One of the subtopics we cover in our Professional
Development course is LCA or Life Cycle Assessment
in our class on ethics.
There are so many media entries in video, e-books and
podcasts these days that provide “secrets” to land
a job you might desire. Mostly the contents are
recycled material that helps you become “qualified.”
Competition has increased. Advice might offer getting
“ahead of the curve,” but how long in advance can you
have the newest item?
There are some honest fundamentals relating to the
human condition and psychological behavior that
can be lasting skills that are useful in many areas.
Indeed, these skills give you an advantage over “qualified”
candidates who have the required “soft” skills and necessary
“hard Skills.” To differentiate them we call them “wise
Midcareer people also develop capacities to discipline
their attention and perceive trends with intuition.
Three skills appearing on the horizon of skills that might
differentiate you from other qualified candidates are:
having a personal “growth” agenda,
inserting pauses into your NOW habit.
Taken from John Maxwell’s work seeking growth allows
you to see yourself and add value to you and your actions.
In his 15 Laws of Growth book, Maxwell lays out a
reasoning and a method to counter human frailties
in order to balance your life and improve relationships
and careers..the growth paradigm
sees the big picture, prioritizes
measures your improvements and applies
Amanda Ripley wrote about Rick Riscorla who may have been
the wisest hire Morgan Stanley ever made. He was responsible
for emergency evacuation of employees in the twin towers
attack. Ripley breaks down the psychological impact of
people facing disasters and pieces together what helps people
develop a “survival arc.”
Constantly measuring and improving training in ways of
simulating likely scenarios, like evacuations
Develop and use “breathing exercises” in the face of startle
Know that there is a way out, positive attitude is a force
multiplier and we can learn from positive and negative events.
INSERTING PAUSES TO REFLECT
Many can identify one of their weaknesses as procrastination
in the face of fears, uncertainties and doubts. There is a
common understanding that our brains work in several modes
and that the thinking mode is slower reacting. So when
we are in the middle of an action or reluctant to take action,
you can gain much by pausing to reflect on the experience
to learn from it. Maxwell offers four I’s to spell out your
Investigate - reflect and gain insight
Incubate - ask questions, ask for help, help others
Illuminate - allow yourself to internally brainstorm
Illustrate - look for analogies and metaphors, as stories
Habits, as many know, reduce “brain [or thinking] overload.”
We just do things the way they have always been done and
move on to the next thing in time.
This week we started building a process for “committed
networking“ 2 by sharing some ‘networking tips.’ During
the class and after people both displayed and asked for
help to break bad habits. As we have mentioned in
earlier entries, habit stacks are the basis for soft
TIPS FOR MINI-HABITS FOR NETWORKING
This entry lists some tips and tricks for networking
using mini-habits that can be aligned into stacks–
- meet, greet speakers - offer to help speaker
- don’t go in “cold” - warm your voice up
- travel light - if arriving late, take a moment
to look good and have a plan
- google the speaker - “sticky eyes“
- visit and meet VIPS - “wet glass syndrome“
- Amy Cuddy pose
BREAKING BAD HABITS
A couple of individuals discussed frustration over
personal behaviors that they found hard to break and
asked for assistance. Sharma’s blog entry was instructive
in that he isolates nervous habits from dependencies or
addictions and breaks the bad nervous habits into actions
to reduce internal tension and motor/ verbal tics.
Sharma offers that these bad habits can be dealt with
by recognition, meaningful and purposeful alternative
and positive reinforcement.
When we compose a cover letter or an introductory letter
to people in technical fields it is common to say that
in the first paragraph the reader needs to be “hooked”
and then “reeled in” to use the fishing analogy.
Both the analogy and terminology is common in
the marketing world. We are more and more aware of
the marketing gambit with all the technology we all
use. The first link provides an inside look into the
way marketers look at the “hook” from the perspective
of taking advantage of our habits.
There is a lot to learn from critical terms as they are
used in other career fields, like medical fields or business
fields. We don’t always get exposed to or attend sessions
with those groups of people. The second link points to
networking. Here, however, it is the comments to the
linked article that provide benefit in revealing that effective
networking is not just schmoozing or shameless pursuit
of the powerful or soon to be powerful, it needs to
be committed to helping.
