by Mark Cummuta

Week 11(a): Refining Your Project Plan for Your Job Search

Nov 07, 20076 mins

Like any project plan, your job search project plan requires adjustments as the project progresses to manage changes in opportunities, resources, information and scope.

Last week I showed how applying the sales technique of keeping your “pipeline” constantly full with new leads is vital to a successful job search. With this job search project now nearing its three-month mark, and a personal deadline (see below), I want to show how I have adjusted my plans and efforts in response to what I have learned, where I’m at with each task, and what I want to accomplish this week.

Returning to my project plan for this job search, here is my refined list with a status for each for this week. Note that from my experience on this job search project so far, I’ve removed several tasks that were either redundant or useless to my goals, and adjusted several others to more realistic resource utilization levels.


ˇ STATUS – I have daily auto searches running on most of these and review the results. However, I need to add auto searches to the remaining key sites. By periodically reviewing the opportunities that result from those searches, I expect to see changes in which sites remain in my Top Ten.

  • Work on blog daily and write full blog entry weekly.

ˇ STATUS – Done, although need to improve consistent weekly output.

  • Read business books and articles 60 minutes each day.

ˇ STATUS – While I am exceeding this metric overall, my efforts are not focused enough on the topics I wish to zero in on (e.g., Agile, ITIL, PMP). Therefore, I will pick one subject per week (Agile this week and next) and reevaluate subjects weekly.


  • Apply to at least three to five new positions each week.

ˇ STATUS – I applied to only three new positions these past two weeks. To get back on track I will apply to at east one per day this week. [Note that this task was changed from a daily to a weekly task once I realized how much time this goal needs to be effective.]

  • Review my Top Ten specific employer sites each week (e.g., top strategic consulting and defense firms).

ˇ STATUS – I dropped the ball on this one. Some have auto searches, but most do not. I will recreate my Top Ten Employers list this week and start this visitation schedule. I expect this list to change frequently.

ˇ STATUS – After my highly focused 3-week effort on this task at the start of my job search, which generated fantastic leads, I have not returned to this task with any consistency at all. I need to put this key task back on my weekly calendar.

ˇ Also, I have been receiving invitations to another networking site,, and need to investigate this site this week.

  • Invite at least five new people to my LinkedIn network each week.

ˇ STATUS – I have only added a few new links in the past few weeks. However, this is a lower priority activity to following up with my existing LinkedIn contacts.

  • Follow up with all open applications once per week or as directed by contact person.

ˇ STATUS – (I will report updates tomorrow to last week’s entry)

Ongoing High Priority Tasks:

  • Request referrals from prior managers and clients.

ˇ STATUS – I have only done this with a few so far. I need to follow up with these and contact others.

  • Write referrals for prior peers and teams.

ˇ STATUS – I have to write three this week to catch up.

  • Write thank you e-mail to all new networking contacts and to all phone interviews.

ˇ STATUS – I do this almost every time, but I need to improve my consistency on this task.

  • Write hand-written thank you cards for all face-to-face interviews.

ˇ STATUS – While I do this every time, I need to get them out faster. Also, I found a great resume site with downloadable examples for sending a thank you after an interview.

  • Contact/catch up on all prior responses.

ˇ STATUS – Big to-do. I will start with those responses with specific leads to follow up on and those within the firms I have current job opportunities in.

  • Contact/catch up on all prior LinkedIn responses.

ˇ STATUS – Another big to-do. I will start with those responses with specific leads to follow up on and those within the firms I have current job opportunities in.

  • Complete my research of Inc’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Defense Firms, identify top firms that meet all my criteria for target market, business fundamentals, and culture fit, and contact them.

ˇ STATUS – Ditto. Big to do.


Every project plan needs a deadline. I had set an initial project deadline to start a new job by October 31st. My backup plan called for a short term consulting project by that same date. [In addition to being part of my defined project plan for this job search, both of these were also in direct response to my family’s underlying need for security, that is, to know that I will take care of them. They needed to hear my optimism for achieving my goals, and more importantly, see those planned deadlines and backup plans.] Having just wrapped up the defense consulting project, I met my Plan B goal and also benefited by updating my experience in a target industry. Consequently, if none of my current opportunities pans out by the end of this coming week (November 9th), I will extend my primary project goal to November 30th, and establish a new Plan B consulting project deadline of December 31st.

As for whether using my project planning skills still makes sense for a job search, from the results to date of this ongoing experiment, I can respond wholeheartedly, yes! Obviously, you can see that I have simplified and modified formal methodologies to meet the dictates of this particular project. However, since statistics show CIO-level job searches take months, using a project planning methodology helps to plan for and establish goals, priorities, timelines, tasks and subtasks, lead time and constraint scheduling, and more across such a lengthy project.

Here’s an interesting thought for improving this strategy: Can anyone think of a way to apply Agile techniques to a job search?!!! 🙂

I hope someone will take up that challenge!

Thank you again for all of your comments and ideas!


Mark Cummuta

CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle