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Herkulaneischer_Meister_002If you want to stand out in your career search and progression then it is important that employers know that you can read and write.

You should be reading books that are relevant in your career area or important generally and you should make sure that employers know that you are literate in this respect.

Your cover letter should have a “right now I am reading…” line with a title that matters to your career area and why you think it relevant.

Your resume should have a “significant books that I have read” section with titles that matter to your career area.

You should be conversant at job interviews about books that matter to your career area.

A top interview question is; “What important book have you read?” and they will expect you to tell them why you think it matters.

Do you know the 10 books that leaders in your career area consider important?

It is not hard to find that out and those who do so, and read the books, will have a distinct edge over less literate candidates.

Research the leaders on LinkedIn and look for their blogs.  They will often tell you which books they are reading and consider important.

What better strategy to promote your career than by getting inside the head-spaces of the people that you want to work for?

Be warned that claiming books that you have not read is a quick ticket to embarrassment and disappointment.

This summer is an excellent time to cultivate your professional reading habit.

Here are two books on my summer reading list.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Little, Brown and Company. In this book Cooper proposes a framework for interpreting large-scale and seemingly chaotic changes in the world. His framework is based on network analysis which he applies to finance, economics, politics, cultural conflicts, war and terrorism. Anyone who promises a new way of looking at the world gets my attention and this summer I’ll find out whether Cooper provides a usable paradigm.  I’ll get back to you on that.

The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and other Behavioral Strategies can Improve Education, Benjamin Castleman, Johns Hopkins University Press. Some people worry that text messaging and twitter indicate that shallow thinking is generally increasing. Castleman argues that effective uses of short messages lead to more focused meaning on the part of writers and increased self-regulation on the part of readers. Maybe I can use his ideas in my teaching.

Consider the reading one of the following recent books this summer:

But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider Press.pile-of-books

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Don Tapscott, Portfolio.

Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds, Greg Milner, W. W. Norton & Company.

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, Douglas Rushkoff, Portfolio.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead Books.

Sharing our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media, David R. Brake, Palgrave Macmillan.

Using Technology, Building Democracy: Digital Campaigning and the Construction of Citizenship, Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, University Press.

Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age, Megan Prelinger, W.W. Norton.

If none of these books catch your interest, I promise that with a bit of searching you will find some that do.

By choosing to read books that are relevant to your career area and by telling others what you learned from those books, you are presenting yourself as a literate member of that profession.

To put it conversely, if you were in charge of hiring someone, would you choose someone who is conversant in the current literature of the profession or someone who reads only what they are told to read and never talks about it?

That leads to the topic of sharing what you read with others; in particular others in your chosen profession.

Book reviews on social media are a strong way to demonstrate your literate intellect.

Goodreads is a social book review platform with 25 million members and can be linked to post your reviews to Facebook.Goodreads_'g'_logo

With these online connections you can make your professional literacy public and point employers to it.

Strong reviews are concise and identify specific aspects of a book while explaining why those aspects are significant.

A social book review is not intended to explain the whole book. Think of your book reviews as arguments that are intended to give evidence for whether someone should read the book or not.

If you need to prime your writing pump in order to write a review, consider Minimalist or Distraction-Free writing tools.

ZenPen is a prototypical online Minimalist writing site because you don’t even login, just start writing. Do not confuse it for the electronic cigarette with the same name.

FocusWriter is a program for Linux, Windows, and OS X that has plenty of features in the settings though they are hidden when you write.

Write! Is a distraction-free text editor with a “focus mode.”

Hemingway Editor started as a free online app and has morphed into a paid-for desktop application that is a minimalist interface with useful analysis and formatting features built in.

One does not need a computer to write; just a pad of paper or journal and pencil.

Keep those tools with your book so twriting-hand-1443450574xaThat you can note insights as you read.

My proposal is simple: find out what books matter in your future profession, read some of those books, write about what you read and make sure to promote what you read and write to prospective employers.

A with less effort than you put into a single course project you can make your professional literacy into a key asset for finding a job in your career area and moving steadily upward in that career.

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Image Acknowledgements

Herkulaneischer_Meister_002.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_education#/media/File:Herkulaneischer_Meister_002.jpg

books-1170768_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/old%20book/

036-letter-writing-correspondence-q90-300×160.jpg
http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Jefferis-SearchlightsOnHealth/pages/036-letter-writing-correspondence/

Goodreads_’g’_logo.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goodreads_%27g%27_logo.jpg

writing-hand-1443450574xaT.jpg
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=writing

Students searching for jobsI am about to tell you how to increase your odds for getting the job for which your degree qualifies you.

I write this mainly for the seniors and graduates who are looking for a job.

Perhaps you know someone in that situation and will share this advice with them.

Juniors, sophomores and frosh may take even better advantage of this knowledge by using it to make advance preparation.

My advice comes in two parts: (1) do your research; (2) use your education, not just your degree.

I hear many students ask Will this degree get me a job?”

The answer to that question is “No” because your degree is a tool that you must use in combination with other tools to get that job.

“It is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.”

Many thousands of others all over the world have degrees just like yours.

That is why you hear human resource departments tell you that your application is one among many.

So the winning move in the employment game is to document your unique abilities that stand out from the many

There are clear ways to accomplish that standout quality and it is a fact that most job applicants do not do so.

The most basic method is to make your resume, cover letter and reference letters match the needs and values of the prospective employer.

How do you know what they need and value? Because you have done your research on that employer.

You should research your job hunt with double the rigor and intensity that you put into any project or paper in school.

Research means learning everything you can about the job, the company and the people who work there, much of which is online.Linkedin network

A critical way to research a job is through the people who work for that company and department.  They all have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook which will tell you about the work they do, the skills they value and the projects they are working on.

Search for the company in social media to find its employees.

It will take creativity on your part to find the right information and piece it together, but this is not more intellectually challenging than many of the course assignments that you have succeed

You are accomplished at those skills at some level, or else you would not be getting an OSU degree.

In the end it is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.

So how do I, Dr. Tech, know all of this? Because I have hired scores of employees and read hundreds of resumes, from high-school volunteers to Vice-Provosts.

Most of the resumes I have seen resemble a grocery list, merely enumerating the jobs worked at.

Such a resume does not include either what you are good at or what the employer is looking for.

Many job seekers bemoan the experience paradox – i.e. you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job.

If you feel trapped in that paradox it is because you have a narrow conception of your own experience.  You have lots of experience; four or five or more years of it at OSU alone.  You just need to recognize the activity of your education as experiential and turn that activity into language that communicates your expertise.

Consider another bit of information gained through research: there are consultants who report every year on industries of all kinds by conducting surveys of companies to find out what skills they are looking for in the people that they hire.

Please read that sentence again. How much would knowing what skills are most valued by the employers that you are applying to be worth? A lot and you can have that information for free just by doing online research.

In this instance I will refer to The Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want and Forbes’ The Ten Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.

For the 2016 report Bloomberg surveyed 1,251 recruiters in 11 industries to find out which skills they rate both highly desired and hard to find.

Forbes based it’s analysis on surveys asking hiring managers what skills they prioritize when recruiting from college graduates.

Here are the skills employers say they seek, in order of importance as rated by employers.

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

The good news is that the learning objectives and requirements for the majority of OSU degrees cover most of the skills on the list, which means that

Bacclaureate Core Writing Skills

OSU Bacc Core Skills

you have practiced them and have the right to claim them on your resume and cover letter.

Those group projects that many students complain about required that you actualize team work, decision processes, planning, communication and influence.

Baccalaureate Core, DPD, WIC and other requirements involve obtaining and processing information in order to write and communicate persuasively.

These are real skills that you have specific and demonstrated evidence of your competence in.

Even better, those skills are explicitly stated in the learning objectives for the courses, so you can refer to objective sources in claiming success with those skills.

If you passed an OSU Bacc Core course, then you succeeded at the skills certified through that course.  Have you mined your course objectives for demonstrated skills?

Draw on that objective evidence and you have unique and demonstrable qualifications to bring your resume and cover letter into the top tier.

That you can communicate, solve problems, find information, and lead a team is exactly the experience that employers say that they want.

They also say that those skills are “hard to find.”

Do not make them hard to find in your resume and cover letter.

As the Forbes article notes; “The survey makes clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. The trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills.”

The trick for you is to take ownership of your acquired skills and take yourself seriously as a fully educated person, not merely an applicant with a degree.

You will accomplish that by researching what your prospective employer values and by researching what skills your OSU education gives you the right to claim as your own.

 

Image Acknowledgements

looking-for-a-job-68958_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/looking-for-a-job-work-silhouettes-68958/

head-1250008_960_720.gif
https://pixabay.com/en/head-circle-linkedin-networks-1250008/

bacc_core_skills.jpg
http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/baccalaureate-core

woman-1044143_960_720My first impression on entering the room was immediate awareness of the ample collective brain power.

The room was LaSelles Stewart Center last weekend on January 16-17, the event was a Conference on Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWIP) and the participants were more than 100 physicists from the Northwest.

The attendees gathered to learn about opportunities in the professions of physics, discuss their research and share experiences about the opportunities and challenges of navigating through a discipline long dominated by men.

The atmosphere was markedly optimistic and collegial; sentiments that I shared at the vision of so many bright minds setting forth to change our world.

After the conference I met with some of the OSU organizers – Dr. Janet Tate (Professor of Physics), Allison Gicking (3rd year PhD student in Biophysics) and Kelby Peterson (1st year PhD student in Solid State Materials Physics).

They were tired because running a successful conference is a massive undertaking and I appreciate their generosity in time and thoughts.

There are about 20,000 professional physicists in the US and Dr. Tate told me that about 20% of those are women.

From the OSU Physics Department page I see that there are 17 tenure-line faculty members 5 of whom are women, which is 30%.

gender_employment_academia.jpg

This is problematic because employment in physics typically requires a PhD or beyond and the number of women pursuing physics degrees is nearly equal to men doing the same.

Gender equity is working among students in higher education. Yet if the employment numbers stay as they are, the majority of women with physics degrees will end up in careers different from their degree focus.

It is not the case that success with a physics degree leads solely to working at a University or Federal lab.  There is growing demand for physics majors in sectors working with energy technology, medicine, information technology, semiconductors, space, environmental technology, among other applied research-and-development fields.

mathematics-112720_960_720The key question is not “what can I do with a physics degree?” but rather “what can I do with a mind that is capable of succeeding at a physics degree?” That is true of every degree focus.

What accounts for the low ratio of women employed as professional physicists?

It is not that women are less interested in science than men. Women are entering and completing degree programs at all levels across the sciences including physics.

Dr. Tate hypothesizes that the cultures of physics departments and research organizations work against women who have or plan to have children.

Gicking and Peterson point out that the rarity of female role models in professional physics is a barrier to women entering the field.

These explanations are supported by a 2013 Nature article by Helen Shen, “Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap.” Search for that article on the web because the interactive data presentation there is fascinating and tells the story in ways that my words cannot.

Does it matter whether physics research and teaching is conducted by women? Yes it does.

For one, the physics of reality – such as gravity – does not differentiate between genders.  There is one physics for us all, so bringing diverse perspectives to a common topic increases the potential for shared knowledge. As Gicking put it; “the domain of the unknown is getting smaller.”

My observation is that the domain of ignorance may not be getting smaller and many people are increasingly distant from the world of science.

Human knowledge need not be scientific but it should not anti-scientific. The more our population understands science the better for our culture.

Making way for more women who like science, including those who are able to pass that on to their kids, to participate professionally confers a general benefit.

The corollary is that it would be beneficial for more men to maintain an interest in the sciences. I am philosopher and I read something about physics and other sciences every day. That’s one way to keep current with our fast changing world.

The human species currently faces some very large-scale wicked problems including environmental shift and social fragmentation. specialist-454872_960_720

A “wicked problem” is one that is hard to solve because of its extreme complexity and dynamic requirements.

Traditional approaches to problem-solving may not be adequate to these big issues.

Dr. Tate notes that a benefit to more women working as professional physicists is an increase in collaborative modes of research.

Gicking and Peterson observed that women in physics often seek an interdisciplinary focus and that “interdisciplinary science is the way of the future.”

I hypothesize that the human species has a kind of group intelligence that manifests as social change in response to large-scale pressures.

Rats do this; when they overpopulate an area the individuals spontaneously stop mating.

Pressure on the whole population results in modifications of individual behaviors.

Perhaps the recent influx of women into science through education and the professions is our species intelligence transforming the way that we construct knowledge and approach issues in ways more appropriate to the wicked problems. Note: those who dislike “intelligence” may just as readily read this as a bottom-up evolutionary process.

It is good for women to want to be in physics and it is good for plenty of professional scientists to be women. Our institutions should reciprocate this movement by developing family supportive policies including maternity leave, family leave and daycare.

Some physicists are taking the lead in making the change happen.

This is the 11th year of CUWIP sessions and the first time the conference has been held at OSU, thanks to Dr. Janet Tate, Allison Gicking, Kelby Peterson, and a group of dedicated students on the conference planning group.

This is how intentional change happens my friends and I urge you to seek out further opportunities to increase awareness and participation within this amazing place that is our academic home.

Image Acknowledgements

woman-1044143_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/woman-face-head-binary-one-null-1044143/

gender_employment_academia.jpg
http://www.nature.com/news/inequality-quantified-mind-the-gender-gap-1.12550

specialist-454872_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/specialist-woman-female-globe-454872/

mathematics-112720_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/mathematics-physics-formula-bill-112720/

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