Subscribe

Forum

Plan to leave the Ivory Tower: Read

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Academic, i.e. Lab Geek and Extracuric Activites (Ale's post)

Postby Emil Chuck » Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:45 am

Hitting on the lab geek stereotype, I think DX's last post hits on the very important quality (or maybe set of them) that the lab geek lacks: leadership. Lab geeks follow and do their jobs, but don't do more bigger-picture thinking or want to be involved with such. Learning leadership skills is extremely important (as we've shown above), but one must develop foundational interpersonal skills to be a leader.

Of course, I'm in a position where I do evaluate my students on their extracurricular activities and evidence of leadership ability to assess their preparation for a career in medicine or the health professions. I know how important it is for individuals to achieve a sense of personal balance, and that it is hard for many students to recognize that learning how to achieve it for oneself is critical to avoid burn-out or the emotional toils of the profession. However, when it comes to evaluating people for graduate school, the message is skewed against getting involved in extracurriculars or even dating/getting married/having kids in extreme cases. Sure, administrators and faculty will appreciate the occasional seminar series run by students and postdocs, but how many posts do we read here focusing on angst over how a PI will let a trainee go due to "lack of productivity"? The first thing the PI will suggest is to "cut out those extracurriculars or else."

Do I think it is important? I would be hypocritical if I didn't believe that everyone should do some extracurricular or community service. However, that behavior is more rewarded as an undergraduate (where those hours do count towards admission to medical or dental school, and when you are in med or dental school, you'll be expected to do more) and not so much in graduate school. Maybe a trainee knows a lot about the extra-academic interests of his/her PI or lab colleagues, but I find that is not always the case of the PI appreciating what the trainee does outside of work. Seriously, if a student or postdoc wants to get into industry, how many hours outside of work would you think he/she could afford to make those connections at meeting that he/she has to pay for him/herself, plus do community or leadership service? It's not an easy balance of time, but it is a worthwhile challenge for oneself.
Emil Chuck
 
Posts: 2981
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

The Ten Foot Pole

Postby Kelly Ann » Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:40 pm

I have a few thoughts from this discussion ...

Are resumes that different from CVs, I don’t think so. They contain different information but have the same purpose in mind … to capture the attention of your future employer. So I think that these ten questions (summarizing what has been discussed in this post as well as others) might be helpful when someone is thinking about what they need to do to sell themself, so to speak (and maybe could be addressed in a FAQ). I’d be interested in other people’s opinions.

1) Is your resume or CV suited for the job to which you are applying? Does it have an objective? Do you have different versions for the types of jobs in which you are interested? Are they really different from each other and appropriate for the job?

2) Do your job descriptions contain the right balance of scientific description as well as skill sets? I think that (although not the focus) to a certain extent that industry does care about credentials and academia does care about skill sets. Are your descriptions well worded and not overly verbose? Do you list enough information? Do you describe non-science experience ... i.e. leadership, writing, computer skills that you have obtained during your science experience? Do you sell yourself as something other than the "lab-geek"?

3) How do you present yourself with your resume or CV? This applies to either by cover letter or in person … Do you give equal importance to your cover letter? Is it personalized and appropriate for the specific job?

4) Do you highlight (personal summary) the most relevant part of your history such that someone doesn’t have to fish out the information from your job descriptions? Have you researched what it is the job of your dreams is looking for?

5) Is your cover letter, resume, and or CV well formatted, so that it is easily readable? If you use an online service, have you checked for copy errors? If you are listing publications, do they have a standard format? Can the main points be captured in a quick glance such that a person will want to thoroughly read what you have spent hours preparing?

6) Is your cover letter, resume, and or CV well written, such that you avoid grammatical or punctuation errors? Do you use all acronymns or are your skill sets understandable to someone is science who may not be experienced in your particular field (the department head or hiring manager)?

7) Is your resume or CV cluttered with non-relevant information? This can be too many hobbies, clubs, or affliations or just the way your descriptions are written. Is your resume or CV interesting to read without being cumbersome?

8) Have you had someone else (scientist and non-scientist) proofread your resume or CV? Would you be embarrassed to show it to your family? I have found that my dad’s advice has been most helpful in proofing my resume as well as my thesis. The opinion of a non-scientist is very important in understanding if what you have prepared is readable.

9) Is your resume or CV a continual work in progress or is it slapped together five minutes before you send or give it to someone? Does it reflect what you have accomplished, what you are capable of doing, and who you are? I think it helps to update it regularly whether or not you have the pension plan and even if you are not actively looking for a job. My grandfather had his last job for 50 years but having his resume was a nice summary of his professional accomplishments at his funeral.

10) Would you consider hiring yourself if you read your cover letter, resume, or CV? Are you confident in the way that you are selling yourself?

