August 4, 2015

How to Narrow Project Management (PM) Value-Add?

Category: Life, Management — David @ 7:07 pm

One of the challenges in today’s market is to show your value-add. Yet, how to bring all relevant work experience to the table? How to focus on specifics from past job-function and experience? How large the team was directed, and what other experience in team building would help a new program management role, and so forth!

When looking at the job posting, we all try matching our past experience to the requirements. Per involvement in many positions, experienced PMs need to narrow down and perhaps eliminate some of hands-on capabilities in order to draft a concise resume!  Also we all have had this feeling that trying to present ourselves as a renascence man is like shooting ourselves in foot! Companies would seem not to looking for people with broad experience, rather want people who can solve their problem now!

There are a few things that one can do such as selectively choosing what not to say (i.e. notes that are not relevant), which is not down-playing. There is so much to prove on what can be written in resume or said in a short time. This is not hiding qualification, rather just focusing on relevant ones. Another way would be choosing how to say and what to say. This is choosing the words (of your experience) along the lines that would focus on what (you) want to bring up. This can be viewed like focusing on project management aspect or team building and people management that is expressed by choosing the words choices in a limited space (of resume)! This would perhaps eliminate non-relevant experience of a jack-of-all-trades person with varied involvement.

One can clearly tailor the resume to make it very focused and relevant to the position. This approach can be applied in discussions as well. The question rises with respect to an experienced professional’s LinkedIn profile where it highlights all skills that are applied in many different fields of technical project management! This is to emphasize that the LinkedIn record (as professional profile) shall contain most experiences and accomplishments. However, a focused resume (as a concise list of achievements) shall highlight success. LinkedIn profile may be viewed as a good resume surrogate and an overall profile of achievements, while resume is fine tuned to a specific job addressing the requirements. Resume shall outline what impact the job seeker would have on the business with relevant accomplishment on their past positions.

One concern in current business environment is that technical professionals do not know how to present business values! They may be able to say how cool the technology is. The more you can emphasize business value and achieved productivity, the better you may position yourself for the position. A program manager is a change agent, not just controlling aligned projects to reach stated milestones. Also training may play a better role for a program manager as how programs are aligned to train junior team members to attain more business values during their career.

One thing to note that training is one of the first things to be cut in a downward economy and it is usually one of the last things to be added to the list of available positions. It is encouraging to see a number of training management positions available on job market that not all require a subject-matter expert in their stated requirements, yet understanding managing the training as best practices. In a PMI-Silicon Valley meeting John Choate (the National SIG Chair of America SAP User Group) said that “at SAP user group in national level we are required as chair to do one national webinar in a quarter. They have to be very content focused on user experience with 50 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of Q & A”.

The above few paragraphs are based on conversation taken place at a few breakfast meeting of PMISV members and prospect. I have taken notes from our conversation and felt sharing thoughts of a few experienced leaders in program and portfolio management of Silicon Valley, California with our readers. Please feel free to comment, or otherwise suggest your idea to complement the topic and discussion.

August 12, 2013

Cover Letters and their usefulness

Category: Management — David @ 2:38 pm

As I promised in our today’s breakfast meeting, below is the blog about “Cover Letters” that we talked in our last week’s meeting. I know that I am a week behind posting about our last meeting; quite frankly I have been working and networking about 15 hours a week lately - so I finished this short note last night.

This is another session of our “job search breakfast” group meeting of PMI Silicon Valley chapter. We explored the reason behind including cover letters when applying for a technical / management position.

In my opinion, I am wondering how good we could model “human nature” and behavior! Even when applying number-crunching and numerical analysis on human behavior, one cannot get an ample picture on how better approach to any particular action! Everyone is different. However, when applying for a professional position, the size of the company and how they have been posting jobs (online or otherwise), the rationale behind their processes (if we know about), positions’ requirements, HR policies, and many other factors will play roles with regards to sending a cover letter along with a resume, or not to send any! I think the best is responding to a given job opening based on our personal experience, and hoping to land an interview. After all, sending a resume and associated cover letter is to have an interview. One manager may not read a cover letter, yet be swift in responding to follow up emails!

