Article – Dear Recruiter, Please Learn the Basics!



I warn you, the article you are about to read is a cry from my heart that has been “wounded” in the recent couple of incidents…

Episode 1 – Conversation with a recruiter

R: (enthusiastically) Hi, Jamal! You have recently applied for a Senior Business Analyst position

Me: (also enthusiastically) Yes, I did!

R: (somewhat less eagerly) But your resume says “Project Manager/Requirements Analyst…

Me: Yes!

R: But the client is looking for a Business Analyst, not a Requirements Analyst

Me: But you see, titles like Business Analyst, Systems Analyst, Business Systems Analyst and Requirements Analyst are all synonyms and are used interchangeably depending on the industry and even the company…

R: (sternly) Oh no, unfortunately we can’t send your resume to them. They were very specific in their desire to hire a Business Analyst!

Me: (quietly banging my ahead on the table) Oh God, please take me now!

Episode 2 – Conversation with a different recruiter

R: (thoughtfully) So, Jamal, you are a Senior Project Manager, right?

Me: Yep!

R: (inquisitively) But do you have any experience with end-to-end implementations?

Me: Well, by definition, EVERY project is an end-to-end implementation… You have your Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control and Close-out phases. So, every project that has been completed by default went through end-to-end implementation!

R: (confused) How come your resume doesn’t mention “end-to-end implementations"?

Me: (sighing heavily) Because it uses traditional project management lingo! We use words like “Planning” and “Execution”

R: (sternly) Oh no, unfortunately we can’t send your resume to them. They were very specific in their desire to hire a Project Manager with “end-to-end implementation” experience!

Me: (quietly banging my ahead on the table) Oh God, please take me now!

Do you, guys, have the same experiences or is it just me?

Article - Radical Job Advice to My Friend




I recently had a very interesting conversation with my much younger colleague. He is also in the project management field but has only five or seven years of experience in our domain. Bob (let us call him that) had his first interview for a PM position at one of the local government organizations. He has been subsequently shortlisted for the second round of interviews and called me up to get some advice.

Bob: (enthusiastically) Jamal, this company is great! I really hope I land a job there!

Me: (apprehensively) And what is so great about it?

Bob: (even more enthusiastically) Listen, they told me a story how they had a problem project that had all kinds of missed deadlines …

Me: (skeptically) And?

Bob: You wouldn’t believe hat happened! One of their vice presidents drove to the construction site and helped unload the trucks. He stayed there for five days straight to assist the workers!

Me: (to myself) Oh, dear God, please take me now! (aloud) Did you ask them WHAT they did wrong to end up in a situation like this?

Bob: (somewhat confused) Oh, yes … it had something to do with improperly calculated lead times … But, as they have indicated, that was not the point of the story! It is the “just roll up your sleeves and work hard” attitude!

Me: (sarcastically) You want my advice, Lord Commander?

Bob: (smiling) Yes!

Me: (using Darth Vader’s voice) Run! Run for your life!!!

So here is my question:

Do you think I gave this young man the right advice?

Please leave your comments below.

Article - A Story Of One Interview: What Would You Do?


An interesting (to say the least) conversation took place between yours truly and a vice president of software development several years ago during a job interview. Today I just wanted to share this experience with you and ask for your suggestion on how to deal with it:

VP: So, you have been working as a project manager for close to ten years now, right?

Me: Yes that is correct. The only thing I wanted to add is that I have also been working as a business/requirements analyst over that period of time.

VP: But I don't see any technical (developer) experience on your resume.

Me: Actually I have finance/management science educational background.

VP: So, you never worked as programmer?

Me: Not really.

VP: And how the heck do you expect to manage technical people?

Me: (confused) I am sorry, I am not sure what you mean ...

VP: Well, say you join our team and get assigned to work on a project. You are estimating the duration of the tasks and your programmer tells you that the activity would take 5 days. Whereas in reality it would take only 2 days. How would you know that he is lying if you don't have any developer background? What can you possibly do in this situation?

Me: (turning to the HR Manager who was also present in the boardroom) I would probably suggest that you fire your human resources manager ...

VP: (very surprised) What??

Me: (smiling) Well, you just said that most - if not all - of your programmers are liars. Shouldn't the personnel department try to do a better job when hiring people?

While this response was probably a bit harsh, I was just wondering what would you do in a situation similar to the one described above?

A) Roll up your proverbial sleeves and try to convince the VP that project managers do not have to possess technical skills in order to successfully run projects.

B) Agree with him, leave the office, cry a bit and forever abandon your project management career in software development and IT.

C) Ignore his comments, wait for the interview to finish and go look for a company with a less toxic  environment.