HOOKED– USING HABITS TO GET YOUR MARKETING
SOURCE: T. Greenwald, Wired 23.01, Under the Influence
This piece adds a block to Charles Duhigg’s Habit flow
chart. It is the “investment” block where he states this
provides an element of a person’s choosing that results
in the next trigger .
The Wired article’s author provides 21st century
examples for behaviors marketers seek to induce
The comments to the article are sometimes biting, just
revealing that some feel there is more to it than what
Nonetheless, this article points out the use of a
psychological concept in a different field.
The article gives the effect of a similar behavior of
trying to obtain, invite or get to accept as many
Linkedin members to be part of your network. It
is not going to be effective to just add “names” who
you have not made a connection as a number of the
comments to the Schumpeter article indicate. There
has to be “something substantial” to one’s approach.
We suggest that it be “committed networking” where
you honestly seek out things for the benefit of others
and make a commitment. Your network members do
the same for you, especially when you need or ask
for the assistance.
BONUS: MERGER POSSIBILITY AND THE INFLUENCE
OF DIVERGENT CORPORATE CULTURES
SOURCE: Economist, 1-17-15, p. 59
“Blood in the Water”
This could be a lesson on the importance of legal
entanglements and clash of corporate cultures
in the merger of two large firms.
The premise is that the dropping oil price may
bring about the demise of BP as an independent
firm. Several suitors are mentioned, but each
possible large company presents major changes
in management and organizational behaviors.
This is a lesson for all professionals to observe
how cultural and legal issues can influence
We spoke over lunch, a colleague and I, where she mentioned
one of her resolutions was to do more external committed
networking. That is, reach out to those outside her current
firm. This reminded me of an appropriate article by Jean
Cummings on “avoiding short term thinking.”
A second offering here is for those who do not often
read books about Global leadership and out of the WSJ.
As scientist we should be aware of these perspectives and
less tunnel-visioned by single issues. Pursuing true
national energy self-sustainability as a way to regain stable
global leadership is not a single issue but a mission with
A third consideration is how the DNA of bacteria in our gut
are genetic recorders of chemical history and exposures.
MID-CAREER PERSONAL MARKETING
SOURCE: J. Cummings, 10-13-14, Don’t let short term
thinking derail your career.
Jean has created a list of things mid-career technical
people who realize the higher you go up the pyramid the
fewer the suitable positions you would qualify for and
be happy doing. She lists personal marketing goals and
shorter term objectives and development plans that would
be worth investing in. As she mentions it may help avoid
a train wreck, due to unexpected changes.
SOURCES: E. Schoeniger, WSJ 11-19-14, p. B5
Sustainability: Biofuel finally breaks through
and W. K. Clark, “Don’t wait for the next war: A strategy
for American Growth and Global Leadership“
E Schoeniger wrote another in a series of pull-out ad
pieces documenting how biodiesel continues to be
a significant component of fuels for the transportation
sector. It has a large economic and environmental
impact despite its relative size compared to petro-fuels.
This is where Wesley Clark’s controversial book comes
in. Clark posits that America needs a coherent vision
and strategy that addresses the underlying military-
industrial-financial dilemma of our age– dependence
on OPEC and China. Technology now is ready “to
climb this mountain”… where it was not 40 years ago.
This is where science technology and engineering
careers will be.
BACTERIA TO STORE EXPOSURES
SOURCE: Science Digest 11-13-14
Via SLAS Alert “Bacteria become genomic tape recorders
recording chemical exposures in their DNA“
There is something fundamental about this recent report of
storing information about our personal exposures in
the DNA of our Microbiome. Lu explores and devises
a strategy to record, store and play back chemical
It is amazing how our microbiome plays a significant role
in our health. And to think much of this direction came from
finding that a bacterium was responsible for stomach and
Original citation: Farazadfard, Lu, Science 2014 346 6211
Genomically encoded analog memory with precise in
vivo DNA writing in living cell populations
One of the many tasks we have when we return from a technical meeting
is to follow up with contacts using the business cards we have received.
