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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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12/03/18
Good Companies List
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:40 pm

You know, it is hard to come up with a list of firms to
consider applying to.  Sure you can go to your placement
services, whether academic, commercial or governmental,
and see who they cite.

.
You can go to fields of specialization where previous people
from your area have landed positions.
.
You can take recommendations from mentors who may have
current knowledge.
.
As we are seeing, what is important to some people is not as
important to others.  I recall when I began my search, all I
heard was that finding a good post doc was critical after 
grad school.  Then, I had a mock interview with a mentor 
who offered a unique idea of looking for energy related 
fields (now this was in the 70s, just before the time of the 
Arab oil embargo in the US).  So when I was involved with
screening interviews, I accepted all that were offered and I 
could request.  Then part of my decision process involved
determining energy companies.
.
These days business aspects are paramount.  Which firms
have good management, philosophies and practices?  The 
WSJ determined a ranking of 752 firms using Peter Drucker’s
criteria of doing the right things well.  It is well worth taking
a look at the criteria and perhaps digging into the listing to
determine where you might search.  
.
It is true that other factors besides this play a role for each 
of us and that we need to define them– company culture,
location, specific fields of interest, and so forth.
.
When I perused the list at least half of the top 50 are technology
intensive companies and there are some firms that I had not
known before.  This is valuable and should be of strong 
interest to you.
Look at a number of the companies listed and go to their 
websites.
[Even get a copy of the 12-3-18 issue of the WSJ.]
comments (0)
05/23/18
Mailbag Question. Five considerations about changing jobs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:35 am
From–CJ’s mailbag from 5-21-18 CEN, p. 27
.
Question/Answer:  Is it better to jump from one company to
another or stick with a company long term?
.
While the question is an appropriate one, his short
answer was not satisfying.  (It was: no one knows!)  
.
Where I come out on this question:  There are five features
that will help you answer the question for yourself.  
1.CULTURE AND GOALS.  
.CJ offers the big company, small organization 
argument saying larger firms desire loyalty. 
My view suggests that you might assess whether you are 
comfortable in the company culture of how things work and 
what your title, responsibility and security-opportunity-
influence triad 
balance is.

2.YOUR BOSS AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND POLICIES
. Do you like and communicate well with your boss and 
your support staff?  Is there trust and honesty.  Are the policies 
flexibly meeting your needs for the present and the future?  Look 
out for more than the present.
  Can you ask hard questions and 
get honest answers?  

3.YOUR FAMILY SITUATION AND NEAR TERM GOALS
 We work  to satisfy our particular families’ needs, first.
Are hours of work, travel, stress level such that it allows your
personal needs and wants to be met?  outside of work life.
.
4.YOUR LONG TERM HORIZON
  We all must stop being an employee at some point.  Do
you want it to be your choice or business conditions or an
arbitrary “committee beauty contest” selection?  When you 
leave will it be fair and open, on good terms?  Can you
have the benefits your family needs and are they protected?
.
5.YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND ASSIGNMENT AND
  WHERE IT LEADS YOU AND ALLOWS YOU TO LEARN
 Are you challenged and learning important things every day?
Do you feel positive about what  your goals are and look forward
to each day’s challenges?
.
Telling the truth, for myself, and for those for whom I
have mentored, have a mentor team that will help you 
pose questions and look at the big picture for you.
I could not have gotten to where I am now without the
outstanding help of mentors.  Two qualities that I felt
they provided were persistence and outside of the box
thinking.
.
You should always have radar ‘on,’ to learn about your 
field.  You should always have an early warning system
telling you the good and bad (remember: management usually
holds back on delivering bad news and too often uses
rose colored glasses and a ‘bow on top.’)
1 comment
10/09/17
Technical trends worth noting. CRISPR and other models, Analysts career path, and Astrophysics
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:42 am

We can gain insights into various career paths by interrogating
other fields and applying their approaches and findings.

.
In reading some Native American history, the contrast in
the sense of the meaning of time was offered [James Wilson,
The Earth Shall Weep ].  The cultural driven Indian nations
regarded time as cyclical returning to seasonal interludes,
whereas European cultures brought in a linear perspective of
distant past-past- present-future.  The European culture sliced
time up into eras and time spans and measured time with
smaller and smaller intervals.
.
Taking a wider view, Lisa Randall [Astrophysicist] discusses
the critical notion of “scale” which informs Physicists the range
of lengths, time intervals, or energies that are relevant for any
particular investigation and is critical to the understanding of
progress.
By partitioning the universe into different comprehensible
sizes we learn that the laws of physics that work best are not
necessarily the same for all processes.  Indeed the degree of
of precision you desire determines the scales you choose.
.
For a given problem we use an “effective theory.”  This points
out the concept that the month-day-hour-second-nanosecond is
just a cultural interpretation of celestial observations from 
which it was derived and the world as different cultures displays
“scales” describing different “effective theories.”
 .
Do not expect your scale to be uniformly applicable for all
problems
.  Science offers an evolving body of knowledge, as old
ideas get incorporated into more fundamental theories and science
proceeds with uncertainty at the edges.
.
CRISPR
As humans, we find shortcuts almost part of our nature.  So 
a decade ago exomes [shortened genome sequences] were sought
in clinical investigations of mendelian disorder studies.  They
offered lower cost approaches.  This hypothesis more likely 
confirmed that shortcuts more often lead to incomplete or wrong
directions as biological systems are complex.
.
Article writers in biochemistry expect CRISPR/Cas9 to become
routine as just another tool as researchers dive into germline
genome editing.  Dozens of organizations want to fully weigh
in on public funding to repair a germline mutation in human 
embryos [9-1-17, GENengnews.com].  Then, alternate approaches
such as mouse models might be oversimplistic in expecting
organism wide duplication.
.
This points to Lisa Randall’s observation that leadership 
needs to push forward in asking the right questions, defining
the real problems, and identifying promising routes to
progress by solving smaller issues which turn out to be
clues  to the bigger issues.
.
ANALYST SALARIES AND COMPANIES
LC/GC completed and published a 2017 salary survey and
company listing that job seekers in the chemical analyst
career track will use.

comments (0)
10/10/16
Economics of the Chemical Enterprise. 2.
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:18 pm

Ten years ago R. Jones edited a series of factors
giving rise to the apparent trend involving the 
globalization of chemical enterprise industries.  
We have urged ACS in this blog to report and
follow the Economics in the Chemical
Enterprise 
as the older model (of globalization)
is less valid now as an important concept for
members.  
.

We observed that globalization is less
significant now and plays much less of a strategic
role as superstar companies that use an array of
qualities.  They have distinctive cultures and
traditions that many academic centers are little 
aware of, including seeking and following top 
talent (stretch assignments, accelerator 
experiences, and crucible roles) and keeping their 
focus on a long term vision (by modifying their 
shareholders’ voting rights) and managing finances, 
legislation and financial markets.
.
The Economist reported on recent trends in its
article as a new age of corporatism giving rise to
consolidation to stay on top “hoovering up talent,
buying patents and investing in research.”  We can see
this leading to problems ascribed to concentration of
pay, technology, top execs and vast amounts of
information.
.
In an interesting related piece in Cheeky Scientist Blog
is the five corporate departments that PhDs should know
which are critical to a company’s success.  While most
know “companies have R&D, Marketing and Sales,”
few realize also critical to success are finance, supply
chain and information technology.
.
I suspect these are all new to Chemists and Engineers
and this reveals the need for further education in these
and traditional areas that have further evolved.
1 comment
07/07/16
How do you apply for a position?
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:05 am

An email came from Lee the other day:

“guidance on contacting a job poster before sending a resume”

which seemed curious. 
  Was it a poster session? 
  Was it a position seen on a job board? 
  Did it ask to upload the resume to an online address?

We clarified things over the next few days.  He read an
attractive job board posting on Linkedin for a firm that would
make sense for his career path.

But, we know you help yourself in obtaining an interview if you
can be referred by an employee or better yet the hiring manager.
To do that Lee might informally contact an employee who is
part of your network or extended network and pursue at
least an ‘information interview.’   It would possibly allow a
‘networking interview’ as well.  [Parts of the Interviewing
Continuum
, see the side bar for details on each type of interview]

My suggestions to him included:
  1.  CONTENT It would be important to formulate the public
relations documents incorporating keywords that will be sought. 
  2.  FORMAT If you can speak to someone who does interview
for the company you can ascertain if there is any specific
elements and style resume reviewers prefer.
  (business style
focus, chronological, technical focus, research summary,
particular cover letter, Europass format for international, etc.) 
  3.  Does he have network members who work at the company?
Has he spoken with the network contact about the position?
(Think about possible win-win situations– employee referral
can lead to a bonus for the employee.)
  4.  Liz Ryan wrote a nice piece how Linkedin can assist the
job search process of narrowing down the companies, finding
hiring managers, learning about the culture and interview
expectations you may encounter.  This too could lead to a
pull marketing mechanism since you might be able to curate
your Linkedin profile to be picked up by recruiters.
  5.  Plan a follow-up campaign that includes thank you notes,
talking up the network participants, modifying the PR documents
as appropriate, setting a timeline for follow-up communication
and including it in the cover letter.
  6.  Do detailed research on the firm.  Patents, business results,
investment insights.
  7.  Enter total information into your job search spreadsheet
that tracks all communication.

 

comments (0)
04/08/16
Reference Check. What is asked and how you can help yourself
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:01 pm

It is an essential part of the interview process that you will
provide references and they will be contacted.  As we know,
it is wise to ask if a person can provide a good reference for you
before you offer their name for a reference.

Recently, I was asked if I would act as a colleague’s
reference.  After her interview, she and I skyped to
share what the interview was like and to get prepared for
my part of her interview.

The reference checking can happen before you might
interview in places that know your reference.  That can
act as a sanity check to go ahead with more detailed
interviewing.

It can happen after the interview in two or three ways.
One is a phone reference check.  A second way is
to ask for your reference to complete a detailed form.
And a third variation is to ask for a letter of reference,
which would be similar to the common letter of
recommendation sought for academic position applications.

The reference checking process can be done by a HR
staffer or more frequently these days by a contracted firm
that specializes in this service.  Both the candidate’s
performance and my credibility are tested. 

So, during our Skype I asked the candidate what she learned
about the position and the company.  In addition, I asked for
a few personal/professional details so that I could strongly
describe that I knew the candidate.  She was involved in several
seminars, a course I led and we traveled to an international
meeting at which she overcame weather problems.

In our reference checking conversation, I confirmed personal
history and information about her strengths, weaknesses and
near term goals.

The person I spoke with, Sharon, politely confirmed her information
about me that the candidate provided.  Then, she asked if it was a
good time to complete this assignment.  I indicated yes.

There are standard questions that are usually asked:
 - how long is the business relationship and what was the formal
connection

 - is there any reason this person is not qualified to work in the
position?
 - provide details of directly working with the applicant on a project
 - assess the applicant’s performance on the project
 - please describe the candidate
 - what are her leading strengths
 - what performance factors could the applicant improve
 - would you recommend we hire this applicant

So, knowing specific personal strengths with examples and areas
the applicant needs to improve are very important.  Having an idea
of the applicant’s reflection of how the interview day went will
reveal if the applicant was comfortable with the culture and
people experienced.  The reference needs to find a way to express
strong desire with the opportunity and be an advocate.

comments (0)
01/13/16
Exploring a Position at Company. Mentors, Preparation for contact
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:49 am

A colleague recently contacted me about applying for a
research position in his field of interest of brain imaging.

It is a small company with a limited amount of
of public information.  He asked about who to address
in the cover letter and details about virus-protection
software that blocks link-containing documents.

He also wanted to explore why it was critical to join
and become an active member of a professional society.

USING MENTORS AND THE LONG TAIL
My first thoughts directed me to explore the company
in LinkedIn after studying the company website.  It is
important to go beyond the website in looking for details
about any position.  So a google search looking at many
pages beyond the high frequency first page is important
to use.  This is also known as the search distribution
long-tail
coined by Chris Anderson.

In Linkedin, I found a second degree connection to the
CEO and founder which led me to an information loaded
profile which I then shared with him.
I learned the company was a start-up, had recent funding
and had advertised the position he had interest in.  So,
I forwarded a suggestion to contact the CEO by Inmail
and ask to engage in a short conversation about the
position
Before doing this he should prepare thoroughly
by having stories to tell about how he uniquely qualifies
for the position, by using information at hand about
salary ranges for the position in that area of the country,
and by having critical questions outlined for him to ask.
This is a common information interview.

Listen carefully to keywords he uses that can be
incorporated into the cover letter and resume.

If salary comes up in the discussion, reveal what your
research has provided.  Then ask, how much is budgeted
for the position, rather than saying how much you wish.
Defer that discussion until you have an offer, know
what the job entails and get a sense that you like the
culture and they like you.

