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Libraries Are Hanging in There During Tough Economic Times

Last night, I was driving home and listening to NPR and they were discussing the rise in the use of public library services during these tough economic times. I thought this was great news to share with our readers! I can't say that I think that this will directly lead to an increase in hiring’s in this field (but it’s always possible), but I think that employment trends for work in public libraries will stay steady and if you already have a PL job, then I don't see it going anywhere. I certainly see a consistent number of public library positions still going out on the listservs.

This may not be as true for special libraries, but it depends on the level of public access. On the flip side, companies such home internet providers, Amazon.com and other online book sellers will see a direct decrease in revenue as people tighten their belts and switch to using the free services at public libraries such as newspapers, magazines, internet services, and, of course, books. On a more positive note, Joanna and I have continued to meet with and hear from many organizations – libraries and many others - in the Ann Arbor and SE Detroit area and they are looking to hire.

The whole text for this bit isn't available, but you can listen to it online on the NPR website. Link below.

Libraries Shine In Tough Economic Times
Listen Now [4 min 7 sec]

All Things Considered, July 29, 2008

With the economy slowing, many Americans are doing research in the public library. Boyd County, Ky., Library Director Debbie Cosper says public-use computers are always full and people are checking out books rather than buying them.

Posted by kkowatch on July 30, 2008 at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

SI's Own Entrepreneurs Featured in Ann Arbor News

Growing young entrepreneurs
RPM Ventures helps U-M students launch 3 businesses

by Tina Reed
Ann Arbor News
July 24, 2008

Apple's iPhone is much more than a cool gadget to Gaurav Bhatnagar, Hung Truong and Adam Torres.

This summer, the three graduate students at the University of Michigan School of Information have spent their time tinkering with computer code and mocking up sketches in an attempt to develop the next big geo-sensitive application for the iPhone.

Their business, Troubador Mobile Inc. - a rough configuration of their initials - is one of three student-launched business teams receiving venture capital help from Ann Arbor's RPM Ventures to launch business ideas this summer. The RPM-10 program, part of a partnership between the venture capital firm and the U-M engineering school's Center for Entreprenuership, gives students advice from the local business community, office space for 10 weeks and the money to get the idea off the ground.

The program is designed to get both undergraduate and graduate students thinking more about being entrepreneurs. It culminates in mid-August when the groups present their businesses to venture capitalists and the public.

"It's often entrepreneurs don't get good at this until the second, third, even fourth time they start a company,'' said Tony Grover, an RPM managing director. "It's only through people giving them the opportunity to try and figure this out that these guys get an opportunity to get better at this.''

The entrepreneurship program was modeled after similar ones around run around the country, said the center's director Thomas Zurbuchen. "For students, it is a continuation of the classroom,'' Zurbuchen said. And for RPM, "they get the first look at some potentially great companies.''

One of the other projects, Pacific Atlantic Entertainment Corp., is being built by undergrads in U-M's engineering and business schools as a campus Web service called Tradeversity to allow students to buy and sell books or find jobs.

Another project, CampusRoost Inc., is a group of three U-M engineering seniors who hope to create a one-stop Web shop for campus rentals.
They've helped about 25 incoming business students find leads on housing so far, said Jason Bornhorst, the group's chief executive officer.

"The biggest thing for all of us is, we go to work every day and we decide what we're going to do,'' Bornhorst sad. "And that's what determines our success.''

The hope from the businesses helping with the project - including Bank of Ann Arbor, Miller Canfield, McKinley real estate and Menlo Innovations software developing - is that the students will end up staying in Michigan and will build successful companies here in the future, Grover said.

"We take the long view,'' Grover said. "It might not help us today. But in five years, that's 15 student teams that might not otherwise have ever started their own business .... They're such talented people that we might've lost them to California, but this program could be the thing that keeps them here.''

For Troubador Mobile, the learn-by-doing process led its group members, who mostly have technology backgrounds, to figure out firsthand what customers want before they designed their product. They now regularly take their sketches out to passersby on the U-M Diag.

"Some of the things we thought were really cool were actually kind of creepy,'' Truong said. "But some of the things we though were kind of invasive, people were interested in.''

For example, Truong said, people weren't interested in an application that could tell users where their friends were at all times. They did like an application running in the background on the phone that could offer pop-up discounts from nearby restaurants.

The strength of the program is that it takes students without business backgrounds and teaches them the accounting, legal and market savvy elements that go into building a company, Torres said.

"For me, starting a company is such a mystifying process,'' Torres said. "I'm not the kind of person who thinks like an entrepreneur. I don't like to take financial risks. But this program seems to have brought out that entrepreneurial spirit in me."

Posted by kkowatch on July 25, 2008 at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

So You Weren't the Chosen Candidate...

Today, I read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by a search committee member for a faculty position at a university giving the reasons that many candidates were not chosen to be hired. Often times, people are eliminated from being hired before they even open their mouth! Although the focus of this letter is on a faculty-position, the idea that a tailored and truthful job search is essential for success in your job search transcend the pursuit of any type of position. Enjoy!

The Rejection Letter I Wish I Could Send

If we had to make up a story for why you might be interested in our position, then interviewing you was too risky.


Dear Unsuccessful Applicants,

By now you are in receipt of the generic, photocopied letter indicating that our tenure-track position was filled by someone other than you. Unfortunately, our letter gives you not a smidgeon of information about why you were not that person; you are left to divine what went wrong.

Ideally, I would call each of you to explain what we found wanting in your cover letters and CV's, but I suspect my university would never approve of that plan. Still, I want to let you know why we placed your applications at the bottom of the pile.

Let me be the first to admit I am no expert on academic searches. My own job search was considered a success simply because out of 65 applications, I was rejected only 64 times. But now I am on the other side of the hiring table. So I can tell you why I didn't argue on your behalf during our lengthy search-committee meetings, and I hope that my remarks here will help some of you as a new job cycle gets under way.

No secret formula exists for securing a tenure-track job, but there certainly are things you can do to make it unlikely you'll ever get one. To my dismay, many of you did them.

Surprisingly, about half of you didn't seem to take our detailed position announcement seriously. I wrote the ad meticulously, not just because the publisher charged for each word, but because our department has particular teaching needs.

Several of you were simply unqualified for the position. A law degree is not a Ph.D., and a Ph.D. in another discipline is not equivalent to one in our field — notwithstanding one cover letter colloquially inviting us to "think outside the box" in making a hire.

A few of you had doctorates in literature, religious studies, or political science, but those degrees do not give you a professional competency to teach our classes, even in this interdisciplinary age. In another cover letter, one of you promised to enter a Ph.D. program upon being hired. Surely we are not anomalous in preferring that our colleagues begin their graduate degrees before starting employment here.

Our ad also noted that candidates had to have the Ph.D. in hand before the start of the next academic year. Some of you were very creative in omitting the fact that your dissertation was nowhere near completion; your references were not so creative.

Several of you were perceptive enough to recognize that our university's mission includes the serving of minority students. A few of you, however, spoke rather ineloquently about that fact in your cover letters. What, exactly, did you expect us to think when you said you were "comfortable having Asian students" in your classes, or that you regularly give "extra support" to African-Americans? I happen to be of minority descent, and I found the implications of your brief discussion of racial matters to be bewildering, at best.

At a small university like ours, teaching is primary. Therefore, it was not a good idea for one of you to mention your personal Web site on your CV, because when I visited it, I read the part where you described your aspiration to be an independent scholar free from the obligations of a university career. Like teaching?

As noted in our ad, we are a teaching-oriented institution with some expectation of research for all faculty members. In the end, we decided to consider only applications that listed at least one peer-reviewed article or book. That principle helped me reduce the pile. Some of you stumbled here.

Not all publications are scholarly publications. Several of you claimed articles in print but neglected to say where those articles had been published. With a little digging, some of those interesting-sounding titles turned out to be opinion essays in local newspapers or guest columns in newsletters.

Some of you had a section on your CV's titled "Publications," but you listed submissions that were only under review at prestigious journals. Since many of those journals have acceptance rates of only 3 to 5 percent, we simply could not assume that your submissions would necessarily result in publications.

While a diversity of interests surely counts for much in an application, it was not a good idea to emphasize, as one of you did, your side interest in anarchism. Academe is surprisingly full of regulations. I asked myself, "Would a self-styled anarchist show up for classes regularly, turn in grades, attend meetings promptly, exhibit customary civility, and fulfill other expected academic obligations?"

Many of you did not tell us why you were applying for our assistant-professor job. To those full professors who applied, we were complimented that you assumed we possessed the rhetorical powers to persuade the administration to change the search in medias res. If you truly were willing to start over here at the assistant-professor level, you should have explained that in your cover letter. Perhaps your family lives near here? Such an explanation might have persuaded us to interview you.

Then there were several deans who applied for our position. Perhaps you wanted to return to full-time teaching, or maybe you just saw our position as a stepping-stone to a deanship here? You didn't say.

Similarly, for those tenured professors at more prestigious universities and elite colleges who applied, we had to wonder why you would be interested in coming to teach at our institution. In the absence of a stated reason, it seemed to me that you were just fishing for an offer that you could use as leverage to get a raise at your home institution. Some indication of your motives would have led us to give your applications more consideration.

In short, if we had to make up a story for why you were interested in our position, then interviewing you was too risky. There were many other applicants who stated in concrete terms why they wanted to teach on our campus. Here's the moral of all this: Every cover letter should state precisely and persuasively why the applicant is seeking the job.

A few of you seemed quite excited about fonts in your applications. I must tell you that wildly underlining or bolding phrases, or occasionally changing the font size for keywords, does not betoken professionalism. When I encountered such cover letters, it was hard not to hear the intonation of a desperate sales rep trying a bit too hard to close a deal.

Additionally, we set aside a few applications with cover letters that came across as arrogant. One of you stated that you considered yourself to be one of the few instructors in the country qualified to teach in our discipline. We couldn't help wonder how you would feel about your colleagues if we were to hire you.

Our job ad carefully explained that we are a religiously affiliated institution. Omitting any recognition of that fact in your cover letter wasn't a deal-breaker, but I wondered how well you knew our institution. Some of you discussed our religious affiliation, but it came off sounding like you didn't mind that we were religious, or you were congratulating us that we happened to hold some beliefs that you happened to hold. Letters of that sort raised all sorts of red flags about whether you would be a good fit here.

I should state openly that I tried to find out as much as I could about you by consulting the modern oracle Google. Yes, I did find those pages about you. You're surprised? At a university like ours, we have to be careful about whom we bring into our community. And yes, I did see the photos. When I also found all of your rantings — political, religious, autobiographical, and otherwise — I wondered whether you would say such things in classes to our students.

Perhaps you are reading all of this, and even though you didn't commit any of the application sins I have mentioned above, you still received our bland rejection letter. If that is the case, take heart. Your application survived several rounds of paring, and you know how to prepare a strong package. In the end, we had a handful of well-qualified applicants with only one job opening.

When we hire again in the new academic year, I will send you an e-mail message encouraging you to apply again. In the best-case scenario, you'll be able to respond and then reject me, saying you've already secured a tenure-track position.


A Search Committee Member

Clement Vincent is the pseudonym of an assistant professor of philosophy at a university in the Midwest.

Posted by kkowatch on July 24, 2008 at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

The Rise of Health Informatics

For those readers that are exploring different information-related industries... health informatics is on the rise.

Baby Boomers Fuel Thriving Health Industry
Bright Economic Picture, but High Medical Costs Hurt Consumers


July 17, 2008 —

Americans accustomed in recent months to a daily dose of gloomy economic news may find a silver lining in the health care industry as aging baby boomers fuel demand for drugs, health services and medical supplies, boosting the companies that make them.

Employers and investors have fought for relief this year as housing prices fall, gasoline and food prices rise and credit and financial markets continue struggle for stability.

But health care, which today makes up 16 percent of gross national product, three times as much as in 1960, according to Kaiser Foundation, is one of a handful of sectors like mining, farming and natural resources to thus weather the economic storm.

While some experts fear rising costs for drugs and services could eventually mean bad news for individual Americans, small business and government spending, the thriving health care industry is welcome news for company profits and many investors.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson, the biotechnology company Genentech and Abbott Laboratories saw big second-quarter profit gains. And the sector has steadily created new jobs during the past year.

The quickening economic strides come as more Americans are slowing down and getting older, but also living longer.

The number of Americans over the age of 45 has jumped from 77 million in 1990 to about 112 million people in 2006, according to AARP, the organization that advocates the rights of older people.

And according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, the average American spends $7,000 annually on health care, much of that coming from growing millions of baby boomers approaching old age. "As baby boomers we have more access to health care," said Oscar Gonzalez, economist for John Hancock. "We are living longer, we use it more and we demand more from the system. You can have every kind of test from an MRI to replacement of hips and joints."

Drug Profits Soar

It's been a steady earnings season for many of the companies that make medical products.

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson posted an 8 percent jump in their second-quarter profits, with a boost coming from the new non-prescription allergy pill, Zyrtec, new Acuvue contact lenses for astigmatism and surgical products for treating obesity.

Sales of medical devices and diagnostics, led by joint replacements and diabetes and vision care items, jumped 12 percent.

"The penetration of drugs has increased, so more are available," said John Hancock's Gonzalez. "How can you blame us when they do us good? Why not take them?"

Genentech, the biotech firm, saw second quarter profits rise 5 percent due to strength from its blockbuster cancer drugs. The company added breast cancer to its list of uses for its drug Avastin earlier this year, in addition to colon and lung cancer, resulting in a 15 percent sales increase.

Sales of Rituxan, which treats non-Hodgkin lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, gained 12 percent.

And Abbott Laboratories Inc. announced a 34 percent jump, driven by robust international sales of its arthritis drug Humira and other medical products and its cholesterol pill Niaspan.

Health Care Jobs Booming

Along with the steady demand for health care products, the industry seems to be bucking the employment tide.

Total U.S. job losses for the first six months of the year have hit 438,000, with an average of 73,000 jobs lost each month, many in construction, manufacturing and employment services. Construction alone has lost 528,000 jobs since its peak in September 2006

But job openings in the health care field continue to grow, according a July 3 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since June 2007, health care has added 348,000 jobs. In June alone, 15,000 jobs were added in the field, 13,000 in ambulatory services.

Meanwhile, financial planners say health care companies are a good investment in bad economic times.

"I don't want to be giving stock tips," said Mark Johannessen, president of the national Financial Planning Association. "But for a long term investor, related stocks in the pharmaceutical industry and extended-care facilities are a reasonable place to be, especially if you take into account the baby boomers and their medical needs when they come of age."

Johannessen advises following tried-and-true investment rule of diversifying your portfolio, but he added that mutual funds that specialize in health care issues are a good bet.

Offering Second Careers

The burgeoning industry also offers job opportunities for baby boomers, many of whom are staying in the work place longer or returning to second-career jobs in health care after retirement, according to AARP, the organization that advocates for the rights of older Americans.

"But this positive economic news is not necessarily a good sign," AARP spokesman Jim Dau told ABCNEWS.com.

AARP commissioned a nationwide survey to determine how people age 45 and older were responding to the current economic slowdown. It found that 17 percent of younger boomers  ages 45 to 54  were making cutbacks on their medications because of the economic downturn.

Taking those types of medical shortcuts can have long-term medical and financial consequences, according to Dau.

There are also concerns that the growing acceptance and array of medical choices could lead to difficult economic decisions that don't always pay off in better health.

"Health care costs are exploding, and it has a huge impact on individuals, employers and government spending. This is the biggest issue we are looking at for the next administration," Dau said.

"The health care system's rapid adoption of emerging medical technologies has, in many instances, provided enormous clinical benefits, such as prolonged life and improved quality of life," according to a recent Congressional Budget Report.

Those technologies come at a price.

"Newer, more expensive diagnostic or therapeutic services are sometimes used in cases in which older, cheaper alternatives could offer comparable outcomes for patients," it said. "And expensive services that are known to be highly effective in some patients are occasionally used for other patients for whom clinical benefits have not been rigorously demonstrated."

'Walking a Thin Line'

The companies reaping profits say the effective and cost-conscious delivery of medical care is on their agenda as well.

