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

February 2015
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Watch-Outs. 80. Careful Interview preparation, Peter Kissinger Points of Information and Hiring Practices to be Alert to
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:28 pm

A while back this blog listed nearly forty reasons that
may tip you off to not select an offer based on
supervisor, assignments, cultural fit, and terms of the
offer.  While they stand the test of time, a link offers
hiring practices that should turn job seekers off, as

Under the radar but high impact things that can
arrest your chances to have a successful interview
and receive an offer don’t get mentioned often.
A CareerHub blog comes clean with a couple of

Peter Kissenger talks about laboratory protocol
and about misuse of statistics in a way few people
can.  A couple of his letters are linked and will mean
a lot to most of us.

SOURCE: L. Ryan, Linkedin Pulse, “…Hiring practices
that drive good candidates away”
* black-hole or “we will contact you” auto-response.
This automated system for matching musts and wants with
keyword ATS searches assumes people reduce to keywords.

* just wait until ‘we get around to it.’
If you submit your proper documents and do not receive
a reply in two weeks it seems too long.  If you call and
do not receive satisfaction, it is time to move on.

* Salary and Benefit Information “one way street’
They can ask for your salary history and expectations but
do not tell you what their expected title and salary range
is.  This is strictly an exclusionary process that is not
looking for long term employees.

* You got an offer, what more do you want?
While most people are not strong experienced
negotiators, it is important to realize the best employers
want to meet with you face to face and satisfy your needs
when you start.  Bring up all the critical factors for your
family before you formally sign on with a title and
starting date.  They should respect what you bring to their

SOURCE:  Billie Sucher CareerHub Blog, Brands,
Bling and Interview Things

You can blow an interviewer away with too much
jewelry, a flashy wardrobe, diamond studs or cufflinks,
and driving a new silver Mercedes to an interview.
Ask yourself: am I weakening my candidacy by anything
I do, wear or present?  How will I be remembered?

SOURCE Peter Kissinger, C&EN 2-16-15, p. 5
Verify your Research
Tyranny of Averages
He remarks that statistics are too often misused and
given biased interpretations.  His annual physical is
of measurements compared to averages and ranges
at one point in time.
Multiple problems result from disciplines of siloed
expertise and unaligned goals and incentives.
Publications are sought to present innovation that
leads to funding and more publications, without
Too many assumptions are untested, systems are too
complicated and verify first, then trust.

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Performance Feedback.
Filed under: Networking, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:05 am

When you enter the workforce, you may not be ready for
performance reviews and feedback.  Certainly not negative

In the world of “normal distributions”, 50% are better than
average and 50% are less than average.  Despite best efforts,
situations, conditions, accidents, external input, inopportune
occurrences, even heckler’s veto can put you in the less than
average group.
You may be the top performer for many years at many venues
just before you receive the invitation to sit down to talk about
your performance.  It does not matter.

A large number of people are faced with negative reviews.
One such kind is called a performance improvement plan,
which can be a HR trick to call an end to your position at
the organization.  It really provides the organization with a
formal means to document how to get rid of people rather
than improving them.

These plans can be triggered for a myriad of often unrelated
situations as the Weekly Wrap link provides.  It calls into
question what direction is in your best interests.

You will generally be presented with few, often only 2, options
when one more in your favor is often not included.
2-Complete PIP which is next to a foregone termination anyway.
The third involves politely “submitting a respectful rebuttal”
as Al Sklover points out.

If on the other hand, you are not compensated well, and were
thinking of moving on, you can use this situation by performing
totally professionally to move on. [1.a on the list]
Do it as a plan of attack where you are exercising your options
to achieve your goals.  You know the outcome they seek anyway.
Solidify your next plans moving forward before you move on.

Remember HR in most cases is prohibited from from saying
negative things, for fear of law suits. 

Habits and Habit Stacks. Breaking Bad Habits
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:35 am

Habits, as many know, reduce “brain [or thinking] overload.”
We just do things the way they have always been done and
move on to the next thing in time.

This week we started building a process for “committed
“   2  by sharing some ‘networking tips.’  During
the class and after people both displayed and asked for
help to break bad habits.  As we have mentioned in
earlier entries, habit stacks are the basis for soft

This entry lists some tips and tricks for networking
using mini-habits that can be aligned into stacks–
 - meet, greet speakers    - offer to help speaker
 - don’t go in “cold”          - warm your voice up
 - travel light                     - if arriving late, take a moment
                                            to look good and have a plan
 - google the speaker        - “sticky eyes
 - visit and meet VIPS       - “wet glass syndrome
 - Amy Cuddy pose

A couple of individuals discussed frustration over
personal behaviors that they found hard to break and
asked for assistance.  Sharma’s blog entry was instructive
in that he isolates nervous habits from dependencies or
addictions and breaks the bad nervous habits into actions
to reduce internal tension and motor/ verbal tics.

Sharma offers that these bad habits can be dealt with
by recognition, meaningful and purposeful alternative
and positive reinforcement.

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Confidential information. Proprietary information in Companies and Identity Theft scams with Turbotax
Filed under: Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:45 pm

Have you been using TurboTax like I have?  I have benefited
from using it for more than 15 years.  Then this year I noticed
that facilities for reporting investment income were not
in the “Deluxe” version.  In order to do that I would have to
upgrade to Premier for $30 in addition to a second state tax

There was quite a bit of customer upheaval and I learned
I could, for this year only, get the upgrade at no cost by
direct intervention and request.  Mike Hogan writes up the
details in his Electronic Investor Column.

That is not the end of the Turbotax user saga.  Laura Saunders
and Liz Moyer
wrote about a state tax fraud alert for turbotax
users happening Feb. 5-6 in 19 states.  The tax fraud is not
a breach of Turbotax but other security data breaches where
social security information is illegally stolen.

