With the explosion in costs and desire to be exposed
to insights and information, “virtual meetings, interviews
and conferences” seem to be expanding.
We all have choices to attend these “virtual” meetings.
The first choice is should the meeting be in person, or
can it be virtual. For me, it seems that it is nice to have
a first meeting, or one of the first meetings, in person.
It sets a context for what may follow and can indicate
a change in context if that seems to follow.
Wherever possible, my preference is in-person meeting
when it is important to any party, distance is not a
significant factor or when the subject matter is known
well enough by meeting participants.
How many people are formally prepared to engage
in a virtual meeting? My contention is that it requires
firm preparation for what you want to get out of them,
a strong presence where you are alert and present an
alertness back to other attendees, and significant
follow-up that often does not occur because of the
There are very important courtesies that can be
forgotten because you are not formally in the presence
of the individual or group.
Eilene Zimmerman penned a nice piece in the
career couch segment of the NYTimes.
- limited multitasking can be fine, but in
video- don’t engage in personal hygiene or wear
unsuitable clothing (like stripes, or no formal
business attire to legal meetings, etc.)
telecon- (no video) don’t continually interrupt
to have questions or comments repeated or
project undesirable audio to the meeting
(intelligent use of mute button).
- prepare for the meeting, keeping aware of
time (have a clock handy), involve all of the
relevant participants, keep comments shorter
(by asking specifically if things are clear or if
understanding is sufficient or complete)
- do sound and video checks at all locations
(it is not the best practice to experiment along
- plan to take notes yourself even if there is
a meeting note taker (it is so easy to forget
the important details of virtual engagements)
- have all the appropriate tools you need
for this meeting and expected follow-up
(calendars, calculators, secondary computers
- send relevant documents in advance of
meeting, indicating what they are for
(for interviews, for example, resume,
research summary, project summary,
- develop an agreed listing of action items
or next steps
- ask for and send relevant documents to aid
in information flow, if not sent in advance
- summary of meeting should be sent, or
clarification of impacts to you.
This form of meeting will grow in importance
so it is worth observing best practices.
Remember, seeing videos of gorillas in a
room of moving people.
Remember, hearing noises of crunching
potato chips in the audio
Remember, loud drilling noises from
construction going on down the hall.
These can all happen and need to be
We have talked about Mid-career resumes and
have recommended to show that your resume
demonstrates a clear match in the sections in
the “resume red zone” on page 1.
It is a challenge when a mid-career person seeks
to make a transition to a different area. While the
person may have performed many of the tasks and
mastered many of the desired skills.
It is imperative for mid-career people to consider
their unspoken advantages especially all the soft
skills and maturity that they bring. These include
[See 2 ]
2 planning and prioritizing,
3 being able to pick up when and how things
need to change during a “losing streak” and
4 understand some important things to do when
things are well.
One way to point this out is including some
thought-provoking terms in the OBJECTIVE or
QUALIFICATIONS. This may be “fast-learning
and adaptable” which can be expressed in a skills
based resume by listing skills statements that
match the job description’s need.
There is also an opportunity to link in a
“WORK HISTORY” section to a google
document providing “Selected Projects”.
This replaces the numerous bullets one may be
tempted to list under each employer, yet may not
be strongly pertinent to the position being sought.
In this way it resembles what Engineers and
Accountants can do in their resumes where
they have not produced publications that
scientists produce. Similarly HONORS and
AWARDS for team accomplishment can
When reviewing the details of the resume,
we inquired as to crisp, detail-containing stories
that bring the skills to life. This preparation
is key to differentiate from other candidates,
especially from recent grads who have
exposure to recent advances at potentially
Recently, there was an interesting request from a
friend we have spoken about before. He had
been offered a position and wanted help in
negotiating a fair package.
He is a couple of weeks from starting and has continued
interviewing for various firms. He received another, very
competitive offer and wanted to talk about how to decide
what to do.
The initial part of our discussion reviewed a comparison
of each offer’s elements: (Listed also is relative ranking of
importance of the element.)
Element A B Rank
-salary 68K 74K medium
-savings bonus 401K medium
-bonus 5K* medium
* applied to moving expenses
-insurance [after immediate medium+
-vacation 7 da 2 da first yr medium
10 da 10 da second yr
-relocation all bonus medium+
-environ- - seems medium
[relates to working, friendships and people he met during
his experience with the firm. May change with time. First
Element A B Rank
SPOUSE seems HIGH
PROFESSIONAL seems HIGH
GROWTH seems HIGH
Clearly, our discussion went into some details on the
important factors. Thus, the direction of the choice
seems to stand out which offer might be stronger for
It is worth mentioning three items, what does
professional development imply, what was
considered in growth potential and other factors.
Professional development is a broad term covering
at least in our discussion, ability to get training and
expertise in important career related topics (there
is a $5K budget for each person each year in one
firm.), chance to attend and participate in professional
organizations, access to experts and leading
technical resources and interdisciplinary teams.
Mentoring programs and networking encouraged.
Growth potential relates to recognition for
meeting goals and leading important development
efforts. Larger firms tend to present an advantage
for this factor since there are usually fewer steps
in the promotion ladder and people can be in
these permanently in smaller firms.
There are geo-social complications in the two
choices, however. One is smaller firm located
in a less technologically intensive region. The
other is located as a technical center associated
with the auto industry in a economically challenged
We will learn how the decision comes out.
A few safeguards need to be mentioned.
1. don’t negotiate by deception. Have the second
offer in writing in hand.
2. express your positive enthusiasm about working
at each firm and express gratitude for the good faith
3. be aware of all documents you sign and submit
via internet. Some are more permanently binding
4. formally accept your desired offer before
rejecting an offer.
5. follow legal guidance concerning proper
acceptance (See Sklover blog in yellow column.
for example 3 )
During this week I have been trying to apply
newly learned lessons about doing things.
One, did you miss the Boston national meeting
or a particular talk?
Did you know that you can listen to talks, some
with the accompanying slides, at a neat site.
Like most, it seems that there is not enough time
to do all the things that I must do and that I
want to do. We put undue stress on ourselves.
As Douglas Merrill writes in ‘Getting organized
in the Google era,’ we need to define our goals
and understand our constraints better. 2
Being able to find recordings like this is just one
Once we formulate our goals, with the help of
mentors and exposure to broader perspectives,
our career paths can be narrowed. This can
have unintended consequences so care should
be exercised in “narrowing too soon.”
It is mental constraints, however that I wish
to draw readers’ attention to. This is the focus
of the remainder of the post.
Attention vs. Notice
Realize that our senses are picking up and our
brain is filtering many diverse impressions of
our environment, signals, background and
clues related to data and information. The
“cocktail party” effect of noticing in a buzz
of conversation in a people filled room when
your name is called. Much of what could be
picked up is filtered. We switch the “attention”
to “notice” by placing items into our short
We can only rationally work with 5 to 9 things
at a time in our short term memory.
Multi-tasking and short-term memory overload
When we are doing important things, it is not
trivial to realize we cannot just go through the
motions on things. This holds true and important
for conversations, composing, and coordinating
motions and actions.
If we are performing things we are inserting
them into the short-term memory realm.
Very often we are trying to recall items from
our long term memory simultaneous to performing
Thus, we should recognize the limitations of
multi-tasking on our reaction times and attention
to detail and nuance.
Brain shifting vs. encoding into long term memory
We are asking our mental faculties to shift rapidly
between things when we multi-task and not
focusing. When we wish to remember things later
by placing them into long-term memory we need
to perform a mental encoding activity. It is hard
to do this during brain shifting activities.
If we need to rapidly shift, this is where recording
things down into a searchable format other that
long-term memory is valuable.
New computer tools and models of their use
are provided in the Merrill book. I am trying
to implement several.
Grouping tasks and synthesizing information
Our brains are not good at remembering, shifting
and making good decisions. Machines can do better
and we continually use them for that. Remembering
can be aided by synthesizing stories, creating links
to previous items and mental thought hooks.
