Keep an eye out for things that may help people
in their careers. That is the object of the “watch
out” contributions. Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn.com
was interviewed and offered clear-eyed ideas
on career management that you should know
about. Ellen Schultz wrote about retiree health
plans coverages and information. Photonics Media
reported a timely article for entrepreneurs
interested in SBIRs and STTRs.
REID HOFFMAN AND “START UP OF YOU”
SOURCE: S. E. Ante, WSJ 2-29-12, Boss Talk
Searching for Break-out ideas
“Every individual needs to think of themselves
as the entrepreneur of their own life,” S. Ante
writes. “Do you invest in yourself? Do you
establish good plans and strategy? …adapt to the
future? You don’t do that, you are at serious
“Most people think of themselves as fitting
in a job within a hierarchy, like a career ladder or
escalator. The problem is the ladder and the
escalator are broken. You need to invest in your
skills and your network. Make sure you are
connected to people outside your company.
Figure out the new rules of the game.”
RETIREE HEALTHCARE COVERAGE
SOURCE: E. Schultz, WSJ, 1-28-2012, p. B8
“Saving retiree health plans?”
Loss of coverage devastates retirees who may
not be able to afford open market coverages.
This happens to early retirees who do not
qualify for Medicare.. People whose firms
are in bankruptcy protection have a tax credit
of 72.5% of the insurance premium costs.
It was extended in 2010 till 2013.
Newer Voluntary Employee Benefits Associations
VEBAs which are post-bankruptcy arrangements
are covered in the article.
INNOVATION RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY
SOURCE: L. Marshall, Photonics Spectra Feb.
2012 p. 36 Reauthorization SBIR program
Legislative compromise reportedly leads to
6 year extension of innovation R&D. The
article lists critical information about how
to qualify for SBIR:
<500 employees, for profit and independently
owned; place of business in US and at least
51% owned by US citizens.
Firms qualifying for STTR awards requirements
are also described.
It is sad but true, some people find their professional
situations as making them feel like they are in a
downward, “death spiral” with no way out. They are:
- mid-career people who have worked hard for a
firm and been let go, a victim of numbers in a
merger, or downsizing, or off-shoring.
- emerging chemists and engineers who are in
their 4th, 5th, 6th or more year of graduate work
without an endpoint in sight.
- people with a couple of decades of experience
and accomplishment who have been denied promotions
and given staff positions with little or no responsibility
little or no growth opportunity.
First of all, my friends, you are not alone. Second,
there is help out there for you. Many of us have
faced their personal dilemma and found out that
there are strategies and tactics to break out of the
Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Pier Forni are two authors
who have reflected on these kinds of situations and
have something positive to offer.
Kanter nicely suggests re-start your confidence engine
by breaking tasks up into smaller accomplishable elements
with shorter time horizons. Make progress despite
So, attend a meeting, deliver a paper or poster get energized
by the discussion and new insights that sharing offers.
Be open to others ideas and suggestions.
[Have business cards, exchange Linkedin.com addresses
share papers, expand your network, explore others’
approaches to dealing with their situations.]
Don’t shy away from offering to partner with
people in similar situations. The comraderie
and positive reinforcement and sharing of
successes will lead to personal success.
At a recent meeting, I met with several members
who had ‘lost positions.’ All were despondent and
seeking help to overcome personal barriers. I
accompanied one shy, extremely capable man into
an exhibition area to observe and manage his
unwillingness to confront his personal reality with
people he knew, and ask for help. Network where
networking is sought and expected….
Don’t be shy.
Forni builds on the role of civility as an elegant
way to pay attention to others. A colleague mentioned
that he wants to speak with someone but is unable to
get much time with full attention. A suggestion was to
offer a cup of coffee and light refreshment to accompany
the conversation. He responded soon after his critical
meeting that he was very surprised how such a little,
almost trivial kind act, made the whole transaction
positive and successful, even delightful.
[Know that taking the personal initiative to be civil
in spite of challenges reflects a professional inner
core of beliefs. The holding of a door for someone,
sharing a small treat are forms of “paying attention to
By all means seek out mentors who can provide
non-critical sounding board and experienced
reflection. Forni cites a saying that a
smart man learns by his
a wise man learns by the mistakes of others.
