by Mark Cummuta

Week 4: Using Project Planning Skills in A Job Search

Aug 28, 20078 mins

Today I want to demonstrate how I effectively use my project planning skills in my CIO job search – creating a Job Search Project Plan.

Last week was a slow week for my job search, but busy in other ways. Our triplets started high school last week, with a new schedule and routines. As well, one of my four sisters, who lives overseas, returned to the USA for a two-week visit. Finally, we had two tornado funnel clouds tease our town last Thursday.

On the positive side, I had what I believe was a very good second interview via conference call for a VP of Technology position with a firm supporting the financial services industries with specialized marketing software and services. I also scheduled a follow-up interview, my fourth, with a Midwest defense contractor for this week, where I hope to discuss initial consulting work I could provide for them. As noted last week I interviewed with a major satellite and systems integration defense contracting firm and had an informative call with a 3rd-level deep networked lead who advised me on how he transitioned into the defense industry just last year. Finally, through this latter lead, I applied for an interim CTO position overseas with another defense contractor.

Perhaps more importantly, I took the opportunity to get my home office and myself re-organized. I reviewed all my notes and task lists that I have drafted so far in my job search and consolidated and prioritized them by criticality, resource availability, requirements, and geographic location.

If the consolidation and prioritization of tasks sounds familiar, they should: Those are some of the first steps in building a project plan.

I’ve noted previously that I treat my job search as my JOB, and I manage my work efforts using my project management skills. I propose that treating a job search as a major project should be relatively easy using standard project management methodologies.

In order to do so, my project must have clearly defined goals, quantifiable objectives and deliverables, available resources to accomplish those goals and deliverables, assignment of those resources to specific deliverables to meet critical timelines and/or priorities, and a means to track the use of those resources and attainment of deliverables. Once my project plan is created, the tasks and deliverables must have metrics to determine whether my goals are still on track. And if any are not on track, then the manager of this plan must take action to bring the plan back in line, eliminate or reduce barriers, and determine if additional resources are needed to regain potentially lost momentum.

The basic requirements per the above are:

  1. Clearly defined goals and deliverables
  2. Resources: personnel, time, equipment and services (e.g., Internet, phone, coffee)
  3. Prioritized tasks to meet deliverables and goals
  4. Assignment of resources to tasks
  5. Tracking work effort and deliverables (means and metrics)
  6. Corrective actions, if needed

1. I have previously noted my goals of this project, including my preferred industries. I have also met with my business partner (aka, my wife) to determine acceptable alternatives if it appears that our primary strategic goals may be delayed. In this case, as an alternative short-term deliverable that will meet most of our business needs until the primary project can be completed, an interim consulting position will be set as a simultaneous goal, with a start date no later than October 30th.

2. As for resources, to steal a phrase, I am an army of one. Or perhaps better stated, I am actually managing and coordinating multiple vendors (that is, executive recruiters, career site automated job alerts and even prospective employers) on this project, with primary analysis, team calendar and duty assignment maintained in house. Time resources allocated to the management and details of this project by in house staff was also previously stated at approximately ten to fourteen hours per business day, plus an additional eight hours required per weekend (sorry, it is in the job description after all – so no overtime benefits).

3. I have even noted that I would spend approximately 60 to 70 percent of my time on the defense and intelligence sectors, and 30 to 40 percent in financial and management consulting industries. However, that is too generic a metric, and thus unacceptable for this project. So last week, as our power flickered on and off, I created the tasks and deliverables necessary to meet my goals. For example, some are measurable daily:

  • Review top ten key sites each day (e.g.,,,,,, etc).
  • Apply to at least three to five new positions each day.
  • Invite at least five new people to LinkedIn network each day.
  • Work on blog 30 minutes each day.
  • Read business books and articles 60 minutes each day (starting with the Agile books REMI and Anonymous recommended).

Others are measurable weekly:

  • Review ALL key sites’ new job postings at least once per week.
  • Identify at least five new prospective employers each week and contact them.
  • Follow up with all open applications once per week or as directed by contact person.

Others are one-time events with very high priorities due to initial data setup or entail time delays to final delivery:

  • Complete rewrite of resume to enhance defense and strategic management consulting experiences, providing quantified results, per Mr. ABC’s and Ms. DEF’s recommendations.
  • Send updated resume to all networked executive recruiters and to all submitted job/career sites.
  • Request transcripts from X, Y & Z schools.
  • Request copy of DD214 (this is a Department of Defense form that is effectively a transcript of all one’s military awards, certifications and jobs).
  • Research federal KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities application forms) and DoD (Department of Defense) specialized resume requirements, compiling a single ‘standardized’ set of questions – then answer those questions.

Still others occur throughout the project, but are deemed critical / time sensitive when they do:

  • Request referrals from prior managers.
  • Write referrals for prior peers and teams.
  • Write thank you email to all new networking contacts and to all phone interviews.
  • Write hand-written Thank You cards for all face-to-face interviews.
  • Contact/catch up on all prior responses.
  • Contact/catch up on all prior LinkedIn responses.
  • Contact/catch up on all prior blind emails.

Currently, I am re-working some of the prioritizations of these tasks to account for my outsourced vendors’ and contacts’ work schedules. I may be burning the midnight oil on this project and taking one for the team … but very few others are! 😀 Further, with dozens if not hundreds of primary job sites, something like 400 contacts to catch up on, and thousands of prospective employers to research, this is a daunting task! And remember that I’ve already winnowed out the specific industries I am pursuing!

4. I have assigned resources to my team per my project plan, and will continue to mete out tasks throughout to meet the plan’s goals.

5. To track my work efforts and deliverables I am using an old-fashioned sales board on a white board in my home office (a re-allocated asset, previously dysfunctional as a Family Chores board).

6. Corrective actions, if needed, are still being determined. Our kids have volunteered to draft these for me, but that’s not likely a good managerial solution.

By the way,’s e-mail newsletter last week had a great article called “Resume Myths” that said that creating multiple resumes for key industries or even for specific positions is a waste of time. Instead, the article recommended building one strong resume with all your best features, then using a cover letter to bring out the details needed for each position. I agree, with one major caveat: Sometimes position applications don’t allow for cover letters. For example, an online application that only allows you to upload a single document or requires you to only enter data into their system in their format.

I also found a great article on called “Resume vs. a Career Record: Which One Do You Need?”. This article supports my advice to utilize both a resume for your job hunting as well as a fully annotated “career diary” to keep track of all the details throughout your career.

I am still researching federal KSA’s, so I would greatly appreciate any assistance, tips, hints and examples that anyone can provide on these!!!!

I’m also interested in hearing what you think of the way I’m managing my job search as a major project (a job search project plan), utilizing my skills in project and program management to stay focused and task- and goal-oriented. Do you think it makes sense? Do you think it’s too much?


Mark Cummuta

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle