Thoughtful ideas are a hallmark of P. Korkki’s The
Search column in NYTimes. A year ago she wrote
about roles for experienced technical professionals
as adjunct faculty.
Checking the various job boards and accumulators
it is telling that many of these adjunct– short term,
modest compensation, challenging positions are
advertised. From my limited experience, this is only
the “tip of the iceberg.” (Hidden job market)
Both mid-career and mature chemists, scientists and
engineers can make their case and be given opportunities
to broaden their experience and refresh and update
their skills. Interestingly, this can lead in many
directions– professional societies 1 , joint entrepreneurial
ventures, distance learning, and helping others through
networking 2 3 .
Went to a very interesting presentation by Nancy
Jackson, our ACS president last night. Met several
people that I wanted and planned to see. Met some
friends I had not seen in while and shared pleasant
moments with them through the meal. Met some
new colleagues and opened the doors to future
One friend contacted me with an interesting
link to a site commenting on a typical interview
question. It comes in slightly different forms:
What is your greatest weakness?
If I were to ask your current supervisor, what would
she say is your greatest weakness?
The article stresses that it is a question to make
candidates uncomfortable. The author offers
to provide a “fake response” and run it by a few
others to see if they fall for it.
Sorry, in my book it is a fair question to understand
if a person has done a self assessment. Now we know
everyone is human and prone to shortcomings. That
being the case, take the personal self assessment or
a 360-degree assessment of co-workers and superiors
and learn from one or the other.
The important aspect of the response offers what you
are doing to overcome your weakness.
My experience has taught me that working with
partners who have strengths were I am weak is
honest and reveals a mature outlook. Another
is having a strong network of experts and mentors
that you can depend on.
So rather than being a trap question it reveals
strengths of working in teams or networking.
Tip of the hat to John Podobinski.
Isn’t it interesting: Hiring surveys are usually a
couple of years out of sync with today’s realities
(same thing for salary information); business
information and trending in articles in the
Economist or WSJ seem to be quarter by quarter.
Mergers and acquisitions are rumored for 4-6
months before anything happens, there is silence
a month before, and an avalanche of information
These observations might be combined with
the note on Rosensteil and Kovach’s book “Blur“
teaching that news is of four varieties, now:
A. Sklover provides a thoughtful response to
identifying the next hot career field in his blog
post. His six tips are worth reading, yet let me
comment on the fifth–where he opines that
it is not humanly possible to predict things
like this with high probability. It is possible to
mention observations, (he provides eleven).
Here are relevant clusters–
a-Internet adaptation and exploitation,
b-Natural resource (multiple time human
consumption) re-use, optimimization, and
c-Energy and food use (one time human
e-Education, training and re-training methods
for meeting needs of future workers.
Has anyone thought of providing back of the envelope
numbers and ideas for what can help an entrepreneur
start up a business?
An article in the WSJ by R.Greenwald reveals some
solid information about places to work (and their costs),
virtual staffing (from bare minimum on up), working in
the cloud (for secure on-line storage), and cool software
for business purposes. These go a way in describing
a check list with cost targets.
What might also be useful is listing “partnering” as well
for generating income selling items cooperatively for
other firms and gaining expertise through others’ expertise.
There still are problems like late-payment collection and
deadline conflicts making long hours and late nights for
In notes on the article in the WSJ online version,
James Chan speaks about other things of value covered
in his book, including what to charge, the importance of
networking and the significance of clients seeking an
entrepreneurs’ expertise and know-how,
no matter what his firm’s size.
An interesting couple of questions have been asked
regarding which email address to use in a resume
heading and if there is a preferred font for resumes.
1. EMAIL ADDRESS
“Dear Prof. Eustace,
I was having a conversation with (my Ph.D. adviser)
regarding what email id to use for job applications
and networking. He finds it more appealing if someone
uses a university/company email rather than yahoo/gmail
email. What I used to know is that it is ok to use an email
id which is private and which does not have a bunch of
numbers in it, like the one I have
firstname.lastname@example.org (rather than email@example.com).
I prefer my live.com id as I shall be graduating from
University of xxx sooner or later, then I shall be
somewhere else and so on, so having a private email id
is rather useful since I don’t need to change it.
Whereas he thinks that it is suspicious behavior for one
not to use their present affiliation’s email as if he/she
is trying to hide something about their current
job. I just want to know what you think.”
Your adviser may have a point if, perhaps, you are
focusing on a post-doc position. Although, I have seen
many successful people use gmail or yahoo accounts.
As an interesting sidelight, many firms discourage their
employees from using their work email accounts for
personal communication. It suggests to these
employers that people are not working on their
assignments, projects or responsibilities but on finding
positions outside of the company.
To make it specific:
When I contact my daughter, who works for a pharma
company, I send to her gmail account. On the other
hand, when I contact my son who has his own firm, I
send to his firm’s account. He does not look at his
other accounts as frequently. In fact, he has a service
that prints out his emails to have a record and be able
to read through the emails quickly.
Gmail also has the advantage of being able to IM and phone…
The side issue with email accounts is that there can
be a limit to the time and quantity of emails one can
keep on a server. Choose one that has a sterling record
of confidentiality and will keep things that are important
Please advise your adviser that there is both a
confidentiality issue and work rules and policy issues
that can exist with using one’s work email address.
Regarding numbers in email addresses, most ISP and host
servers allow you to customize email addresses.
SIDEBAR: Please refrain from using distracting email
addresses. All have heard this, nonetheless, it needs to
be restated. (don’t think I need to say this: list only one
in your heading!)
“I do have a question for you. How important is the
font of a cover letter and resume? I just came to know
that they must be in Arial font and mine have been
Times New Roman. Now, do you think that alone
is keeping me from getting interviews?…
Regarding typeface fonts. My counsel is generally
to be consistent, use the same font in heading and
body of documents. Personally, I prefer sans serif
(without the tails on letters), nonetheless I have
(1) “American audiences are used to reading serif
fonts, so these fonts tend to keep the eye reading
along the text. Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand,
make the eye stop. Therefore, sans-serif fonts are
typically used for headings and titles, allowing the
reader to quickly locate information, while serif fonts
are used for descriptions according to this source.
The key to whichever font you use is to be consistent.
(2) “How one highlights in a document also affects
readers…to create emphasis by using bold,
CAPITALIZATION, italics and underlining. Your
choice for emphasis depends upon your personal
taste. However you should not mix methods, not
overuse them (MY EMPHASIS).
LR, I hope this is helpful to you.”
Been thinking about a number of resumes
that I have been asked to review. Here
- Target the resume: is the focus industrial or
academic, part-time or full time, one specifically
targeted position or one of a number. General
resumes with a “qualification statement” may
be suitable for career fairs where there are
several or many positions.
- Job boards: consider targeted industry boards,
targeted industry recruiters and societies that
are growing and nurture the interaction of
seekers (this can be called “niche” boards or
- Heading: one telephone, one email, one web
presence contact is sufficient; however,
On-line identity: Present it in the resume heading
via LinkedIn.com profile and/or web-page (well
constructed and representing you well). Most
interviewers and recruiters will “google” you.
Know what they will find.
Differentiate yourself positively.
- Work History: don’t skip items in your work
history. Limit time gaps. What did you do when you
did not have a salary-paying job.
- Career or field change: I reviewed a resume
that showed a student completing an MS in
engineering while simultaneously taking MBA
business courses. Pressed on the issue: He
audited them. Audited courses do not pass
muster for expertise.
- Beware: hybrid skills based/chronological
resumes are not viewed positively. They can
be seen as “hiding something”.
- References: While some say that “googling”
someone is enough. It is not enough when
a person’s list of references includes someone
I know and can call even before speaking to a
Learning and applying ideas from Jerry Weissman’s
e-book Presenting to Win has been fun and some
cool tips are worth sharing.
Weissman talks about learning human visual perception
from Arnheim’s “Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology
of the Creative Eye” several limitations about normal
- western cultures commonly scan from left to right
thus: animation of a favorable idea should project
or swipe from left to right
beware: of animation of a favorable idea from right
to left it confuses the reader. This direction serves
for presenting unfavorable notions.
- expecting too many eye sweeps on slides tires most
in the audience. An image containing slide offers
eye movement relief.
- bring something “of the moment” to your presentation,
a news article, about the location, comments that you
heard from audience members before the session .
- concentrate on your audience more than your material.
Customize to their needs rather than covering all the
detail on the slides.
The saying goes, as soon as your resume is posted on a job
board or entered into a database, be ready for a call from
a company, institution or recruiter.
The call could be setting up a private time. It could also
be checking into your availability and suitability for a
Sometimes, and I have experienced it myself, a recruiter
leaves a message to call. Then the first question that is
asked is “why did you call?” believe it or not.
What is your reply? A lame– because you left a message,
or do you construct your response to reveal your motivation
and character in a tough job market. The interaction points
out that there is a possible match and you want to reveal that
if the position is not for you, you might find it attractive to
people in your network.
John Shinal in FINS wrote about questions people should
have the response in mind when speaking with a recruiter
on a screening type interview for professionals.
Three others that resonated with me were:
1. What are three words that describe you? (attributes)
Shinal points out the obvious. Consider not only specifying
the words but also having examples (short stories) demonstrating
2. What is the most significant accomplishment in the last
year? Confidently describe the problem you solved, the
project you started and made progress on or completed,
or the new idea that provided a return on investment.
3. What position do you seek next? In this reveal what
motivates you to pursue your ambitions– challenge,
working with customers, a particular therapy, advancing
a technical solution to a problem. Indicate your energy and
enthusiasm for this position.
There are other questions that will “pop up” relating to
verifying information on your resume or web-page or
LinkedIn.com profile page. These are no accident and
the usual purpose behind a screening interview…
Just ran across a pertinent note about how mid-career
people can develop neew and refresh existing skills–
on-line courses. But these are not “run of the mill” ones,
They are TOP FLIGHT COURSES.
My eyes were opened by discussions with an audience
at the Bidwell Training Center Chemistry laboratory
technician program. A number of people had accomplished
translatable skills for industrial roles, if they only
knew the skills mattered.
One gentleman, Paris, had installed and debugged
computer sampling systems, bar code readers, set up
databases and analyzed data from databases. He did not
realize the growth in the field of laboratory automation.
See SLAS for example. 2
Another person was an accountant in the chemical
technician workshop who had lost the desire for
accounting full time. She enjoyed working with and
organizing numerical structures yet missed interpersonal
contact. She simply was fascinated working in a
laboratory with chemicals. There is a unique combination
she was advised of her previous strengths (numbers and
interpersonal) and chemistry laboratory skills as a project
To her it was a revelation that roles like this existed
and were in demand.
This constitutes a form mentoring that seems to be
missing in many highly accessed searches. 1 2 3
It requires the mentor being an “inquisitive listener”
looking to connect things for the protege.
Attending a technical conference [Labautomation
2011] as a presenter and and attendee, I observed
and attempted to follow things I learned from
Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win 2 that has
been mentioned. Weissman pointed out that
presenters need to assume the role of
“navigator” for the audience. That is, presenters
1 develop relationships between all parts
of the presentation and
2 make the talk easy to follow for all attendees.
The presenter is served by getting the attention early
in the presentation.
When there is too much information with typeface too
small the impact of each screen shot is lost quickly.
It doesn’t help to apologize for the “can’t read the slide”
Just giving the facts may meet a fraction of the audience
needs, smaller than one would hope in most cases. It
would help to tell a story, offer a case, ie. give some
flow to the presentation. See blog.
The presenter needs to respond to the audience and
make them feel (s)he is paying attention to each person.
It helps the presenter that the audience members provide
body language signals both consciously and
unconsciously to the presenter. Better presenters
consciously observe audience members and speak to
Being facile with power point is handy. Too often
though it seems flashy rather than convincing, case-
making or helpful. So be careful with power point.
Consider using permanent projected items in the room
to show agenda, main points, goals for the presentation.
These can be on paper or a second projector or a
bumper slide, highlighting where you are or where
things fit together.
Examples to a chemical audience:
Jonathan Lee Eli Lilly spoke about a way to jump
start pharmaceutical innovation in a cool PD2
program. It is a crowd sourcing innovation tool
having researchers offer new potential developments
for commercialization. It is a winning presentation.
Yama Abassi ACEA Biosciences spoke about
remarkable investigations of the cardio impact
of new therapies. It was neat to see this cardio-
toxicity impacts being able to be investigated
in screening systems.
Both of these reveal the benefits of rapid,
automated systems integrated with software
and biology. As someone new to the field,
I seemed to pick up the key features of
each presentation. This is a goal of the presenter.