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

March 2011
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Future Trends in Technical Careers. Nuclear energy and quantum dots
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:47 am

Problems and creativity are common routes to
new areas to explore and develop.  It is interesting
to see the curious dispersion of business and
technical publications.

Technical topics in business media.
We are all familiar with the recent tsunami and
impact on nuclear energy production based on
solid state fuel uranium reactors.  Larger scale
assessment of longer term effects of substitute
fuels are currently viewed.   M. Ridley raised
a different competitor for substitute reactor fuel–
thorium liquid fuel reactors.  This is the kind of
technology certain universities and government
laboratories might play significant development
roles for a decade in the future.  Look at Energy
from Thorium
for deeper reading for technical
audiences, for example.

Business topic in technical media.
Small, quantum-dot elements of electronic and
photonic circuits were reviewed by Hank Hogan
in the Feb. 2011 issue of Photonics Spectra.  This
will not be found in business publications, although
they are closer to being in users hands in the near
future.  Technical papers by small companies will
highlight developments and integration into product

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Watch-outs. 24. Goals, e-filing and digital footprints
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:05 pm

Three ahas! are drawn to your attention in this blog.
How do you determine what you want your future
to be?  Do you set personal goals or fly by the seat
of your pants?  Goal-setting by survey or….
Internet “footprints” we make when we surf web-
pages is a second observation. 
Did you note that we did not receive income tax
forms by mail?  What is the story behind that?

Source:  WSJ 3-9-11, Sue Shellenbarger, “Making
Kids Work on Goals…

A goal without a plan is just a wish.  The result of
not having goals, S Shellenbarger writes is
linked to lower achievement at many levels.  She
writes of confidence in achieving goals going
hand-in-hand with lower performance.  Besides
the distractions of modern American life and
very short term thinking of schools, business
and the next election, clear thinking about setting
goals finds that 50% of the our results happen
as planned, if we set goals.  Things are unpredictable
and unsettled if no goals are formed.
The WSJ comments section is also informative.

Source:  The Economist, 3-12-11, P. 8.
Anonymous no more.”

Websites often know an awful lot about their
visitors.  Cookies, “history stealing” and more
advanced tools are common as shifting the
balance in legal, business, and other aspects
of our ‘digital lives.’

Source:  WSJ 3-19-11, Guide to the Tax Season
This weekend feature writes about the direction
tax filing is going– all online (with some exceptions)
and the impact of online filing on specific

One item to underscore is consider not working
with all your data online, while one e-files.
The comments appending the article are solid.

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Interviews, yet still no offers.
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 11:56 am

A. Sklover in his usual excellent way responded to
a person’s question, ‘How can I figure out why I am
not being hired?’  I agree with all his suggestions.

In addition to
   1.  the resume seeming to do its’ job– the person is
        getting interviews.
   2.  getting interviews shows you are applying for the
        positions you are qualified to do
   3.  improving “person’s interview presence’
   4.  responding to specific questions about leaving the
        last job [seeking the help of a career consultant]
   5.  addressing issues of reference and background
   6.  seeking direct feedback from the interviewers
        who chose someone else.

There are several other things that could be brought up
to consider.
   A.  post interview thank you notes-  have these been
   B.  if a technical presentation was given, did it properly
        display key skills and abilities, confidence and
        civility of expressing appreciation for co-workers
        and ethical standards of keeping proprietary
   C.  did the candidate observe, listen, and mirror the
         style and culture of the organization that (s)he was
         interviewed for?   Was the candidate a good fit
         for the organization’s culture, style and customer
         relations and expectations?
   D.  Internet skeletons- Is there any chance that the
         candidate has been misrepresented on the Internet?
         There are so many facets of an individual now
          presented many without permission or knowledge.
          Would “vanity searches” pull these up?

While a career consultant might not be able to tease these
things, the consultant might be able to help explore them

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Business Card Idea. QR code on back
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:34 pm

Just learned about placing a QR-code on the
reverse side of your business card.

In the example I saw, a picture was taken of
a person’s QR code on the reverse side of
his business card by cell phone which addressed
a web page offering text screens for a person
and his company’s.  It is a great idea and can
see it proliferating rapidly in many fields beyond
computer science.

QR codes started out tracking vehicle parts.  Now
it is finding use in “mobile tagging.”

QR codes store addresses and URLs.  Users with
a camera phone equipped with a reader application
can scan the image to display information or open
a web page in the phone’s browser, a hardlink.
Wiki details how to allow cell phones to connect to
the web using QR-codes.
Create QR-code:  1 

Tip of the hat to C. Eustace.

Presentations. Links that help the audience
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 11:11 am

You know when you find something that you think
is excellent.  You go back to it over and over.
Jerry Weissman’s book has been a hot source…
this time regarding helpful links for your audience
Previous links:  1  2  3  .

Jerry reveals internal links to point to the focus
of the presentations in Appendix B.  The second
helpful topic is direct links.

  Reference to your Flow Structure
  Logical transition [end one topic;  start next topic]
  Cross reference to other, related subjects
  Rhetorical question
      Introduce the topic with a question
      Provide an audience alert
  Recurring theme
      Refer back to previous section, phrase or comment
    Bring up a point early;  mention it at the very end
  Mantra -  “catch phrase”
  Reinforce your main message of what they should
gain from the presentation
  Repeat your company name

  Mention something you learned that day from
speaking with audience members
  Provide a natural reference to the audience,
  Ask questions
  Contemporize to today’s events
  Localize to today’s venue
  Assert data related to today’s data
  Customize the opening graphic to today.

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Entrepreneur Ideas. 2. Checking references
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:57 am

Really gained some insights from Jay Goltz’s article
in NYTimes on “bad hires” and the multiple effects
they have. 

Did you know that a company, depending on the state
of operation, will be taxed at higher rates on
unemployment taxes, if they fire an employee?  This
higher tax lasts for a few years.  This is one non-
obvious impact of a bad hire.  Others include:
lower sales and poorer service and the need to hire
a replacement [time, energy and opportunity time
(time you could be doing something else that is

Don’t forget– impact on morale when someone leaves or
is a poor performer.

This leads to one of several lessons learned the hard way–
diligently check references in your interview process.

While it is true most places have a legal adviser
prescribing what someone can offer on reference
calls.  But if someone is really a valuable contributor,
most people I know will offer an enthusiastic reference.

The author suggests posing the question, “Would you
hire this person back?” as a ‘tip-of-the iceberg’ lead for
getting at honest impressions.  Then, ask make-or-break
questions about specific skills that will make the
person successful at the job.

Reference checks are the “seat belt” of the hiring

For job seekers, please note the kinds of questions
to prepare your references to respond to.

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Future trends in Technical Careers.
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:46 am

The pull-out section of the WSJ was a zinger for
futures trends that key leaders see.

DiuPont’s E. Kullman talked about applying
scientific and engineering know how to solving
problems of the day and of our future.  1 
One of the ways to participate is through
science fairs to create the excitement of
discovery in younger generations.  2

A common theme was “run up the flagpole” by
B. Ford who offered an evolutionary move to
electric and hybrid vehcles, as “one size [and style]
does not fit all.”  People will evaluate their
transportation needs and fill it with more than
one option, public transportation could be in the
mix.  Being in automobiles, he was focusing on
families with more than one vehicle….

Mac Heller and Nathan Myhrvold seemed to
have more crystallized views.  Heller opined that
you and I and other consumers will want to
‘manage a range of tools, with a menu of
technologies.’  Our tasks will be to define cost-
value-performance trade-offs
in light of more
complicated scenarios… in food, in fuels, renewables
and energy sources, in information technologies
and visual screens.

What I liked most was N Myhrvold’s interview
reporting the ventures he sees on the horizon
for his Intellectual Ventures group and
out-of-the box thinking on global problems.
(”google moment” concepts!!)
Each piece was worth studying and exploring.

1 comment
Job offer dilemma. Coaching for positive outcomes.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 12:55 pm

When we are faced with challenging decisions, who do we
turn to?  Do you have mentors or people you can ask and
rely on for reliable, confidential, and rapid response?  You
should have such people in your network.


Recently, a colleague sent a note:

“…I am not sure whether we discussed it during our class,
and I don’t remember…A lab mate of mine, he is an
undergraduate and is looking for summer internships.  In
short, what happened is he was offered a position for
which he applied.  As things would happen, a very attractive
opportunity has come up with another company for which
he has an interview on March 8.  It seems very attractive,
however if he doesn’t get this position he still wishes to be
able to work for the first company that has accepted him.

The question is:  how to nicely get an extension of a
couple of weeks to figure out the best outcome.”


“…Let me suggest that this situation is more common that
you initially expect.  I feel the worst way to deal with the
‘problem’ is by not communicating.  E., have you contacted
Ti Co. at all yet [name and company held back]?

If you have not, it is better for you to indicate to them
that you are very interested in the summer intern position. 
Then, ask the hiring supervisor when he needs a positive
response.  If it is before the interview, ask if you might be
granted an extension, till, say, a week later.

Be enthusiastic and encouraging in your conversation with
the supervisor and do your best to speak to her in person.
Pursue direct contact, rather than leaving a recorded message
or sending an email.  Show enthusiasm in your voice.. 
Mean it.

When you interview with the attractive new possibility,
certainly one of the questions you will ask is “what is the
timeline for their decision?”  Make sure to send thank you
notes to all with whom you interview [thus, ask for business
cards from each person].  Be professional, dress professionally.
If their timeline does not meet your other commitments,
and there seems to be a positive feeling that you might have
the position, you will need to negotiate with both– speed
up the second offer process and delay accepting/rejecting
the first offer.

A fall back strategy might be for you to ask for a hard copy letter
from the first offer.  Then, accept the offer.  If the second
company offers their position, let the first supervisor know
their offer and what it means to you– pay, experience, career
ambitions, term of summer internship, benefits, etc.  Then, ask
her what she would recommend.  This may encourage the
first company to “up” their offer in a positive fashion.

Does this help?”


“Dear [Dan],

Thank you so much for your advice.  I will try to do precisely
what you suggested as soon as possible.  You’ve been very

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Application for positions. Government Labs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Post-docs, Technicians, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 6:19 pm

Do you know what you are expected to complete
for a typical government laboratory position?  Here
is a note from a colleague:

“…In this regard, I am in the process of applying for
a position at Argonne National Laboratories.  In the
application site, they request six documents:

1.  Research statement
2.  Research proposal
3.  Grad school transcript
4.  Data verification form
5.  Cover letter
6.  CV

Of all these items, the only one I’m not familiar with
is the Data Verification Form.  By any chance do you
know what this document is about?  I tried to “google”
it but did not find anything that made sense to me.”

From what I have had to fill out for recent positions,
the Data Verification form could be:
From I-9:

Most people should also expect to complete
confidentiality forms, signing over inventions to
companies, and non-compete agreements.
If I find out more, I will post.


1 comment
Laid off. Now what?
Filed under: Recent Posts
Posted by: site admin @ 10:43 am

Someone close just called and spoke about a friend
being called into the conference room and informed
of a lay-off because of poor business prospects.

It had been a surprise.

One of the first Internet sites I suggest is Al Sklover
who provides so much useful help and wisdom.
Help, you pay for, wisdom is in knowing what to
ask for…

The person is competent, energetic, creative and
has accomplished much.  The whole division was
given the message.  Things to do:

1.  Determine what things would the person like to
do next, have several
   return to school for education or specific
  move to a different location
  start own enterprise
  be employed at another firm, different field
  be employed at another firm, same field
  and other things…

2. Reset your Internet profiles to reflect leading

3.  Create targeted resumes for leading three.
Have them reviewed by a career consultant.  This
takes some time, don’t expect it to be a week or

4.  Ask mentors, bosses, and colleagues if they
would be willing good references and if they
have suggestions.  Contact information, leads
for positions, their networks…

5.  What is the last day of employment?  Aim for it
being beyond the first day of the next month, or
next quarter  Leave at the beginning of a month, your
insurance covers till the end of the month.  See what
options are available for vacation, severance pay,
insurance coverage and other benefits.  Are there
meetings and near term plans scheduled?  Should
you attend?
Cellphone, email accounts — independent of the
company’s;  Just before you leave, and before the
plug is pulled, send out emails and calls to people
informing them of how they may contact you.

6.  Go around and help others through the challenging
time.  Network, share information, and be there
when needed.

7.  Take time to write down your accomplishments,
your contacts, your new career skills.

8.  Ask permission to interview while working, send
emails to contacts while finishing projects
satisfactorily.  It is not always granted.

9.  Have a departure plan, taking all things into

10.  Write a farewell note to all leaving and staying.
Reflect on the accomplishments, goals, friendships,
and worth of everyone’s efforts.

11.  Exercise, stay in shape, meditate.  Physical,
spiritual and mental health maintenance.

12.  Develop a daily routine and fill it with useful
things, appointments.

13.  If you are on meds, see if you can order a
supply in advance.
      If you need medical or dental attention, plan
visits while coverage lasts.

1 comment