Some of the follow up happens automatically, like when someone sends
a Linkedin invitation, which acts as a mutual follow-up.
There are also people who you want to connect with and provide specific
information and people who you want to work with on a common project
collaboratively. Fact of the matter is that if we did not have these
little business cards, with short notes on the back reminding us of the
situations of meeting, follow up actions and points of information we
would lose much of the purpose for attending meetings– committed
Not long ago, Joanna Stern authored a piece in the WSJ telling of many
of the attempts to create digital replacements for business cards. Her
conclusion and items from many commentators: Keep on using them
and learn some business card tricks.
Coincidentally, while I was at a recent meeting Diane Darling (one of
the better speakers I have attended) sent an email in which she included
How to Process Cards after an event. Some of her ideas are in the
Within 24-48 Hours
Send thank you notes for kind gestures, to hosts, for people who
provided you professional services [I believe this is critical.].
Invite specific people into Linkedin and connect with your
contacts to establish if there is mutual value in sharing a reference.
Diane recommends doing a ‘more professional job’ than the
standard invitation in LI. (I suggest this only when the situation
calls for it.)
If you promised a specific follow up, comply. If you cannot do it
within 2 days, I suggest a short note telling when you can do
Diane and I like to note Linkedin, follow-up plans and items
on the cards we receive and keep them for future reference. I
also like to organize the cards in a card file and, funny little thing,
I attach post-its with added ideas and connections in my hotel
room and return flight home, while things are relatively fresh.
I enjoy reading and learning approaches, new trends
and successful ideas found in the WSJ Accelerators
blog. In yesterday’s issue some outstanding ideas
were shared by Jay Samit, Cristina Bechhold and
Neil Blumenthal about a concept “Committed
Just as Neil states networking itself is an overused
and abused term. Andre Schiotzek from UCI said
the same thing when he spoke about post-doctoral
experiences a month ago. Just like Andre, Neil states
it is first making acquaintances and then friends with
with others. It is important to share our interests,
strengths and weaknesses with them.
Jay and Cristina describe strategies to start and
continue vibrant networks:
- arrive early manage where you spend your valuable
time; scope the room and break the ice with others
- target who you associate with to meet introduction
- fly first class it can generate business
- speak on panels
- be active in worthwhile charities
- mindfully attend events, conferences, shows and
seminars; use existing friendships and associations
- manage your time and your relationships–
mutual introductions and attending others’ events
Things to avoid:
- trying too hard — name dropping, embellishing your
- don’t be all “take” and no give
- avoid selling your interests and needs to the expense
The turn out last Thursday at the Local Section meeting
was quite good as Katherine Lee moderated a ‘right on
target’ panel discussion entitled “Alternate Careers for
Chemists, or what I want to be when I grow up”.
It featured three chemistry trained people who have
transitioned into impactful careers:
Accounting: Chris Montean, Ernst & Young
Venture Capital: Eddine Saiah, Atlas Venture
Intellectual Property Attorney: Heidi Erlacher, Mintz, Levin,
Each one was progressing well in their careers and found
(1)they were “stuck in a rut” with limited futures or
(2)found their current roles doing more “paper pushing and
‘administrivia” and less science. learning and exploration or
(3)be limited to working at the bench where her legal intuition
and technical strengths could be leveraged for much more.
They all demonstrated curiosity and related stories of how
they found a path with an open mind, adapting (learning through
difficulties), and broadening their perspectives of what they were
good at and found they received satisfaction from.
ASKING GOOD QUESTIONS
Throughout the panel discussion, one or two questions that
clearly resonated with the audience.
People noticed not only the responses but also who the
questioner was and how they articulated their query. It is
situations like this that professionals notice who asks the
“aha” question making the session real value. The timing,
the tenor and the tone make a difference in a good question.
I remarked to several people that I was interested in a couple
of companies that a colleague had interviewed for. One
person, Maya, asked about this approach of me pursuing things
on another’s behalf. This is one of the things good networks do.
Committed networks are allies for you and do some of the
due diligence that you would want to do.
While meeting a number of people I encountered colleagues
who I had not seen in some time and caught up with what they
were doing. Several new people approached me and are now
part of my Linkedin Connections. Several asked for advice
OTHER AREAS JOB GROWTH
One questioner asked other areas where our technical skills
as scientists would be strengths. So we met afterwards and
I shared some items that have been shared in the blog, including
intersection of fields
defense related devices for security
material science and engineering
therapies for bugs that are pan resistant
computational chemistry, property and toxicology predictions
Most of the readers or browsers of this blog are tuned to
careers in technical disciplines– chemistry, and its affiliated
sciences and engineering, physics, biology and physical
sciences and medically and material sciences. Much of
the blog’s attention addresses
- mainline job hunting skills and trends,
- public relations documents (CV’s, resumes,
cover letters, research summaries, research proposals,
list of publications, list of references and the like)
- interviewing and its continuum before, during and after
- decision processes and thinking.
This year in addition to these topics we have ventured
into a series of wise skills, which differentiates highly
qualified candidates from those who eventually receive
NOW to overcome procrastination
audience analysis, key to delivering an impactful presentation
mentors and board members for start-ups.
We continued to delve deeply into the nuances of INTERVIEWS
since after all this is usually where our performance bears
on the hiring decision. As situations arose during the year
on various parts of the interviewing continuum and its zeroth
level, the personal self assessment, topics included were:
interviewing “red flags“
business interview apparel
screening interview questions
Several career and job trends were highlighted, including:
job growth areas
job search approaches
A colleague currently in an industrial post doc
position in a radiopharmaceutical firm contacted
me. JJ has been there for nearly a year and wondered
what he should do next.
Despite the pronouncements about the need for more
technically trained scientists and engineers for future
prosperity, jobs and careers are not always clear.
We often hear about how various industrial firms are
starting, continuing or expanding their post doctoral
programs. CENews recently reported as much. Yet,
we do not hear about what to do next. The career path
is not so clear.
[The case is the same in the UK: Meetings are conducted.]
JJ indicated that he had a discussion with his supervisor
about continuing on. The boss indicated that his work was
appreciated. While he would like a permanent position,
he learned about a potential 2 year extension on his unique,
first time in the company post-doctoral position.
We talked about it being very good that JJ had established
good working relationships with his supervisor. It might
be appropriate to inquire if you could be offered a longer
term commitment for working at the company. You liked
working there and would like to have your career grow at
the company. [if that is the case.] You might ask what are
the chances and what is the decision timeline so that you
can work together productively.
Other things to consider
We know post doctoral appointments are usually temporary
and that industrial post-docs can pose limitations on
publishing, networking and attending meetings. See also.
How are the business conditions in the company’s future?
Are sales and profits improving? Are staff being added?
New products? New customers?
What should he do?
- Assess if there is one or more positions currently open or
available for him to fill. Speak with people of influence and
information in the company.
- Determine what are your accomplishments in your post
doc. What are accomplishments that you can insert into
your resume? Should you consider using a List of Projects
page? What have you patented? Published? Presentations
at technical meetings and with customers? Consider contacting
customers. These are mostly involving application of
technical skills and developing new skills.
- Have you worked on improving your soft skills? How is
your communication, working in groups, coming up with new
ideas, implementing things and scaling up? Any interactions
with customers, vendors, negotiations?
- Have you developed new wise skills for your self that will
set you apart from your competition? Do you have mentors?
Have you improved your intuition? Do you have a working
set of keystone habits– avoiding procastination with the NOW
habit? Have you further developed your “committed network.”
Now is the time to use it.
Please remember, verbal offers are not legally binding. If
you receive an offer verbally, ask for it in writing with all the
I was so pleased that in each of the last two weeks to
be able to meet with undergraduates at Niagara University
and UCONN and share with them some observations
about employment trends.
There are two headline areas that were shared. The
first headline is that careers have morphed into something
less predicable, more varied and much more dependent on
technical or hard skills, soft skills and wise skills.
Along with this morphing is a media domination of our
attention that Douglass Rushkoff has written about freeing
ourselves from the tornado of effects that the loss of
personal narratives, change of the perspective of time and
multitasking to ground ourselves in a purposeful, nurturing
world. [Suggestion: Do a personal self assessment and pursue
mentors to establish goals and create a narrative.]
The second headline is the Chemistry Jobs– Simplified
View paradigm of four concentric circles, where the to
the center is the more focused on the disciplines of
chemistry, engineering, materials isolation, fabrication and
The second circle from the center is Chemistry based jobs
and includes extraction, manufacturing, regulatory, sales,
technical services, quality control and design.
The third circle from the center involves science-related
jobs, including biology, geology, physics, medicine, toxicology
astronomy, space science and the like. Also, policy,
journalism, business and research and grant management,
association and organizational advocacy.
Finally, the fourth concentric circle is science inspired jobs
which include venture capital, economics, futurist and movies
[from the VISION 2025 ACS Presidential Task Force of
Dr. Marinda Wu, p. 18]
There are untold numbers of ways chemistry skills and background
can and do provide jobs and future careers. To help them develop
we encouraged gaining experience via
internships [undergraduate research fits here, as well],
purposefully develop co-curricular skills,
know the importance of referrals and committed networking,
have a professional internet presence and
be willing to work your way up.
We are seriously living in a time of abundance. Wise futurists
provide many diverse possibilities, including Diamondis,
Anastas and Vaitheeswaran.
For those looking for positions, seeking help with their
documents, and getting practice interviews, the virtual
career fair ended today was a membership granted opportunity
you should not have passed up.
I know I met with ten members who told me their expectations
were exceeded and they learned and practiced and received
advice on critical issues.
public relations documents needed for industry and
what to include in them– keywords
importance of the “resume red zone” the middle
third of page 1
items to include in the heading and name on each
page with page number
form and content of resumes
importance of the interviewing continuum
knowing about the zeroth level of the interviewing
how to conduct an informational interview
how to conduct a telephone screening interview
how to conduct a virtual video interview
Wise skills — being allies for each other, committed
Recent PhD who delivered their baby girl now wishes to
return to the work force, how should she respond to time
Recent graduate who wants to find a job in the Chicago
area, who do I network with
What are the hot areas to look for positions– employers,
What companies in Canada are hiring
Strategies for dual career families
While traveling recently I read Kindle books about topics
relevant to your online presences.
Topics Author Title
Linkedin.com J. Kidder “The Professional network
B. Patrick your career cannot afford
Blog Posts S. Scott “How to write great blog
posts that engage readers“
LINKEDIN - KIDDER, PATRICK
A dispassionate view of Linkedin that provides an updated,
relevant foundation for what you want to include, who
the audience is and how to profitably use this corporate
tool that is provided to make a profit [90% of users do
it incorrectly, lacking either professionalism, keywords,
headline and formatting or strategy].
In-person networking gives an order of magnitude better
connection, yet, Linkedin is the ultimate platform for
connecting with people, industries and professions
when distance, time and resources prevents face to face
Some headlines- meaningful headers and readable format,
links to credible digital content, strategic use of keywords
Common misuses- having hoards of network members,
where most pay no attention or do not work for each
other NOT COMMITTED.
Lack of understanding that having many common
background networking members is not as
helpful as having varied broad-expertise and
experience network NARROW FOCUS.
It is worth noting that a number of things
that are advertised are efforts to further the
AUTHORITY MARKETING - SCOTT
Steve Scott wrote his e-book about doing writing with
a purpose that is part of project that has an audience that
has value and increases readership.
This book talks about 19 ways to engage audiences,
pointing to four major divisions, namely:
1. MVPs - massive value posts
2. FPs - filler posts
3. UPs - updates
4. Bonus Content
Now we should understand Steve is providing his readership
information and ideas that monetizes his efforts. It is
hard work that is not dependent on one or two tools to
He likes doing Authority blogging, rather than developing
niche sites. [A broader list of blogging books is here. ]
Ideas to enhance readers appreciation include:
- list post with links
- number a series of items
- video or active audio content
- questions and answers
- instructional tutorials
- give aways
Finding openings and obtaining interviews for academic positions
continues to be challenging. While there is regular turnover and
some retirement, it is not like new institutions are being built or
departments growing. So, each interview should be prepared for
and taken as seriously as each paper we write for a prestigious
The PhD degree, these days, is like a union card in providing
eligibility. It does not grant privileges. It is your record of doing
well in obtaining results and having very strong letters of support
that will get you interviews.
In an interesting piece, after you get your position, it was
recommended that after three years, you should have a fair idea
if tenure will be granted. If you wish to remain in your position, or
more important, if you are uncertain or feel your position is perilous,
apply for positions elsewhere to obtain interviews. Look, apply
and interview. Certainly do committed networking. 2
So, when you are interviewing for a position:
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- college mission and how your philosophy and approach mesh
- get a picture of faculty and staff turnover, usually through
informal discussions. Particularly revealing can be discussions
with students who are less guarded but observe changes.
- what are the “service obligations” of junior faculty? too much
committee work means less time for students, research and
writing for grants and publications, affecting the tenure decision.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
- ask to meet with students. They can be brutally honest and
reveal stark realities.
- how strong are communications between department? Politics
are common, but is there coordination and are there joint programs.
- is there collaboration between groups within the department?
- what is the hiring process? Is it a “beauty contest” with many
contestants? Are fewer, select individuals interviewed? What
is the decision based upon?
- what is listed on-line about events involving the department
and how much is not listed and “word of mouth”? What is
attendance like and who attends?
- what are the revenue streams for the institution? Higher ed
funding is in turmoil. What is the student mix in the department?
How many are on scholarship? How many transfers?
Over the last few months, due to the recognition
of the role of start-up companies in a tough economy,
we have done serious research into critical elements
of a ‘going on your own’ or ‘joining an emerging
enterprise’ career path.
Our series topics include:
1. iEconomy and patents, noting “standard essential”
patents and other emerging patenting tactics
2. Interactions with Venture Capitalists, noting the
role of the elevator pitch and other success factors
3. Hiring priorities for emerging companies, noting
understanding the culture and company story
4. Starting a company on your own, noting important
first steps to consider– attorney
5. Disruptive innovations and different kinds of
support in an emerging enterprise.
6, What works in making initial contact with start-up
companies, note “warm introductions” and multiple avenues
of contacts through committed networking
This entry highlights two topics brought up in the
Accelerators blog that are commonly overlooked
by entrepreneurs, namely, the importance of company
culture and determining the valuation of the
In the rush to get the business moving, whether it is
product or service into customers’ hands for use, it
is important to define your core values and traditions
in the early months and days. In successful firms, you
will find a certain “vibe” in every person you meet which
has a direct impact on outputs and raising of funds.
The value of your firm is not what you think it
should be, it is what others, often experts in
the market dynamics, are willing to offer. It is,
first of all, a negotiation which centers on trust,
not winning and losing. There is major caution
in how you go about working with people who
are, often, very experienced. It can not hurt to
involve mentors and trusted colleagues who have
experienced different negotiating styles.
One of the MUD CARDS in a recent workshop asked:
How do I express to people that I am seeking employment
or a change of positions without seeming to beg or needing
to express why?
In today’s very mobile employment scene, changing jobs occurs
for many reasons and more frequently than we expect and at
times when we might not expect to.
My first inclination offers that we should in constant “committed
networking” mode. It helps you maintain relevance and contact
- in your field and outside of your field
- at the same stage of your career and at earlier and later stages
- needing help and offering help to others, even if nothing comes
back in return.
A step before committed networking involves you performing a
personal self assessment about what your motivations are
for employment at this point in time and perhaps if you
are tuned to near term changes, in your near future. Are you
motivated by: advancement, affiliation, balance, excitement,
ability to contribute to the greater good, security, desire to
learn, respect, — whatever it is!
Figure out if it is your feelings or the position that you are
in (if you seek a change from current employment). The
“rub” you may have may start with current job conflicts
(boss, responsibilities, time commitments, travel, co-workers,
mission, security), but evaluate if it is in your personal motivations
or in the position. A change of positions, if it is in your
motivations, might not be satisfied with a change of positions.