Noting that cover letter is one of deliverables, it’s a good idea to introduce ourselves up front to the prospect employee and make the cover letter like a sales tool. It is helpful to including our sales pitch on top, and treat cover letters like a business communication letter; something like a short dashboard of our knowledge aligned with the requirements. Resumes include the most detailed aspects of our professional expertise, and it usually takes months to polish and fine-tune. On the other hand, cover letters are composed fast; probably a few hours before sending them to an available position. Another idea that was circulated among our attendees was to address 5-top requirements of the position in the cover letters. However, hand-carried cover letters and resumes to the hiring managers have the best results. Identifying an insider and making sure that hiring manager could have a copy of the resume makes the biggest impact.

Other considerations such as styling, font face-size, stationary choice, and such are less important, yet keeping them consistent with the style used in resume is a good approach. However, referencing the salary requirements or any political / faith related concerns, and non-relevant points are strongly discouraged. Make sure that cover letters do not have any spelling error, and keeping them below 3000 characters make them more appealing. Keeping track of the resumes and cover letters that are sent out are another important factor. After all, it is a good idea to have a reference point to requirements of a specific position for which an application is sent!

Online references regarding composition of effective cover letters are in Abundance. Yet our group suggested frequent visits to other networking activities for effective job hunting. Some of the most successful network building groups (at least in the San Francisco Bay Area) are:
PMI-Silicon Valley chapter, our chapter’s Workshops, and some meet up gatherings in your area (such as Agile meet up, Big Data Analytics, etc.) NOTE that by attending these meeting you would get familiar with different vocabularies of the marketplace, as well as expanding your network of professionals you know!

Rise and Shine,
David

This is an extract from PMI-Silicon Valley Chapter’s Job Seeking group meeting in Sunnyvale, California. Some of the participants below are technical managers and members of PMISV:

Azeez ChollampatChris MunsonDavid BakhtniaDavid GazaveGary A JohnsonMichael MellengerRay WilliamsScott E PetersenScott Spetter, and Terry Archuleta.

July 1, 2013

Claim Your Online Profile and Credentials

Category: Management — David @ 3:01 pm

Being discovered and found online is very important for technical professionals! This matter is very important, especially for those trying to get the right professional position, or a consulting contract. A hiring team member (manager, HR, etc.) would search for our name online - to find a reasonable link to qualify our credential. We may lose the first step of an opportunity if one of our not-so-exciting link appears on the top of the search results!

I have been attending breakfast meeting of our PMI group - Silicon Valley chapter for the past year. I can proudly write that attendees are among the best technical managers I have ever met. Their technical knowledge, professional analysis of topics, broad examination of the subject-matter, and detailed description of their point-view, each deserves its own blog entry! As an example, in our today’s meeting (July 1st, 2013) we briefly talked about a few topics regarding job search such as how and what kind of keywords to use in our resume to bring it to the top of resume banks (like in LinkedIn)? Below are samples of what was suggested:

  1. Update your online profiles frequently
  2. A few of your accomplishments (of last position) shall be the first entries of resume
  3. Organize resume in one page – if possible
  4. Have your own blogs, or comments on others’ blogs so that your name pops on search results
  5. Add a professional picture to your profile
  6. Visit other online job search websites and participate in their system
  7. Get control of your online profile – Ah did I mention this before?

Yes, the first-and-last entries are about updated online profile. As one of attendees mentioned, if we do not own and control our online profile, someone else might!

I would like to reserve the chance to add to these topics on my next few entries as I have to go back to attend a client’s technical issue now! However, I would like to invite attendees of our network breakfast group of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter (and other viewers alike) to insert their voice as well! I am hoping to have a dynamic conversation to help each other in our networking efforts.

Cheers,

David