Shifting our mental activity is aided by developing
“scaffolding” that bridges items providing flexibility.
Good questions unearths “outdated formats” and
“false constraints” that can limit us in our
decision-making. Rather than rationalizing a
“balance” think about melding things together.
define real vs. imagined limitations
judging decisions as melding ideas and actions
together rather than balancing activity.
So, this week rather than posting several items
from very valuable interactions, I focused on the
interactions. Interestingly, it seems to have reduced
my “stress level.”
Although the best practices for finding jobs
should be used anytime, they make a mark
when done well in tough economic times.
Here is a nice story. A recent grad, graduating
in the top half of her class, competed with all her
classmates for few positions all in the same
location. (In this case, LA.) She did a series of
best practices that has landed her several
screening interviews and three on-site interviews.
She upgraded her wardrobe to help her present
a mature, professional appearance and performed
some mock interviews– telephone and on site.
She had her resume reviewed by several career
consultants and the placement office at her school.
She aimed not for perfection but for better ways
of making her case. She already had an
undergraduate degree and sought a position in a
She had benchmarked her position for expected
salary and benefits with a national organization.
NEAR TERM STATUS
She has been screened in three, interviewed two
facilities and received one offer already. One
more interview to go.
The offer from the first facility provides the
benchmark for the other two to compare to
for decision and negotiating.
WHAT SETS HER APART
1. She shared what she learned about resumes,
career portfolio (or file), and interviewing with
2. She networked with CONSEQUENTIAL
STRANGERS to introduce herself and let
them know she was looking. She provided
her latest version of her resume (it has
changed since that version.) with a cover letter
to an indirect contact who only indicated that
the documents were passed on.
3. She set up a visit to what she viewed as a
“reach” institution and spoke with human
resource personnel. The manager was very
impressed that she had a professional file
and a neat professional appearance. Within
a week, she was called back for an interview.
There were no ads, no online sites to find out
about the position. The manager said the first
class impression sold her. The manager also
said, ads bring in hundreds of resumes, job fairs
bring in dozens of resumes. When you are
looking for few positions, it is nice when a
“purple squirrel” falls into your lap.
4. In the first institution interview, she was
professionally outfitted and prepared. (On time,
portfolio with extra resumes, folder with items
to review and take notes, etc.) She was
interviewed by an upbeat, enthusiastic duo
who clearly knew the kind of person they
wanted to hire. What separated this interviewee
was keeping answers short, telling stories
for each of many behavioral based questions,
and having on target questions to ask.
(See examples of questions in the comments.)
The following day they surprised her by
inviting her to the second phase of the
interview. A third phase consisting of practical
test quizzes showing solid fundamentals was
to be filled out within a week.
She was called giving an exciting offer the
day after the online test was completed.
So, things happened in rapid sequence.
5. For each of the interactions, she gathered
the names and contact information and sent
appropriate “thank you notes.”
In following comments, you can see some of
the behavioral based questions she was asked.
It is incumbent on each job seeker to narrow
the search and use all means to introduce
yourself as a person who belongs on the
We need to pay attention to things as they
change throughout our careers. As professionals
look at alternate email addresses and
especially how to organize ourselves.
Can’t say enough good things about
the Merrill book.
GETTING ORGANIZED IN THE GOOGLE
Source: Quick Review of book
Douglas Merrill Getting organized in the Google
Era Broadway Books, 2010
A very nice, quick read offering insights on
how to transition to the Searchable Internet
timeframe. We are all challenged and Doug
creates a “flow” from our goals, recognizing our
constraints to a workable strategy. 1)file information
in a searchable repository; 2)avoid stress in time
pressures, information- too much at once, too broad ;
3) avoid multitasking and decision-making under
pressure for important things ; 4)align goals with
priorities with grouping tasks to do; 5)explore Internet
tools that reduce the number of steps and link with
COMPARING EMAIL TOOLS
Source: M. Arrington
Been evaluating the tools to use with new computers
in our home/office. This comparison is reproduced
by others’ rankings of email software.
