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

September 2013
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Wise Skill. Audience Analysis.
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 4:30 pm

In the technical world, not much thought is given to the audience
necessary to present outstanding presentations and seminars
and write, compose and edit papers and reports.  Nonetheless, while
the concept seems simple and obvious that we should not speak
quantum mechanics, applications of group theory to synthesis or
analysis or multivariate statistics to an audience of youngsters. 

In practice, so often we try so hard to present our ideas, revealing
our command of our subject areas that we lose sight of a key first
step of communication:  know our audience.

When we speak or write, our first view might seem to be that audience
analysis is the same and our responsibilities are to provide what the
audience needs, wants and values and influence the audience’s thoughts,
feelings or behaviors.

A thorough discussion of audience analysis in ACA Open Online
Guide to Public Speaking by P. DeCarro and T. Adams
points out
five “layers” and the first one may be substantially different for oral and
written presentations– situational analysis.
Are the audience members present voluntarily of their own desire and
want to be there listening?

Other layers include:
audience demographics:  homogeneous or heterogeneous.  In oral presentations
we can assess and adapt.  Whereas audience analysis for written work,
can lose its credibility and power if it does not presume heterogeneity
to a degree.

Audience values, beliefs and attitudes:  how the audience thinks and feels
and develops a bias or opinion.

audience multicultural breadth
:  language and style biased by culture.

topic knowledge or prior knowledge of audience.

A second reference on audience analysis covers similar topics, but also
adds how the writer (in this case) can adapt, focusing on examples,
transitions, introductions, graphics, sentence structure and formatting.
So this presents what the author can do, rather than characteristics
of the “audience layers,” as in the first reference

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Technical Writing Ideas. John Borchardt
Filed under: Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:49 am

John Borchardt was a friend and collaborator with whom
I shared the dais on many occasions.  He passed away
in January, but his spirit and ideas live on.

Lesson:  His Linkedin page is still alive.

John created several guides for technical writers that
still have value
  Paying Associations
  Job hunting and career

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Confidence. Professional “Soft skill” key for Presentations.
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Leadership
Posted by: site admin @ 5:54 pm

It took me by surprise this week when speaking with
Rob, when he related to me that there is a disconnect
between what recent grads think or are led to believe
and the reality in the job market
.  They, he said, do not
realize that skills and papers published may be ‘check
marks’ in evaluations but ’soft skills’ are looked at as
essential in the hiring process.

One soft skill that clearly stands out is confidence.
We may not have a definition on the tip of our tongue, as
it is the situational expectation that your efforts will
result in a positive outcome
.  This expectation leads
to a list of positives– greater energy, support from others,
goal-directed effort and cooperation.  As R. Moss Kanter
points out there are three cornerstones of confidence:
accountability, collaboration and initiative to take action.

The reality is we observe a demonstration of a person’s
in a presentation.  Having confidence goes hand-in-
hand with giving good presentations.  Being confident does
NOT mean not being anxious or nervous.  But it is knowing
how to rearrange all the butterflies in your stomach to fly
in formation.

A person can learn good presentations skills.  A person
can also gain confidence.  The presentation of our technical
accomplishment is the medium by which our confidence
is displayed
.  [Rules of thumb.]

Gaining confidence is a common thread through a series of
stories of women entrepreneurs in the T. Corrigan and J.
Desai’s piece in the WSJ describing what it was that each
overcame in their careers to become successful.
  C. Fiorino-  overcame dropping out of law school by
being given the chance to exceed an entrepreneur’s
expectations, first at an entry level position.  Then,
developing skills and interests where her leadership
skills could be honed.
   B. Comstock-  wisely learned how she could propel her
curiosity to dispel her lack of confidence to compete with
competent peers.  This attention switch has allowed her
prove to herself and build a reservoir of courage to try things.
   L. Tilton-  challenged her self-image of being a
victim of circumstances
  and posed herself with goals
that had value and meaning so that she became a positive
force for good.

These stories of courage and building confidence are
central parts of what catapulted these leaders as
entrepreneurs, not only as first rate presenters.  So, garner
a perspective of what a technical presentation is used for,
besides the results and conclusions.


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Watch-outs. 46. Genome analysis for diseases, Financial advice by Algorithm, Company Culture Trends
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:08 pm

SOURCE:  B.McKay  WSJ 9-5-13 p. A6 “Genome Techniques
Aids hunt for Superbugs

Life enhancing outcomes and Health cost savings may result
from work reported in this article for identifying whole genome
sequences.  Scientists can identify how virulent a bug is and
what drugs it is resistant to.  Foodborne outbreaks, TB are
recent targets by firms such as Life Technologies Corp.
based network.
Budget cuts in government support may delay application
and development work.

SOURCE:  A. Coombes  WSJ 9-5-13 p. R1 “Personalized
advice without a person

So much of business is moving online.  People who are
customers desire immediate answers to complicated
questions.  To meet their demands various sites looking for
sales at lower costs, the article presents, act like an
investment adviser and manage your money.
Wealthfront uses a 10-question tool.  Betterment assesses
risk and goals.  SigFig studies your investments.
The article offers a series of cautions to be aware of
before using these services.

SOURCES:  D.MacDonald WSJ  9-9-13 p. B1
Sartorial standards at McKinsey” and
A.Hofschneider, WSJ 9-11-13  “Hiring Millenials?
Meet the Parents

While often we realize too late the importance of company
culture on the financial results and how positive our
feeling for working there, two articles describe stories
of McKinsey’s  culture and the tactics different companies
are employing to adjust to millenials both as employees and
as customers.
The McKinsey article includes a book review and reveals
the importance of likeability, solving problems and “outstanding
mental equipment.”  Those interested in consulting firm
employment should peruse this piece and the comments.
Several recent trends are covered in the sidebar to the second
article by Lauren Weber, notably less commitment to
commitment, using freelancers and temps.  Many comments
offer objections, but I have seen it happen.

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Screening Interview. Questions to chew on for Intel
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Post-docs, Technicians, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 10:45 am

What can mentors do for you?  They can offer insights
and perspective
that are not readily available in one
easy-to-reach location.

They can give you specific information that reveals to
a company interviewing you that you have done your homework
and are “on the ball.”

They can give you typical interview questions that you can
think about and prepare responses to.

FL recently was invited to interview Intel and I could
have shared information Dwight Hunter presented two
months ago that it is a leading designer and manufacturer
of computer, networking and communication products
with locations in over 60 countries, employing >100k
employees, 80k of which are in technical roles.  It is a
highly recognized brand (top 10) listed as one of the
top 50 best to work for (Fortune), and is aggressively
pursuing growth segments in data center and personal
computing businesses, while extending into newer market

Other relevant items about Intel are part of the package.

What questions would a screening interview ask:

Fundamentals of physics and mechanics of the fields they
have high interest in:

  How does NMR work?  IR?  Fermi resonance?
  What is the Si band gap? 
  What type, size of beam and energy lasers have you used?
  What is the half height of the UV-Vis dimethylgermylene spectrum?
  What is the differences betweem Si and Ge reactive intermediates?
  What is quantum tunneling?

New science
  what did I do with carbon nanotubes?
  how did I synthesize the composite materials?  How did I determine
the size?

  Any suggestions about how Intel can satisfy Moore’s law in the future?

Think seriously of investing time to have and develop mentors.
They can make all the difference preparing for an interview.

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Virtual Career Fair. Indianapolis Experiences
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, First Year on Job, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 5:04 pm

For those looking for positions, seeking help with their
documents, and getting practice interviews, the virtual
career fair ended today was a membership granted opportunity
you should not have passed up.

I know I met with ten members who told me their expectations
were exceeded and they learned and practiced and received
advice on critical issues.

   public relations documents needed for industry and
what to include in them– keywords
   importance of the “resume red zone” the middle
third of page 1
   items to include in the heading and name on each
page with page number
    form and content of resumes
    importance of the interviewing continuum
    knowing about the zeroth level of the interviewing

    how to conduct an informational interview
    how to conduct a telephone screening interview
    how to conduct a virtual video interview
    Wise skills — being allies for each other, committed
Advice received
    Recent PhD who delivered their baby girl now wishes to
return to the work force, how should she respond to time
     Recent graduate who wants to find a job in the Chicago
area, who do I network with
     What are the hot areas to look for positions– employers,
specific industries
     What companies in Canada are hiring
     Strategies for dual career families

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Internet Presence. Blogging and Linkedin ideas
Filed under: Networking, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:55 am

While traveling recently I read Kindle books about topics
relevant to your online presences.

Topics                Author              Title    J. Kidder    “The Professional network
                           B. Patrick    your career cannot afford
                                                to ignore

Blog Posts          S. Scott       “How to write great blog
                                                 posts that engage readers

A dispassionate view of Linkedin that provides an updated,
relevant foundation for what you want to include, who
the audience is
and how to profitably use this corporate
tool that is provided to make a profit [90% of users do
it incorrectly, lacking either professionalism, keywords,
headline and formatting or strategy].

In-person networking gives an order of magnitude better
connection, yet, Linkedin is the ultimate platform for
connecting with people, industries and professions
when distance, time and resources prevents face to face

Some headlines-  meaningful headers and readable format,
links to credible digital content, strategic use of keywords
in context.

Common misuses- having hoards of network members,
where most pay no attention or do not work for each
Lack of understanding that having many common
background networking members is not as
helpful as having varied broad-expertise and
experience network NARROW FOCUS.

It is worth noting that a number of things
that are advertised are efforts to further the

Steve Scott wrote his e-book about doing writing with
a purpose that is part of project that has an audience that
has value and increases readership.

This book talks about 19 ways to engage audiences,
pointing to four major divisions, namely:
1. MVPs - massive value posts
2. FPs - filler posts
3. UPs - updates
4. Bonus Content

Now we should understand Steve is providing his readership
information and ideas that monetizes his efforts.  It is
hard work that is not dependent on one or two tools to
continuously improve.
He likes doing Authority blogging, rather than developing
niche sites.  [A broader list of blogging books is here. ]

Ideas to enhance readers appreciation include:
 - list post with links
 - number a series of items
 - video or active audio content
 - questions and answers
 - instructional tutorials
 - announcements
 - interviews
 - give aways
 - contests

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Academic Interviews. Things to seek and ask about
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 8:52 am

Finding openings and obtaining interviews for academic positions
continues to be challenging.  While there is regular turnover and
some retirement, it is not like new institutions are being built or
departments growing.  So, each interview should be prepared for
and taken as seriously as each paper we write for a prestigious

The PhD degree, these days, is like a union card in providing
eligibility.  It does not grant privileges.  It is your record of doing
well in obtaining results and having very strong letters of support
that will get you interviews.

In an interesting piece, after you get your position, it was
recommended that after three years, you should have a fair idea
if tenure will be granted.  If you wish to remain in your position, or
more important, if you are uncertain or feel your position is perilous,
apply for positions elsewhere to obtain interviews.  Look, apply
and interview.  Certainly do committed networking2 

So, when you are interviewing for a position:

 - college mission and how your philosophy and approach mesh

 - get a picture of faculty and staff turnover, usually through
informal discussions.  Particularly revealing can be discussions
with students who are less guarded but observe changes.
 - what are the “service obligations” of junior faculty?  too much
committee work means less time for students, research and
writing for grants and publications, affecting the tenure decision.

 - ask to meet with students.  They can be brutally honest and
reveal stark realities.
 - how strong are communications between department?  Politics
are common, but is there coordination and are there joint programs.
 - is there collaboration between groups within the department?
 - what is the hiring process?  Is it a “beauty contest” with many
contestants?  Are fewer, select individuals interviewed?  What
is the decision based upon?

 - what is listed on-line about events involving the department
and how much is not listed and “word of mouth”?  What is
attendance like and who attends?
 - what are the revenue streams for the institution?  Higher ed
funding is in turmoil.  What is the student mix in the department?
How many are on scholarship?  How many transfers?

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