"Access to health care is a critical issue to the country, and we are working with our industry peers to develop programs and make it more affordable through patient assistant programs and sensitive pricing," Johnson & Johnson Corporate Communications Director Bill Price told ABCNews.com.

Still, Gonzalez says Americans should not get too excited about the strong health care indicators, despite the bright  albeit short-term  investment and employment opportunities.

"The truth is on both sides," said Gonzalez. "Clearly, people are living longer. At the same time, there are more types of treatment available and new drugs that are costly to develop. Some of the costs come through increased profit, but over a long period of time, consumers, patients, Medicaid and Medicare absorb the costs.

"We are walking a thin line."

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Posted by kkowatch on July 17, 2008 at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

Article: Every User Deserves a Personalized Interface

From the Chronicle of Higher Education...

Every User Deserves a Personalized Interface
July 16, 2008

One size does not fit all, at least when it comes to user interface design. Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a system to automatically generate interfaces that fit the users’ vision and motor abilities, making clicking easier.

In a paper presented yesterday at the meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the researchers described a system, dubbed Supple, that puts each user through a test of mouse pointing, dragging and clicking skills. The system then assesses the person’s performance and automatically generates a personalized interface that improves the user’s performance when using a specific program. This is particularly useful for people who have trouble controlling a mouse or a pointer, such as disabled and elderly people.

Thus, Supple will build an interface with larger buttons and expanded lists for users with cerebral palsy, who move cursors spastically. If the user suffered muscular dystrophy and had trouble in moving the cursor, the system would generate an interface with smaller buttons and a condensed layout.

Supple can reduce the performance gap between people with disabilities and those users who don’t have any by 62 percent. Disabled users also say they prefer the custom-made interfaces, a University of Washington’s press release says.
—Maria José Viñas

Posted by kkowatch on July 17, 2008 at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

The "Other" Jobs on iTrack

For everyone that has an iTrack account with SI, when searching for jobs, you may have noticed that under the Jobs tab, there are two choices:

-- iTrack Jobs
-- Posted Jobs (but not specific to SI).

Obviously, the iTrack jobs are the main ones you should be looking at. These are jobs that our recruiting partners (4235 companies, but who's counting?) post for you to apply to and also some jobs that our staff pulls and adds to iTrack. But what are these Posted Jobs?

SI contracts iTrack from a professional organization called NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) who contracts the software from a vendor called Symplicity.

Formerly, the jobs posted in the "Posted Jobs" section came from CareerBuilder. We had the option to approve the ones that we thought were relevant to SI students and alumni interests. All others would be not approved and thus went to the Posted Jobs section.

Today, I received an email that notified us that the relationship with CareerBuilder has been discontinued, but replaced with something even better. Here's the message we received from our NACELink contact:

"I am writing to inform you that CareerBuilder has discontinued their previous feed to NACElink CSM sites, and the link has been removed from your instance.

However, the good news is that your students already have access to those job listings through our partnership with DirectEmployers Association (DEA). The DEA JobCentral.com site has partnerships with individual member companies and other job indexing sites like: Indeed, SimplyHired and Google. Through those indexes the CareerBuilder jobs are represented. In total there are millions of jobs that can be searched on by your students/alumni through the NACELink Extended Job Search."

If you are curious about other schools that use this system, you can see them all at: http://www.nacelink.com/nl_schools_list_c.php

I've always been a big fan of the index job search sites such as SimplyHired and Jobster. So, this is good news and we should be seeing more jobs that fall under the "NACELink Multi-School Postings" category that are relevant to your interests and career pursuits.

Posted by kkowatch on July 16, 2008 at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

Over qualified, but willing to pay dues (at least for a little while)?

Well, I'm back from vacation and it was great. While I was gone, the emails sure mounted up. An interesting discussion on the WRK4US listserv caught my eye and I wanted to bring it to your attention. This is a situation that occurs more often for people that are doing a a geographically-targeted job search, but often in a job search, a person is tempted to apply for a job that they are over-qualified for you. When the resume is received, the search committee will most likely dismiss this applicant as being over-qualified or too easily bored.

One subscriber on the WRK4US list, asked the following:

"Does anyone have any experience in telling potential employers that, if they don't have a PhD-level job, you're willing to take anything - -absolutely anything - to get your foot in the door? I mean, answering phones, stuffing envelopes, ANYTHING.

Are there any tricks or useful 'angles' to take in bringing this up?

After two years on the market (with an expensive professional career coach) I am seeing virtually no marketable skills in my PhD, including teaching, since my program offered no real teaching experience, no preparation for academe, and left me too specialized for half the jobs and not specialized enough for the other half.

In job applications and networking I've been aiming both low and high, narrow and broad, and haven't gotten a single nibble on any application save one.

My field is environmental studies (maybe off-topic - is wrk4us for Humanities?) but I'm in a specialization with zero job marketability. (No space for details here, but trust me.)"

As usual, the responses were varied and many:

The trick is to remember that you *do* have skills. One way to identify your skills is to list *everything* you've done in the past few years - classes you've taken, research you've done, community service activities, etc. - and then match up that list of activities with a skills list. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign has a really nice list of skills for PhDs. Then, when you go to write your cover letter you can cull from this list the list of skills you do have and their supporting activities.


A friend of mine left a computer science PhD program in search of an environmentalist career, and after a period of unemployment he was able to get into the sort of job you describe: he's a bit overqualified for it but he is totally on board with the company's agenda and it's a good start. If you want, I can ask him how he found the opportunity and how he addressed the qualification issue, if it came up. (I think his company is still hiring, too -- a small environmental-education group in the Pacific Northwest.)


My brother recommended to me that I address my over qualification for a position in my cover letter and explicitly explain why working for the company (even being under-employed) was important to and related to my career goals - and how my qualifications might explicitly improve my performance in that position.


A career counselor gave me two good suggestions for applying to jobs for which I might be perceived as overqualified.

1. An "objective" at the top of the resume. Sometimes, objectives are
sometimes a waste of space, but sometimes they can help you justify why you are a reasonable fit for an otherwise improbable job. So, eg.:

OBJECTIVE: To find an entry-level position that will allow me to gain
real-world experience in the such-and-such industry, helping me in my
long-term career goal of such-and-such.

2. A "skills" section right below the objective, listing a bunch of "menial" tasks. By putting these tasks on your resume, you make it clear that you're willing to do them--and you avoid having to say something desperate-sounding in your cover letter like "Despite my seeming overqualification, I am willing to do menial work such as answering phones and making copies." Your skills section could look something like this:

Data entry
Word processing
Other office support tasks

Also, I would suggest that you create at least two resumes--one for applying to entry-level jobs and one for more senior jobs. Unfortunately, it's very hard to craft a resume and cover letter that make you sound like a good fit for working at a variety of levels.


I'm curious to know - did you ever try that [see her reply below] and if so what was the result? Also, is there some sort of experience your brother is speaking from, such as being on the hiring end of this kind of situation?

In Reference to... "My brother recommended to me that I address my over qualification for a position in my cover letter and explicitly explain why working for the company (even being under-employed) was important to and related to my career goals - and how my qualifications might explicitly improve my performance in that position."


My brother has a PhD in Biophysics and works for RAND Corporation as a research scientist/manager. He does a great deal of hiring and was giving me advice in that capacity. Whether the same advice holds for a position where they do not already hire PhDs is unclear (people at RAND are likely to have a greater understanding of the value of a PhD) I didn't take all of his advice (the job ad listed a minimum and then a preferred) and did not get an interview for that particular position - however, as those of us who have ever done statistics well know, correlation is not causation!

I tracked down the e-mail he sent me:

This looks like an interesting opportunity, although, as you said, you are over qualified. So, I think you need to address that up front, in your cover letter. Does the job list a minimum, but then a preferred? If so, my cover letter edits are not as applicable. I'd change the cover letter to something like this highlight right away that you are already doing this type of work

"I am currently performing all (many?) of the duties outlined for this position in my current job. This position matches my interests of continuing to [tasks you are doing and want to expand]. In addition, I would have an opportunity to expand my expertise by [xxx]."

