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

October 2017
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Interview Preparation and Follow-Through.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:21 am

JZ contacted me about preparing for an upcoming
interview and she is concerned about being an
international professional who has pursued her
dreams.  She believes –”she does not have the
freedom to choose passion if they are not traditional
career paths.  …I have H4 visa (spouse- H1B) and need
sponsorship to work.  [Situations are such that I
want] to add income by looking at a job related to my
graduate degree.” 

We corresponded refreshing what we had discussed
in person and in class five years ago as she was making
decisions for her family.  The times have changed in
the immigration world since then and that may influence
employment decisions.  These can be overcome by
thoughtful preparation, considerate follow through
and win-win comments during the interview..
Preparation Considerations-
 - your profile needs to show interest
and express background and experience in the chemical
-  Arrange an information interview to re-familiarize
yourself with OSHA, MSDs, and HazWaste and good
laboratory practice with people in the field. 
-  Develop ~1 min. stories and jot down memory aids
for each bullet in your resume
-  Study the company and area around the company.
Look at its website, goggle people, look at Linkedin
profiles for connections. 
-  Even if the interview is remote or virtual, dress as
if you were visiting the site.  Plan to be prepared a
reasonable time in advance.
-  Write down critical questions you wish to ask, Like:
  What is a typical day like?
  What are typical analyses and instrumentation used?
  What is the safety record of the company?
  Who will you be reporting to, who will you replace
and can you learn key information from them?
-  Have pen, paper, your documents and a calendar and
computer handy.
-  Salary expectation study for range
-  Be prepared to offer names and addresses of
references.  Contact references in advance asking
if they are available to go to bat for you.
During interview-
-  in the beginning introduce yourself and ask for 
introductions of all participants, get correct spelling
and title and addresses (thank you notes)
-  hold back from talking about or asking for salary
and visa status before a job offer.  
-  be ready to express your salary expectations based on
salary surveys for the region and title, if asked.  
ACS Salary Comparator
-  Dress as if you are on site.  Think about safety
shoes and apparel.
-  Arrange for no interferences and test out tools
you will use, if remote.
-  Breathe, perform a power pose knowing that it helps
our body to relax and be prepared
-  Near the end, consider offering a test run to work
for a day or week, per diem.
-  Near the end, ask “what is the next step in the
hiring process”
Following Interview-
-  Formulate an After Action Review of the process
-  Write “thank you” notes to each interviewer
-  Be ready to follow up on each of their requests.  It is
not unusual these days to be tested on pertinent skills
plan to show that you can do them well.
-  Check with your references to confirm they have all
they need to work for you.
1 comment
After Action Review. Job Search and Interview Process
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:28 am

Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search.  It points out the importance of networking
[2] , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that you can build your
career by taking related positions, where you learn and practice
applicable skills productively.  After all, a career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.

   applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume 
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
   it was too late, they had already considered a candidate. 
   This year they contacted me.   So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.

Career is a Process:  
A senior level manager:
-  Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
 QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
-  what I do not like, and what I like.
-  given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that.  I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe.  But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these 
things (as long as it is not wrong). 
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
-  were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
-  ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
-  Talked about SAP and Oracle.
-  He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
-   if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
 asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
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Comments on Individual Development Plan Templates
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:04 am

IDPs– We find these shortcut tools in many organizations.  We have
shied away from bringing this up after a conversation with Judy Grutter
a true guru in the field of career management and personal counseling.

IDPs are commonly planning documents or templates completed over
the next period, commonly, a year.  They are reviewed, revised and
discussed with supervision with the aim of guiding performance to
achieve  objectives leading to outcomes.

There is a common misapplication of this format to apply to managing
careers and long term goal achievement
.  No disagreement that
objective setting to achieve goals
is reasonable and important for
ourselves, teams and organizations.

There is no argument that a person is greatly aided in her or his career
quest by doing a 360-degree, self assessment
of emotional intelligence,
hard skills and interests, values and strong talents, personal behavior
tendencies, cultural biases, experiences and expectations. 

Expecting IDPs to do all this is just the beginning of expecting to do
too much.

There are other skills, soft and wise skills, that most IDPs seem to miss.
Some IDPs try to fix weaknesses and others extend a person’s strengths.
Nonetheless, the author needs to own the document and not be just what
the boss wishes.

What are some downsides of exclusively expecting IDPs to be a career
management guide? 
1.  needs to establish desired outcomes in an ever changing marketplace
2.  needs to have clear objectives
        getting a job, any job is not enough
3.  requires specific priorities and have strategies and keystone habits
to focus, limit distractions and understand perfect is the enemy of good.
4.  can put undue pressure on individual if someone else creates the
5.  understand human’s Fear of failure and be resilient (wise skill) 
6.  adapt to changing conditions and needs

There are ways of dealing with the career management uncertainty.  We
need to understand both the piece that IDPs may partially provide, and
all the other pieces that must be supported elsewhere.

This blog suggests that career management have three options in
planning– specific focus, contingent outcomes, and a ‘Z plan’ where
everything works out perfectly.

Professional Behavior. Time management
Filed under: Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 1:15 pm

A colleague visited me asking for my thoughts on helping
her overcome a time management situation she faces.
Each day she comes into her laboratory in late morning
after sleeping late and having a little breakfast.  Her day
then involves responding to events, problems and questions from
others.  She finds herself staying late to complete work
she had started or was involved with in other people’s
projects.  Little of the work she wants to do moves forward.

What can she do?

It seems her direction lacked focus, not having determined
and communicated personal goals and objectives.  Once
these are done a gap analysis and timeline can be created.

She indicated she wanted to graduate in December, 2016
and we spoke about a fast track route by outlining and doing
literature research for a review article that she could write
about her methods and instrumentation.

Then, we spoke about setting daily and weekly agendas and
communicating with customers, collaborators and co-workers
a more disciplined approach.  In addition, she needed to identify
an accountability partner, someone who is interested, honest,
can remain confidential, and displays the behaviors of openness,
fast-response and care.

Other steps, captured by H. Bruch and S. Ghoshal in “Bias for
action,” includes:
1   Ask for feedback on plan and possible roadblocks
 2  Overcome negativity and build up excitement
 3  Visualize intention and make a personal commitment
Overcome ‘traps of inaction’
  1  develop an agenda\ reduce priorities, organize demands
   2  identify constraints and map trade-offs
   3  expand choices
   4  selectively break rules

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Negotiations. 5. Tools, Preparation
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 8:07 am

Many seminars on negotiations will either emphasize the Harvard
or provide examples not directly focused on the
audience’s near term perceived needs.

Talking about negotiating a roof repair after a chimney pointing
process does not strike students who are graduating and looking
for a job.  They don’t pick up the relevance.

Yesterday’s seminar audience felt that negotiations begin
when they are presented an offer of interest.  Surprising.
Work and research must be done well in advance of the
position offer to define priorities, leverage points,
cultural influences and even words to indicate “no”.

The seminar also provided tools and how-to-express
things in three practical-to-their-needs stories.

1.  AfterActionReview and T-Chart
2.  Checklist

3.  Negotiations can happen at different times than a job offer.
Most people realize they will have 5-20 jobs in their career
and some they will need to change when their job is eliminated.
Being able to express and use use Appreciation to influence
the tenor of negotiations  can make a difference.

-  “I am flattered that you thought of me, but I am afraid I
do not have the bandwidth…”
-  “I would very much like to, but I am over-committed…”
-  “no, but”.. another time or situation.
-  “let me check my calendar and get back to you…”
-  focus on the trade-off:  what are we sacrificing if we…
-  to seniors or leaders:  “I would be glad to, but which of the
other projects should I lower in priority…”
-  “you are welcome to….;  I am willing to….”
-  “I am not able to do it, but so and so can…”

Transitions in Careers. Professional Behaviors. Internships
Filed under: First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:33 am

Internships can provide excellent interludes where we experience
what it is like in an organization (conversations, interactions,
, assignments) can perform new and goal oriented work
(goal-setting, application of know how and knowledge),
can meet and work for a short term mentor, and see how
things are done in another setting (culture).

My career had three “internships”– two in a medical school
biochemistry lab and one in am NSF Center of Excellence
program.  That was then, now interns need to be more proactive,
especially near the end of their internship experience.

In fact, I suggest doing AfterActionReviews of your
internship program and keep it in your Master resume
portfolio.  AARs are recognized as a knowledge transfer
and retention tool for capturing implicit and tacit pieces.
[See Knowledge Management.. Administrative Services link]

For those early in their careers, it might be useful to start with
- outlining all the tasks and assignments, completed and
- communicating in person
- seeking feedback on areas of improvement
- asking for longer term connection with people in
your thank you communication.

People in your junior and senior years [REU programs and
such] and in your graduate career level are advised to display
the maturity of performing AARs, drawing conclusions and
offering reverse mentoring.

Detailed description of AARs:  S. Salem-Schatz, D. Ordin,
B. Mittman, “Rapid Post-Project Assessment

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Mirroring during coversations and interviews.
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:42 pm

Have you looked at Fay Vincent’s editorial about the importance
of mentors
in his career path?
Fay Vincent was a commissioner of major league baseball, known
for upholding justice and defending all of baseball’s stakeholders,
not just the owners. 

I was reminded of this recently as two job seekers contacted me
about (1) assessing their behavior in interviews (2) what to do
better in the next interview (3) calling to mind a specific behavior
that might enhance their candidacy.

One was interviewing with someone I know well.  So, I know the
styles of both interviewer and interviewee.  Both are quite capable
and impressive individuals in their own rights.  So, I suggested (3,
above) that the interviewee really pay attention to the interviewer.
It is a process often referred to as “mirroring” and is a nonlinear
programming  NLP instinct of relating to a conversation or interaction
partner by observing and listening closely, then responding in kind
with similar words, behaviors and mannerisms.

While I will not be able to do a trial run and observe the mirroring,
as we are in a trusting mentoring connection, the action will appropriate
and meaningful.

As a mentor, we can find ourselves in the situations where we are asked
to assess interviews (1 and 2, above)after the fact and recommend
improvements.  It is an inexact science at best.  We suggest performing
AAR After Action Reviews to help with the process.  While it might
be done soon after the interview, a couple of days later can still be fruitful.

When we discuss this, because emotions and recall are directly involved
reviewing and discussing the AAR should be done in person to allow
follow-up questions and clarifications and trial-and- improve restatements.

So our initial attempt for meeting fell through, so we will aim to do
a conversation via Skype.

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After the Interview. AAR AfterActionReview
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 5:09 pm

A useful tool to use after you take an interview, after
you give a seminar or presentation or after a planned
event is an After Action Review  AAR.

AAR is a retrospective analysis of a goal oriented
action that performs an evaluation and offers improvements.
In this process “lessons learned” can be an output.  AARs
are common in military actions, emergency preparation
and actions, knowledge management, exit interviews,
and fire and police actions.
Colin Powell brought to light AARs in a Face the nation interview
several years ago.

CASE 1.  On site interview
Shou and I reviewed his recent on-site interview where he
did not feel he performed particularly well  So we captured what
he felt he did well and where he did not see how his preparation
was enough to satisfy the interviewers.  [AAR step]

He met the night before two professionals for dinner and then
first thing in the morning with the HR manager.  His technical
presentation that followed went well and his audience provided positive
He had a short conversation with a friend in the company that
confirmed this impression.  After lunch, that is where he had problems.

The interview then become a unique process of one interviewer
listening to him in a conference room where he was asked one question
for one hour.  He was asked how he goes about and has demonstrated
innovation.  [AAR step 2 identify and break down areas to improve]

It took him 5-10 minutes to offered prepared responses.  Then, he
had nothing prepared to offer.  [This apparently was the purpose
of this interview strategy:  The question asked to demonstrate
communications skills, creativity, curiosity depth of thought in
his graduate education

We discussed how he could 1) break down the initial question,
2) how he should perform an audience analysis, and 3) know
some common ground to frame the response and 4) create a dialog,
rather than a monolog.  5) Use room facilities [white board,
pens, paper, draw diagrams, flow charts, PERT charts, etc.].

The next interview was the same format asking the question:
How do you make decisions.  He faced a similar dilemma.

CASE 2.  Bullying incident in a seminar
In a mock interviewing seminar, an audience member volunteered
to be interviewed face to face with a colleague.  The planned
session was completed quite competently and the audience was
asked for positive comments and areas for improvement.  Of
the half dozen comments one person articulated a pernicious
attack on the person.
  While the interviewee saw, smiled and
said thank you, the interviewer turned the comment around
and devised an appropriate strong assertion pointing out how
the interviewee had nicely overcome problems and learned
from them. 

Everyone in the session observed the disservice and it was clear
this became a “teachable moment” how to deal with adverse

The interviewee and I privately discussed how I was very
impressed with maintenance of composure under the
circumstance.  I indicated that the interviewer and the
whole seminar room noticed it and appreciated the very
professional way in which it was dealt.

All three co-presenters shared their concern about the
bullying that we observed.  After consultation we thought
we were all surprised, dismayed and thought if we had
direct interactions with the bully we should privately confront
her and communicate this has no place in our scientific

An AAR is a critical tool in our toolkit to continually improve.

Watch-Outs. 68. Internships, Resumes, Retirement Planning
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:22 pm

Recent graduates and post-docs seem to be better prepared for
industrial positions now if they have either been in a co-op
program or been involved in internships.  We point to a broader
article on the practice of internships and highlight useful
ideas (namely proceed with caution for unpaid positions and
have a very good idea why you want the experience and what
you will do with the experience.).

While I still recommend value in creating a master
resume or CV to capture all of your experiences, credentials,
projects, avocations, and areas of work interest, specifically
targeted with keywords ready for scanning documents are
what a leading resume coach recommends.

One of the better recent articles describing retirement
planning is pointed out.  It points out some considerations
that might influence organization, planning and spending

SOURCE:  The Economist, 9-6-14, p. 61
Generation i” (small i)
From one point of view this article reviews the history
of interns and experiences of mostly “unpaid internships”
which seem to be a last choice option.  The “comments”
section offers a rebuttal that the article misses paid
internships in technical positions lasting 2-6 months.
Paid internships in the best of cases (25%) offers
an in-person experience that is outside of the academic
arena and is an investment in you.

SOURCE:  Career Hub, Jean Cummings
The Kind of resume that works now“ 
Jean really emphasizes the need to study the job
description carefully and pick out the job titles
and keywords unique to the position.  Then
incorporate them into your cover letter and your
resume in context.  ATS software is the rule such
that once it is scanned and sorted reviewers spend
5-6 seconds reading an easy to read, specific,
and targeted resume.

SOURCE:  R. Kapadia, Barrons, 9-22-14, p. 23
Don’t Panic
Point by point discussion first discussing myths
touching on
- spending in retirement is fluid, not constant
- within 10 years of retirement, half are single,
especially lower educated
- the impact of children/minors is substantial

Then, covering Important steps which include:
-   regularly updated budgeting, manage your cash
flow and plan state and federal taxes
-   have fewer fixed expenses;  pay things off
-   behavioral economics applies– in down
years, spend less
-   very good advice on tax diversification

Added notes on Long term care
-   it will happen
-   industry is changing , select broadest definition
of care givers, begin reimbursements after
calendar days (not service days)
-   pay attention to elimination period

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Trends in Job Descriptions. Background, Constraints and New Trends
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:10 am

Job descriptions offer insight into keywords, skills desired
for specific positions and organizational culture.  It is
critical to put them in perspective and reveal new trends.

We know that a large fraction of jobs are not advertized.
As we know this is the “hidden job market,”
In addition, outsourcing firms can manage the announcement,
screening and evaluation of candidates in many cases.  The ways
we can contribute and find satisfying careers
requires us to
be proactive, confident and curious.

For those positions or careers that do have postings of job
descriptions, did you ever read through them and say to
yourself:  ‘No one has all the experience listed in this placement
except a few people working for this firm.’

Often submissions in response to the job description posting
are online and we do not know what happens after we press “send.”
A significant fraction of the submissions are interrogated by
ATS Applicant Tracking System software, even before
 a person sees the document.

How do they write these documents and what do they expect?

As background for job descriptions, Allison Doyle does a
creditable job in outlining the US Department of Labor
breakdown of employment clusters and resources.  Wikipedia
gives some hints and link,s as well.

Lauren Weber
described how a good job description conveys
a clear picture of the position and employer’s culture in a
recent WSJ article.  She offered three constraints for job
description writers and new trends she is seeing.

- knowing only what has been written before and what they
see themselves, hiring managers will lump all the “musts”
and “wants” together.  It leads to too many criteria.
 - burdened by too many day-to-day tasks, hiring managers
avoid separating the leading skills a successful new hire
should possess.  This often leads to description by committee.
 - legal and administrative reviews can format and structure
a description like a legal document, often losing its readability
and appeal.  Weber writes it diminishes the attention each
posting might deserve.

Encourage the right talent and experience level people to be
attracted to apply for an opening using necessary and sufficient

NEW TRENDS offers a crafting and posting service that provides
a summary and a well crafted photo, story line and importance
of the role.  [Lauren neatly adds how this is compensated.]

HireArt is a job search firm that services transactional
organizations  using several recent technologies.  While not
the approach of technical firms yet, if very successful it
may be how future job descriptions will appear. 

Resume Review. Strategies to Demonstrate the need to make changes
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 12:55 pm

In a tight, very competitive job market, it does not help
if you start late.  In addition, some recent graduates who
start late seek an easy way to achieve their first position.

Recently I met with AG who was an assistant professor
in residence
at a university.  You know an “assistant professor
in residence
” is an academic position usually for no longer
than two years.  An assistant professor, to distinguish the
difference, can be for as long as five years without tenure.
[UCLA academic personnel office does a particularly nice
job of defining the different “in residence positions”.]

He came seeking a “lifeline” in pursuing what to do next
in his career.  [1]The first pass review initially asked for what position
he sought
.  He had created a partial CV and was not having
success in getting interviews in research institutes and university
applications.  He responded that he was willing to take any
.  Well, the “ambiguous” CV will reveal a lack of
focus and is one good reason why his CV will not be effective.
He did not like the frank yet honest appraisal.
He went off to seek another opinion.

Two months later he contacted me again asking for more
help.  He was not getting positive responses from his document
applications.  He also asked the appropriateness of applying for positions
not requiring PhD research experience. 

So we explained, it is a tight market and [2]your resume needs to
show a very close fit
.  Places will not hire a PhD to do a MS
position’s work.  PhDs will move at the first opportunity.  The
move will not help the department or the individual.  Further, [3]
CVs are geared more for academic positions and academic post
.  They are stylized in a particular way.
   heading of CV 
Resumes are written to be more targeted for specific positions,
they are shorter, they must reflect a match of your skills to their
needs and it helps to use specific keywords and readable form.