Amy Gallow authored a thoughtful HBR piece on modifying
one’s current roles and responsibilities to improve personal
job satisfaction without formally changing positions.
Perhaps the most telling approach involves understanding
the “interviewing continuum” and the role of networking
conversations, small talk and introductions. Viewing your
job search as part of series of interviews that you have
significant influence in participating helps you proactively
pursue positions without feeling as if begging.
Recently, I attended a marvelous meeting where a number of
innovative products were on display and entrepreneurial
ventures spoke about their businesses. In addition to meeting
a number of members there, we offered a workshop on
the topic of committed networking .
In the mud cards following the session we captured a number
of valuable comments that I forwarded to the society staff
to know what audience members felt. In addition, some
cards asked other questions. [For more information see
One person asked:
Using a cell phone as an “idea notebook”, I am
concerned that it appears that I am viewing or
playing on my phone and not paying attention.
What should I do?
This is quite common these days with many people “addicted to
their cellular devices.” In fact, I have seen comments about
“digital prophylactics” where meeting members hang up their
devices to avoid distraction.
iPads seem to be less effective since it is not efficient for
In one recent meeting, I commented that it was a distraction
for me to see people texting on their cell phones. Only to
find out he was taking notes….
I promptly apologized.
This brings up the point. Consider, if you plan to text into
your cellular device notes, telling the presenter, host or
coordinator that your are texting your notes.
Generally, it is considered bad form to use computers
or cellular devices in meetings. I sense this is only slowly
changing. So tell people if you are taking notes.
They are used to people using paper and pen…
It was a surprise when I received a resume on a second
pass from one person and on a fourth pass from
another to see some glaring issues that will
“de-rail” these applicant’s application efforts.
CASE: BUSINESS FOCUSED RESUME
Heading listed name, address, email, phone, but no
Internet presence. That is possible for only very few
people these days. For sure, reviewers, if they are
interested in you, will search you on the internet. Help
them, give your Internet web page or LinkedIn.com
More dramatic than the missing Internet presence followed.
While the resume did not have an OBJECTIVE or
QUALIFICATIONS, it did have a PROFILE section
right after the heading. The profile was written with
10 ‘I phrases’ in 11-line paragraph form offering an incredible
listing of “features without benefits”, as expressed in
It is my experience that all resume reviewers and coaches
recommend that “I, my, or our” not be used in a resume
and most CVs. Anywhere or anytime. This is common
from many sources like Doyle, LizRyan and many ACS
Equally objectionable are the use of feature phrases
without substantial benefits. Specifically that means
do not state– results oriented (or bottom-line oriented)
professional, goal-driven, multi-tasker, reliable, flexible,
excellent communication skills, self-motivated,
team player, independent, detail-oriented or catch phrases
that are without benefits.
CASE: LABORATORY SCIENTIST SEEKING NEW
A second resume that I reviewed contained the heading
using a Word “header” and nebulous Objective statement:
“To seek a position in a growing company that allows me to
apply my skills in THIS and THAT. I would like to apply my
diligence and problem solving skills to gain variable insights
in the field of WHATEVER..”
Note: MY, I, bad form
Note: non-specific, “lazy-phrases”
Note: typo “variable” [lack of attention to detail]
When we use an Objective it should relate directly to
specific match of skills, interests and experiences the
company desires an individual to possess and you have.
Specifically look into the company to find out who they
want to hire. Do information interviewing, committed
networking, and industry researching that pinpoints where
your working there benefits their products, business or
services. Find the KEYWORDS that are relevant to
positions that you seek and are qualified for.
If you do not have this, or if there is more than one
position you wish to be considered for, consider skipping
the Objective, and present your case with QUALIFICATIONS.
Present the most relevant skills, experiences and interests
in your qualifications.
Make your document, especially in the “resume red zone,”
easy to read. Consider using incomplete yet understandable
sentence fragments. Avoid inserting a bullet or a carrot for
too many things. Reserve their use for achievements,
results and things that place you in a prominent light.