Turbotax will help ameliorate the problem with resources.
they suggest doing a check on turbotax to see if your direct
deposit account information has been changed.

 -Use downloaded software rather than online preparation
 -change passwords using stronger passwords
 -avoid unsecured WiFi access
 -update your operating system software,
 -update your homesystem  and antivirus software
 -look out for phishing scam emails
 -do not respond to “Your Federal return has been rejected” emails

Confidential information is one of the subjects Al Sklover
has covered recently in his Employment law blog.  He points
out the repercussions for being reprimanded or fired violating
for breach of confidentiality can be detrimental and long
lasting. Be cautious and know the rules, regulations and

Sklover offers meaningful guidelines for what is not
confidential information at work.  Some salient items
out of ten he identifies are:
 - dates, titles, and responsibilities including professional
association affiliation, including employer rep
 - workplace projects, if completed and publicly known,
 - ideas that you developed outside of the company (,which
should be documented separately– send an email to yourself)
 - public domain, general field knowledge.

A colleague recently came to me with a problem about preparing
and getting approval for material at an outside presentation.
She indicated it takes so much time that is a rare commodity.
My response to her was get approval on more relevant material
than you need so that you can respond to questions with information.
Ask for more and only edit it shortly before the presentation.
The request then helps you not to be so picky.  You know the
saying it takes longer to prepare to give a 5 minute technical
presentation than an hour presentation because of the need to
precisely word things and limit the data that supports the conclusions.

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Culture of organizations
Filed under: Interviewing, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:46 pm

One of the main pieces of advice job seekers receive and
read is to explore the culture of organizations before
accepting an offer.  What is culture

The most comprehensive descriptions are in the wiki
definition of organizational culture.

Burghall, Grant and Morgan define it nicely in “Lean
Six Sigma” as the way people normally do things in an
organization and when no one is around to tell them
what to do.
It develops over time resulting from past events, the
present climate, the organizational structure (solid
and dotted line relationships), organizational aims and
kinds of people.

It is influenced by its norms and values as seen in the
written mission, values, organizational chart, website
and charts.

The culture is influenced by unwritten assumptions and
what people pay attention to  and value

Artifacts , symbols, power structure, routines, rituals
stories, systems and myths
also reflect the organizational

It is said you should relate well to the culture when you
accept a position.  This entry aims to provide what you
pay attention to during your assessment.

New Learnings by attending a meeting outside your fields of expertise
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:37 pm

This past week I had the marvelous experience to explore,
absorb and experience new technology at an Exhibition
and Technical conference.  Let me share three findings.

A keen observer of human and natural phenomena, Franklin
is attributed with an effective form of flattery that creates
win-win outcomes.

The effect was learned at the first workshop began at 7am
and where few were in attendance.
I arrived early, greeted the speaker and offered to help in
any way she felt was valuable. 

Afterward, she said you need not attend this session and I
appreciate it.  Would you be willing to come and do a
presentation to my group?

Later in the morning I attended a presentation on getting your
work published in society journals.  The organizer responded,
you do not need to attend this session; as you were here last
In this session, I learned a lot about how media is changing
technical publication in journals. 

Doing favors for others is a form of flattery and a way
of furthering both yours and their goals.
Source and origin is nicely described


Editors of JBS and JALA (Biomolecular Screening and
Laboratory Automation) talked about constructing papers
that journals will accept and what authors can do after
Before submission
1.  know the audience of the journal
2.  create good titles for your article
3.  while the scientific method is undergoing added modifications
it is good in all cases to describe the question you are trying to
answer for the general audience before you are finished with
Authorship consideration
1.  person who did the work first
2.  no more than 2 co-firsts
3.  P.I. last
4.  corresponding authors, typically PI, but no more than 2
5.  Avoid gamesmanship [like listing famous author in paper to
get it published]
After publication
1.  in the multi-media, open access age, find ways to promote
ethically and legally
2.  use social media to share and show discussion and implications
3.  institution press releases.

What in tarnation is that?  It is the reverse of Moore’s Law about the
increasing trend in the speed and virtual memory of computational
devices.  Francis Collins eloquently brought this in to his keynote
when describing NIH and Pharma’s dilemma of finding therapies
for human diseases.
The number of new drugs approved every 9 years has halved since

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Hiring Trends. Perspectives from the Hiring Side
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 11:17 am

This entry was going to be about a recent collection of
tips and shortcuts for digital technologies in “Pogues
“  by David Pogue which is helpful for many who
need to use technologies and struggle to keep up.

In the process of thinking about it, Pharmalogics Recruiting
was “re-discovered.”  It is a remarkable resource for
pharma and biotech industries.  It’s blog website serves
more than just the segment it serves.

Just like the considerations offered in the “interviewing
” that an interview begins much earlier in the
process and includes preparation and soft skills to explore
and narrow down prospects, the company’s interview team
needs to be “on the same page” for requirements and
responsibilities and expectations.

A positive interview experience is where the candidate feels
wanted and the process is deliberate and communicated.

It is interesting to note the other little things that can be
done to make the process a successful negotiation, as
the article portrays for the best companies.  This is
telling reading for those in the job market.


Recall that the zeroth step in a job search is understanding
who you are and your primal behaviors.  This article
seconds this notion and builds on it with what they
call is a person’s “coachability.”

The article describes it as the capacity to listen carefully,
absorb and adapt in a positive way to change and
constructive feedback.


One of the critical points in preparation is to understand
the mission and goals of the organization you are interviewing
for.  It is a must at the offer stage since your satisfaction
in accepting and working there will reflect a good match between
your personal needs and values and the company’s.

Explore with some detail what is important and what is
valued at the company before the interview.

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