The next version was sent asking for comments.  It dropped
many technical terms and listed EXPERIENCE and his recent
teaching immediately after the heading.  That approach misses key
attractions, except for certain teaching positions. There was no
OBJECTIVE or keyword filled QUALIFICATIONS that will
get some traction, I commented. [3]
The listing of some techniques on the bottom of the first and
second page resembles an MS resume. [4] 
That comment made an impression.

Things were shaping up after we went through the review
and brought in a [5]comparable resume of someone who
recently interviewed at a hand full of places and started
a one year post doc
after a successful series of interviews.

The very clear organization with keywords in context in
an easy-to-read design made an impression.  The review
then went after [6]what seemed to be missing from the resume…
valuable contracted characterization work, clear skills
working with challenging samples and conditions
that required creativity and other important skills he

It is very hard work to create an attractive and compelling
.  When we are faced with other deadlines and
pressures, it is possible to have priorities get shifted and
long term career issues put off
to satisfy short term
satisfiers.  I urge you to start earlier and raise the priority
level of career management goals as you get closer to
their deadlines.
  Resume and cover letter writing is one
of the critical ones.


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Thinking. Fast, Slow and Human Nature
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:38 am

Was at a gathering yesterday and spoke to a fellow who
was reading Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational.  While
I have not read it I have ordered his book on Cheating,
after hearing a podcast where he described his thesis
on human nature and implications.

Starting, then, with human nature, all humans cheat, he
concluded, yet most in little ways.  Some who are
discovered and punished have perhaps gone too far.
He points out humans cheat first to themselves by little
lies or even wishes, and become insensitive to actions
and thoughts, with small steps first, one at a time, then
at the other extreme is the “what the h_ll effect” with
long term consequences.

However, in human dynamics, it is not just cheating and
its verbal analog, lying, that factor in but others that
may in fact take precedence over a miss-deed or -statement.
An example is “peace with those at home.” 
Emotions and the feelings of others plays a significant

Going along with this are two popular books out
and reviewed recently– Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and
, and Partnoy’s Wait.  Where Kahneman does an
elegant portrait of human biases, decision-making
and happiness, Partnoy reflects on investigations of
implications of doing things quickly (human nature)
and the positive effects of holding off before our choice
of speech or actions.  To my twisted logic these two are
nice but benefit from the reality of Ariely’s Cheating.
It is as if Kahneman and Partnoy present the science
and Ariely offers the engineering and application
in human thinking processes.

While many have read Kahneman’s book and their
reviews, the comments contain some salient moments
in Partnoy’s Wait and Ariely’s Cheating.

Interview continum. Follow up actions after meetings
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 8:18 am

Illuminating notes from a couple of people I interviewed
or reviewed or met in Philadelphia DIFFERENTIATE
them from every one else who I met.

Even further, those who develop a win-win common
do much better.  This further differentiates
them from the more than a hundred people I met at
the ACS national meeting.

This is part of the interviewing continuum that job
seekers should have foremost in their minds.  The
interview is not just the one time screening interview
combined with an on-site interview.  It is much more
as the linked article on the topic describes.


Dear Dan,

It was wonderful seeing you at ACS and thank you for your support at
AEI. I talked to several hiring institutions, and they showed
interested and encouraged me to apply. I will keep you updated. Thanks
again for commenting on my materials and passing it to Louis
Kirschenbaum. It was my delight to meet him at AEI.

Best wishes,
Dear Dan,

I hope you have had a great meeting at Philadelphia.  It was
a great pleasure meeting you again.  Thanks for all your
advices, those are very helpful.  I still remember our first
conversation when you recommended toastmaster to me.
I could see I have improved a lot since then.

I will keep updating you on my progress.  One day, I hope
to volunteer like you and guide next generation chemists.

Thanks for you help.
Best regards,

(Although it would be overlooked in this one situation.)
Dear Kanjana,

It was a pleasure being introduced to you at the
wine tasting reception at the Philadelphia ACS
I hope you enjoyed the technical and networking
opportunities and look forward to being connected
in Linkedin and meeting again at future meetings.


Daniel J. Eustace

Adjunct, University of Connecticut
Retired, ExxonMobil and Polaroid Corps.
ACS Career Consultant and Workshop Presenter

1 comment
Academic interviews. After Actions Review
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 2:58 pm

RG interviewed at two principally undergraduate chemistry
and chemistry-biology departments within the last two weeks.
He felt good about his experiences and thought he could
interview better.

We decided to talk through a interview review session to
identify learnings he had and he could share his insights
from the experience with our readership.  [If you are
interested, this note addresses in a personalized way
the Academic interview branch After the interview of the
Interview continuum from the article:
Before, During and After Interviews.]

The first institution he visited was in the eastern US
and had eight current full time members.  His position
would replace one currently held by a person retiring
soon.  The visit was planned to start off with a airport
pick up by one of the younger faculty (host) in the first
afternoon, hotel check-in and dinner.

The second day involved hotel pick up by the host,
meetings with provost, dean, and chair, a technical
presentation, a classroom presentation on Grignard
reactions (I re-learned the involvement of magnesium
as an organometallic reaction of an alkyl or aryl
magnesium halide with a ketone or aldehyde forming
a C-C bond.), panel meetings with other faculty,
and dinner.  It seemed like a slower changing,
small-city environment a hundred miles from three
NFL football teams.

The take-aways were– don’t fly through Philadelphia
and to practice the demonstration lecture more before
giving it.

The second interview was at a PUI within driving
distance which afforded a more relaxed schedule
than the first institution.  He drove around the
university living area and had more time to take
things in.  [Close to a large urban center.] This
was a smaller faculty of three (although the
website lists 4.) and where he met with not only
the chair, but also the President of the College,
Provost, and a number of college
This institution emphasized a unique
educational philosophy
which the president
promoted and the desire to have someone who
would make good use of a 400 MHz NMR.

These were significant tips to play off from in
the overall interview.  He did.

RG sent personalized t-y letters to all interviewees.
We talked of a interview review process which
involved detailing his likes, dislikes, areas of
personal interview performance improvement,
planned follow-ups and activities.

Speak to people in his network who went to
the schools, or currently go to the schools

Search and capture all current news about
the departments and schools

Assess:  do both meet his threshold of where
he wishes to teach?  If not, why and develop
professional ways of expressing this if he is
offered and does not accept.

Compare and contrast:  What does his gut
say about preference?
what are his key decision factors in priority
order?  Rank each institution.

Research grants:  Where would he apply?

Start laying the ground work for where
ever he lands.  Make contacts with people
who have passed this hurdle.  He had done
a lot already.

Develop a downside back-up plan, if
neither provides a strong offer.

Then, there is the “two body problem
he faces and several others who I met
during the day face.  Topic for the next
blog entry.

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Job Offer. Negotiating for your family’s needs
Filed under: Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 3:46 pm

The process for getting a job does not end with
the on-site interview.  The interview continuum
that we have talked about is important.  What
happens and how a candidate approaches the
negotiations that follow are critical, too.

Over a series of phone calls recently, a member
has learned about an open position (from her
network), interviewed successfully (including
a well received technical presentation), and
recently a phone call offering a position and
starting salary.

What can happen next?
A.  In our conversation we reviewed several items
including determining an appropriate salary
[ACS Salary Comparator and other useful sites],
doing homework on the company via your network,
and determining what are the key things you wish
for your family (living arrangements, benefits,
special situations, starting date among the leading
items).  [See a factor outline.]

B.  Legal issues may also play a role.  [Sklover offers
a terrific perspective on a number of factors and
is worth viewing, including letter of resignation.]
Make it official.  Ask for a formal offer letter
and detailed information about the benefits package.
We talked about defining when she could leave
her current firm. 

C.  After receiving the offer letter, the “ball is in
her court” and a fairly rapid response is in order
Knowing what your family needs in the new position
and location is critical– insurances, relocation,
job help for spouse, trip for finding a residence,
and even vacations or time off.

D.  Identify key items that the new firm desires
starting date, application of key know-how and
other critical items to be a successful enterprise.

E.  Have a chance to practice the negotiating
conversation.  You want to make every interaction
with both your current position supervisor and
prospective, offering company enthusiastic and
positive.  Know what positive things you wish
to communicate about both.


The Negotiation Continuum is a matching
framework for after you receive an offer to the
interviewing continuum.  It starts with factors and
data for each position/company and comes down
to how you prioritize the factors.  Consider gathering
information for this process before you interview.

Have a priority order of topics in mind when you
speak with the prospective company.  We practiced
a presentation order based on what was determined
highest priority.  We determined negotiation
give-ups and what makes the most sense– know
what is the key need that the company desires and
meet and exceed it.

Career consultant interactions
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:31 am

Recently, in setting up a program I was asked to review
several resumes in advance of the program to give
the students a “leg up.”  The students had to volunteer to
have their resume’s reviewed early.

The resume was sent as a .pdf file attachment and appeared
as a general run of the mill internet form.  So, there seemed
to be many places where suggestions could improve the
resume.  After a quick assessment, I was concerned that
I would be perceived as an ‘ungrateful wretch’ simply
tearing the resume to pieces.  So I contacted the professor
and asked for her recommendations (knowing in advance
that I wanted to speak to the student to find out how
receptive he was, what his intended position was and
where the resume model came from.)

We spoke and I learned that he seemed to be most interested
in autonomous career and looked to do a post-doc in
preparation for either an academic position or a role
in a government laboratory.  He had gotten format advice from
undergraduate career counseling at the school.

What a revelation?  That changed the whole nature of
my review since I would not be reviewing the resume
thinking it was targeting an industrial job position.