Just some thoughts,
Kelly Ann
Kelly Ann
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

The Ten Foot Pole

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:03 pm

Kelly Ann,

Your list is great. This thread is wonderful.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7940
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Academic, i.e. Lab Geek and Extracuric Activites (Ale's post)

Postby Jack » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:46 pm

I held my fire earlier, but this raises exactly the point I was going to make: it is "perception". It seems to me this is a fundamental difference between how scientists (or at least I) tend to view the world and how those in business tend to view the world. As a scientist, I try to base my decisions on facts, not perceptions (like firmness of handshake; that has almost zero correlation with ability to do a job ever since we stopped wielding a sword, swinging a scythe, and chopping wood for a living). Of course as I've pointed out before, we never have perfect facts with which to work and as humans we do have an innate tendency to rely on heuristics, or perceptions if you will. So we have to deal with cultural artifacts such as people forming snap judgements of us based on how we shake hands, but we don't have to like it or encourage it. This should not be taken to imply that communications, which has a significant unspoken component, is not important in both science and business, but we should be aware of how our primitive brain centers try to run the show in place of our higher cognitive powers.

Cheers,
Russell
Jack
 
Posts: 2101
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Handshakes

Postby Ale » Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:24 pm

Many cultures in the world don’t greet by shaking hands. In Spain you never shake hands with a woman, only between men. If there is a woman in the combination (woman-woman or man-woman) we kiss on the cheek (or sort of a fake kiss). Other European countries do the same, and (sorry if I’m wrong) people from most countries in Asia bow when greeting. In my case, until last year I had never ever hand shaked anybody…. And now they are supposed to judge me, in part (first impression), by how I handshake, even if I’ve missed two decades of training!

My point is that when recruiters are trying to spot the best employee they should be careful with relying too much in first impressions, mainly if they are based in cultural factors such as the way you handshake. Of course you can always say that if the applicant is interested enough in the position he will have prepared himself to dress how he should, give a proper handshake…. In other words: to adopt the culture of the position for which s/he is interviewing.

I start thinking we could have a seminar as part ot our postdoc career development series about “how to create a good first impression”, covering how to introduce yourself (elevator speech), to handshake, to look at the eyes of your interviewer, to smile and how to look comfortable. It may be a funny interactive seminar (and hopefuly useful).
Ale
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Handshakes

Postby SS » Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:20 pm

I don't think that a handshake makes a lasting impression on me (unless it's of the limp fish variety - somehow, everyone always ends up talking about those.) And I don't think that the snap judgement is made in 10 minutes or whatever the conventional wisdom states. I do, however, think that the judgement is made by the end of the candidate's seminar. And it isn't always made based on WHAT the candidate said, but HOW it was said.

As far as other first impressions... I have taken several candidates out for meals (lunch or dinner the night before), and it is amazing how much you can glean based on that interaction. Simple things like being able to carry on a conversation and maintaining appropriate eye contact become very important.
SS
 
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Handshakes

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:29 pm

Sorry to add more fuel to the fire on this topic, but there have been scientific studies done on this whole "handshake, eye contact thing" and it is the leading determinator of whether someone will get a job offer.

Here's a Tooling Up article that describes the phenomeon, which I speak about regularly in my presentations: First Impressions

Dave Jensen, Moderator
"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7940
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Handshakes

Postby Emil Chuck » Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:21 pm

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell [one of my favorite books of the last year] goes into a very good summary of the "science" of snap judgements, and many of these snap judgements ARE important when it comes to hiring or making decisions. One amazing online experiment he discusses (which I was independently familiar with) is the Implicit Association test ar Harvard, and you would be very surprised how you would do. It's not that we like it or encourage it, but we are affected by it.

Snap judgements take a lot shorter period of time than ten minutes. Usually an opinion is first formed within ten SECONDS (Dave and I have disclosed the averages between 5 and 7 seconds I think), and "final" opinions can be confirmed within 10 minutes. Students can tell in the first 10 minutes of a the first lecture of a class if a teacher is going to be good or bad, so you bet that faculty or recruiting hires can make those decisions quickly too. Speed dating works rather effectively in many cases (4-minute dates).

But I don't think they are judging you not on your content, but rather your collegiality and your fit with a department.
Emil Chuck
 
Posts: 2981
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Handshakes

Postby Jack » Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:11 pm

Dave wrote, "there have been scientific studies done on this whole "handshake, eye contact thing" and it is the leading determinator of whether someone will get a job offer."

My point clearly was not whether it *is* the leading determinator but whether it *should be* the leading determinator. I'd be happy to hear some scientific studies about that.

Cheers,
Russell
Jack
 
Posts: 2101
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

First Impressions

Postby Ale » Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:29 pm

Russell, Daves's column actually cites scientific studies. For instance just "a 15-second piece of video showing the candidate knocking on the door, shaking hands, and being greeted by the interviewer" allowed the participants to judge the performance of the applicants during the full interview very closely to what was judged by the real interviewers of the video. The authors said that "the strength of the correlation was extraordinary."

And it was also true for nonverbal aspects of good teaching. A short sound-less video of Harvard teaching fellows would be scored very closely to the final report of the students, after the semester (see Dave's column for details and references). You can act during one interview, in the handshake, what you say, etc, but not during a full semester!

I have to concede that you may indeed get enough information about a person in a short time (the infamous first impression). It may be one more face of the 20/80 rule and 20% of what we do accounts for 80% of what we are.
Ale
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests