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

November 2021
« Sep    
TIP: Evaluating Science Stories- Fake or Supported with Data
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:05 am

Washington Post writer provided worthwhile guidance
on attention we should give to news stories.

1.  Peer Review source.  Peer review can take time.
Faster release happens with preprints, containing “RXiv”
as in MedRXiv and BioRXiv and ChemRXiv are not peer
reviewed, yet.
2.  Confirmation bias can inform our reading both for
and against a report.
3.  Correlation is a suggestion, not definite proof, tested
4.  Experimental results should be compared to honest
and reflective control experiments.  Double blind controls,
sample size of experiment, subgroup interpretations,
nature (dose, animal vs. human, etc.) of test too.
5.  Headlines, source and big names can dominate.  
6.  Political headwinds can blind science or technical report.
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Trends in Technical Careers. Electronic Laboratory Notebooks
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:18 pm
Hi Dan,
How are you doing?  I would like to ask if you have any
experience using electronic labbooks in an R&D lab?
and if there is any in particular you could recommend.  
Thank you for any advice you can provide.
Best regards”
When I regularly attended several large conferences I tried
to look into this emerging field by speaking with vendors about
their market penetration and features for different user 
Interestingly my deepest learning at this time involved
ensuring legal advice was following in purchasing, training,
and compliance.  Maintenance and regular updates for eLN were
essential as this is a emerging and evolving field.  Years have
past and eLN are essential tools.
Glossary of terms:
List of Vendors
-  at least 16 countries are represented as vendor developers
-  open source vendors are included in the list
eLN features:  Different fields and operations will have different requirements
It is nice to have a big picture for what customers, users, legal and
regulatory applications are provided.
 - basic functionality
 - quality, security and compliance
 - data management
eLN decision making
 - The system needs to organize and be able to tag, filter and search entries. 
 - all entries, imported data, and links can be exported to a generic format
(pdf, zip, xlm, etc.) for backup and reporting as well as allowing a bailout
in case the maker of the software stops development, or your funds to pay
for licence fees run dry.
support of your IT department at an early stage (selection of particular eLN).
 - h
idden costs (hardware like server, backup; on-site support and user training, )
What are your customers using?  How frequent are updates?
What are the computer requirements and robustness of the system?
These days, eLN are essential to compete
1 comment
Watch-Outs. 102. Statistics and Radioactive Elements
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:48 am

You know, I am a strong proponent that scientific professionals
have a strong understanding of working with statistics and
perceive the hazards in our environment, that have good and not
so good effects on humans.  

So in our final class we talked about three features we should
look for in evaluating statistical data.  [I am always amazed that
their relevance is not emphasized in classes.]  variation, shape
and central tendency.
In our daily lives we are faced with statistics for nearly everything
and given “selective” interpretations to sell or convince us of various
- insure the data provides its sample size and range and variability
[small sample size, limited range, no measure of variation should
not be basis of a general position.]
- If the data is presented with many significant figures, it should
raise “red flags” in your mind.  [10,234,511.39 ?]
- The shape of the distribution of measure reveals critical insight.
[power law, normal, bimodal, skewness…]
- What is the appropriate central tendency representation?  Mean
if it is normal distribution…Other than that, questions are needed.
This leads to a link to be part of your toolkit for how to get “facts.”  
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has researched USA
government statistics
and presents them in various forms.
There are two radioactive species in our environment that we
should be aware of some things.  One I encountered when I was asked
by a middle school student about a science project on radioassays.
That is when I learned about technetium.  Technetium-99 is most
useful as a radioassay measure for imaging internal organs.
CEN published a short factoid recently about this lightest, artificially
produced element.  ”Technetium cows” were developed by BNL
researchers and have been in use for more than 50 years in 
medical diagnostics and research.  In addition, technetium is a
by-product of U-235 decay and thus can be a valuable monitor
for nuclear reactor spent fuel rod decay and storage.
A second radioactive element is the gas, radon.  Radon is naturally
occurring in the environment and is attributed to be an effector of 
lung cancer in humans 
.  Radon decays naturally producing alpha 
particles.  Maps of the prevalence of radon in the US point to where
it is.  This should be a point of reference for us where we live
and work.
1 comment
Undergraduate Resume Review
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 2:52 pm

HL and I had an interesting discussion about a job
application for a pharma position.  We arranged the
position via email where we asked and sent draft resume,
musts-and-wants and the job description.

It is important to realize that each cover letter, resume
and contact network association needs to be targeted
and properly researched and framed

What kind of position is being pursued?
What specific skills or experiences will be expected?
What are your specific skills/ experiences that may apply?
Who do you know who might help and provide a reference?

The position seeks BA/BS with some senior research
experience or an MS.  The skills sought are LC, MS and
working with bioassay prep and data analysis.

It is a stretch to have a senior undergraduate having
these, but our discussion proved that HL had good
experiences that could be of  interest.  HL had done
a semester of undergraduate monomer synthesis research
in junior year.  Quite interestingly, HL had completed a
semester research abroad where detailed discussion
revealed working with and troubleshooting LC-MS and
data integration systems for study of metal binding to

It is now a challenge to create a document that points
out the specific instruments and work done both abroad
and as a junior.  What keywords were used in the job
  Find a way to articulate HL’s work using
those or comparable terms.  Experienced reviewers will
We talked about the big difference in working in a
research lab where things constantly go wrong or need
maintenance and calibration compared with doing an
analytical course lab experiment where everything is
pre-ordained and set up.

Then we spoke about another element– who were HL’s
references?  Has HL spoken to them about interest in
the position?  Can each one of three provide “good
references?  Does the reference know anyone at the
firm?  Can HL get to meet or speak with the possible
network referral to learn more about the position, hiring
manager, and company situation?

Does HL have a quality Linkedin page?  Let’s look.
What will be critical things to provide realizing the
first use might be for this LC-MS bioassay role?
What keywords, content and organization should the
Linkedin profile have?

What started out as a request for a resume review, morphed
 - job description study,
 - revising a draft resume highlighting key experiences
 - critically thinking through references and the roles they
assume (and, also including a reference list in the PR
 - critically thinking that a professional presence is
expected (Linkedin profile and working on that)
 - outlining and drafting a cover letter for submission
 - seeking out people who could be referrals for the
position application; 
six other important steps.

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Watch-Outs. 91. Critical thinking while reading, Energy conservation, Open Access Content
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:55 pm

Our mind travels in two directions when we read or view media.
We either reinforce our previously held beliefs or become
convinced of one side in a controversy.  An article link
suggest that this should awaken us to become critical
, always asking what is the supporting data and its
origins and can other, viable conclusions be drawn with the
personal self-assessments which draws the conclusion that
so many of these tools are out there and she bemoans any
of their benefits.

Are you amazed as I am looking around at all the solar
electric panel installations appearing on neighbors roofs and
in barren fields?  An almost forgotten approach to energy
conservation remains viable for us– conversion of
incandescent to LED lighting.

Slowly but surely, step by inching step, we are observing
ACS adopt open access journal publications.  Recently
ACS announced ACS Omega in addition to Central Science.
Cost and availability of publications are encouraging the
movement.  It is hard to understand the reluctance other
than that is the way it has always been done, especially
since more journals than not are both in print and
electronic form.
SOURCES: S. Galea, Fortune 12-15-15, p. 75 “The Big
Think,” and V. Sole-Smith, RealSimple, “Getting to know
you,” 1-2016
S. Galea informs readers that reading can be confusing
when critical conclusions by different authors are
diametrically opposed.  It is the role of “leaders” he
opines to ask the hard questions, dig up the answers,
imperfect as they may be, and importantly distinguish
the motivations that may bias the conclusions. 
[Strong article about CRITICAL THINKING.]
Sole-Smith presents her study in a popular magazine
of emotional assessment tools.  It might be that her
conclusions do not ask the hard questions.  Her
preferences might be not as clearly defined in the
output.  These tools provide insight about a range of
other “types” and she may find she is a mixture.
This can offer unrealized value.

SOURCE:  A. Staller, ECS Blog, “Low Hanging Fruits of
While replacing fossil fuel power generation with solar
energy conversion seems attractive, it is costlier and has
unanticipated side costs that are not advertised to
consumers.  Staller points to a simpler and adaptable
approach that is proven and useful on a large scale.
Worth the quick read and implementation.
See also  #1 way to fight climate change

SOURCE:  A. Yarnell, CEN 12-14-15, ACS publishing
ACS Omega

Beginning to be “published” in Spring, 2016, also allowing
authors the flexibility to transfer manuscript submissions
from one ACS journal to another.
It is a step in the right direction.
A balanced discussion occurs in wiki.

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Trends in Technical Careers. Where do you publish, How do you teach, Calibrating your contributions
Filed under: Recent Posts
Posted by: site admin @ 9:48 am

Metrics, biases, and how we learn better.

Based on the editorial in Interface by V. Ramani,
it was insightful to explore the value of publications,
rated by impact factors IF.  While not being a fan of this
metric since many articles can only be viewed by those
with access to subscriptions, it was clear that Julien
study of this paradigm measure is tilted by its
use of a poor central tendency
(mean with a heavily
skewed distribution) and using only recent publications
(and different journals survey different timeframes.).
[academic outcomes of funding hiring and tenure can
be influenced by such measures.]

When an author publishes, she might ask who does she
wish to share her new found results and discussion with
and how can he make it accessible to them.

A recent measure revealed in Interface is Altmetrics
which also looks at data and knowledge bases, article views
and downloads and views in other media.

NIH reviewed its decision outcomes for funding
grant proposals and shared it supported 18.8% of RO1
proposals.  Trying to be objective, it used an algorithm
developed by E. Day that identified a small but significant
.  The results indicate that nonpreferred applicants
need to submit higher quality proposals to get funded.

Fingers are not pointed at specific subsets however when
such a small deviation can lead to significant outcomes
it will be interesting to see where NIH will find ways to
improve this process in budget cutting times.

Controversies in teaching and learning strategies are
 not new.  Yet I liked trying Brown, Roediger and McDaniel’s
“Make it stick:  The Science of Successful Learning,

Bellknap, Cambridge 2014.” which emphasizes that active
engagement leads to deeper learning.
- active use in the learning phase:  simulations, problem
solving before specific training to solve
- spaced learning, requiring retrieval and relearning
- reflection on classes and practical exercises
- interrupting the forgetting process

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Research Mentoring. Research can get you down
Filed under: Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:18 pm

A graduate student came to me feeling low, in despair and
miserable.  He had worked years on his final project to
complete his degree.  Experiments were not working
to get the results he had expected.

So, Uri Alon’s TED talk came to mind.  We talked some
more about his idealism and inadequacy for having his
results not match closely his predictions.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and your hard work! I
shared.  The experimental world is not so exact in
complicated experiments and there can be error bars
on predictions due to factors outside your control.
Let the data speak for itself.  You have already shared
that temperature has a big influence on your experiment
and you have gross temperature control.

He was feeling shame and despair much like Brene
describes (”The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go
of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who
you are,
” Hazelden, 2010).  He was not getting feedback from his
mentor that his work revealed the effects and he could not
do better unless he had $25K to improve the experimental
temperature control.  He had done one parameter at a time
experiments exploring all the other variables.

He had that “I’m not good enough” feeling and needed a
reality check that the world is full of imperfect humans.
Go back to your committee and tell them you have completed the
study and are finished and these are the results.  No need to
apologize– report what you got.  You are the expert who
designed and optimized the system and completed all the

He left, head held high and with the courage that he now
can see what research into the unknown is about through
this experience.

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Watch-Outs. 73. Technology changing our Landscapes
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:42 pm

Do you read hardcopy newspaper for your current
events news, or watch video feeds, or employ a
browser to collect information from Flipboard,
Huffington Post, msn, or leading online newspapers?
Unintended consequences of our race to keep
informed as efficiently as we can, have others
select the content for us.

Look around and observe all the changes that
technological trends are producing by adaptation
and trial and error efforts to support ourselves.
There are many things that reveal structural
changes in our work environments that we should
be observing and paying attention to.

SOURCE:  T. Teachout, WSJ 10-24-14, “Closing
our browsers:  “Without brick and mortar bookstores,
what happens to browsing?”

How many times have you searched for a specific
reference and inadvertently found something even
more interesting?  This possibility seems to be
rapidly going away as we become sequestered (using
a government term) into using the Internet for more
things.  This leaves the old fashioned “gum-shoe”
actions of informal browsing an activity of the past.

There is more to it– this article suggests as bookstores
close and many more buy their content either
digitally delivered or via Amazon.

SOURCE:  D. Fitzgerald and P. Ziobro, WSJ 11-4-14
p. B6, Malls fill vacant stores with server rooms

This article hints at multiple secondary uses of
brick and mortar facilities, that we urge readers,
provide changes and opportunities, if you are ready. 

