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

November 2021
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Transferable Skills. Problem Solving
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:51 am

Very interestingly I ran across a recently posted job
that included a “technical skill” that was
a new term for me.

It was “8D type problem solving.”   Curiosity led me
to discover  that it is an abbreviation for Ford Motor
Corporation’s 8 Disciplines or stages
which are listed:
Plan, Form a team, Describe the problem, Determine
an interim plan, Root cause evaluation, Verify
corrective actions, Develop corrective action plan,
Implement, Prevent re occurrence, Congratulate.

This blog has reported on the often used term
Transferable skills and I would propose that problem
solving skills updating would be one course the ACS
should regularly provide for members.  It is offered
in various contexts and is quite similar to the Six Sigma
which has been implemented in a wide variety
of scenarios and venues.

If there is one training program to take or refresh when
one is in between positions, it would be one of these
Six Sigma or 8D, which is updated with the latest terms,
software and fresh examples applied perhaps to your
fields of interest.

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Watch-Outs. 66. Cross-roads in technical careers, Tactics for travel baggage,Questions for interviews
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 12:21 pm

Can anyone predict her or his future career path? 
If you use people’s careers from an earlier generation,
there are few timely examples.  Most are out of date.
Why?  It is hard to predict who will be around doing
similar things in ten years.  Much of the advice I have
speaks about transferable skills.  Nonetheless,
researching, deeper planning and practicing formal skills
successfully trumps the ‘wishful thinking’ in “transferable
skills” for a majority of cases.  A link is provided hints
at “LinkedIn age” strategies.

Recently, I traveled with checked baggage in two
airports and lost a checked bag in one and a carry-on
bag in a second
.  Both were recovered without any losses
except time for recovery and ‘worry-greys.’  One was the
airline’s problem, for which we could have received
reimbursement of the checked baggage fee (Alaska Air,
but we needed to file the claim right then and there.)
How much attention do you pay to the  the luggage you
buy and use and what you pack in checked and carry-on
luggage.  Links offer very good suggestions that may
save you a bunch.

When recruiters and interviewers rate the biggest
interviewing mistake, they list a dozen with the most
revealing being not having good questions to ask about
the company, the job, the industry and priorities (without
being disrespectful or negative in any way)
.  Find a link
to interview questions you might ask in your interview

SOURCE:  J. Cummings, Aresumefortoday Blog
Jean opens up a ‘can of worms’ by suggesting in her blog
that in the current Internet-dominant-use age, the ‘beatified’
transferable skills is a tougher sell for people who wish
to change fields.  In fact, she goes on to point out that
due to Linkedin, recruiters can demand their top choices
for positions meet all of the job description’s ‘must’

This spells out some career management planning
and proactive steps
to take.  Deeply study and determine
the professional industry and field that will be yours
for the next decade.  It will, if not is, be more difficult to
switch, and be successful, when you are at senior levels.

“Play the field if you want in your twenties, but settle down
in your 30s”.
“Develop the core, desired skills and keep your eye on your
goal a couple of years down the road and manage your
career, accordingly.”

SOURCES:  The middle seat, WSJ 8-14-14,
To catch luggage thieves, high definition cameras and
fancy pens

Six rules for luggage security,”
- valuables, breakables (chargers, meds, papers) in small bags
- roller bags - be prepared to check, by having a small bag
of perishable items inside ready to be removed for hand carry.
- consider your security vs. convenience in choosing bags.
- pack as if your bag will be ‘rifled’
- get to baggage claim early to watch for your bag [I did
in SeaTac and my bag was digitally followed all the way
to Seattle, only to find it was “hung up on the escalator track”
I knew it did not come out.]
- tell the police immediately and be a bit of a pest.

ASQ Blog
Fifteen rules of thumb for framing questions and Ten
great questions to ask are primo!  Know the ‘dumb dozen’….

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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
   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,, 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.

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Business focussed resumes.
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 3:02 pm

A recent chemistry Ph.D. approached with a situation
asking for help creating a business focused resume
[Certain details are left out about the position.]

He started out with a nice, detailed “master resume”
outlining his chemical, chemical modeling and
physical biochemistry skills.  He listed publications
(first, second and third author), patents and

The challenges he had included:
-  translate the technical accomplishments into results-
focussed language,
-  identify key transferable skills and
-  state valued experiences demonstrating leadership,
assuming responsibility, teamwork, time and performance
management in academic, volunteer  and competitive

The cover letter was addressed to a specific person at
the firm for her to “review the document and refer it” to
to the appropriate hiring manager.
The letter identified specific computational strengths and
suggested a computational finance model assignment
would be a possible fit. [Based on other information from
networking interviews, he had learned of a possible opening
in this area.]