The bottom line here is it is important when seeking advice
on one’s resume, cover letter, CV and other documents
to apprise the reviewer of what position you have
prepared the documents for.  There are helpful hints
that will be different for documents.  Several format
issues, like margin, font size, kind of paper or file type
will be similar.

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Recent Graduate Job Search and Interview Story
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 3:16 pm

Although the best practices for finding jobs
should be used anytime, they make a mark
when done well in tough economic times.

Here is a nice story.  A recent grad, graduating
in the top half of her class, competed with all her
classmates for few positions all in the same
  (In this case, LA.)  She did a series of
practices that has landed her several
interviews and three on-site interviews.

She upgraded her wardrobe to help her present
a mature, professional appearance and performed
some mock interviews– telephone and on site.

She had her resume reviewed by several career
consultants and the placement office at her school.
She aimed not for perfection but for better ways
of making her case.  She already had an
degree and sought a position in a
different field.

She had benchmarked her position for expected

salary and benefits with a national organization.

She has been screened in three, interviewed two
facilities and received one offer already.  One
more interview to go.
The offer from the first facility provides the
benchmark for the other two to compare to
for decision and negotiating.

1.  She shared what she learned about resumes,
career portfolio (or file), and interviewing with
her classmates.

2.  She networked with CONSEQUENTIAL
STRANGERS to introduce herself and let
them know she was looking.  She provided
her latest version of her resume (it has
changed since that version.) with a cover letter
to an indirect contact who only indicated that
the documents were passed on.

3.  She set up a visit to what she viewed as a
“reach” institution and spoke with human
resource personnel.  The manager was very
impressed that she had a professional file
and a neat professional appearance.  Within
a week, she was called back for an interview.

There were no ads, no online sites to find out
about the position.  The manager said the first
class impression sold her.  The manager also
said, ads bring in hundreds of resumes, job fairs
bring in dozens of resumes.  When you are
for few positions, it is nice when a
squirrel” falls into your lap.

4.  In the first institution interview, she was
professionally outfitted and prepared.  (On time,
portfolio with extra resumes, folder with items
to review and take notes, etc.)  She was
interviewed by an upbeat, enthusiastic duo
who clearly knew the kind of person they
wanted to hire.  What separated this interviewee
was keeping answers short, telling stories
for each of many behavioral based questions,
and having on target questions to ask.
(See examples of questions in the comments.)

The following day they surprised her by
inviting her to the second phase of the
interview.  A third phase consisting of practical
test quizzes showing solid fundamentals was
to be filled out within a week.

She was called giving an exciting offer the
day after the online test was completed.
So, things happened in rapid sequence.

5.  For each of the interactions, she gathered
the names and contact information and sent
appropriate “thank you notes.”

In following comments, you can see some of
the behavioral based questions she was asked.

It is incumbent on each job seeker to narrow
the search and use all means to introduce
yourself as a person who belongs on the

Resume Reviews. Observations of PhD and Post-docs samples
Filed under: Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 2:20 pm

After meeting more than a couple of dozen
people in San Francisco to talk about their
resumes, it is instructive to point out some
strange findings, some missing key
elements and offer some hints.

- Only one or two had font size 11.  All
the rest were font 8-9, trying to squeeze as
much on two pages (or more) as possible.

- Most do not seem to know that there is
a “resume red zone” on page one of your
resume.  It is the middle third of page one
that every reviewer looks at and should contain
your most compelling information why they
would want to interview you.

-  Look what I read in the ‘resume red
zone’ of some –
  “six years of teaching basketball, baseball and
soccer camps”  [recent Med. Chem. Ph.D.]
  “assist in development…..
  “reviewed manuscripts for peer reviewed
  “Chemistry exam proctor and grader…
  “Listing technical skills [one third of first
page;  note Ph.D. should be beyond this to
creating something new or solving problems
with these tools.  It is more appropriate for
MA or BA resumes.]
Weis Pharmacy,  Pharmacy technician…
[instead of actual detail of chemical research]

 - EXPERIENCE SECTION hiccups included”
Worked towards….
Used X, Y, Z  [software] to study protein dynamics
Worked on the classification
Made concerted use of….
Studied the properties of
These are examples of “weak” verbs that are
not true action verbs.  Remember, we look for

Please list information in sections in
reverse chronological order.

Please have a HIGHLIGHTS section before
your EDUCATION which points out your
most significant skills that support your

Please consider providing a link to your own
technical web-page in the HEADING
Doesn’t everyone have one these days?

Please consider using links to information
sources and publications.

1 comment
Negotiating and Deciding
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:36 am

Negotiating is an integral part of a
good decision-
making process.  The
question is usually, at least
for recent
graduates, what and how should I pose

a negotiation process?

A member recently contacted me with
a delightful
problem.  He had two
hard-copy offers in hand,
with $13000
difference in salary, difference in

company size, differences in vacation,
savings and investment plan
and effort in bringing
him on board. 

We talked about the excitement he
has with each
position and he felt he
would do well in both
places.  He
would learn quite new skills (proposal

writing and negotiations) in one, he felt. 
His spouse
will relocate and need to
find an exciting position
for herself
in both situations.

The ACS salary comparator was of
value in this case.  One (higher)
position’s offer was
$8K below the 50
percentile value ($91K;  note
in high cost of living area);  the second

was $2K higher than benchmark ($68K). 

[SUGGESTION:  this is should always
be done
for every position for which
you interview,
before the interview.]

The rest of this entry offers
  what other consultants considered

  what items had some “wiggle room”
in the
discussions with both companies,

  some words and phrases that were

He was provided input from my cabinet of
 - some felt there was little to negotiate
this time;  evaluate the offers as is. 
recommendation:  ask each ‘Is this
best offer?’ and determine which
items to negotiate based on which had
‘value for him and his family.’]
  - most felt his decision would be
on where he would get the most
and provide greater personal

  - some felt questions could be posed–
dual ladder for advancement (get a
company handbook for details),
what are the details on bonus plans,
what happens after the first project is
what is the annual review process,
which is a better place to live and
with whom (people) was he most

Negotiable items included:  increased
bonus, increased relocation
max allowance, earlier
starting date (influences vacation,
quarter when certain
benefits start,
bonus plan, etc.), and
flexibility during
transition period (temporary housing,

travel allowances, automobile moves, etc.).

Key words and phrases: 
  - High level of respect for the
to work there,
  - describe the offer as fair, but is
possible to re-evaluate based on
a competing offer
from a Fortune 500

  - when accepting and rejecting offers,
accept the offer you want first, then
the second best offer.  (don’t go
  Confirm the details that
have been negotiated.

  - when rejecting the offer, indicate
that it
was a fair offer and the decision
was not
based on how he was treated
during the
interview process.  He was
delighted to
have met everyone on
the interview team
and wishes to
thank them.

  - With bonuses, can the bonus be
summed up” (taxes paid on the bonus)


comments (0)
Resume File. Question about Volunteer roles
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 3:15 pm

A member recently sent me his resume
for review.
  He prepared for it by
evaluating his personal priorities
determine what is most important in
his life and
career.  It was a nice
forced ranking process.

He then developed a first pass resume
and listed
some volunteer work as
head or leader of
YCC in his area. 
It was successful in being awarded
ACS ChemLuminary award.

In his first pass, he created two bullets
in his
Highlight section and wondered
whether he
should enter his role in YCC
in his Experience
section.  My initial
reaction is that the Experience
should be the place technical

accomplishments revealing productive

activities.  Certainly, the YCC role in
a workshop on entrepreneurism
was a feat.
  I had my doubts about it
fitting anywhere else
than in the Honors
and Awards and Affiliations
sections of
a typical resume.  I might offer that

he led specific YCC programs as the
bulleted item in his Highlights.

He asked again.  So I solicited the
opinions of
my career consultants “cabinet”. 
Listed below
is what they offered in
capsule form:

L. Balbes:  “I agree that the leadership
be a single, last item in a
It might be
appropriate to include in the
Experience [section] IF he is
for a leadership
otherwise  either Professional

Activities, Affiliations, or some
such section,
would be a better


H. Silverman:  “He may
by> two resumes depending
on <
the positions for which he
He may one
for technical positions.> He
emphasize his management skill
in a second
{<> = insert text}

In the management resume he should
emphasize his  success with the

group . In both resumes he
should list the
groups award under a

separate section
headed awards. He
should be careful
about redundancy.

Don’t list the same
item in different 

R. Bretz:  “Placing a volunteer activity
in the Highlights section might lead the
reader to the notion that what he really
wants to do is public service or some
type of community work (i. e. working
is only a way to support his real passion).
This activity is definitely not Experience
but I admit that it could be a valuable
skill in the workplace.  Technical skills/
knowledge is what will get him the
role> should be
in the affiliations/
activities section.”

J. Shulman:   “The Highlights section is a
fine place to talk about leadership,
especially for someone who has a masters
in management of technology.  As Rich
says, Highlights should emphasize
technical accomplishment for a technical
job, with 3-5 bullets dedicated to this.  But
putting one (and probably only one) bullet
such as ‘Demonstrated leadership and
delegations skills’ can enhance this section.”

J. Jolson: “I agree that the passion and
interest in professional involvement could be
a final bullet in the Highlight section.  Specific
information about leadership involvement
could be placed in the Affiliations section
(ACS - XYZ Section, YCC chair).  If the
ChemLuminary Award can’t be inserted with
other awards in the awards section, it might
be OK to insert it in parentheses after
mentioning the YCC chair in the Affiliations
section.  Otherwise I would leave it out of
the resume and if a job descriptions comes
by the merits mentioning it, I would put it in
the cover letter.”

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