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

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

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

We corresponded refreshing what we had discussed
in person and in class five years ago as she was making
decisions for her family.  The times have changed in
the immigration world since then and that may influence
employment decisions.  These can be overcome by
thoughtful preparation, considerate follow through
and win-win comments during the interview..
Preparation Considerations-
 - your profile needs to show interest
and express background and experience in the chemical
-  Arrange an information interview to re-familiarize
yourself with OSHA, MSDs, and HazWaste and good
laboratory practice with people in the field. 
-  Develop ~1 min. stories and jot down memory aids
for each bullet in your resume
-  Study the company and area around the company.
Look at its website, goggle people, look at Linkedin
profiles for connections. 
-  Even if the interview is remote or virtual, dress as
if you were visiting the site.  Plan to be prepared a
reasonable time in advance.
-  Write down critical questions you wish to ask, Like:
  What is a typical day like?
  What are typical analyses and instrumentation used?
  What is the safety record of the company?
  Who will you be reporting to, who will you replace
and can you learn key information from them?
-  Have pen, paper, your documents and a calendar and
computer handy.
-  Salary expectation study for range
-  Be prepared to offer names and addresses of
references.  Contact references in advance asking
if they are available to go to bat for you.
During interview-
-  in the beginning introduce yourself and ask for 
introductions of all participants, get correct spelling
and title and addresses (thank you notes)
-  hold back from talking about or asking for salary
and visa status before a job offer.  
-  be ready to express your salary expectations based on
salary surveys for the region and title, if asked.  
ACS Salary Comparator
-  Dress as if you are on site.  Think about safety
shoes and apparel.
-  Arrange for no interferences and test out tools
you will use, if remote.
-  Breathe, perform a power pose knowing that it helps
our body to relax and be prepared
-  Near the end, consider offering a test run to work
for a day or week, per diem.
-  Near the end, ask “what is the next step in the
hiring process”
Following Interview-
-  Formulate an After Action Review of the process
-  Write “thank you” notes to each interviewer
-  Be ready to follow up on each of their requests.  It is
not unusual these days to be tested on pertinent skills
plan to show that you can do them well.
-  Check with your references to confirm they have all
they need to work for you.
1 comment
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)
Job Offer. Clawbacks, title, househunting trip and citizenship
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 10:35 am

The PhD graduate had worked hard.  We had spoken several times
over the last 6 months about documents, interview questions and
follow-up activities.  Now the time had come.  He received a generous
offer from a high tech firm through networking with a previous
member of his research group.

The networking connection, he mentioned, did not land the job
offer for him.  It allowed him to be selected to be interviewed.  He
had to do the rest.  In fact, during group interview sessions, the
person he had an affiliation with was pretty much a silent partner.

Salary, benefits, starting date, position title, bonus plan involvement,
relocation provision of $4K (with a repayment plan if the new
employee left earlier than 2 years;  this is a “clawback” condition)
were nicely covered in the offer letter. 

There are many uncertainties at this point.   So we spoke about
  obtaining clarity on his starting title of “senior phosphor engineer”,
  obtaining an offer to cover expenses of a househunting trip,
  asking for assistance in registering for permanent residence (lottery,
fees, legal) and
  suggestions for what to do with 401K, healthcare spending account,
insurances and vendors, and medical needs.

 It was interesting to note that the offer letter indicated he was “at
will” and gave him just 4 days to respond to accept the offer.  On
the company webpage, the position was listed as temporary.  
Al Sklover’s page is a valuable resource to mention at this point.
He reviews terminology and how to word questions so that they
come across professionally.

We did not go into salary comparisons, however the ACS salary
listed his offer at the 80 percentile using 2013 data.
[Interesting to note listed ~$10K higher salaries
in comparison.]

comments (0)
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
                       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
Job Offer. Negotiating for your family’s needs
Filed under: Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 3:46 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Interview. Many of the same concerns and Importance of Presentations
Filed under: Interviewing, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 3:11 pm

During a discussion today with a client, three big
concerns came up.  We talked about pay and
benefits topics, as well. 

Don’t initiate the discussion over salary.  If it comes
up, like: what salary do you expect,
show you have done your homework on the topic. 
You might mention that salary is only one
component of an overall compensation package
Do a good search on the ACS Salary comparator
and other salary sites so that you have a reasonable
range in mind, for the position (field, degree),
years of experience, and region of the country.

What is the benefits package?  That is another of the
“don’t ask” topics–  Benefits will be listed on the
company web page and they will likely bring it up
during the interview day.

The three big topics were– dealing with illegal
questions confidently, having the confidence and
preparation to deal with citizenship and length
of employment and importance of one’s
technical presentation.

While it is likely that professional interviewers will
not bring these up, it is possible.  So that it does
not take away from your confidence and composure,
Have an idea what you would say if an illegal
question or topic comes up.  For ladies, for example,
are you married, when do you expect to be married,
do you plan to have children, etc.

For men and women, what is your religion, what is
your political affiliation and other similar topics.

The woman professional came from southeast
Asia and she revealed to me that she was married
and her spouse was out of the country.  None
of these details, I told her, need to be brought
up in the interview (However, it was appropriate
for her to bring it up with her career consultant,
confidentially).  They do not factor into her
qualifications for the job, at this point.

She should aim to show her unique skills and
qualifications for the position and to earn the job

Citizenship can come up in many positions, but
she had already passed the resume hurdle where
this would have been considered.

As far as how long would she work there, this
can be addressed by describing her motivation
for the position.  She looks forward to joining a
strong firm that works to solve problems or
satisfy customers or invent new treatments for
diseases.  As long as the team and challenges
are there, she should indicate that would encourage
her to stay.

Our technical workforce today is quite mobile
and many companies hire people as “at will”
employees.  So, we no longer expect lifetime
employment when we start at a firm.

This is the means for a company to assess a
person’s technical skills, communication skills
and confidence.  It is very significant for people
applying for technical positions.

It is very hard to recover from a poorly received
technical presentation.

She mentioned that the company asked her to
present a 45 minute talk on her research.  She
was concerned that she had nearly 45 slides. 
Many of the slides were detailed.  So,
we decided that she could “hide” a few of the
information rich slides and focus on those that
permit her to tell a story of her work.  Save
the detailed, information rich slides for a
summary of her work and for details in
response to questions.  Do stay within the
45 minute limit as much as possible.

comments (0)
Comparison of jobs. Recent grad
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations)
Posted by: site admin @ 9:37 am

It is a positive sign when a call comes in asking for
help in what to do with competing job offers.  A
recent B.S. in engineering received a second offer
from a small engineering manufacturing firm
where he is currently working as an intern.  [He
had originally received an offer to start at a hardware
manufacturing plant of Fortune 500 June 5.]

What factors should he consider? 
What should he do, in what order?

While he tried to hide it, his heart was clearly with
the second offer, although its starting salary is
$10K lower.  The cost of living appears to be lower
and no move was involved.  These things are usually
what mid-career people would consider significant,
so it was interesting that this recent grad prized these.

We ran down the list of things to consider–
1  2  3  and what stood out were
 - starting date  (June 5 vs. April 25
with time off, no pay for a planned trip to Europe for
10 days in May)  [This starting date and time off seems
to make the first year’s salary difference disappear.],
 - no health and disability insurance coverage for the first
month in one position [Higher salary offer-  insurance
begins after 1 month.],
 - no vacation until after the first year anniversary [both,
with a wrinkle in 4 personal days granted in the 2nd.].

Some features of one seemed to be matched by
equivalent features of the other, like 401K in one
and profit sharing in the other.

Since things seem hard to compare, you can see
why he called looking for help.

The first company is a large, international company
with many locations and an impressive recent
earnings sheet record.  The second offer was a
privately held company.