So, contact a person in the company before uploading
documents.  This way it is not a “cold contact” application
without assessing keywords to use and a person to
address and follow up with.

COVER LETTER AND DOCUMENTS
There are three clear objectives that a cover letter provides–
explains gaps, shows a clear match for you in the position
and provides your thinking about your career movement
into the position.

Documents we upload can be blocked if they have
links in the cloud by software.  So, either delink the
documents, in Word, or use .txt format without links.

PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
People in professional fields use societies to continue
to learn important elements in their field through meetings
and publications, to share what we learn with other
professionals and to be part of the professionals
advocating for the growth and importance of the field.

We all should be members of professional technical
societies.

Good luck! ended the reply, where
LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity
+ action

1 comment
10/09/15
Self Assessment Dilemma. Thinking overtaken by Technopoly
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:43 pm

In preparing for a future class on assessing our personal
emotions that effect our behaviors and decisions
three
books came to my attention, that I wish to tell you about.

- Peter Whybrow,  The Well-tuned Brain:  Neuroscience
and the Life Well-Lived, Norton and Company, NY, 2015

- Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to Death:  Public
Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Elisabeth Afton
Books, Viking, NY, 1985

- Neil Postman, The End of Education:  Redfining the
Value of School, Vintage Books, Div. of RandHouse, NY
1995

I was curious to learn Whybrow’s take on how our brain
works as we go through our daily activities and thinking. 
We describe most routines as habits that seem to be a
repetition from before and we go into auto-pilot to
perform.  Intuition is based on implicit learning a pattern
of facts, cues and events that we synthesize while going
about our daily activities.  We unconsciously use both.
The class intends to help discover them using MBTI,
values and behaviors assessments.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Research reveals that although human brains attain 90%
of their size by age 6, it will take 2 or more decades to achieve
functional maturity with different regions varying in pace
and timing.
To achieve self-command we must learn what drives us
and accept that we are often ruled by the short term and
habit, although intellectually driven, curious and self
interested.

LOSING THOUGHTS REVEALING CONNECTIONS
Humans sense the need for order in the changing world,
an understanding of our place and purpose which imagination
and traditions/culture offer “touchstones” and signify our
values.  Postman, Whybrow asserts, reflected on a technopoly
which represents an invasion into our imagination organized
realm due to our now gadget-driven, time-limited, distracted
world.  Education is no longer providing the basics to allow
thoughtful questioning, open and adaptable curiosity to
pursue learning.

We have allowed our memory, values, curiosity and imagination
to be outsourced drawn by hyperlinks, video clips, side-bars
distracted thinking and superficial learning.

Schools reinforce the culture of learning for economic utility.
consumership and technology.  This reality, Postman asserts
is a Faustian bargain… we gain a little and we lose a lot.
  - the advantages are unevenly distributed
  - while seeming simple, there is complexity embedded in
each technology
  - new technologies replace older ones in a competition
which speeds up and loses some of its benefits because
of intellectual and emotional biases and financial incentives
  - it is believed that there is a common core with a global
view, but there is too much and much has to be displaced.
–arbitrary inclusion and exclusion results.



comments (0)
04/25/15
Transformative Planning. Looking for Disruptions Impacting your Industry, Business and Career Paths
Filed under: Position Searching, Post-docs, Technicians, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:33 am

A provocative concept introduced by Daniel Burrus
is transformative [rather than incremental] planning .

This concept results from a realization that there
are “wider” and broader forces influencing changes
beyond linearization of recent events.  Burrus calls
our attention to industries and organizations who remained
in their ’silos’ of view and perished or were left behind
due to total changes in context and culture.  (think:
iphones, ipads, and remote storage in place of cameras
and photos)

He teaches us anticipatory planning for what does not
even exist now.  He advocates a broader network of
information gathering and screening to be prepared
to explore in our information interviews and networking
interviews to be part of the future trend rather than trying
to catch up.  [ See blog.]

This motivates why this blog lists topics as Trends in
Technical Careers
, Watch-Outs, International Job
Applications, career paths you might not first consider,
and Interesting Links.

An example of a company seeking to adapt and adjust
is Bayer

A recent ad in Atlantic elaborates on AOT Analytics
of Things which is being incorporated into our daily
lives via predictive maintenance for safety, health
and efficiency and up-to-the-second awareness.


comments (0)
02/02/15
Hiring Trends. Perspectives from the Hiring Side
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 11:17 am

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

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

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

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

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

DESIRABLE CANDIDATE QUALITY

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

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

IMPACT OF CULTURE AND MISSION ON INTERVIEWS
AND OFFERS

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

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

comments (0)
01/26/15
Mentoring Discussions. Different Perspectives, Helpful ideas
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:06 pm

A colleague/collaborator and I were conversing about
mentoring and mentoring programs.  She was telling me
about the struggles when discussing what is important,
who should be targeted and what would a successful program
look like.

She brought up the finding that different parts of an organization,
like marketing, finance, medical affairs (medical device mfg),
and R&D views mentoring differently.

Some parts think of the role as helping new members come up
to speed with the culture because turn over is high.  Another
part of the company has very low turnover, flat organizational
structure and intense detailed work.  (You almost have to have
a retirement party to induce a change.)

Thus, mentoring in specific companies can assume a company
cultural bias to meet the needs at a particular point in time or
departments that it serves.

So the roles of teacher, coach, mentor and sponsor can be
adjusted.  Mentoring graduate students in technical fields
needs to adjust to each field in the same view.  The skill sets
can be used to meet different goals since in each field of
research, development, marketing, management, product
development and manufacturing uses the technical elements
with different goals.  The emphasis is morphed to meet the needs.

She also share an interesting link to the different roles.

KAHNEMAN: IMPROVING DECISION MAKING
This brought to mind a recent book by John Lanchester
who spoke about how Kahneman influenced the interview
process in selecting military candidates (without going into
formal details.). 

He did experiments on selection processes where
critical skills and abilities were defined, questions were
prepared by knowledgeable stakeholders for a pool of
qualified candidates.

[JOHN LANCHESTER How to speak money:  What the
money people say—and what it really
means, Norton & Company,
New York 2014]

He then had a random portion of the group take objective
measure tests before interviewing. 

Better selections were made when the intuition of
interviewers were supplemented by independent testing
evaluation.

So, in various places this additional testing is being done.

BUSINESS TERMS
Lanchester also presented remarkable meanings of
business terms which technical people might find useful.
failing upwards:  someone who screws up and is promoted
to a bigger job just as the first result collapses

fiscal and monetary:  fiscal means dealing with taxes and
spending, controlled by government;  monetary means
dealing with interest rates, controlled by the central bank.

“a haircut:“  in investment bonds, people who have lent money
are not going to get all of their money back.

hollowing out:”  process by which jobs disappear from the
economy while appearances remain the same.
At its peak, Kodak employed 140,000 and valued at $28B.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1B in 2012 and employed
13 people.

hype cycle:”  process involving new inventions, technology
or product design arrives with much fanfare and is found not
to live up to its claims.

McJobs:  low status, low-pay, low-security, low-prospect
jobs like at a franchise as McDonalds.

Types of unemployment:  frictional, structural and cyclical
frictional:  people move, voluntarily choose to change
careers
structural: loss of jobs due to technological change or
obsolescence (chemical photography)
cyclical:  loss of jobs due to boom and bust cycles of
the economical system

1 comment
01/20/15
Watch-Outs. 79. Taking “aim” at networking, Marketing in the 21st century business world
Filed under: Position Searching, Leadership, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:17 pm

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
CONCEPT ACROSS
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
in us. 

The comments to the article are sometimes biting, just
revealing that some feel there is more to it than what
Greenwald intends.

Nonetheless, this article points out the use of a
psychological concept in a different field.

NETWORKING MAYBE, WE SUGGEST COMMITTED
NETWORKING

SOURCE:  Schumpeter, Economist 1-17-15, p. 66
The networking effect” see the comments as well.

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
business decisions.

comments (0)
07/10/14
Watch-Outs. 60. Trends in Linkedin Job Seeking, Setting Goals, Businesses and Investment
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:30 pm

We need to spread our information gathering “net” out wider
and deeper and even do some ‘Levy’ Flights [how animals of
prey search for food in a prey-starved environment] to find
information pertinent to your career.

Tom Friedman interviewed Jeff Weiner CEO of Linkedin
in our first link.  He talks about new tools linkedin is
developing for managing your career.  Also he points out
five attributes employers are looking for.

John Bogle, Rosebeth Moss Kantor and WSJ panel wrote
about important emerging trends in business, investment
and research on companies.  We need to note that when we
go to work for a company we are “investing in that firm and
industry/”  Thus, we should know quite a bit about it.

