Project: Dream job

Project management skills produce results. As a former project manager, Joe Ruck knows that. And he knows that those same skills that produce corporate results are also personal assets.


The discipline that brings in a major IT project on time can also guide personal projects such as the search for a new job.

"Project management is going to improve your odds at getting a better job at better pay," says Ruck, who is now chief executive at BoardVantage , a US provider of secure portals and communications for boards and executives.

In fact, Ruck says a colleague who recently launched a job search landed a better position using project management skills that helped him to stay on track and avoid jumping at early offers.

Here are some tips gleaned from project management to help you successfully bring in that all important job project:

1. Set project objectives.

One of the key concepts from project management is to define what success looks like. So start by articulating your vision of the job you want.

"Sit down in an organised way and examine where you've been. Think through the kinds of work you've done in the past five to 10 years, what you enjoy most and get the most meaning from, and why. That's a great way to make decisions about where you want to go next," says John A. Challenger , CEO of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago.

As in any project, lean on your team. Get input from those close to you who can give you objective insights to those questions.

2. Establish a project timeline and milestones.

Every IT project has an implementation schedule and a delivery date. Your job search should have those too, says Karyl K Innis, chief executive at The Innis Co, a Dallas consulting firm.

Granted, you can't guarantee the start date of a yet-to-be-found job, but Innis says most people have a target date in mind. For example, you may want to land a new position in advance of expected changes at your current job or before your severance money runs out.

Once you commit to that time frame, establish some milestones. Schedule dates for tasks such as finishing your resume and researching companies.

"You can build a schedule that will give you a sense of whether you're on track or not," Ruck says.

3. Plan for changes.

All project managers encounter obstacles, so it's better to think early on, when you're objective, about which exigencies would make you revise your plan, says Dave Van De Voort, the Chicago-based principal consultant of IT functional effectiveness at global consulting firm Mercer LLC. For example, determine whether you'll compromise on location or pay demands if you don't get any offers. And figure out how long into the job search you'll wait before making those changes.

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