human resources

Article - How to Deal with Fake Job Posts?




Today rather than dispense some valuable project management wisdom, I want to share a major personal frustration of mine … fake job posts. Let me explain what I mean by that. There is a whole bunch of organizations in my city that - due to (I guess) provincial laws - are required to post an external ad every time they have an opening. Even in the scenarios when they have either (a) an internal candidate, (b) former colleague they want to hire or (c) a current friend who they think would be a great fit for this job. As a result, the employer usually follows one of the two scenarios:

Scenario 1:

Create a job description that is so unique that no other person on this planet fits the description.

Example 1.1

“We need an expert-level senior business analyst who is also an internationally acclaimed project portfolio management authority” (Note: it is just like saying “I need a plumber who is also skilled at neurosurgery”)

Example 1.2

“We need a project manager who had at least two ERP implementation projects at Company A in the last three years” (Note: Just how many ERP implementations did Company A have in the past three years? Seven? Eight?)

Example 1.3

‘We need a project manager who also possesses a clinician experience” (Note: Google Dictionary defines “clinician” as “a doctor having direct contact with and responsibility for patients, rather than one involved with theoretical or laboratory studies”. I will let you come up with a joke of your own on this one)

NOTE: None of the above job descriptions are a figment of my imagination! They are very real!

Scenario 2:

Write a normal job description and invite three to seven unsuspecting candidates and then subject them to an excruciatingly boring panel interview. Avoid talking about the project itself, ask a whole bunch of really dumb questions. Thank them at the end. Still hire your former colleague or friend.

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 - Talent or Process: What Would You Choose?


Several variations of the following phrase have been attributed to a number of business leaders, politicians and, even scientists:

In order to be successful all you have to do is to hire a whole bunch of really talented people and abstain from interfering in their creative process.

I personally strongly disagree with this statement and want to share a study on the roots of project failures conducted by the Standish Group in 2006.

After, yet again, determining that our ability to deliver projects on time and on budget was seriously challenged, they went to the companies they were studying and basically asked the following question:

Our project delivery still sucks. Can you tell us why?

The results of that survey are presented in Table 1.

Table 1


A quick perusal of the table should not surprise any project management professional. Yes, lack of user involvement will kill any endeavor. Same goes for lack of detailed requirements document. Yes, projects where customers expect a delivery of a Ferrari for a price of a bicycle, will most likely go considerably over budget …

But an interesting thin happens if we attempt to highlight all of the factors related to processes, planning and systematic approach, thus separating them from the “human” factors (see Table 2).

Table 2


It turns out that 70% of project success is dependent on the underlying processes while only 30% can be attributed to the talents and industriousness of the team members!

To put it in perspective, let us imagine that we have two teams:

  • Team A consists of absolute technical geniuses, but does not follow any processes and does not have a project manager.
  • Team B is made up from “average” technical professionals, but follows proper processes and is lead by an experienced project manager

If you choose to believe the table above, it looks like Team B will beat team A 2 out of 3 times on any assignment we decide to allocate to them!