Templated forms like Word “headers and footers” seem
to be more of a headache than a benefit. Sure it insures
that certain information is there, but it might not be compatible
with all electronic forms and there can be too much information
that is repeated.
ITEMS: HEADING ON PAGE 1, PROFILE, OBJECTIVE
Yesterday, I was invited to offer a class to freshman chemistry
majors. Instead of lecturing what I thought they should know,
we did something different. We asked: what are your
questions and concerns?
The whole class involved fielding their questions. This
entry includes several of their questions and a short
summary of our discussion.
Q: Which fields in chemistry are relatively new
and unexplored in terms of research?
- energy sources: biofuels, new processes from non-food
sources; nuclear ; ’smart roofs’
- food: nutrition, nutriceuticals; safety, toxicology
- future cities: nanotechnology for sustainability ;
choices for a reduced ‘carbon foot-print’
- human health: genomics and disease prevention;
public health ; fast, accurate tests
- water and air: desalination and electrified nano
filters ; reducing disease sources ; complex
photochemistries of NOx and aerosols
- raw materials: biodegradable plastics ; conservation
and recycling of scarce resources ; sustainable designs
decomposing unsustainable chemicals
Q: What opportunities are available for chemists
outside of a research lab?
- Referred the class to a page in Nov., 2012, The
Q: Will jobs in chemistry be sent overseas?
- This is not a problem; this is an opportunity.
Let em explain why. We live in a globalized,
mostly open, free market economy.
- General conditions were set up by a series of
negotiated “free trade agreements.” [eg, NAFTA]
Jobs move to where they make the most economic
sense. Lower wage jobs move to locations where
it makes economic sense, to lower wage locations.
- Globalized economies result, affecting nearly
all business areas.
- Build on strengths of the US: available
capital, markets, free enterprise, rule of law,
entrepreneurial spirit, educational system.
- DYNAMIC SITUATION RESULTS: Learn
foreign languages, work in multicultural
environments and programs, apply for and seek
internships, learn to become adaptable
Q: What kind of start up company would be
the best to start if you are a chemist?
- Today’s WSJ had a great example —
entrepreneur Mark Denton
Several times I was struck by nice impressions and
surprises recently. What all of them seem to reveal
is that we should not take things for granted. We
should regularly check in on commitments.
LITTLE THINGS COUNT A LOT
A colleague sent me her revised business card. It had a
nice design but I do not recall it containing a Internet
presence link. What struck me most was that the font
color seemed to blend into the background. Have
NETWORK NEEDS TO BE READY WHEN YOU NEED IT
Another colleague happily shared that she received an
offer for a full time government position. She had a
number of concerns that she wanted to talk about and
a short timeline (3 days). This STRONGLY points to her
efforts at COMMITTED NETWORKING. She could
send the happy note and ask to speak. We spoke at
the recent ACS meeting and were up to date. I had
time or would make time to speak with her.
Not only did I offer ideas and directed helpful instructions–
request to speak with the hiring manager/supervisor and
have a offer letter in hand,– but also connected her with
a colleague in my network who knows about the concerns
she may have.
PLANNING IS ITERATIVE PROCESS
In the next few months, there will be a number of
engagements for me. Planning for one in three months,
I had offered and felt received verbal confirmation
for two topics. I wrote abstracts and sent them in.
Contact was made to make travel and hotel arrangements.
Then for some reason I thought, let me see what is
advertised for what I will present. Surprise!
Only one of the two presentations and the second
topic that was an add-on. That turned my head.
Before travel begins, I have a check list that also
includes all contact information and a plan to
share my travel details and a way to contact me.
Trust but verify early and often. It can be done in
subtle, yet friendly ways.
TEAMS: ADAPT AND CONTRIBUTE
Finally, over the last half year I have been working
with a strong team on a critical task. The leader
of the effort, takes special effort to ask me to
personally participate. So, not only do I listen
and try to remain in step with the group in offering
comments (disruptive or “me- too” quips hold back
progress), I make directed effort to meet and
exceed requests to follow through on
commitments, realizing of course that it is
the team effort and not what just I say that has