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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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04/18/18
Chemical Enterprise Business Models. Considerations for Jobs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:14 pm

Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.

.
We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
.
So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a 
match to what they believe are their skills and interests.  They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities 
are often limited.  So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial 
opportunities.
.
Mike Kubzansky of Brookings provides a comprehensive view of
business models.  Heintz et al show how business models can be 
different in different cultures.  This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
Deloitte has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them.  This 
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
market.
.
Sangeet Choudary pictures families of business models.
-  flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
-  exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value 
.
So two examples to make things concrete for readers.  Think
about the way we consume news.  Newspapers in the 20th 
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered  and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media.  Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected.  Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
.
Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power, 
miniaturization and software versions and security.

comments (0)
12/19/17
End of Year Career Management. 2017
Filed under: Recent Posts, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:42 am
Thank you for reading the NESACS Blog for Career Management
and Development.  I appreciate your interest and following.  This
blog provides independent concerns, information on career paths,
directions on professional behaviors and job search trends and
recommendations.
.
This year we outline major subject areas covered:
         Professional Behaviors
         Public Relations Documents
         Historical Trends and Economics Influences
.
Professional Behavior.  Remembering Names, Faces
                                      Listening
                                      Travel, Arrangements
                                      Habits
                                      Stress management
                                                Dealing with Catastrophe
                                      Letter Writing
                                      Negotiations
                                                Salary
                                                Monetary Rewards
                                                Relocation
                                       Small Talk
                                       Ethics, Whistleblowers and Cassandras
                                       Financial Planning
.
Public Relations Documents.  Resumes
                                      CVs in Internet Age
                                      Self Assessment
                                      Publications
                                      Qualifications
                                      Nontechnical Training
                                                 Patents 
.
Entrepreneurs
.
Historical Trends          Cuts, Downsizing  
                                      influences
                                      Economics:  Future
                                      Career Path Choices
                                      
1 comment
08/22/17
Professional Behavior. Entrepreneurs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:33 am

Your circumstances are different than most everyone else’s.
However, we can learn from other professionals’ approaches
if we have a mind to it– that is remain curious, or make up
our minds to be curious.

.
I can not tell you how beneficial it is to be generous and
thoughtful to people who serve you.  They may work for you
individually or be part of an organization.  Took time to drive
with our daughter to do some quick shopping where each of
us had our own shopping lists.  I watched as she hustled to
put items in our basket, but could not find “just” what I wanted.
.
Thought to myself, we could find a premium item as a takeout
from a suitable restaurant.  So we stopped and purchased the 
delectable salad for 2.  While waiting we got into a idle time
conversation with the server.  We asked if we might get a “short”
cup of coffee while waiting and she cooperatively brought it out
as we continued our conversation.   So, as we paid our bill we
asked if we could write a thank you note to management for her
kind and thoughtful service.  She did not exactly know, as she
was a summer hire…. She brought out her manager who informed
us how to perform the act online with detailed instructions.  Then,
went on to say by doing this in a specific order, she would be
rewarded, he would be rewarded and we would receive a modest
gift certificate online.
.
Back in our ride home, we chatted about learning from others’
behaviors is such an adult way of developing and improving skills…
especially in an entrepreneurial world.
.
We used three of Travis Bradberry’s 9 Skills that pay dividends:  
asking for help, staying positive and taking initiative.  Six other items
were–
   knowing yourself (personal self assessment),
   listening,
   know how to say “no”,
   sleeping well,
   knowing to pause and remain quiet, and 
   determining priorities to do the most important things.
.
These apply critically to entrepreneurs who either have too much time
on their hands or too little time.
.
This brings up five things entrepreneurs who find themselves with 
an episodic income stream need to be mindful of:
a.  formulate an exit strategy that propels your next direction–  musts
and wants for yourself and your current employer as a win-win outcome
b.  accumulate reserves and strategize how you can live lean should
events require ‘belt tightening’ 
c.  Set up long term retirement, big purchase, and emergency insurance
accounts and make the necessary contributions (insure matching 
contributions can happen and are accessible)
d.  Know the rules and double check on the amounts about estimated
taxes.  Use an accountant if you are new.  Perhaps fall back on
Turbotax, if you have some experience.
e.  Read the fine print, consult legal input on the fine print of signed
agreements and understand their implications and recourses.
comments (0)
06/26/17
Professional Skills. MBA, Six Sigma Technologies and PMI Project Management Certification
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:10 am

After our formal technical training, which may be experiential,
[non-academic] but most often involves the academic realm–
BS, MS, PhD and post-doc, many in government, industry and
entrepreneurial career paths find business certification a very
positive growth dimension.
.

This can happen when we choose to continue formal academic
work with an MBA or 13-week MBA certification.  When we
explore this option we find 2-year and 3-year MBAs where the
longer term allows developing specialization skills.  The 13-week
in-residence programs had prerequisites of solid business experience
and tighter admission and stronger longer term career commitment
from a sponsoring organization.
.
One clear strength of the MBA programs is the networking, both
formal, through the university, and informal, through connections
and associations (alumna, alumni).
.
In the 1980s formal business certification programs were developed
in parallel to MBA programs.  These should be of interest to many
people since they may be more specific to certain aspects and
more broadly respected as providing necessary background and
organization useful in certain fields.  These are the PMP Project
Management Professional and Six Sigma “Belt” programs.  
.
I am surprised that ACS has not incorporated both of these in
career continuous education plans.
.
PMP Program covers a broad range of 
skills and experiential 
training
 to help improve the success rate of projects.
.
Six Sigma asks about understanding customer requirements and
mapping a process to identify and measure defects, losses and waste
using statistical methods, measurement systems and data analysis.
I find people who complete an MBA curriculum or are certified
PMP or Six Sigma are encouraged and are proponents of their
programs
.
  
The training in each seem to differ and it is worth noting PMP
emphasizes the “waterfall model“.   The training methodologies
may emphasize other approaches, as listed here.
An objective comparison of PMP and Six Sigma appears in this chart.
1 comment
03/25/17
Professional Behavior. Influence and “Pre-suasion”
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:26 pm

We have written about using emotions in our
storytelling
 especially related to trust, by Brene
Brown.
.

Robert Cialdini has offered convincing theories about
the psychology of influence.  His latest Pre-suasion
is highly recommended in offering ways to understand
how we are influenced and might be able to express
ourselves better.
.
Cialdini presents “pre-suasion” as frontloading attention
by altering audience members associations with what we do
or say next.
  - privileged moments:  tuning in to times when audience
is most receptive
  - channeling attention using attractors and magnetizers
  - ‘I link, therefore I think’ - creating or building on
associations
.
Influencing examples:
Agenda setting theory-  media rarely produce change by
presenting compelling evidence;  more likely persuade
indirectly by selecting issues and facts and excluding
unfavorable items.
.
Forced confessions have a history going back to the 1692
witchcraft trials appearing in many trials, Chinese Cultural 
Revolution ‘convictions’, and Joseph McCarthy Communist
Party affiliations indictments 1950s.
.
Neidert Core Motives Model of Social Influence
Stage 1:  cultivating a positive association, using
“reciprocity” and “liking” in a meaningful, unexpected and
customized way
Stage 2:  reducing uncertainty, using authority and social 
proof to provide priority to a course of action
Stage 3:  motivating positive action, sealing the action
to move ahead.
.
Where Influencing is used in marketing: 
1. media traffic reports as programming space editors
2. naming of supplements and nutrients sounding like
derivation from natural products.
 
1 comment
01/25/17
Entrepreneurs. Nonobvious trends and CCA Cooperatives
Filed under: Networking, Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:12 am

One of the requests from one of the new students is “how
to get involved in entrepreneurial ventures.”  It got me to
thinking about things we could bring up.

Two interesting concepts that we can point out is Nonobvious
2017 and Cooperatives for entrepreneurs.
Rohit Bhargava gives thoughtful tips on 
finding nonobvious 

trends
before they take off.  This is something that should 
interest entrepreneurs.  He suggests ideas for trend curators:
 - be curious:  ask why, continuously be in learning mode
 - be observant of the small details of organization
 - attend to various ideas and hold back from fixating
 - pause and think through things;  avoid jumping to results
 - be elegant in expressing things

Riding on a flightI learned about CCA Global Partners which

has a remarkable corporate mission and business model to help
entrepreneurs.  The web site boasts more than ten divisions
of fields they enhance by bringing folks together involved
in related enterprises.
Sometimes seeing what works in one field helps progress
in your area.
 
comments (0)
06/06/16
Job Offer. Background checks, Persistence, and Professional Way to Turn down an offer
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 3:23 pm

A colleague was encouraged by her PI to apply for a postdoctoral
associate (PA) position.  She was screened and traveled to an on-site
interview.   She reported back that the interviews went quite well
and she was optimistic.  Soon after (less than a week), an offer letter
came for a one-year appointment as PA.  The first paragraph also
included starting date, annual salary of $42K, the supervisor’s name
and proviso that a background check was a precondition.
[There were usual links to policies and benefits.]

My follow-up comments to her included:
- congratulations, but keep looking
- concerns about inserting phrases in the offer letter about learning
what they find in the background check, following Al Sklover
The “Background-Check” Provision in Offer Letters –
A Risk You Should Try to Reduce
- critical review of the starting salary using ACS salary comparator.
[$42K is at the 30 percentile of such offers.]

Initial back and forth negotiations said nothing could be done with
salary, but relocation assistance would cover all expenses.  No
support for green card application was forthcoming but they
understood the background check concern as her name is common
and could easily lead to confusion in such checks.  She approved
the offer and signed the document.

Not two weeks later did she attend another conference and met
an entrepreneur who invited her to come for an interview for a
position that looked even better than the post-doc.

She was encouraged to pursue the position.  She had two separate
interviews and dinner with the firm’s president.  The result was
a very nice offer, more than $20K higher, with a series of positive
incentives (including assistance with obtaining a green card). 
The problem was that she had accepted a post-doc offer.
Can you go back and turn down an offer to accept a better one?

Yes!  It is entirely feasible.  Yet, it is important to respond
professionally on both offers. Review the second job offer diligently
and confirm the offer details and starting arrangements (like
background check as, above).  Then, practice a turn down
conversation with the first supervisor.  Have all the details ready
and professionally articulated.
Then, do it in person, not via an email.

Her follow-up:
“I thought phone would be better and direct rather than just sending
an email.  As mentioned in this article you just sent, Dr. …. said that
my decision is certainly not convenient for them.  But he appreciated
that I called in a timely manner and discussed the situation.  He
realized that my preference has always been to work in industry, and
this job sponsors me for work authorization in the US.  I also told him
that I would be happy to help them in finding the best candidate for their
position.  So, in the end, he wished me best luck for my future career.

…After the phone conversation, I sent an email to the HR person …
acknowledge her and let her know my decision.  So she won’t [proceed
with other paperwork.”

comments (0)
02/02/16
Trends in Technical Careers. Resistance to therapies, Crowdfunding research, Teams and innovation
Filed under: Networking, First Year on Job, Leadership, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:42 pm

Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.

They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value
.  What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research
often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
organizations.

On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016:  insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases
(cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.

Drug Resistance
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays
to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply.  Each year it is
estimated that 2 million  US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.

An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.

Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms:  target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression.  calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.

Crowdfunding
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”.   He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.

His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .

Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater  to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
-   Separate people from ideas
-   Lunch with Enrico
       Get to know and like all the people you work with
-   Plan to change plans
-   Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
        Challenge all assumptions

comments (0)
08/30/15
Entrepreneurs. Business model for new ventures
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Recruiters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:41 pm

Entrepreneurs should consider new business and marketing
model described in Robbie Baxters book “The Membership
Economy
.”

Second description by the author.

We all experience this model in societies we belong to or
consider and use internet tools.

comments (0)
06/15/15
Watch-Outs. 83. Raising capital for Start-ups, 2015 H-1B Visas, CO2 as a photochemical feedstock
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 5:29 pm

Individuals forming start-up companies have many things on
their mind.  One of the ones ACS Entrepreneur Network
points to is raising capital from investors.  Two links to
the Accelerators blog highlight what they
might think about first.

When we wish to hire qualified applicants to STEM
positions all stakeholders face challenges with many points
of view, including fairness, equity, people with the right
skill-set (soft, hard and wise skills), legal, ethical, political
and more.  Interesting discussions of H-1B programs in
2015 from the business perspective is linked below.

Finding ways to use CO2 as a feedstock in an efficient
process for value added chemicals is worthwhile research.
Recent advances at Berkeley are linked.

START-UP ACTIVITIES BEFORE VCs
SOURCES:  WSJ, 5-28-15, P.  B6, “What startups should
do before raising cash
;”   WSJ,  6-4-15, P.  B6, “When
should start-ups set out to raise money
.”
There is a lot of hype and PR in what you can read on
this topic.  Know when you are ready, know that a
lot of burdens are placed on the start-up when
investors are involved.

Investors often exchange capital for shares in the
company, betting on their future.  The more they
invest the more they will expect.  Plan carefully for
sustained growth and know where the investors’
money is going.

The first article’s examples are not “pure” startups.

H-1B GAMESMANSHIP MIGHT BE SHORT-TERM
THINKING
SOURCE:  WSJ, 6-3-15, P. A4, ” Firms, Workers Try
to Game Visa Lottery
,” 
The comments to this article show how much heartache
headache and struggle this complex situation is
providing.  Where is fairness in this tragicomedy?
The article points out some observables, comments
fill in some of the realities that are not mentioned.

SOlAR POWERED GREEN CHEMISTRY TO CAPTURE
CARBON DIOXIDE
SOURCE:  Photonics Spectra, June 2015, P. 60
Solar array turns carbon dioxide to useful chemicals
This has the potential to “change the chemical and
oil industry.”  It uses silicon and titanium oxide
nanowires combined in the laboratory with anaerobic
bacteria in water in model systems.

BONUS:  READING MUTUAL FUND PROSPECTUSES
SOURCE:  WSJ 6-8-15, P. R7, What a top 10 List
Does not tell you
.” 
Fund’s holdings can change before publication.
Sector allocation consistency may be more reliable
about holdings in addition to turnover.
Comments are helpful.
SEC Form N-Q- end of 1st, 3rd Q
SEC Form N-CSR- end of 2nd, 4th Q

1 comment
04/22/15
Interesting Links. Knowledge Exchange
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:40 pm

I. Hot Questions. Share knowledge.
http://stackexchange.com/
Geeky IT computer know-how Q&A

II. “Bold“  by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler describes
a continuation of a previous book about Abundance due to
technological innovation.  When a neatly defined problem
is identified, technology and technological innovation can
provide solutions.  This book does not touch on ‘unintended
consequences’ or some longer-term consequences while
trying to convince readers of future possibilities that
technology provides.

Entrepreneurs will find promise in the six Ds of exponentials:
digitalization, deception, disruption, dematerialization,
demonetization and democratization.

III.  Wharton Leadership Program
Nano tools dialog includes interesting discussions of:
Resilience, bouncing back from setbacks
Generating ideas with stakeholders

1 comment
01/13/15
Resumes in 2015. Resume file, Linkedin Profile, Integrity, Different Content for Different Roles
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:16 pm

In today’s competitive and uncertain, virtual and interactive,
career and job-assignment marketplace, technical resumes
are only one part of your public relations portfolio.

INTERNET PRESENCE:  LINKEDIN PROFILE
Any consultant or reviewer who examines and critiques
only one document is shortsighted and not necessarily
offering you up-to-date advice.  Why?  We are approaching,
if we have not already reached, a ‘virtual presence’ world. 
Your presence (or absence from) in the Internet is larger
and may be more critical for you achieving your goal of
interacting with company representatives.  You have to
pay strong attention to addressing this market place. 
The profile can be targeted differently than your specific
resume file that you send to each individual company.

Lindsey Pollack
and Arnie Fertig highlight many
features of resumes vs. profiles and Linkedin’s mission.
In addition, it can be valuable to have a master resume
that you maintain throughout your career.  It  contains
all your personal information from which you
choose items to include in targeted resumes and
profiles.

Organization, ease of reading, use of significant-in-
your-field keywords and ethical behaviors are important.
(Resumes also:  brevity, specificity and clarity)

CONTENT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROLES
I respect Tom Kellum who reported that resumes
“rule people out.’  In the business side of the enterprise.
the hiring authority seeks a person who can help her
reach her goals faster.  The resume, he points out, reveals
the past and not the “intangible futures.”  On the technical
side of the enterprise
, describing our accomplishments
reveals our Key Skills and Abilities KSA which can be
applied to solve problems and innovate.
So, not only are there differences in hard copy and
virtual documents, each of which is searchable, but
also different roles will represent us with different
styles of content.

GREY AREAS
Due to this, there are sometimes grey areas” in the
ways things are described
.  In addition, some people
might misrepresent titles, dates, areas of responsibility,
accomplishments and other details to make
themselves appear more attractive.  Comments in
various places point out there is little or no checking,
in the virtual world.  [This is a potential downside.
Rest assured, however, most significant, untrue content is
eventually discovered and there are serious con-
sequences.]

The grey areas extend to the ATS Applicant tracking system
software tools that review and find our profile or resume.
ATS output from our resumes can be erroneous as well.
It is a computer output without human intervention.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Public relations documents are an inexact science that
we have to work through to manage our careers.
 - master resume should be comprehensive and correct
 - Linkedin profile should be complete and regularly
updated [if project based or entrepreneurial, consider
a web-page as well]
 - targeted resumes, technical or business focused
 - each item should be keyword rich
 - follow ACS integrity guidelines.

Reminder:  Don Straits indicates the resume file contains
cover letter, resume, list of publications, patents and
presentations, specialized addenda (like research
summary, industry summary, patent review, management
philosophy, etc.) and list of references.

comments (0)
11/12/14
Job Offer. Low Salary, No Offer Letter
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 1:10 pm

A very recent PhD attended the Negotiation Process
seminar.  This person seemed to be both pleased
and concerned.

This person expressed not being aware of the importance
of receiving a formal offer letter.   The list of possible
items that could be negotiated and how to form and
conduct the process were quite valuable.  However,
it seems, preliminary research work for this small
company had already begun without pay or even an
offer letter.

Let me indicate that this entry is not focused on the
offer letter and its contents.  Please refer to excellent
entries in Sklover Working Wisdom.

This person asked:  What should I do now, as I have
not heard from the small start up company entrepreneur?

The verbal job offer for the PhD was $50K/ year.

This is clearly an opportunity to put the negotiating
checklist and negotiating process to work.  It is
important to ask for an in person meeting to seek
a written commitment stating starting date, title,
salary and formal benefits and any conditionals

(like, receiving a grant or funding or contracts).

The person should be doing formal due diligence on
this position and its competitors
, should be forming
a negotiating team
to help define and evaluate, should
be establishing BATNA and all the other process
steps and checklist items
.

To start, going to the ACS Salary Comparator can
establish a ground state.  It does not seem to me,
besides protests to the contrary, that $50K is a
reasonable starting salary for a full time PhD position.
The 2013 data assessment bore this hypothesis out.

SCENARIO   Academic     Commercial                   
Specific area  N. E. outside of NYC and Boston
                       20,000
                       research        Contract        Profession
                                              Research       Services
80 %ile          $83K             $109K           $114K
60 %ile            73K                 96K              100K
30 %ile             61K                80K                83K
10 %ile             51K                67K                70K

There is certainly room to seek a better offer just
in this. 

The workshop provided 30 other negotiating factors
that in the best interest of this person should be prioritized
before the formal in person meeting.

In addition, a viable back-up plan needs to be developed
in short order.

1 comment
03/14/14
Comitted Networking. Entrepreneurs are adept at this
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:19 am

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
networking.”

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:
START
- 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
goals
- fly first class it can generate business
- speak on panels
- be active in worthwhile charities
MAINTAIN
- 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
accomplishments
- don’t be all “take” and no give
- avoid selling your interests and needs to the expense
of others

1 comment
03/13/14
Perspective on Personal Career Growth
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:33 pm

We hear the terms thrown around:  job hopping,
free agents, entrepreneurial spirit, meta-data
meso-facts

They are all related in the world of technical careers.

So much so, that the previous generation of people
who prized longevity, security, and loyalty seem at
odds with our current career paths. 

The previous generation had linear “trendlines” and
fewer variables for technical careers compared to what
we all face today.
No one generation of technical careers, not baby-boomers,
not Gen-Xers or Gen-Yers are any different and not
facing more complexity, shorter cycle times, and
irregular lags between cycles.

It really beckons us to think more deeply about what
our needs, priorities and dreams are for ourselves and
our loved ones and families.

What I would argue is that despite the drive to short term
wins, which form a hedonic treadmill, it is important
to search and reaffirm our values and principles in
all the things we do and say.

Longevity now means forming different multi-generational,
interdisciplinary teams to tackle problems, if even for
a short term.  Then, doing it again and again and again with
different teams.
Security does not mean static;  it argues for dynamism, recognizing
constraints and timelines.  It means preparing for change and
developing intuition.
Loyalty recognizes both the good in everyone, including ourselves,
and our limitations and defining priorities and common
goals.

comments (0)
01/03/14
Recruiters. Agents for Staffing and a whole lot more
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Recruiters, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:26 pm

Job analysis, on-boarding, strategic hiring and down-sizing,
psychometric testing, outplacement….These and many other
terms are roles of recruiters. 

Recruiters and their general function, recruitment, are part
of the process of
1  deciding what skills and experience are needed to complete
and deliver a function for an organization [job analysis],
2  defining for, advertising to and attracting qualified applicants
3  screening qualified candidates and narrowing the applicant pool
4  participating in a joint selection decision including establishing
compensation elements
5  on-boarding the new hire into the organization bringing them
quickly up to speed
.

The role and responsibility can also involve (6) hiring strategies,
(7) networks [that is how I got started into Linkedin, for example],
 (8) screening tools, (9) hiring plans and timelines, and even
(10) downsizing and (11) outplacement [I worked with DBM
in an early in my career transition].

Recruiters are part of practically all organizations– academic,
government, industrial, entrepreneurial,… you name it. 

Some are permanent hires of a larger organization, with other
responsibilities.  Some recruiters are contracted.  Of the contracted
group, one can find
- niche specialties (Chemistry, engineering, pharma, nanomaterials,
instrumentation, batteries, electrochemistry, fuel cells, process
industries and many more),
- narrow geographic areas (Bay Area, San Diego, St. Louis, Boston,
Phila., New York, Texas, etc.) and
- more general sourcing agencies

Joseph Jolson presents, for example, how one can find career
opportunities for chemical enterprises in the Pittsburgh job market
each year.  Recruiters commonly represent their organization at job
fairs.

I followed a few other blog entries and the NESACS website
unsuccessfully for niche contract recruiters for either the NE region,
like Joe does for Pittsburgh, and for industry specific retained
search firms.

The general internet databases and Linkedin Premium service are
another route you can follow. 

Contract recruiters are professionals who earn their keep and
integrity by providing a service that needs to be paid for, either by the
hiring organization or the client.  The best often work well with other
professionals based on valued relationships that lasts, not for just one
job cycle, but for years.  So, in my career, I maintained a relationship
with a fuel cell and lithium battery recruiter for over 20 years.  I was
able to help some of my colleagues find their next position by
referral a few times.  Currently, I maintain professional contact with
a few recruiters even though I am not actively in the job market myself.

1 comment
12/13/13
Strategies for your Job Search. Marketing concepts.
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:24 am

We need to be proactive, persistent and assertive in our
professional careers
to respond to changes in our
situations often outside of our control or influence.

It seems that few jobs are secure.  Thus, we need to set goals,
objectively evaluate whether we are meeting them and assess
if changes are needed to either our goals or our paths to
reaching them.

In preparing for some presentations, I have been looking for
more material from the business world to apply some of the
terms we see, such as branding, target audiences, positioning
and push-pull
marketing.  For those looking to go into the
business side or entrepreneurial direction would be served to
have some grounding in these concepts.

It seems true, also, that technical careers, with lay-offs
(who would have predicted Kodak, Lyondell, GM, and Polaroid,
to name a few) changing business conditions (who would have
predicted the bubbles and resulting depresssions of 2001-9)
and outside influences (who could have predicted the US
would be a net exporter of petroleum 10 years ago) are
subject to the same consequences.

Sebastiano Mereu created a simple and quick presentation
of some useful business terms
in the context of push and
pull marketing.  For applying these concepts consider
targeted, brief resumes with appropriate addenda (list of
papers, patents and presentations, list of projects, research
summary, for example) for “pushing” job searches.  Consider
creating keyword containing profiles, SEO optimized blog
or website (also Linkedin Premium service) profile, and
volunteer to offer presentations and your services to
represent your skills and expertise.  Then, reviewers, placement
services and jobs are “pulled” to your profile and you.