Source: R. Sheedy, Kipplinger.com 9-1-10
Went through this exercise myself and found it
instructive in determining some modified AGIs
and examined strategies to convert more to
Roth IRAs. These tools are helpful for us in
figuring out what we should be doing.
Don’t go it alone, you don’t have to and you will
be better served if you develop allies and mentors.
This is true independent of organization type
(academic, government, industrial, entrepreneur),
organization size, and where you are in your career
(emerging, middle, or beyond).
A zeroth step seems logical but is often incompletely
done. Perform a self assessment to gain insight
into yourself and what makes you tick and
satisfied. What moves you to rise in the morning
and look forward to the day ahead.
Pamela Ryckman quotes R. Caruso that you should
“understand your values, passions and motivation
before asking someone to invest in you.”
Where do you know you need help? This
can start you thinking about strengths you are
seeking in a mentor. Are you seeking guidance
for how to change positions? Are you seeking
areas where you might apply your skills? What
should you do in a particular circumstance?
Should your mentor be an expert in a field, or
a seasoned well-groomed person, or a female
or one who seems to have good judgment.
Ryckman highlights four items
- articulate your aims and motivations and
how best to interact with your mentor(s)
- be alert to bias or limits in ideas and
communication revealing conflict of interest.
- make the interaction beneficial and
enjoyable for both parties
- understand the human realities that
can result– mentor offers nothing new,
mentor does not know answers, mentor
tells you something you did not want to
While the mentor - protege relations requires
good communication, it is important to realize
that it is a two way thoroughfare. There is an
awful lot the mentor can gain, besides a thank
The Ryckman article provides a couple of
alternative strategies for conducting a
mentoring arrangement and some helpful
Sizing up a changing job market in challenging times
is not easy. Different sources, Internet sites and people
seem to initially be good for narrow topics and areas.
So when a multi-use tool like the ACS Clearinghouse
and career fair happens, people reveal things they
don’t expect they would. One of revelation is that
some honestly appear desperate, when they intend
to be proactive. Proactive is working with
consequential strangers, solid follow through,
applying for positions for which you qualify,
being flexible and having big picture understanding
of the hiring process.
Network with consequential strangers
It seems like job seekers are not aware of consequential
strangers who are difference makers’ (see also 2 , 3 )
in finding opportunities.
Beware of appearing desperate
A number of people are in temporary roles or
part time or in roles that have limited horizons.
Career consultants’ hearts go out to them. Their
actions and body language speak more to being
desperate, rather than being proactive.
Follow through with attitude and actions
These members initiate conversations, send
emails and share their resumes with the hope
that a job description exists that “has their name
on it.” Too often their body language appeals
for help. When suggestions are offered that
repeat what they have done or seems out of their
“comfort zones,” they ‘drop the ball’ or delay
their follow-up. Often times, this turns off people
who make the suggestions.
It also appears that back-up plans should
be energized. Holding out too long places
us out of employment for too long, without
using our skills and developing new ones.
Apply for positions for which you qualify
(Ask first before sending in your resume.)
All too often, people apply for positions that
they do not fit closely enough.
Employee referrals are a plus
It is a little used insight that if current employees
submit your resume for you, it is placed on top
of the resume pile. Also, if you take the initiative
to visit the firm with your cover letter, resume
and portfolio of documents in a professional
portfolio, it can be looked at quickly since it
does not have to be scanned, reviewed and
printed out. Your physical presence as a
young capable go-getter holds you in good
stead, as well.
People seem to not use their network effectively.
That means volunteering and helping others,
referring openings to others who might be qualified,
or accepting roles where they can demonstrate
their skills. 4
Don’t be surprised that the skills and experiences
desired by many are different now compared to a
year ago. Have you kept your finger on the pulse
what skills are being sought? Have you adapted?
Speak to people, tune into blogs that follow
specific industries, learn about people who
are getting interviews or job offers.