Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Project Job Hunt 4: Risk Assessment

As promised, a risk assessment for my Project.  To keep it organized (and because I'll need this for the Network and Schedule), I've converted the WBS into a task list.  I take the lowest level of division from that outline which are the specific things that need to be accomplished and from there I can assess each task for possible failures. I've changed the verbage on some of these that need a bit more detail to stand independently or be more specific, manageable tasks (see 1.1.4).  I will be adding my assessment of failure (what would failure look like here?), and how I plan to deal with that directly in the list.

          1.1.1 Take Meyers Briggs
          1.1.2 Take Strengths Finder
          1.1.3 Ask colleagues for career recommendations
          1.1.4 Soul Searching: Define 'adequate' in terms of job satisfaction, use of skills, pay and potential for mobility
For all the 1.1 tasks, I may find recommendations I don't approve of- in which case I will keep assessing.  I may find that the jobs I should target are not common in the the Seattle Job market.  This is one reason to assess how I want to use my skills (transferable and technical) so that I can be more flexible given the limitations of the job market.  Overall, I am not too worried about failure here, as I have already begun this process.

          1.2.1 Target employers
          1.2.2 Target job titles
If I include the limitation that my target employers and titles must be in Seattle, this might be overly limited.  In this case, I will go back to the 1.1 tasks and reassess (deferring risk).  This might might be part of the quality control for these sections- 1.1 is not complete until 1.2 can also be complete.

     1.3 Informational interviews to refine target positions and employer
If I can't get people to talk with me, this may prove to be difficult.  I am (often) sharing the risk on this  task by asking for introductions through my network.

          2.1.1 Prepare Resume
          2.1.2 Prepare CV
          2.1.3 Prepare Cover letter
          2.1.4 Prepare Networking Brief
          2.1.5 Prepare Statement of research interests (?)
 Failure for any of these documents would be if they are prepared too poorly to earn me a job.  To mitigate this risk, I always have a proofreader, and will seek out peers to read updated versions of these documents as they drastically change form.  Basic quality control should manage the risk here.

          2.2.1 Update Job Board search clients
          2.2.2 Update CV/resume on file with job boards
          2.2.3 Contact Recruiters
 One issue when working with recruiters is that if a candidate gets submitted multiple times for a job, companies will sometimes drop them, due to confusion over who gets paid the finders fee.  I will only work with recruiters who can be clear about which positions they are submitting me for, so that I don't shoot myself in the foot by also submitting myself.  Further, working with a recruiter may limit my ability to negotiate the job package (pay, benefits etc) later on.  I am totally cool with this if it means I still get a job (accepting the risk).

          2.3.1 Ping network for opportunities
          2.3.2 Add to network though mixers and introductions
One worry about these types of tasks is that it isn't clear when I am "done."  In managing my time, if too much time is spent on this part of the project, I might never move to completion.  But these are still important steps.  It's possible these tasks are outside the scope of this project, or that they might be administrative in nature (something that will be done to support the project (like a status update meeting), but doesn't have a specific schedule for completion of the project).  To deal with this risk, I am going to arbitrarily remove these from the schedule.  I'll still be doing these, but if managed separately they aren't as likely to bung up my schedule.

          3.1.2 Find nice interview clothes 
I might have unfashionable taste.  I am willing to risk my career on this. (Risk accepted.)       

          3.1.1 Practice Interviews
          3.2.1 Use Glassdoor to find relevant salary info
          3.2.2 Practice Negotiation
This is another area where perspective will be very helpful.  I will attempt to share some of this risk by practicing with other job hunters and recruiters so that I can get as many different types of feedback as possible.  Another consideration for this is that I will want to be prepared with these relatively close to getting interviews etc., these may be repeated at various intervals depending on the length of the project.

    *3.3 Apply for jobs
          3.4.1 Phone or email to follow-up
          3.4.2 Use excel to keep follow-up schedule organized
 This is the riskiest section of the project.  If this doesn't work (ie, task completion doesn't lead to desired outcomes), I'll be repeating these tasks.  I'm not really sure how to deal with this type of iterative process, except to expand my definition of 'task completion' to having something to move forward with (like an interview scheduled, etc.)  What if that never happens?  Oh, it keeps me up at night...  I will mitigate this risk by focusing on applying for jobs I am a reasonable candidate for, and using the other tasks in the project to support this effort.  I'm not comfortable trying to transfer or share this risk, since this is my responsibility to solve this problem.  The remaining risk, I just have to accept and not get too hung up on, right?

One thing I've realized just going through the risk assessment is that spending a little more time with the plan has helped me to understand it better.  I've re-written some of the task titles, and thought a bit more about the order these should be done in.  I didn't uncover any big surprises, but I'm also more confident that there won't be any big surprises because I've thought about these tasks individually and in the context of the whole project.   Now I see why so much effort is put into the planning stages of well-executed projects.

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