"While I understand that you have advertised for someone with a bachelor's degree, I believe that my education and qualifications would add great value to the position. I have a doctorate in [xxx from xxx] and have held [job related] responsibilities at [places worked]. [Doing specific job related tasks] is a task that I enjoy and is the direction in which I have chosen to take my career. Having a PhD allows me [what value do you add over] junior staff would not be able."


Has anyone on the list attempted to or thought about omitting the PhD from his/her resume?


I job searched without my MA or PhD for a while (actually, a career counsellor told me to do this) - I don't really think it made a difference. For the line of work I was trying to get into, it was less about what I *did* have (graduate degrees) than what I *didn't* (work experience).

As I mentioned, my best results came from re-packaging the PhD as a "large-scale research project".


In reference to..."Has anyone on the list attempted to or thought about omitting the PhD from his/her resume?"...

I have wondered the same thing, particularly when one hears the recent college grads are able to find jobs without difficulty. I've thought about constructing a thin resume with most of my experience and education absent. Unfortunately, it would be fraudulent and would ultimately present problems. In my case, my work experience relates to my Ph.D. For others, however, simply omitting a degree might not be as problematic.

Still, I'm tempted to do it as a sort of experiment to see how much age discrimination is a factor.


Oh, I think many of us have thought about it, some have done it at different times, and it seems to be another of those things that we repeatedly discuss on the list without coming to any hard and fast conclusion.

(In reference to..."Has anyone on the list attempted to or thought about omitting the PhD from his/her resume?")


Perhaps beating a dead horse here, but I'm asking myself the exact same question. I'm ABD in English, finishing this December, and beginning a Library Science program next month. I have had no success breaking into any kind of library employment, and am pondering how much I should omit of my education and university work experience (mostly teaching, some admin). I am VERY willing to do "menial" tasks--doesn't bother me one bit--but I feel I'm stuck in a over-and-unqualified neverland.

When the position says "Education: High school degree or equivalent," is there a way for someone with more education to remain truthful and still catch HR's attention as a potential hire?


"When the position says "Education: High school degree or equivalent," is there a way for someone with more education to remain truthful and still catch HR's attention as a potential hire?"

This has come up before, but I simply cannot see omitting irrelevant qualifications from a resume as fraud. I don't put my one-month stint at Sam Goody on my resume; neither do I tell people that I tutored students in logic and music theory. This is not because I'm hiding anything: it's because the experiences are irrelevant.

Resumes are not CVs -- they are not exhaustive lists of your life's work. To treat them as such, in my opinion, reflects a misunderstanding of the difference between the academy and other professions.


"This has come up before, but I simply cannot see omitting irrelevant qualifications from a resume as fraud."

I didn't mean to suggest that in all cases omitting the Ph.D. would constitute fraud. Rather, in my particular case leaving out my Ph.D. would also require deleting my post-graduate school work experience. That would mean striking out 15-20 years of my life, with nothing in its place. To fill that gap I would need to construct a fraudulent story. Obviously that would be counterproductive to my job search. Others who have spent less of their lives in the academy could more easily omit the degree. I certainly agree that the purpose of the resume is to highlight the experience and skills most relevant for the particular job one is seeking.

I make a point of not applying for jobs that ask for only a high school diploma since I don't think they will value the skills I bring. Oddly, I've seen a number of jobs for writers and positions at the local historical society that require only a high school degree. In my view, this practice demonstrates the low value placed on historical knowledge and writing skills at these particular organizations.


You can sign up to subscribe to the WRK4US listserv at https://lists.duke.edu/sympa/

Search for WRK4US.

Posted by kkowatch on July 15, 2008 at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Vault: A GREAT job search resource

For people who work in career services, one of the leading names in publishing and web resources for job search resources is Vault. Vault isn't really a job posting board (although they do post some jobs); they are more famous for the industry career guide books -- i.e. Vault Guide to Case Interviewing; Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews, Vault Guide to the Top 50 Banking Employers, amongst many, many others. These books are usually the leading source for a lot of different realms that come with searching for new jobs.

You can access all of these guides online through the UM Career Center at their Vault Library.

Beyond the books, Vault also maintains a resource in which actual employees of different companies write honest but anonymous testimonies about what its really like to interview and work at a company. See examples:

Microsoft (Program Manager)
Expect numerous rounds of interviews. Microsoft will keep interviewing you until a group says "yeah, we're interested". If you keep doing well on your interviews, they'll continue to "source you out" to groups. But don't expect to get placed quickly - unless you are a true expert in an area that has an opening that fits you perfectly. I interviewed in this last round, over 20 times. My final interviews consisted of one that was 9 hours long (non-stop), and the final one was 11 hours, with time for lunch (but you were interviewed during lunch - so I had just 10 minutes to gobble-down my food at the end - then I was off to the next one). I interviewed with Devs, PMs, Testers, Dev Leads, GPMs, and finally a PUM who's really the person who tries to convince you to come to Microsoft (you know you're doing well at that point). Most of the questions today are not about "solve this crazy problem", or "how many toasters can you fit in the Empire State Building". Instead, they want to know how you might have handled a tricky situation in your past; how you would handle a particular problem. Some will still give you a problem, but expect you to get up and show that you can attack it, and get to some conclusion.

Royal Dutch/Shell Group (Geologist)
Shell continues to have one of the most bizarre interview processes in the industry. One question I was asked was "What do you think of manned exploration of Mars?" This is supposed to give the interviewee an opportunity to show creative thinking with no preparation. In another previous Shell interview I was asked "What do you think about tourism?". I have no idea what weight these questions are given, but the thing that seemed to get me hired the first time was a series of essay questions I answered where I related experiences with selling bananas in the Caribbean. Apparently the answers they valued were those demonstrating creativity and out-of-the box thinking. Those stories were apparently circulated at Shell among my managers because I was often asked about it. Shell's campus recruiting is often followed up by a full day 'interview' at a Shell location, which is a day of exercises in teamwork, analysis, and thinking skills.

L'Oreal (Product Manager)
There are numerous interview rounds at L'Oreal. However it seems to be different for every person. I had colleagues that interviewed with the CEO and others that only interviewed with HR. Some went through 5 rounds while others went through 2. You should be confident and curious. If they give you a product and ask you to talk about it, feel free to open the product up, play with it, if it is a jar or cream you can touch the cream. L'Oreal is all about "magic and passion" and they want smart people who are passionate about marketing. Show whoever is interviewing you that you are unique with amazing talents and drive. In marketing they look for people who are creative and analytical (50/50). Understand the difference between the divisions within the company in terms of brand positioning. Each of the 18 brands has a position (distribution, price, target market, etc...) and L'Oreal wants you to understand that...Read more

Maersk (Management Trainee)
I went through a 3-round process. First, all applicants to ANY job in Maersk must take the Wonderlic Logic and Reasoning test. Second, the Predictive Index personality assessment is given to applicants. Between the 1st and 2nd interviews with a recruiter and the trainee program manager, I was required to write letters to each interviewer describing why (a) Telling Maersk about myself, and (b) the qualities that made me worth hiring for the management trainee program, and I had to provide 3 references. (MISE) The 3rd interview was an all-day affair, I was interviewed in 2 sessions by 2 vice-presidents at a time.

Toyota Motor Company (Specialist)
1) Explain a time where someone else held your work from being completed. (The key to answering this question is working in a team, using consensus-based decision making, and the importance of meeting deadlines).
2) Explain a time where you had to lead/accomplish a situation with little instruction or ability (The key to answering this question was how do you pick up cues on what is to be expected, how do you ask questions and follow-up with folks who may forget about your project, and following up with others).
3) Name a time where you were involved with a task or assignment that involved a lot of tedious work. (They key to answering this question is how reduce waste in your work through time management and prioritizing).
Other Possible Questions:
4) The Toyota triangle includes three factors: Quality, Cost, and Safety. Which would you consider the most important attributes? (The key to answering this question is Safety because your consumer and respect for others comes first. Then quality, making sure you make the best parts to further safety and keep customers satisfied. ... Read more

Vault also maintains several other resources including Industry Employer Guides, Career Topic Guides, 53 Occupational Profiles, Industry Research, Company Research, an Internship Database, and the "Vault Electronic Water Cooler". These are all great, well-informed, and useful resources. I recommend checking them out!

Posted by kkowatch on July 02, 2008 at 09:19 AM | Comments (1)