Several people I know have shared office spaces
in an old warehouse.  Medical offices for records
and accounting are more often in former malls
that replace typical big name retailers.

In strategically advantaged locations (with electricity,
light, telecom connections, and suitable fire protection)
well trained computer scientists set up and run
data-farms in former retail outlets.

SOURCE:  L. Eaton, WSJ 11-4-14, p. B1
Fracking’s unlikely Battleground

In the Barnett Shale region of Texas, a traditional
hotbed of pro-drilling activity, a voter initiative
to ban fracking is being tested today.  It is based on
exposure to and toxicology of the chemicals in
the surrounding area to fracking facilities.

Related to this is a terrific summary of a meeting
in August in San Francisco of the early determinations
and observations of the fracking revolution.
In the review, Robert Stevenson impartially discusses
the process, the concerns, the risks and elements
of regulation.  If this topic is of interest or concern
this review is a targeted technical assessment.

SOURCE: “Anyone ever done this before?  Patent
office turns to crowdsourcing

While “browsing” on one topic (crowdsourcing) and
exploring where it might lead, a mighty and helpful
“factoid” was uncovered.
The PTO is seeking ideas and strategies to examine
prior art for new patent applications in its search
for improving the patent approval process.

The new director (M. Lee) and Presidential Innovation
Fellow (C. Wong) are facilitating processes to improve
private and public sector cooperation in a beneficial
way in PTO operations.


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Recommended Reading for Career Management. Issue 3
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:16 pm

Delightful conversations led to people talking about books
that could be inspirational and helpful.  My first list and
second list links are enunciated.   Here is my third list
that I share.  Thanks, Lin.

Charles Wheelan, Naked Statistics:  Stripping the Dread
from the Data, Norton and Company, NY 2013

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt
Bloomsbury Press NY, 2010

Martin J Blaser, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse
of Antibiotics is Fueling our Modern Plagues
, Henry Holt
and Company, NY, 2014  

Les McKeown, Predictable Success  Greenleaf Book Group,
Austin TX 2010

Brian Tracy, Goals: How to get everything you want:
faster than you ever thought possible. 
Publishers.  San Francisco, 2004

Brian Tracy Create your own Future:  How to master the 12
critical factors of unlimited success
John Wiley and Sons, 2002

Brooks Landon, Building Great Sentences:  Exploring the
Writers Craft
  the Great courses, 2008

Charles Seife Virtual Unreality  Viking NY 2014

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan,
Fukushima, a story of a nuclear disaster,  The new press,
NY 2014

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine
Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a time of brilliant
, W W Norton and company, NY 

James Pennebaker, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What our
words say about us,
  Bloomsbury Press NY, NY 2011

Clifford Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking:  Laws of Science
and the Great Minds behind them
  Oxford 2008

Charles Duhigg  The Power of Habit:  Why we do what
we do in life and business,  Random House  NY  2012

Eric Topol, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: 
How the digital revolution will create better
health care,
Basic Books,  2012

Samuel Arbesman, The Half Life of Facts: Why everything
we know has an expiration date
Current of the Penguin
Group, 2012

Norman Rosenthal  The Gift of Adversity The unexpected
Benefits of life’s difficulties, setbacks and

Jeremy Taucher   Penguin 2013 NY

Gary Klein, Intuition at Work: Why developing your
gut instincts will make you better at what you do,
Currency Doubleday  NY  2003

Viktor Mayer-Schoneberger and Kenneth Cukier  Big Data:
A Revolution that will Transform how we Work, Live
and Think, 
Eamon Dolan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston 2013

Chip Heath and Dan Heath  Decisive:  How to make Better
Choices in Life and Work

Vicky Olliver, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview
, Sourcebooks Naperville IL 2005

Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Will Not Get You
  Hyperion 2007

Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, The new digital age: Reshaping
the future of people, nations and business
.  Alfred A Knopf NY 2013

Douglas Rushkoff  Present Shock: When everything happens
Current Penguin Group  NY  2013

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Intersection of Technical Skills and Interpersonal Skills
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:12 am

Over the last couple of weeks we have offered suggestions
to have you consider that technical skills alone in this
competitive and changing marketplace will not help you
reach your professional goals.

1.  Computational, ie digital tools, and robotics and
database mining (big data) are merging with technical
skills.  These are targeted “hard skills”.

2.  Marketing skills have value as well.   [See also
link to the value of business cards.]

3.   Personal habits.  This past week I met and then interacted
via several kind professional gestures with M. M. Mitchell who
posed that we had common perspectives.  So, in
displaying a “wise skill” I am being an ally for her in
sharing several keen articles that I believe can result
in habits that will improve people’s perceptions of you.
     -  Improve your Self confidence
     -  People skills - Know what not to do
     -  Treat ourselves well

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Resolving Problems: Conflict resolution, Data overload and Author ambiguity
Filed under: First Year on Job, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:43 am

Last weekend I was invited to and attended a terrific meeting
where I met scholars, acquaintances and friends who face
many of the problems we all do.

Please let me share three of many take-aways:

1.  Rebecca Bryant (see how she uses it)shared a tool you
should consider using that has been adopted by many in the
biomedical field. ORCID.
It provides a unique, confidential identification and tracking

2.  Sam Molyneux did a wonderful job describing where he
and his company Sciencescape has paved a new approach
to dealing with our problem of ‘publication overload’ and
the fact that we need to keep up with breaking news in our
fields of research and commerce, yet there are too many
places to look.  This really has a lot of promise in all fields
of basic (where publication scooping can happen) and
applied research (where others may patent in areas that
will exclude what you or your company wish to protect.)
A short video relays the story of this disruptive innovation

3.  Antonio Nunex and Anna Kopec outlined four strategies
for resolving conflicts and discussed how we could incorporate
the core values and interests of both stakeholders
issues where there seems to be differences.  (View the
power point slides available from the screen linked above.)
I appreciated their candor in isolating one issue at a time and not
going immediately to ’solution mode,’ which can limit
options and sometimes to a no-win situation via manipulation.
They carefully expressed that you allow questions to be
posed and go to primary interests at heart which could be
self-esteem, relationships, excellence, financial security
or reputation (respect) .

1 comment
Women in STEM Special Interest Group. Something for everyone.
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:56 am

Just could not pass up the opportunity to attend an early morning
session of a “special interest group” at a technical conference.
Group:  Women professionals in science and technology
Topic:  Big things happen in small groups

Discussions focused on three areas– leadership gap
(assertiveness commitment and ambition), career planning and
goal setting
(fears and barriers) and doing it all (work-life
balance and perfectionism).

Our group pursued the third topic and while we all know it is not
possible to do everything to perfection, our behaviors fall back on
our habits both at home and in our career environments.  Our
behaviors seem to have a divide where more serious thought is
given to our career environments
, where we plan to cross train
and make it so everyone can take a vacation and have a workflow
that is less than 100% utilization.  Home and personal life is not
managed in the same fashion– imperfection is allowed, couples
divide duties, some things just don’t get doneWork always enters
our home lives.

Some good thoughts came from Amy who identified with me, as
we were the two outliers in the group (single, unattached mid career
woman and lone wolf guy).  Amy pointed out we need to realize
forming and building trustworthy, sharing relationships was key.
She came to me afterwards and thanked me for making a difference
by not trying to attract the spotlight but by shining light on an
unassuming team member (listening and supporting her comments). 
Supporting the relationship building is the need to have an “off-button”
for distractors that can interrupt the important relationships in our
Some decisions like starting a family or leaving temporarily or
permanently can never seem to have a “right time”.  That is because
we believe it should be thought out logically, when, in fact, it
is an emotional sensation that we support using facts and data.
(and even, after the fact.)

An engineering faculty member at Berkeley and I had a
conversation that women professionals commonly get…
wow, you are an engineering professor at Berkeley you must be
incredibly smart.  How did you do it?  What was your secret? 
I could never do it?
How do you respond, she asked? 

We thought together for a while and concluded it was important to
perform an audience analysis to assess if an emotional response would
be effective or an information loaded response would be.
For someone who could not easily relate to the complexities,
telling a story about who was a model or mentor for you and
provided a boost of confidence that you could do it.  Then,
relate it to that person rewarding their curiosity in asking.

If it was an audience who could relate to the complexity, we
can be more factual and list that if it were highly structured
situation knowing the rules and being efficient in following
them made a difference
.  If the situation was complex, we
realize that luck is totally unpredictable and that persistence
and trying many alternatives and learning from failure
us to where we are and we probably could have not predicted

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Watch-outs. 50. Big data analytics continuum, Disruptive approaches to drug discovery, Time resolved Raman spectroscopy for combusion studies
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 4:43 pm

SOURCE  “Performed Predictive Analytics and
Analytic queries on big data
,” Intel White Paper
Parviz Peiravi, Ajay Chandramouly, Chandhu
Yallaand Moty Fania.
Future Business conditions are predicted using
an analytics continuum model of increasing
complexity and resulting value.  This alone is
worth reading and learning how the data can be
Living by numbers alone reportedly does not work,
however.  F. Salmon, Wired, Jan. 2014, p. 27-33.
“Numbed by Numbers: Why quants don’t know

SOURCE  SLAS ELN, “Disuptive technologies poised
to transform drug discovery”.
Open sourced 3d printing to emulate vascular structures,
fluorescing cells with clear membranes reveal drug interactions,
miniaturized spectral and mass spectral instruments
and other “disruptive innovations” are highlighted in
ELN briefs showing remarkable applications of
technologies to lead to improved therapies.
January meeting live streamed content.

SOURCE  J, J. Kojima and M. Shah, “Time Resolved
Raman scattering Spectroscopy facilitates combustion
, Photonics Spectra Dec. 2013 p. 32-5.
Using a newly developed detector gating and wider dynamic
range subsystems flame instabilities can be captured
and studied in many propulsion applications.

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Mock Interviews. Preparation and Practice before formal interviews
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:34 pm

Interviewing is a performance.  It takes preparation,
self-assessment, research, planning, practice, feedback,
and review
.  Consider the performing arts or competitive
sports as an analogy.

It is also marketing of yourself.

It is helped by actively doing it and facing the nervousness
of being on the spot and not knowing exactly what will happen
and in what order.  Yet you want to make a positive experience
while making a strong case for your candidacy.

As such, it helps to actively learn interviewing skills by
observing others.  In so doing, you can place yourself in another’s
place and assess what you would do.  You could note positive
behaviors and places where things could be done better.  In this
process you can improve your interviewing skills and behaviors.

This week we performed a Mock Interviewing workshop in
which many attendees agreed they gained great benefit from the
big picture continuum and the very professional feedback each
mock interviewee was offered by Marisha Godek, the experienced
interview reviewer.

We chose to perform six different interview scenarios taken
from the Interviewing continuum.  Every single one had
excellent “teachable moments” that was followed by discussion
  clarifying what happened,
  shining light on nonverbal signals,
  pinpointing things to avoid,
  offering situations where improvisation was required,
  positive small talk leading to either agenda
setting or elevator speeches, and
  offering how to face challenges in problem solving and case study

As a NACE survey reveals your technical skills, accomplishments,
abilities and acumen help you get the interview and provide ~30-40%
of the input for a hiring decision.  The remaining factors influencing the
decision include social acumen, self understanding, behavior and
interpersonal skills, working with data, computers, teams and
setting goals.

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Watch-outs. 48. Video-conferencing, “Use of I,” and algorithms for career success
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:28 am

Does controversy prevent you from putting your ideas in the
public domain?  As we know, when we introduce a new or a
counter-intuitive notion, many will criticize or disbelieve.

The key thing is to listen.  Then, think seriously to
devise experiments to test thoughtful hypotheses.  It is
time to fully observe and interrogate from several perspectives.

NEW TREND:  video conferencing growth
More and more virtual video conferencing is a method of
choice for people to get together, just like “drive through”
windows for transactions.  Rachel Nielsen describes business
results, companies involved, and relating it to CERN’s high
level of virtual meetings . 
OBSERVATIONS:  The bigger trend than having meetings is
collaboration at a distance using iPads, handhelds, sharing
data and workscreens on projects
.  This leads to a flurry of
hardware and software solutions to develop needed collaborative
meeting room functionality.
IMPLICATIONS:  Video conferencing is evolving as an
important co-curricular skill for many fields.

1.  “I” reveals your relational status- Pennebaker
E. Bernstein authored a report summarizing Pennebaker’s
work on conversational use of pronouns.  Controversy
surrounds some of the article’s assertions relating to
use of “I” and the “status of the person”.  She offers
that a person who uses “I” less frequently is the higher
status person and can be associated with “hiding the
truth.”  While she does indicate that “mirroring” the
conversation partner is helpful, use the “use of I” in
your self expression while observing verbal and
nonverbal signals in your listeners.
TAKE AWAY:  Different signals are assessed with the use
of “I” in communication.  It is wise to test with a mentor
to see what fits best in different situations and audiences.

2.  Computer models to predict job success using skills,
behaviors and values- Google, Conagra, Avon Products

Rachel King wrote a piece that revealed that a number of
firms have developed algorithms to infer who would be
good hires, who would want to leave a firm and who should
be Fast Tracked for higher positions.
TAKE AWAY:  In the world of “big data”  many computational
studies may be hypothesized and conclusions inferred.  They
are correlational and significant ones that affect people,
future possibilities and long term issues should be specifically
tested and confirmed.  See a series of commentaries.

1 comment
Statistical Correlations. Developing trends, Future of Career Management and Jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:08 am

Mayer-Schenenberger and Cukier have pointed out that
“big data” is about PREDICTIONS.  It applies computational
algorithms and mathematics to huge quantities of data,
often, “messy data,” and infers predictions.

This active trend affects traditional sampling plans and
sample distributions since, at its aim, it collects all the data
and can, as a result, provide a clearer view of the “granularity
of the data”– the sub-categories that smaller samples can

Further predictive analytics, based on correlations, detects
directions and inferences, yet does not seek causes or
test hypotheses,  as it alerts us to what is happening.

Examples include: 
-mechanical or structural failure predictions based on heat,
        vibrational, stress and sound patterns from sensors,
-hit songs and TV programs
-Amazon  services
-evaluating candidates
-data mining drug candidates

Counter to our intuition where we evoke “causality,” in which case,
as Kahneman says, our brain is too lazy to think slowly, we jump
to shortcuts.   Big data analytics provides a “reality check.”

Take the case of Louis Pasteur “curing” rabies in the nine year old
boy, Joseph Meister,  by inoculation in 1865.  Looking at the
data, on average only one in seven people bitten by rabid dogs
ever contracts rabies.  (85% chance he would survive without

ACS needs to serve its members by continuing to collect data,
but broaden its outlook on how the data can be “mined.” 
Mayer-Schonenberger and Cukier document that data is
(1) reused, after first use, (2)merged with other datasets to explore
new venues and (3)”extended”.  By extended, we use the “data exhaust.”

There is so much more ACS can do to serve its members,
just being open to new thoughts and emerging trends and not
feeling we have done it before or falling to the NiH syndrome.
(NiH = not invented here)

Where are chemical enterprise careers moving?  What skills
will be needed?                         PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS
How do we effectively help members gain advantageous skills?
What knowledge, approaches, methods and skills should be
offered to professionals?  How can it be done cost effectively?


Position Searching. Large Enterprises, Turn-arounds, and Start-ups
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:25 am

Been reading Mayer-Schonenberger and Cukier’s
book, Big Data
(2013) and one  of their examples is
interesting to retell.  In 2007 manhole cover explosions
occurred all over the NY City, were random and at 300 pounds
present more than a nuisance to citizens.  What would be
a cost effective way to reduce this public hazard.  Columbia
researchers did a big data study on the 51000 units and predicted
which ones were likely to explode through the following year.
They determined 44 per cent of the ones that actually occurred.

While the authors and others have pointed out knowing now what
they know it was fairly obvious, it nonetheless pointed out the
power of correlational statistical tools on even messy data.

Searching for positions-  Look for correlations.

Using similar shot-gun approach, we can look at industries’ and
companies’  recent employment records and short term
development expenditures as clues.  They are revealed in
C&ENews (7-1-2013, p. 25-40)  So, we can see natural
gas industries and specialty chemical firms sustaining
positive profiles.

In the global market place, there are ups and downs that
happen despite everyone’s best efforts due to various
influences.  The C&ENews issue two weeks later reported
how private equity firms are negotiating favorable
purchases and developing profitable business ventures
under new management.  I am somewhat familiar with
some of the buy-outs and encouraged that with new
management, by meeting customer demands and
expectations, the new units are doing reasonably well. 
[Ref: M. Bomgardner, C&EN 7-15-2013, p. 16
Addivant Advances”]

Business conditions are also changing and could be
influencing developments like this.  It could also signal
the emergence of “tour of duty” employment models.