Barb Poole writes a strong article pointing out how it
is likely wise to apply both push and pull marketing to our
Job search strategy to be effective.  Her business terms
do fit strategies to consider for the evolving technical
R&D, manufacturing, and high tech environments.

comments (0)
11/21/13
Entrepreneurs. 10. Pitching, Patenting and Principals
Filed under: Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:08 pm

Where does a new company begin?  Too often we begin
with a great idea that everybody needs.  In the chemical
enterprise or technical fields, this may not be the only
way.  Knowing things about ‘adoption curves,’ experience
and ‘feedback loops’ is essential for adapting to the
marketplace of ideas.

MARKETING THE IDEA
Well, first let’s go with an initial idea, concept or product
innovation that will disrupt the product or service space
Much of the literature suggests that it is appropriate to
start small and in fact begin a marketing campaign earlier
and on a different time line than the production/service
rendering and sales plans. 
The marketing scheme markets the core idea to mentors
and backers first.  Then, a subsequent plan markets to customers
often and in different ways.
With technical ideas we need to seek out mentors to consider
implications and unanticipated outcomes and even experienced
patent agents or attorneys.  One outcome could be infringing on
someone else’s patent or someone infringing on your patent
or trademark.

I thought John Greathouse of Rincon Ventures offered
some ‘first rate advice’ on how to act prudently to avoid IP
catastrophes and minimize IP legal fees without
jeopardizing trademark or patent ideas.
-  Consider a single patent with fewer, yet comprehensive,
claims
-  draft your own protectable claims (with suitable
examples)
-  focus your initial patent application to where you expect
early sale opportunities to be, not going for large range
and costly international scope.

Protecting your investment is not an area to overlook or
seriously cut corners on in the initial marketing of the idea. 
So, Pitching and patenting go hand in hand.

PRINCIPALS
The person who ‘takes the first plunge’  and founds a
business provides the original idea.  (S)he can come up
with the initial gameplan, insight, customer group, yet
others may help “scale” repeatable business and growth.
Conflicts can arise when members of this secondary
founding team wish to wrest “control” from the founder.

Either they recognize their strengths and the organization’s
needs or they decide that a new role is needed, that of a
CEO. 

Steve Blank outlined an intriguing pattern where a person
who is “first among equals” emerges to allocate resources.
We see an example of this with the way Google had
a business minded technical leader, Schmidt, assume leadership
from Brin and Page.

comments (0)
11/11/13
Mentoring. Case Studies for Post-doc, Permanent and Entrepreneurial Positions
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 5:49 pm

This might be a controversial entry describing what happened recently.

A hand full of situations of professionals who have asked for
specific mentoring assistance from me are shared.

HE WAS LISTENING ALL THE TIME IN SEEKING A POSITION
MM has a world of experience going for him.  He is a service
veteran who returned to graduate school and has finished his PhD
in materials science.  We worked hard on his public relations
documents and interviewing skills.

He told me when we met in June that he landed a full time position
in a government engineering facility. saying he was most comfortable
in the military environment.  I congratulated him on his achievement,
but offered my thoughts that he may find his career stifled.  If he was
happy, secure and challenged by what he was tasked to do, I was pleased
for him.

Speaking with one of his classmates, I learned that he was starting a
new assignment in the US PTO (patent and trademark office).  Now,
I was pleased.  He was listening–  landing one position in government
is like getting your foot in the door and other opportunities can open
up to you.

TECHNICAL SKILLS ALONE WILL NOT GET YOU A POSITION.
IN START UPS ESPECIALLY
AG asked if we could have a conversation about his start-up
venture.  He had formulated a good idea and was seeking advisers
and help getting started.  We agreed that he could pick me up at
the airport and discuss things over lunch. 

He made his “idea pitch” to me with enthusiasm, passion and promise.
He even asked for a small amount of follow up involvement.  Then,
I had to ask some “stinging questions.”  Does he have mentors in
the field?  which I learned from Tom Ashbrook’s podcast.  I asked AG
if he was planning to have a “board of advisers?”   While he did not
he thought it was a solid idea.

Did he have a timeline, first product innovation and a first customer
in mind that will shake out the bugs?  He and his collaborator had
initial notions and a start, but it is still in the formative stages.

Then, I asked for a business card.  He had one but it did not
describe what he and his business can do for customers.  Then,
we reviewed his personal performance–listening skills, body
language, small talk, willingness to ‘go the extra mile’ and more.

AG is technically skilled.  Technical skills alone do not get
you the job
or assignment.  So, my role as a mentor was to
provide honest, objective feedback.  His role was to assess
it and provide appropriate follow-up.  It should involve three
elements
 1- donor motives;  were my motives in his interest?
 2- idea merit;  what was the merit of each point.  Did he note
and create a strong plan to follow up and execute?
 3- response;  what will emerge from the ideas  and assessment
yielding productive results.

My future involvement will depend on how well he responds.  If
he only comes back with items he wished for me to do, it may
take a long time to respond.  If he creates a “punch-list” in
project management lingo– mentors, board of advisers, first
customer, first product, business card and such, in addition to his
request, the connection was made.

Speaking with a mentor is a two way street.  Communication is essential.

FOR A POST DOC, CHOOSE A “ROCK STAR”, DO YOUR
HOMEWORK AND KNOW YOUR CONTACTS REPRESENT
YOUR FIRST PROFESSIONAL ASSIGNMENT.
Several people seek help figuring out what they will do next.
None want to follow an academic path and each is in a
different technical field. 

So, we work on identifying their “target rock stars” that will
enable them to land their desired position.  Once they have their
list we reduce it down to their top three and work on each one
separately by revising their master resume into their targeted
working document.  Then hard work goes into making an initial
contact, through a common associate, at a meeting, through
their graduate PI, or other “warm” connection.  Followed by
a winning cover letter of request.

As we have mentioned before, special considerations need
to be incorporated into this letter, revealing what you seek,
that you have read and benefited from his/her work, that you
have ideas of your own, and that you would be willing to
write proposals for funding.
  It is not going to be successful
if you cut and paste something someone else has written.
It needs to be authentic.

This role of mentor I sense is different than the student’s
perspective
of a mentor.

comments (0)
11/08/13
Proposal Writing and Review. For entrepreneurs, small businesses and academic professionals
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:50 pm

A great deal of research gets its “jump-start” by crystallizing its
ideas for products and processes in a research or grant proposal.

Grant writing is a special skill that can be learned and improved.

This week I was invited to join a panel that reviewed proposals.  It is
so important for proposal applicant to read the solicitation very
carefully
to determine whether they think their idea(s) match the
solicitation and time frame for the grant.  The solicitation for
application might be offered in more than one phase, like in a
screening or feasibility for a short time, followed by a follow-on
Phase II.  A Phase III can sometime be required for promising
concepts that often would be found with matching grants or awards
from a non-governmental organization.

The proposals we reviewed will commonly be evaluated for
(1) appropriate match to the federal organization mission and
(2) scrutinized via preset and robust criteria
(3) before a technical review.
(4) Then, with the evidence in hand and summarized grant administrators
review and decide from the highest rated proposals.

External reviewers
are brought in, meet, and decide the technical
merits of the proposal again recognizing the agency’s mission and
and solicitation’s goals.  [For the most part reviewers are not
revealed to applicants.]

Each proposal is reviewed for specific criteria  and classified as:
- excellent:  outstanding with numerous exceptional attributes
- very good:  strong proposal offering many noteworthy merits
- good:  strong proposal however containing smaller gaps, deficiencies.
- fair:  an offering with one serious deficiency or several gaps that
are not compensated for by strong elements
- poor:   a seriously lacking proposal

Each proposal we reviewed used the same outline but varied within
a range in each section.  So, for the timeline, for example, some
proposals will use a Gannt chart, some will use a work breakdown
structure, some will use six sigma process map and definition of
KPIVs and KPOVs (key process input and output variables).

Each proposal should address the “Heilmeier commandments” which
include:
1.  What will you accomplish (without jargon)
2.  what is done now, what are the limits and what is the background
3.  what is new, and why should it be successful
      Any preliminary supporting information
      Applications, possibilities
4.   how does it fit the mission and objectives
5.   if successful what difference does it make
6.   what are the risks and benefits
7.  what is the timeline for tasks and opportunity costs if not supported.

The proposal needs a descriptive summary, a budget, a timeline. CVs/
appropriate biographies of the principle investigator, project team and
consultants and advisers.

There is commonly a time deadline for submission and page length
limit that are strictly followed.

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