for interviews to start that should be minimized.
Hands on hips, clasping hands behind one’s
head and the athletic stretching movements
should be done in private, if at all.

4.  Your voice needs to be strong and
consistently confident whether in person
or on a telephone interview.  Keep your
thoat moist.
with mints or menthol drops that
lubricate and medicate. 
Remember to start
speaking a little louder at the
beginning of
a statement and settle to you
r normal voice
projection.  On the phone, know a
comfortable position for both
speaking and
hearing.  Don’t hesitate to
ask if voice and
transmission are clear at the beginning
a phone conversation.

Smiling while speaking offers warmth and

Susan Ireland speaks to several body
gestures in her blog.

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Aiming toward Boston. Behavioral questions
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 8:05 pm

Recently I came upon ten behavioral questions
I am glad I did not encounter!  It is very good
practice to develop and practice responding to
these tough ones.  There are few tougher!

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Internet Presence. LinkedIn Profile
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 7:55 pm

There is evidence that it is important to
and maintain a technical internet
, like in your profile. 
It is separate from
your professional
affiliation and can list several
items that you want people to know
might want to contact you for various reasons.

Career consultants suggest also providing a
in a “cloud location” (like google docs)
that contains
publications, presentations,
patents and posters.
  The usual authors, titles
and citations and a
link to .pdf or .doc file
should be provided. 

Specific elements of one’s profile might be:



  bulleted list of skills and accomplishments
     designs, syntheses, characterizations
     teams led
     goals achieved
     strategic impact of projects ($$, time,
proprietary position without violating any

  bulleted list of specific items with
detail, showing depth of
understanding and

   Post-doctoral, graduate and
research, development and
team activities

   Management and supervisory training
   Business school or Education experience

If areas formally different, it might still be
for networking purposes.

   Formal education– degrees, departments,
institution, location, and information links

   What groups do you belong to?

The Blog “ReCareered” provided another
perspective on what the profile
might contain. 
A few highlights
to take note:

A. list specific areas and subjects in which
you have
achieved;  generalists do not seem
to draw attention
in these profiles

B. think about what it looks like in the finished
document.  Long paragraphs will not be read.

C. Volunteer activities, community involvement,
manuscript reviewing are fair game.

D. Other online activities, web-pages, list-servs
key professional networking tools are helpful
to point to your on-line presence.

E. Getting appropriate recommendations has