As a bonus, I share a recent book you might find useful for
setting goals, by Brian Tracy.

SOURCE:  D. Madey, Linkedin blog “Linkedin’s vision for
an Economic Graph”. 
I know you will find this interview of Jeff Weiner compelling
in that he talks about his vision where Linkedin is moving to
help you manage your career.  He also indicates five attributes
employers now seek in new hires:  business acumen, resiliency
in leadership (come back from defeats), get “stuff done”,
vision of where technology is moving and shifting, and good
fit with the business culture.

SOURCE:  WSJ 7-8-14, P. R8.  “Why  global companies will
behave more and more alike
“  R. Moss Kantor
Now more than 100 of the world’s largest 500 firms are
Chinese and the former US corporate models of governance
and proliferation are “shape-shifting” .  She talks about “triple
bottom lines” of financial statement, requirements for the
environment and social reporting as represented by responsible
citizenship, carbon emissions and sustainability.
SOURCE:  WSJ 7-8-14, P. R22.  “The Incredibly Shrinking
Financial System
“  John C. Bogle
Bogle suggests a bubble in the international financial system
and that the 300 largest institutional managers who own 2/3 of
US stocks and will seek to influence longer term investing.
His four points are worth detail study as they signal the direction
of changes.
SOURCE:  WSJ 7-7-14, P. R10.  “How should Potential
Investors Evaluate a Top-performing fund
?
What goes up, must eventually go down, in the market.
Things don’t last forever.  Avoid chasing short term
performance and seek the “back story” of what is going on
in individual companies and wider industries.

BONUS   Brian Tracy, Goals:  How to get everything you
want
– faster than you ever thought possible, BK, San Francisco
2003.
The book title is a promotional one, but what he has to say
is worth listening to and studying.  There are some recent
google SEO findings that point out the negatives for setting
goals.  Do not let that get in your way of giving serious thought
to Tracy’s ideas.

comments (0)
10/19/13
Interviewing “red flags” and suggestions
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 6:14 pm

Here are some “red flags” for a professional interview and
some suggestions to be prepared for and counter.

Arriving late for an interview
   Always plan more time than you think you will need to
arrive at your appointed time and find out where you are
going
   Consider traveling to the location the day before, if
possible, to estimate the times and get traffic information.
   Always good to get a telephone number to call if there
is any chance for delay.  Also, you can call and let your
host know you have arrived the day before the interview.
   Have a plan of what you will do when you arrive.
Meet people, learn or confirm things about the culture.

Display good etiquette with personal communication tools

   Even turn off vibrate
   Suggest not even using in rest room or “isolated areas”

Position job description, recent company information and
recent financial reports on the company

   Not a bad idea to speak to your financial adviser about the
company.  [after all it is a financial decision]
   You will show something if you do a good literature review
about the company history, mergers, leaders, and products.

Match your skills experience, and qualifications to the needs

   Knowing the job description, show that your skills are either
transferable or a good match to the “musts and wants”
   Not knowing the job description, use your network input,
glassdoor.com, and web site information (annual report) to
begin the conversations about using stories to show your
skills and experience match their needs.

Know yourself, know how your style can appear to your

interviewers, learn attentively the styles of your
interviewers and pay attention to nonverbal feedback
to your performance

   You are always being judged by all the people you meet.
   Remember, three things happen:  being lucky, using your
skill or applying your intuition.  The skillful are both
lucky and develop intuition.
   Regulate and adapt to your environment. 
   Focus on your goal, not on yourself.

Let the reality of the situation be your guide.

   We all have faults and weaknesses.  Know yours and what
you are doing to offset or reduce them.
   Practice giving your responses.
   Review typical questions and prepare stories for responses.
   Check your response times, “come up for air.”
Aim to make it a two-way, enjoyable conversation.


comments (0)
09/15/13
Watch-outs. 46. Genome analysis for diseases, Financial advice by Algorithm, Company Culture Trends
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:08 pm

ANALYSIS:  GENOME CHARACTERIZATION METHODS TO
AID CDC
SOURCE:  B.McKay  WSJ 9-5-13 p. A6 “Genome Techniques
Aids hunt for Superbugs

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

“PERSONALIZED” FINANCIAL ADVICE BY ALGORITHM
SOURCE:  A. Coombes  WSJ 9-5-13 p. R1 “Personalized
advice without a person

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

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

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

comments (0)
02/23/13
Entrepreneurs. 6. Culture and Valuation
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:54 pm

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
business
.
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.

comments (0)
12/22/12
Entrepreneurs 3. Accelerators blog and thoughts on Hiring Priorities
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:31 am

Although the entrepreneurial spirit is recently
highlighted in ACS, it is honestly nothing new.