In a sentence, small enterprises seek to “turn a profit”
or “grow into something big”.  The industry, the plan
and financial viability dominate.
Ask about the “scaling plan”.  Explore if there is a viable
market and repeatability of sales (duplicating orders or
continually expanding customer base).  While a start-up
may not have all the answers, if someone is asking the
question, it is a positive sign.

comments (0)
Impact of Internet and Software on Promoting and Evaluating Candidates
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:36 pm

We are aware of major inroads of LinkedIn 1 2 3  and
Big Data in finding jobs and finding out about
ourselves and the companies we may wish to become
part of.  Online submissions are often screened using
Applicant Tracking Software ATS to search keyword
terms for sorting out the many resumes that hit their

Three tactics have been reported that I had not
seen before.  Please let me know if these are
beyond the idea stage, have some merit and are
being used.

Recently, the Economist contained a piece about
how big data and computers explored applicants’
responses, response times and consistency for
sorting candidates.  One anecdote cited a company
that asked:  Are you proficient with computers?
Y  or  N. 
Later is asked:  What doe Cntl-Z mean ?

While not everyone agrees or uses Twitter, Silverman
and Weber
believe some job seekers and employers
see this as an avenue in their job search and
recruitment.  The last line of the article may have some
merit for the cutting edge computer marketplace, as a
an “elevator pitch.”

Another Economist article cited the emergence
of talent-measurement-divisions of firms to
create psychometric tests for finding that
“needle in the haystack leader” from the pile
of applications.  One firm assesses the
“four leadership styles” [task-oriented,
participatory, socially engaging and ideal
engaging] of current leaders and matches
new candidates to their profiles.  The article
points out the negative of being able to
study for the test or “game the system.”

1 comment
Future Trends in Technical Careers. 3. Discovery Informatics
Filed under: Networking, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 3:17 pm

In Segment 2, of this series on trends, we mentioned “meso-facts.”
They are so-named by S. Arbesman, since they shift slowly and
are part of the technological world in which we live.  They
change more slowly than the fast-changing facts and we
notice them and sometimes have trouble dealing with them,
as they represent a certain notion of our understanding of the

Hard to believe, but true, standards for mass measurement do
not keep a constant mass

Similarly, the scientific world has assumed new aspects
of investigation with computers, databases and searching.
As Brian Claus reported at a recent meeting, a fourth
pillar of scientific research interrogating “big data with
advanced computing infrastructures” has emerged.
It is in addition to experiment, theory and simulation/
modeling and will revolutionize therapeutics.  See also,
2  .  [informatics]

1 comment
Watch-outs. 39. Investment suggestions and changes, interviewing, and marketing
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:08 am

Every once in a while we get a flurry of insights.
Sometimes they are about finances, sometimes about
possible future trends, other times they are about
items for interviewing and topics of current interest
in less scientific or engineering endeavors.  This
is the case with the present post.
My, was I struck by things people think they should
have learned before starting a new job.  You should
add these topics to things to ask about when interviewing.
Did you know about the trend to obtain and
analyze data from unstructured sources?
Two tax and possible investment topics from the
WSJ are pointed out as well.

SOURCE:  K. Greene, WSJ 12-7-2012, P. 1
“Benefits Leader Reins in 401(k)s”
There are changes in the wind about when companies
will be contributing their “matching” contributions

to 401K plans.  As reported in WSJ the trend seems
to be moving from regularly throughout the year to
one time in December,
if you are still employed at
that time.

SOURCE:  WSJ 12-12-2012, p. B6
L. Weber, “At Work”
Short column about things recently hired employees
wished they had known before starting:
- turnover rate for the position
- true travel requirements and actual hours of work
- current future prospects and actual state of finances
- job description, work arrangement and team

SOURCE:  L. Saunders, WSJ 12-8-2012
Deduct now and Give later
With imminent law and regulations changes coming,
this Tax Report column lists some ideas Lauren’s
article describes a strong approach to do good
now and in the future, recognizing that this may
not be as advantageous in the future. [Charitable Giving
funds]  Worth considering.

SOURCE:  WSJ 12-11-2012,  P. B4
J. Mullich, “Harnessing the potential of unstructured data”
Companies need an “informationalization strategy”
Mullich declares taken from Redman’s book about
new strategies to get low hanging fruit from “big
unstructured data”
.  Feedback and insights about
reactions and problems by customers can help identify
and resolve problems.

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