Keeping to one page and not stating information on
the one-page resume, the cover letter stayed ‘on message’
without a lot of extra content.

The resume was organized into one-page, outlining
his transferable skills and providing specific examples
through documents in the cloud. 
His heading included a link to his profile.
His publications and presentations were linked in the
   Experience section with limited technical
   wording, providing documentation without over use of
   technical terms.
If anything it was short on Honors and Awards and
Affiliations.  I wonder if at that point is anything more
than an observation.


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Resume Pointers.
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:00 am

We might read articles in the WSJ on resumes
with a ‘grain of salt.’  It is focused on “business” graduates
rather than technical, or scientific, and certainly not
academic focused resumes.

Comments to an article on Updating a resume for 2011
seem helpful.
1  - target the decision makers, rather than blanket
your PR documents on job boards [D. King]
2  - focus your skill set, rather than trying to be a
generalist [D. King]
3  - length of resume [1 or 2 pages] is less relevant
than use of keywords in a brief, specific and easy to
read document {human and algorithm friendly}[K. Dew]
4  - submit your resume in a careful, persistent and
respectful manner knowing that not everyone will
like every structure and content element. [J. Seraichyk]
5  - “cold” submissions prove to be less successful than
“warm” submissions via referrals, contacts, or network
6  -  “Job hunting [is]… a solvable marketing problem.
Not merely a resume problem or a recruiter problem or
a networking problem.” [T. Kellum]

  - be willing to test “rules of thumb”, like
only the last 10 years experience counts, I have had recent
proteges use work more 20 years ago be significant
don’t use objective, I have had numerous recent grad and
mid-career people target their resume “red zone” with
relevant Objective and significant Highlights to obtain
interviews and offers
don’t apply for a position in a growing company that you
have no background for, I have recently encouraged a
mid-career person to do just the opposite, citing clear
transferable skills that good interviewers will admire–
she starts in a month.
   -online presence is now half the game plan.

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Mid-career Resumes. Reveal Productive Outputs
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 9:55 am

Recently, NS, a mid-career project manager, has been
upgrading her public relations documents for an
industrial or government position.  One item she
asked about presenting is her American citizenship.
Since her name is not immediately obvious to many
US natives it would be appropriate to indicate that
by stating directly under her nameAmerican
citizen or Permanent Resident.

As we dug deeper into NS’s background, we found
strong and most notable accomplishments.  They did
not appear at first in the usual outline of
Heading– Qualifications– Experience– Education–
Honors and Awards– Affiliations.

Our interaction revealed that she had originated over
$1.6M in grants with different federal agencies and
ventures with companies as sub-contractors.  She also
had fostered and engineered a series of unique
university collaborations in a number of project areas.

None of these will show up in publications or are
hard to describe in a typical technical resume.  In fact,
it almost seems that a CV is a better format.  However,
personal situations do not permit the time commitment
an academician would need to be successful for her and
her family.

Together we crafted a resume file that brings out her
contributions in which transferable skills were developed
that could be applied in other organizations.

Interesting feedback she offered was that the interaction
was much more valuable than she could ever have
imagined.  Top on her list was the feeling of self-
confidence she gained that her work and the skills
she developed to achieve results were significant.

- Indicate the awarded contracts with various clients
and area in her Qualifications
- Point out significant university and industrial
collaborations in her Qualifications
- Leading bullet in her Experience section should
be a statement of the awarded grants.

It did not hurt that our ideas were seconded by
another consultant.

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Masters Degree. Resume Suggestions
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 11:56 am

Resumes briefly highlight skills, experiences and
accomplishments that show a match to requirements
for an open position.  While experienced scientists
and engineers will be able show all three, recent
grads will find it a challenge to make a case for

Commonly recommended sections of a resume include
heading - please be aware of subtleties  1  2 
objective - crisply and clearly stated
highlights - notable technical items where you have
                 acquired, developed and mastered that
                 are valuable in the position you are seeking
   Skilled at…..
    Proficient at….
    Expert at…..
education - this comes before experience for
                  recent grads (be sensitive to the actual
                  field in which your degree was granted.)
experience - job relevant positions where it is most
                    helpful to state accomplishments, using
                    active verbs  2 
honors and awards - individual and team
affiliations - how you relate to those in your profession
                  and continue to learn after formal education
                  can also show your willingness to assume
                  leadership positions and demonstrate
                  transferable skills (a recent resume listed
                  membership in the Brazilian Chemical
                  Society to show language ability in Portugese.)

Many M. S. recent grads will not be represented well
enough with only these seven sections.  A strong case can
be made for masters degree holders (no further degrees
in the same field) that a specific section providing
skill sets (SKILLS section), that are valuable in laboratory,
pilot plant, in problem solving, are innovation relevant
software for customers) or in use in
factories, be inserted.

Consider placing it following the experience section
and have it contain relevant technical competencies
like working with Symyx, Mathematica
and other versatile software packages, familiarity with
statistical design of experiments, experience with
laboratory, pilot or plant equipment, developing or
improving methods of synthesis, characterization or
isolation.  These may not be at the expert level or
doctorate proficiency, but they are far more than
running it once in undergraduate organic or analytical
laboratory courses.

A skills section is not recommended for a doctorate
since their EXPERIENCE section would describe
accomplishments using these unique skills.  There
would be no need to repeat them.  However, a
case could be made that B. S. and B. A. holders
can benefit from having this section in their resume.

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Preparing for a Phone interview
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:39 am

The phone message said, “Received an email
from a PI responding to my resume submission.
What should I do next?  I did not expect to
hear back so soon.”

“I will send you the email.  Hopefully, we can

The email contained quite a bit of information
describing a lab manager/ researcher position
musts and wants.

This is a position that is of interest for this
young mother as she nears the end of a post-
We reviewed several essential items and developed
a near term plan.

   what are the essential needs– opportunity for
relevance, child care, cost of living, minimum
commute time
   is there a good match between musts and wants
for the job and her background– very good match,
even mentioned in the response letter from the PI.
   develop a statement ( specific example)
supporting each item that there is a good match
for in the job description, describe equivalent
transferable skills statements (specific example)
for other “musts”

Need to learn:
  how much does a person in this position make?
  what are the benefits?
  does the institution assist in green card issues?
Check with colleagues and administrators where she
currently works.  BUT DON’T ASK IN THE
  does anyone have connections at the institution
in the organization where she currently works?
 (follow up with a survey.)
  do a detailed literature review before the return
call to develop common interests and show where
you have used or see the importance of published
work.  Have this information available for mention
in the telephone interview.
Create an action plan and timeframe
The next steps include a (1)screening interview, (2)
an on-site interview, (3)a job offer and (4)a spousal,
family living arrangement visit. (So you can
anticipate what will be expected from you.)

What questions should be asked that will be helpful
for deciding whether this position is for her and her
- Ask what the next steps are?
- Ask what their time frame is?
- Ask what would be expected from the successful
candidate to do well in the job?
- Although they should not be asked in the screening
interview, know what criteria are critical for you and
your family and the questions you need good answers
for– housing, child-care, health care, spousal
relocation, relocation assistance, etc.

Then, plan for the next interaction.  If you can gather
all the information above or have it already, send
an email expressing interest and asking when of a
series of days that are good for you, would the PI
be able to speak with you on the phone.  Provide
a number where you will have good contact and
will not be bothered or interrupted by others.

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Resume “Accomplishment hooks”
Filed under: Public Relations docs, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 9:10 am

Reading B Safani’s blog from last year,
provides an useful idea to pass on: 
accomplishment hooksfor our resume
EXPERIENCE section. 

She devises several ways to create
accomplishment hooks that we can
adapt for the chemical field (substitute
whatever your field is– biotech,
biology, management, sales, process
chemistry….).  Many of the

specific examples she cites appear for
mid-career people in various roles- 
mid-management, technicians, mature
workers, bench and lab scientists….

managers reviewing resumes are
looking for examples where action or

   - make or save money,
   - accelerate development,

   - improve a process,

   - identify a root cause of an existing problem,

develop a new product, product extension,

    - use an existing product or process

in an innovative way

     - use resources well

For example:

To Save Money

To Improve a Process

To Reverse an Existing Problem

Visual charts

She points out that a visual tool can
nicely communicate results. Charts
can chronicle success over time, or
across functions or roles.

For example,

demonstrating innovation:
2004            7                           3
2005            9                           2
2006           15                          10

or putting specific tools (that are transferable)
to use for company gain:
YEAR      SKILLS                    CERTICIFICATIONS
2004      des. of experiments   course completion
2005      process mapping       6 sigma green
             Control plans
2006      Leadership               6 sigma black

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Essential Transferable Skills. Listening
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 7:58 am

Had to “stop the presses” and share
this finding.  A “Cliff notes” mode article
on a critical topic showed up in the
WSJ CareerJournal section by
Jared Sandberg, “Bad at complying?
You just may be a very bad listener.”

Listening skills are essential the higher
one goes in an organization.  Listening
combines not only understanding the
words, meaning and intent of a speaker
but also the body language, emphasis,
background, and even what is not said;
then integrating and processing.

Mr. Sandberg offers step one (from
a course on Industrial Relations at Cornell),
that is, offering three things we can do
to be better listeners.  Some highlights
of his article are:

 begins with readiness to listen, 

 set your judgments aside.

 three key elements:
   Involved silence (eye contact, vocal encouragements),
   probes (supportive inquiry using
questions like “what” as opposed to
the aggressive “why”) and
    paraphrasing (”What I think you said is…”).

There are several other useful pointers
the ACS workshop on Communication
skills for chemical professionals offers.  Here
we describe specific listening skills and
listening strategies.

Listening skills:
-  develop strategies to manage urges
   interrupt speaker
   facial and body reflection
-  focus attention on speaker
   listen between the lines (nonverbal,
what is not said)
   avoid distractions
   express empathy, provide nonverbal
-  adapt thought speed and take time to
listen to the whole thought
   assess what speaker wants you to
respond with
   measure the information, feelings
   mentally sum up

Listening Strategies
1.  cues - for easy recall, thought hooks
2.  Ws - where, when, why
3.  tell me more about ….
4.  restate in own words what was said
5.  ask good questions, look for appropriate

But this takes practice and experience.
This is an essential transferable skill and needs
to be continuously developed and practiced.

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Resume Input
Filed under: Position Searching
Posted by: site admin @ 5:58 am

As a friend and colleague put it, she asked
how does it feel to be on the other side of
the desk?  It is all about attitude.  If you take
input as fresh perspective using all the focus
you can on learning, it is exhilating.

Yesterday, I visited the Career Center and
conducted an introductory interview to list
where I was in my job search, what my
goals were, and what I could benefit from.

I brought my resume, CV (for academic
roles), job search plan, and some ideas
I had.  We talked about several things
and planned that I would return in the
afternoon to talk about taking Spanish
and relevant computer software training
in Vista and the other latest programs.

Upon my return, that option was not
available.  However, an experienced
resume reviewer offered to review my
resume.  Would I be interested in going
over my resume?

There is always something to gain by having
someone reflect on your public relations
document.  So, I said yes.

He had interesting perspectives that I
am proud to share.

Contact information:  He liked my listing
my web-site that revealed personal,
professional, and avocational interests.
It got him to want to learn about several
items– what is six sigma black belt, how
is my goal related to my background?

Bolding items and underlining items:  It
is like “newspapers on the newspaper
rack” analogy, he said.  If you were in a
“strange city and wanted to get the news
from a paper which one would you
choose?”  That one that is attractive,
the one that has the easiest to find
story of interest right up front, and the one
that is not cluttered with ‘too much

Objective:  Please tell them what the
resume author can do for the prospective
company.  Don’t spend the space telling
what you have done in a historical fashion.

Some of My Learnings:
1.  Post your well designed web-page,
if you have one.  [This was the first time
I tried this and got some feedback.  It was
in my heading information.]

2.  Use bolding and alignment to your
advantage and test it out with some fresh
eyes.  [I did not realize that my standard
chronolgical resume had bolded the
companies names and section headings
but unbolded everything else.  I would not
normally bold the company names.  But
there they were!  He, in fact, thought it
would be wise to bold the position titles.
Interesting!  I might try that.]

3.  I had ‘too much information’ that cluttered
up the space.  Reduce the information.
[I listed each major title and the date of each
position.  I listed a position I held 25 years
ago.  He thought I–  
           coulde reduce all the dates down
to just the bare essentials, cutting out
6 date sets.  
did not need to list my position
25 years ago on the resume.  We differed
here.  Exxon is/was a premium
worldwide employer.  Saying you worked
there is a positive.

4.  Based on what I was seeking, should I
consider a functional resume.  [Hmm, I will
have to give that some thought.  What
transferable skills can I portray of a fundamental
biological researcher that I have practiced
over the last 30-plus years?  Let me work
on that.]

My action items:
-  make changes to the current chronological
-  begin creating a functional resume for the
new field I am comtemplating.

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Recent Grad: Seeking Hidden Jobs
Filed under: Position Searching, Recruiters
Posted by: BlogMaster @ 3:05 pm

> Dan:
> Thank you very much for your comments and
suggestions on my resume. I  have made a revised
version based on your inputs. Could you please 
help me and review this one?
> I have read through articles on the blog and
checked the “transferable skills”. I learned a lot
of things from those resources. While I still 
have a few questions and hope it will not take
you too much time:

>1. Based on one article there, most job
positions are not posted online.   Is that a good
way to call companies directly to check the
job vacancy there?
Is that good to use job agency to look for

>2. I am going to graduate in this Fall Semester,
is that true that most companies don’t recruit
people in summer? Should I wait until
September to see more vacancies?

> Appreciate your help.
> Best regards,
> Y

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