Decisions are emotional tug-of-wars, especially
where there might not be a clear winner.  As we
always say, salary is only one component of a
compensation package.

Where does this fellow’s heart belong?  Which
place would he look forward to rising every day
and head off to his goals and career?  He was
strongly attracted by the second offer, but wanted
a way to make the decision seem a good choice.

First step:
He should get back to the second company
and tell them he really would like to work there.
It would be an easier choice if their offer was
comparable.  What might be their best offer?
Have ideas in mind of what would be meaningful.
Go to ACS Salary comparator for ballpark
estimates [which I did for him.] of salary and
go to other sites for benefits.

Second step: 
Ask to get the negotiated agreement, if
changed in any way, in writing.  It is significant
to have things in writing and companies are
understanding.  Thank them.

Third step:
In a professional and friendly conversation
contact the first company and tell them that
you have received a competing offer and
wish to decline their offer.
He thought that he should contact both the
hiring manager and human resource
professional, since they were terrific
We then did a mock conversation and 
practiced doing this, especially dealing
with what changed his mind.  Again,
realize decisions are emotional in nature and
we rationalize them with data.  He should not
have to say clearly the job description did not
match his desires or did not want to leave home.
These although true do not reflect well on
the job seeker in his situation.

Note:  Have the desired job offer in hand
before rejecting a valid offer.

Step four:
Write a formal letter of acceptance and
rejection to each company.

comments (0)
On-site Interview Preparation Discussion
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 8:22 pm

What can a career consultant provide for you?  A near-
thesis-defense grad student contacted me about resume
fine-tuning.  As luck would have it, she has been invited
to an on-site interview for a position for which she is
quite interested.

She contacted me about concerns she had for the
on-site interview.  For sure, she can consult a
recent contribution about interview prep  1  .
After describing the position, we developed
several strategies that we wish to share:

1.  consider bringing some samples and
examples of your experimental coatings,
devices, or test devices to pass around to
your seminar audience.

2.  find out who you will interview and who
will attend your seminar.  Research them with
LinkedIn and look for common ground for
small talk.

3.  Practice responses to typical questions
paying attention to body language.  Consider
practicing using Interviewstream..

4.  Develop a list of questions you want
to ask.  Write them down on a pad that
you will bring to the interview.  Ask permission
to take notes during your interview and have
your questions on that pad.

5.  Remember the “don’t ask” questions:
salary, training, publication, benefits and
      Do your homework on salary expectations
using the ACS salary comparator.  Be
prepared if the question is asked of you.
Salary is only one component of a
compensation package.

6.  Stories: remember the acronym SARI-
situation, action, results, implications

7.  Negotiations begin after the position
has been offered.  Ask a consultant for
input.  If you are concerned about starting
date, living arrangements, certain benefits
hold your concerns until you have been
offered the position.

8.  If you have dietary restrictions, it is
appropriate to bring them up in conversation
with your host before you arrive (vegetarian,
for example).

comments (0)
Undergraduates. Frequently asked questions
Filed under: Interviewing, Public Relations docs, Networking, Recruiters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:52 am

As the idea comes from Lisa Balbes,
let me thank her for
her generosity
in posing the question.

There are a number of common
questions we are posed
undergraduates.  One, I remember
from the Undergraduate
program at
NERM in Hartford was: 
How much
will I
make on this job, as it is not
listed in the job description?

First, this is one of the “Don’t ask topics“ 
an undergraduate
or anyone else, for that 
matter, should not ask.  Nonetheless,

it is one they need to research.

[Other don’t ask questions:  {salary},
training, benefits
(vacations, flex time,
insurances, memberships, etc.),


This question should not happen in your
cover letter or any conversations.

Second, do your research using web tools,

  the ACS Salary Comparator and other

   (be wary of when and from whom the
information is taken.),

and using your network,
   since you will have a network helping
you on the search

   ask them how much their starting salary

   ask current employees in your network
about salary
administration and recent

Remember, salary is only one component
of an overall
compensation package.  The
value for you will be
different than for
another person’s situation.

Third, be able to respond to this question
if you are asked how much do you expect
to make.

If you are working with a Recruiter, he or
she will likely
ask you this question.
It can also be asked in an interview.  Several
previous entries have talked about this.
1  2  3  4  

comments (0)
Negotiating and Deciding
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:36 am

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

a negotiation process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of this entry offers
  what other consultants considered

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

  some words and phrases that were

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

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

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

travel allowances, automobile moves, etc.).

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

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

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

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


comments (0)
Career Fair Preparation 2. Washington
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 8:23 am

So, you have prepared and gotten approval to
attend the ACS national meeting.  That means
you have had your resume reviewed, you have
submitted the latest version to the ACS Careers
web-link, you have registered and made
arrangements for the meeting including things
listed in 1  .

You have narrowed down the fields in which
you wish to work (Personal self assessment)
and now it is a good idea to learn what
companies will be represented there.

1.  Go to Find a Job tab on the Job seekers’
2.  Based on your previous interrogation of the
page, go to ‘view’, ’saved’ or ‘advanced’
and search out positions available/firms with
the orange “C”, as they will be interviewing at
the Career Fair.
3.  Explore in detail the job description and
requirements.  Specifically line up each of the
items with your desires, experiences,
and accomplishments.
4.  Create a “focused list” of jobs/companies
to consider interviewing for under SAVE JOB.
5.  Now is when your hard work begins. 
Use your network, LinkedIn and literature
research on the technical and business aspects.
to determine a priority order of places to

5.a. Look at the ACS Salary comparator for
an idea of the range of salary.  Remember
this is
“dated” and it may be wise to consult
a couple of
other databases listed on the left
of this page.

6.  The earlier you do this the better
if they have not contacted you
requesting an interview.  Have times
and days planned
so that you can accomplish
all you set out to
do at the meeting.
7.  Don’t limit yourself to the Career Fair
Attend talks by leading people from companies
and visit the exhibition area.  Plot out a
of visiting firms by the consulting 
list and if they are presenting on
any topics at the

8.  Don’t leave out speaking with recruiters
who will be
at the meeting.

comments (0)
Salary Offer. Too Low
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Post-docs, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 5:33 am

After one of the workshops, a member approached
me with the question:  What do you do if you receive
an offer, but it is lower than you  expect for the

I guess this might be the case with the economy
these days and many candidates being available for
fewer openings.

There are several things one might do.  Among the
first is to courteously explore the details of the
offer.  1  2 

Do your homework on establishing expected salaries
with the salary comparator and other tools.  Check
with your network.

Confirm that the business is doing well financially,
that there is not something behind the offer.

Liz Ryan has written a couple of blogs on this
besides confirming the offer in writing, she
recommends enthusiastically expressing your
interest in the position and adding that there
might be some way of working together.  She
proposes that the offer might be suitable if
you worked shorter hours or on a consulting

The Ladders talks about establishing three
numbers– ideal, no-go and satisfactory.  Then,
creating a discussion with the company decision
maker about reaching the satisfactory amount.

A third approach brings up items that may be
negotiable if you really need the job and want
to reach common ground so that both you and
the employer will be satisfied.  My sense is you
need to begin preparing to say that you are
sorry you cannot accept the offer as it is.

1 comment
Resumes. Relevant skills and courses
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 5:42 am

Suggestions were offered to a capable undergraduate
senior who came to have her resume reviewed.  She
is attending the ACS national meeting and did not
a clear focus on where she wished to work. 
The resume
revealed that.

First we reviewed a draft job search plan she might
-create a target company list
-develop a file system for each company
-build a network contact list and where the network
members can potentially help her make contacts to
-place items into the file:  news stories, ads for
and their competitors, key employees,
product descriptions
-contact recruiters and search firms for the particular
-add business profiles, business reports for key
and industries.  Look up salaries with ACS
comparator and other salary tools.
-create contact and follow-up plans, sorted by date.
use social networking sites.
-create targeted resumes, after doing a

We then talked about how she could ask herself
questions and perform a self assessment with
instruments  listed in the blogroll.

Then, we focused on her “draft resume”.  While not
perfect it was a good start.  Every first resume has
for improvement.  We reviewed the resume file
and showed how to make her resume brief,
clear and
specific, focusing on the courses she had
and techniques she listed.

Courses:  While her placement center recommended
listing all her undergraduate courses to fill in the
we talked about modifying it to included
unique advanced courses which reveal a background
organic synthesis of medically important compounds,
structure activity profiles and advanced experimental
designs.  It is not valuable to talk about the courses
taken in the first 2 years.

Advanced skills:  While the placement center
all the methods she had used in the
various labs, we
talked about focusing on key skills
that might be used
for the compounds her target
companies might see
valuable– microscale, multi-step
synthesis and
several others.

These items seem pertinent for people at early
stages in their career looking for their first

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Salary range check
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Recruiters, Mature professionals, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 9:02 am

How much do you expect to make, the
interviewer or recruiter will ask you…

What do you say?

Several posts have addressed this.1  2 
So, do you say what you find at one
site?  No as we have mentioned, check a

But don’t just run the numbers, do a
“sanity check” on the numbers.

Recently, I went a reputed high value site
and used the salary comparator.  I compared
several different jobs which I expected to
come up differently, like process chemical
engineering with 20 years experience with
a health and safety principal engineer.  Guess
what?  Same numbers…

It suggests the database does not have enough
data or does not separate the job titles enough,
or regions of the country.  This means that any
data from this kind of search needs to be

Certainly, I complained to the association.  I
do know that they have severely cut back
on providing this service for members as it
is not a revenue producer.  Members need
to indicated dis-satisfaction.  However we
need to also look at sites like and
others that may help.

1 comment
Interview Question. Salary Expectations?
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 8:03 pm

There are several ways salary may come up in
an interview or job offer.  It is important to
recognize that homework and legal protection
steps will help job seekers.


evaluating a job offer, review

Four individual situations can form extremes.

If one receives a job offer from the government,
with a previous position, you may be expected
to give a previous W2 as proof of your salary.
Sometimes your pay can be matched if you can
prove you earned more than they were prepared to

If you receive a verbal offer, ask for a written
document.  If the firm prefers not to give you one,
then ask if the offer has been officially approved
and if you could generate a generic offer.  See
legal opinion for proper wording.

If you are offered a position and the official asks
to know how much you expect to make, Megan
recommends that you will consider any
reasonable offer.
Then, assuming you truly want the position, if the
salary and benefits do not meet your minimum
requirements, you can enthusiastically say you
really want the position and with your homework
indicates that one or more ‘offer items’ limit your
accepting the offer for the position.
It may be appropriate at this point to indicate
that you have in hand a competing offer or
are being seriously considered for another
position.  You may not benefit from being specific
about the company or amounts.  Being honest
will hold you in good stead.

In most cases it shows confidence to ask for
time to consider the details of the offer.  In the
face of a retraction, many are hesitant to review
the offer thoroughly and check out business
stability, histories, with people in your network
and salary and benefits comparators.
K McGeever suggests one should express
great interest in the position
and ask for time (be
specific about time
and day of the response) to get back with

an agreement.  Review the details thoroughly.

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Negotiations. Salary among other things
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Recruiters, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:41 am

As with most individuals, we put off
talk about the challenging topics.
We must, however.  One of them
in career management is salary.

What tipped this off is reading an
article in WSJ by Marshall Loeb.
He offers several observations that
have value to be repeated:

 - few job-seekers actually ask for
more $

 - most corporate recruiters said they
are willing to negotiate compensation

 - arm yourself with information.
Research the company’s pay scale, 
Determine fair market value for the position
Assess the industry averages and
Know the affordability impact of the region
you’ll be working in.