High risk, high reward opportunities on one’s
own or joining with others have been available
since high tech was high tech, and chemical
ventures had to split off from larger companies
or universities.

Take a look at a WSJ blog article on what start-up
mentors, Brad Field, Neil Blementhal and others
suggest.  It reveals behaviors job seekers might
consider and offers what they may find in their
interviews and first days on the job if offered
positions.

 - both culture fit and technical skill are important
[Preparation;  find out about the culture before
the interview.]

 - having failed ventures is good, if people learned
from them;  know your own talent level and what
you can contribute

 - job descriptions and company story need to be
dissected and tested ;  understand incentives.

 If you are interested in Entrepreneurial business
employment, the Accelerators Blog is a place to
peruse.

 

1 comment
11/11/12
Self-assessment. Emotional Understanding_ underappreciated characteristic
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:24 am

When we open ourselves up for examination to find
what makes ourselves tick, motivated and happy,
your skills, interests [often called values and drivers]
, and work style are common facets.  Company culture
revealing how things get done and communicated and
its match to our perceptions comes to fore usually
after a while, too.  A fifth feature that is not often
highlighted, but is essential in working with teams or
customers is your Emotional Understanding.

Daniel Goleman is one of the leaders in describing
the importance of this aspect.  Goleman describes
his academic portrait in his book, The Emotionally
Intelligent Workplace.
  Interviewers consciously
or unconsciously probe for this in often subtle ways.

Are you aware if you are patient with others?
Are you comfortable with a constantly changing
  environment?
Are you cool under pressure?  Do you know the
  difference between pressure and stress– in yourself
  and others?

How do you respond?

I like Goleman’s view of emotional intelligence as having
at least four components:
  self awareness- what are your feelings in different
      situations;  how do you respond or react/your
      tendencies
  self-management- what tactics do you use to engage
      the behaviors you desire as fitting
  social awareness- how well do you observe and
       perceive the behaviors of others and know how to
       respond to the emotions of others
  relationship management- honing your emotional
       skills to effectively manage your interactions with
       others; including listening,encouraging diplomacy
       and debate, orchestrating win-win outcomes, reaching
       symbiotic understanding in negotiations.
Developing stories to evoke these is important in
interviewing, giving presentations and mentoring.

 
 

4 comments
11/01/12
Conflicts at Work. Apparent Cultural barriers discussion
Filed under: Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:35 am

At a recent conference on Communications Skills, a
member working in a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary
group asked for help.
It was an interesting problem, that had underlying causes
and a “change of direction” outcome.

Several perspectives were sought in order to weigh in
on how to assess, improve the situation and move in
a positive direction.  [I have to complement Bill Suits,
an ACS career consultant, for detective work on this and
filling in some missing gaps.]

SITUATION ON THE JOB
A workshop participant described her(is) situation that
co-workers do not engage in small talk, do not have
common interests with her (going with one gender)or
if they do they do not share, and they exclude her because
of her cultural differences. 

In fact, many of the co-workers are from one non-English
background and  revert to conversing in a different language
often, only speak about work pressures and abruptly leave
when she tries to bring up other things.  Ouch!

CONSULTATIONS WITH CONSULTANTS
I brought this up with Roy Simmons, Rich Bretz, Joel
Shulman and Bill Suits for their impressions and ideas.

This is not an uncommon situation, on the face of it.

One faculty member, it was reported “has a very
international group of graduate students, including
several from China and several from India.  This faculty
member forbids her students from conversing in any
language other than English when they are in the lab.
That fosters better communication among the students.”

Another mentioned:  “I have seen reputations destroyed
when a simple misunderstanding was blown out of
proportion
because the hurt party went to a supervisor
before speaking to the other person.  We coach that
when we have an interpersonal conflict with a coworker
we should sit down with the person and work out a
win/win solution
.

