Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What's in your Career Toolbox

Author:  Michael J Wilson, PMP,  ITIL

What's in your toolbox is a question we should ask ourselves, as we approach the new year.  Just to clarify, the toolbox is not the one you keep in the garage and I am not referring to a getting a new hammer or a set of Torx head screwdrivers; although these make great gifts for the handy person.  No, what I am stressing here is the “Career Toolbox”. Take the time to assess what is rusty, dirty, broken, or just plain missing. Now, I know you may be thinking, “What is he talking about?”. My career is going fine or, I have a job, or I just left my job and won't be out long.  I have gotten a job before, I know what I am doing.  So, if you are in that mindset, great I wish you a joyful new year.  However, if you are in transition, not doing the job you want, or maybe just want to be prepared for the future, then it's time to cleanup, update or get a toolbox.

Here are some things to consider regarding your tools. Remember this is your career, so be honest, ask yourself what is it that you want?  Do you want to be a mechanic, consultant, accountant, lawyer or a teacher?  No answer is wrong, it's your choice.  Next consider how you want to appear or present yourself. Ask yourself “How do I look?”. How is my picture, my wardrobe, my profile and my resume representing me? Then think about, “Do you know enough people and are you networking?” Are you on and use social media? Are you learning and engaging?  If any of these strikes a nerve, or rings a bell, you need to do the yearly career toolbox cleanup. The following steps will really help you get started.

Step 1:  Identification process.  Write down all your tools. These include certificates, training, experience resumes and cover letters, profiles, social media accounts or other job-hunting documents. This will give you a visual to start from.

Step 2:  Carbon dating process. Put a date next to all the tools you have, indicating last use or update. Be honest, you are not impressing anyone by fibbing to yourself. 

Step 3:  Setting the stage.  Write out the job(s) you want. Note:  You can browse the internet for ideas and descriptions.  Shoot for the stars, you can always change your mind. 

Step 4:  Cleanout.  It feels so good to clean out a closet, or garage.  However, parting with objects may be hard. Like many of us, you may hear your parents say, keep that old umbrella, you never know when it's going to rain. Well here's the thing, its Grandpas umbrella from 1952. It has holes and is worn out.   So, you have my permission to get rid of it.  Regarding the career toolbox, if it's not relevant to you today, chances are you don't need it.  Nobody cares if your certified in some old software that isn't used anymore (like, Fortran, Lotus 123 or IBM OS/2).

Step 5:  Window shopping. Identify new tools that you need, or want. Look at the job descriptions and, ask yourself do I know this? Should I know it? What else is there that I need to know? Everyone window shops, we are a social society. We watch, observe, attempt and then we learn.

Step 6:  Spree time is on.  Get new tools or upgrade old ones.  Yes, that's right go and get the tools, you have permission. Sometimes we forget to spend on ourselves, but a sharpened saw will cut better than a dull one. Also remember old saws may just need new blades. So, have fun, just remember to watch your budget and look for groups that have offerings and networking opportunities (like psgofmercercounty.org).

Step 7:  Discovery.   Find out what other tools are out there.  As the saying goes, you sometimes may not know what you don't know.  You may be doing something a way you were taught, you may not know another way. Consider how other people, industries or corporations work. Also become socially aware, of yourself and how others may perceive you.  This is where wardrobes, physical appearance, and body language comes into play. Speak to people, have them look at your tools, get their points of view.  Don't get mad, if they say “yes that sweater make you look fat.” You want the honesty. 

So now you might be wondering, this guy is nuts, talking about toolboxes and careers. I am not a handyman, carpenter or mechanic.  You may not be, but I have spoken with many tradesmen, as well as corporate people, doctors, lawyers, and more.  They all seem to invest in new tools to be their best.  They invest in themselves and do it at least yearly.   Can you say that?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The PM Job-Search Effort

 AuthorBenny A. Recine, MBA, PMP, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, CAMS

The PM Job-Search Effort

 I am an active member of several job network groups in New Jersey. I have been privy to many job-search stories from Project Managers (PMs) and individuals outside the  PM field. I must tell you that the job search is no different from any vocation. We may think that our own vocation has its own idiosyncrasies, but in truth, all job-searches have the same common elements.
However, as PMs, we should know that putting together a job search is very similar to setting up a project. As a matter of fact, it’s exactly the same. So let’s go through the phases in a project-oriented fashion.

This beginning phase can occur in one of two fashions. You may believe your current organization is not in your long-term plans and it is time to move on from your current position. Or, in a worst case scenario, you are let go by your current organization. If this is the latter, most likely you did not see this coming. Whether or not you should have is another discussion, but let’s say the signs were not there for you to read, and one day you get the word that you are no longer part of the organization. Either way, the planning must begin. Sure, you want to start hitting the job boards and calling your close contacts. These may not be the best things to do first.
When planning in a job search, you have to begin with the end in mind, to steal a line from a famous author. Is what you have been doing or what you are currently doing what you want to continue doing? One of the first steps is to begin a campaign to research the organizations that you would like to be associated with. Hopefully, they are not too far from your home and are a short commute.
Also, begin by writing your marketing plan. This is the written document you can share with your contacts that highlights what it is you are great at and includes a brief description of what role you are seeking to fill. Next, you should list the companies that you have researched.

As you are writing your marketing plan, you should begin writing your job search plan. This should include, but is not limited to, a list of individuals and companies you want to contact, what days you want to be out “pounding the pavement” and meeting individuals, and if you were let go, the beginnings of a budget because you likely now have limited funds.
In this plan, I would suggest putting together a board, a group of individuals who can offer you advice and counsel during your search. I would suggest that most of these individuals be in your line of work, but there should be at least one individual who is not but who is successful in their own line of work. Plan to meet with your board via conference call (there is a free website for conference calls, www.freeconferencecalls.com) on a monthly or every other month basis. I would suggest that they make it a point to hold you to your plan as you should report your progress to them. You also want to continue working and finalize your marketing.
I strongly suggest that you join a network group. I belong to several and like to keep active in them.  I know that, if by some chance I am asked to leave an organization, my contacts and my network groups know me and can help me as soon as the separation happens. I urge you to join a group and stay active even after you land a job.

Execution and Control
Once you have your plan in place, it is time to execute it. While you are executing the plan, you must document your progress (the control phase). This is what you will be using to report to your board, or to just see your progress.
Yes, you should keep your significant other in the loop regarding what you are looking for and what is happening. As a matter of fact, you should employ your whole family in this endeavor. It is in their best interest to help you. This is all part of the execution and control of your plan. You may also discover, as in a project, that you must re-plan or re-scope a portion of your plan. Hopefully not your whole plan, but never stop reviewing your plan for updates and for modifications.

This is the phase where you land a position. When this happens, you must still keep in touch with the contacts that you have made and the groups you belong to. You should also make an effort to help those you can; as you sought help, others will look to you for help. The closing phase is really the “never forget” phase. Yes, you will be busy making a decision on which organization you want to join and other critical factors. But never forget that you once were looking for help and others helped you.