Above all, Pasteur is quoted as saying ‘chance favors
the prepared mind.’ Do things intentionally for the
right reasons and you will be positively surprised.
A recent chemistry Ph.D. approached with a situation
asking for help creating a business focused resume.
[Certain details are left out about the position.]
He started out with a nice, detailed “master resume”
outlining his chemical, chemical modeling and
physical biochemistry skills. He listed publications
(first, second and third author), patents and
The challenges he had included:
- translate the technical accomplishments into results-
- identify key transferable skills and
- state valued experiences demonstrating leadership,
assuming responsibility, teamwork, time and performance
management in academic, volunteer and competitive
The cover letter was addressed to a specific person at
the firm for her to “review the document and refer it” to
to the appropriate hiring manager.
The letter identified specific computational strengths and
suggested a computational finance model assignment
would be a possible fit. [Based on other information from
networking interviews, he had learned of a possible opening
in this area.]
Keeping to one page and not stating information on
the one-page resume, the cover letter stayed ‘on message’
without a lot of extra content.
The resume was organized into one-page, outlining
his transferable skills and providing specific examples
through documents in the cloud.
His heading included a link to his Linkedin.com profile.
His publications and presentations were linked in the
Experience section with limited technical
wording, providing documentation without over use of
If anything it was short on Honors and Awards and
Affiliations. I wonder if at that point is anything more
than an observation.
There were a number of “burning questions” students
asked after class on Monday. One was:
“At the conferences I would like to talk to some
“B. G. Shot” professors because their talks are
interesting to me. But it seems that some
professors are/were busy for just a “student.”
How can I arrange to get some time with them?
This is a hurdle for nearly everyone to engage.
I find it myself, even today. Timing and
situations often play a role. In fact, if I attend
a talk and wish to speak to someone, but am
unable, the least I do is write a courteous
“thank you” to create an email or phone dialog.
Some ideas to consider that may improve your
- Remind yourself that young scholars
are important to a conference. .. cutting edge
work, breath of fresh air, different insights….
- Remind yourself: ’schmoozing’ is important
and ok. Check out others people’s nametags, you
do want to know who they are. Let them see your
nametag so that they can identify you.
- Send an email indicating that you know
you want to meet in advance of the conference.
Ask them about recent or current work and be
open for meeting at that conference or a future
- Prepare a question ahead for a speaker
and pose it during the question and answer session.
Know all aspects of your “presence” will be
observed– stand, be civil, project, be properly
- Stay in the main conference hotel, whenever
possible. The idea of staying with a friend who
lives just twenty minutes outside of town is
usually a bad one.
- Take the initiative and introduce yourself.
Be a good host. Introduce others around you.
This means talking to others, keeping in mind
the people you know and have met so that when
you meet someone new, even if your interests
are a million miles apart, you can always say,
‘Have you met so and so?’
- Be socially generous. Invite others along,
bring them into conversations, introduce them
to colleagues, connect them to someone of
- Accept invitations to eat with a group,
especially gathering of more important people.
- Be kind. ‘Everyone is in this together.’
- Recognize and celebrate the fact that the
most important and enjoyable part of a meeting
is the stuff that occurs outside the sessions.
- If you have the chance to introduce
someone big and someone small, do It by
asking the big person if they’ve met the
small one, not vice versa.
The other day was interesting in that it reminded me of
- some natural telephone behaviors and
- that once your resume is out there, you can be
called at any time for a screening interview.
In class Monday, I encouraged a very capable student
to seriously consider using some guidelines for answering
the phone when I called for a mock telephone interview.
[Ask for a delay, saying she needed to postpone the
interview for an hour. Then, when that call came–
get specific information about who in the company,
what company and open position are involved.]
She answered the call vivaciously and willing to take
the interview right away. Some of the class seemed
to feel, like she did, that I might not call her back. She
also moved right into “interview mode.”
1. INITIAL RESPONSE
Think seriously about getting the name, its spelling, a
return call phone number and email of the caller. Get
the position you are being considered for and seek out
a job description, for that will help you respond to
questions. As mentioned, she did go right into interview
mode and inquire into the position we simulated.
Have ready and align your information about and
communication with the company.
2. USE OF CELL PHONES IS COMMON
Although the advice to take interview calls on land
lines is common, many times it is not doable these
days with our societal shifts to mobile phones.
3. NO NON VERBAL SIGNALS WHEN USING
THE PHONE, SO KEEP COMMENTS SHORT
She also when asked technical ,seemed to ,
go “into the weeds” of detail, “going long” in her
responses. Certainly good for the learning exercise.
Not the best for an interview. Keep responses short
and listen for interest and attention on the other end.
The second situation happened a few hours later when
“S” and I were beginning an appointment discussion.
Her cell phone rang and a rep from AZ was calling to
do a screening interview. She sought my feelings and
I signaled to go ahead, thinking I could help her and
offer supportive comments later.
I closed the door. Offered her paper, calendar and
some questions she could ask.
At the end of her interview she said she would not
wish to pursue the position further.
4. MY RECOMMENDATION IS: DON’T ELIMINATE
YOURSELF FROM POSITIONS BY SAYING NOT
INTERESTED (unless it truly is far afield)
Our follow-up discussion confirmed her response was
appropriate. She knew no one who would be interested.
She also was not interested in the post-doctoral role
5. FIND A QUIET LOCATION WHERE YOU
CAN SPREAD OUT IMPORTANT NOTES AND
NOTE-TAKING ITEMS FOR YOURSELF.
- appointment calendar, note paper, pens
- resume, contact people,
- questions you want to ask
6. INITIALLY SPEAK WITH FORMAL TITLES
RATHER THAN INFORMAL NAMES. “Thank
you Ms. Johnson.” instead of thanks Lady Bird..
Smile, jot down questions and don’t try to fake responses.
7. AVOID ONE WORD ANSWERS AND DEVELOP
AND USE STORIES TO PROVIDE RESPONSES–
STAR- situation, task, action, result
SARI- situation, action, result, implication
8. DEVELOP OR HAVE A CONVERSATION
“CLOSER” Reaffirm you candidacy and express
you interest in working at the firm, thank them for
9. THANK YOU NOTE SHOULD FOLLOW.
While in Pittsburgh last week, Mary Martin of the University
of Pittsburgh Office of Career Development discussed
their program to help post-docs develop their careers.
In the past week presenting a handful of workshops I mentioned
the importance of LinkedIn profiles. In meeting with a score
of people we covered some specific topics that people need
This post highlights some trends colleagues and friends
have adopted in their profiles:
1. Current role in one line
2. Summary either short keywords or statement of recent focus
3. Twitter feed
4. listing of near term Events involvement
5. Publication listing of last few years with links
6. keywords in Specialties
7. Certifications in Engineering Specialties and
Software certifications in Summary
8. Skills and Expertise labels 2
9. Experience in technically relevant fields, like Engineering, can
include roles many years in the past
For those changing or having changed fields:
There was an interesting situation that occurred at a
regional career workshop this weekend that can be
a teachable moment, if it ever happens.
My hope is that no one gets into a gentleman who
came in late to our workshop. It was more than
two hours into the 3+ hour workshop and in strolled
a mid-career (younger than I). He had a football
t-shirt and jeans on and sat right in the front row.
No sooner had he sat he asked if he could get a
copy of the power points that he missed.
RULE OF THUMB: COMPLIMENT IN PUBLIC
CRITICIZE IN PRIVATE.
Rather than highlight his uncivil behavior, I thanked
him for his interest and retrieved the source material
links hand-out (all cloud documents). Later in the
afternoon he requested time to discuss his career with
Then, in private, I “read him the riot act.” His behavior,
his appearance, his actions all were inappropriate, I
told him. He was out of work 5 years, had an
addiction problem, was not current with his field,
or for that matter the techniques and tools have advanced
since he last worked.
So after the unfortunately frank comments we offered
a sympathetic ear and a plan for action:
wear clothing appropriate for a mid-career person
at a business casual event
seek to enroll in ACS courses as an unemployed
seek taking current methods and equipment webinars
contact people in current positions to find out the
methods that would be sought
contact career management firms.
He is an example of a person for whom a career
management firm would be appropriate (knowing
that there is going to be a fee for their services).
Comments list some career management firms,
and recommendations for men and women professional
the hand-out for him