One of the most interesting and well
thought-out sites for salary negotiation I
found was the
Department of State.

Add two other sites to the list you read
better understanding of the situation. 
Thomas Denham in “Evaluating Jobs and
negotiating salary” puts things in perspective
by weighing important considerations in job
offers.  He puts various decision factors into
perspective.  (his weighting factors, but you
should decide these factors for yourself)
Job Content (30)
Your Boss (20)
Salary and Benefits (15)
Your Co-Workers (10)
Typical Work Week (10)
Location (10)
Organizational Flexibility (5)

Salary in this scheme has a 15 score! 
Consider asking:
Is the salary offer at market level?
Would taking this position create economic hardship?
How are individual increases and salary reviews and promotions handled?
Think also of the total benefits package when considering the offer.

Denham continues in the article by outlining
four Specific areas to score the employers values.
I found this most helpful for making solid

Once favorable decisions have been made
by the company to hire you and you to consider
accepting the position, then salary negotiation
becomes serious.  At times before this, salary
is only brought up to rule out candidates.  So,
if the question arises, a candidate’s response
is “very excited about the oppportunity that
you offer and will consider any reasonable
compensation package.” 

Salary negotiation is properly handled
by organizing, researching, practicing, and
having contingency plans.  Denham provides
a nifty lay-out of these by
1) research your salary worth
 look at: ACS salary comparator and
 ”The Salary Calculator™” at saicaic.htmi.
 ”DataMasters” at
 (Use the research to come up with a base salary
 range, the top being the best you can hope to
 get and the bottom being the least you will take.”)

2) understand the normal progression–
use of salary screening (are you in the ballpark?)

3) understand each party’s goals and prepare
for resistance with acceptable behaviors and

4) establish common ground, showing an attitude
that reveals you seek what good for you given
the company’s constraints

5) request a formal document describing
agreements and actions.

6) consider all of the elements of working
commuting, family-support, better health
insurance options at no extra cost, bonus
with “summing up” (company pays the
taxes), memberships, meetings, etc.

Another strong article worth looking at
offers a different organization.  

So, know where salary fits in your decision
process, know what your family requires
for compensation, understand the roles
you are asked to perform and its value
living in the location the company asks you to
work near.

comments (0)
Interviewing: Salary data
Filed under: Recent Posts
Posted by: site admin @ 1:14 pm

Salary was addressed in an earlier inquiry on
6-29-06 in response to comparative offers among
colleagues and one received by a member.  I wish
to bring up a nice follow-up article on “Salary data”
by Perri Capell, “Where to find salary data for your
next job interview.”   

Perri points to several useful sites, besides the
salary comparator from the ACS

This is one place that might offer help since there
is the potential for many respondents from the
society.  However, the information might not
include bonuses, options,  and have a realistic
cross-checking mechanism.  One always
wonders about the “currentness” of surveys
like this.

A thought is to consider several such calculators
and learn from them all.  Perri lists:
  salary calculator at  (see the
article), be aware of limited sets of
titles, which pulls data from newspapers,
professional organizations, job sites.

Perri’s caveats at the end of the article are “clinchers”
for me.  (ie, worth reading!)
-  If you really like the company, coming up a few
thousand dollars is not a large deal.
-  Another approach to responding is offered by
Thomas Williams:  Don’t quote a figure.  Specify
how you are currently compensated, then advise
them that most people would like to advance
their earnings potential throughout their career and
that salary is only one factor you are considering
as you explore new opportunities.  You are
confident that if both you and the employer think
this is right for both that you will be made a good
and fair offer. 

If pressed to provide a number, Williams
suggests, that you should indicate you are not
prepared to do so and wish to receive a formal
offer if they think you are the right candidate.

How do you feel about this tactic?


1 comment