Roy continued:  “One of the best intercultural
experiences I’ve ever had was the time I spent sharing
a room at an ACS meeting in Toronto with a Chinese
co-worker when we were grad students.  We had a blast in
Chinatown, my friend was happy to share his Chinese
culture with me, and I learned the proper use of chopsticks.”

“Consider approaching the individual that she thinks
would be most receptive to her concerns.  If the
exclusion is intentional and deliberate, it should be
addressed but the potential friendship that [name
withheld] forms will be much stronger if she reaches
out.”

 HR PERSPECTIVE
Gossip and hushed whispers do more harm than good
in many settings.  While the rumor mill will persist in
organizations, T. Snyder offers:
  - if you don’t know the problem or cause, how will
you ever figure out improvements?  Investigate it.
  - gather information and withhold judgment until
all sides are in.  Keep it confidential, avoid pinning blame.
  - In rumor mills, the people spreading the rumor acquire
power and influence over others that don’t.  Acknowledge the
rumor publicly and seek information on people’s own terms.

BACKGROUND AND INTERESTING OUTCOME
Bill Suits was instrumental in ferreting out that the nub
of the problem is “frustration, because she is behind
schedule in her work and so are all the others and the
supervisor…
   help the supervisor communicate his goals
   participate in helping to set realistic goals in the
understaffed environment”

Reiterating Roy, Bill offered “find common interests with
her co-workers, … starting with one person.”

Surprisingly, there was a reorganization with a change of
supervisor during the week of the conference
and the
supervisor was changed.  The company is at the crest of a
growing movement toward globalization… with over half
being non-Americans.

Bill’s easy conversational manner in the workshop, talking
about football, brought out this growing cross-cultural wave
pattern
.  As the member nicely pointed out that “he helped
develop some new ideas aiming to create work environments
that integrate individuals from diverse background into a
productive work place that delivers job satisfaction,… “

 

 

comments (0)
06/15/12
Starting your position. First Day
Filed under: Recent Posts, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 7:42 am

Despite the plethora of broadcasts and blogs
sighing, ‘Whoa is me, there are too few jobs and
too many applicants,’  and ‘not qualified
applicants with the experience needed’, I
am regularly contacted by professionals
getting interviews, negotiating essential details
of job offers and starting to work for colleges
and universities, small and large companies and
government laboratories.

FIRST DAY CONCERNS

When we arrive on our first day we are
confronted with all sorts of uncertainties.  Starting
time, where to park, remembering names and
locations, day-to-day basics (clothing, formality,
meetings) and workplace culture.  We want to get
off on the right foot and be moving in the same
direction, not holding up or slowing down others.

What can you do?

EXPECTATIONS
There are certain things your co-workers and
managers will want to see in you.  You should
know and be on-time to start, with a positive and
alert attitude.  You should be a critical listener,
confirming information from one person to the
next and assessing what it is you will be expected
to do that will contribute and make a difference.

You will be expected to complete enrollment
forms and supply personal information.  Yet,
not everything will be necessarily perfect.  Be
understanding if there is confusion.  Be adaptable
about breaks and dinner and meetings, especially
with your boss.

SUGGESTIONS: Before, During and After
1.  Confirm with your host, contact or boss, in
advance, when you should arrive, who you
should ask for and meet first and what the
clothing norms are.  Get emergency telephone
numbers.

2.  Many of our positions require or expect safety
glasses and shoes.  Bring them if you have them.

3.  All organizations will have security and safety
precautions and rules.  Expect to have multiple
forms of picture ID, some idea of your tax
withholding, a voided check (direct deposit),
vehicle license and registration information,
contact information for references and emergency
and even a copy of your current resume file.

4.  You will be taking a tour and meeting many
people.  Ask for a map and make copies and
put information down on it.  Learn where security,
safety, and other key resource people are.  Meet them.

5.  Bring a note pad to jot down names, emails,
cell numbers, passwords, software and files,
and thought hooks to remember items.

6.  Have a list of questions or concerns and
add to it based on listening and observing.  Seek
out the right people to bring them up to.

7.  Plan to stay later than “given” work hours
to complete forms, jot down notes, organize
your works space, place a recorded message
on your phone answering system, and read
through the company handbook that you should
ask for.  (or find out where it is on the intranet.)

8.  Determine if there is an orientation session you
can attend with other new hires.

9.  Ask for and accept meetings with your boss
to learn about the organization chart, culture,
her goals, his priorities, and your goals to
help him be successful and company objectives.

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