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CV and Resume Tips

updating your CV or resume can be a daunting task. When you are seeking a new position, looking for a job can take as much time as your current job. Use these tips to get noticed by hiring managers.

Update your CV or Resume


People always tell you it is the content, but let’s be honest “Looks matter!” Hiring managers review hundreds of CVs and Resumes everyday.  In order to get noticed quickly, you need to have a well formatted product to display.  This paper represents you and your work; if it doesn’t show off the great catch you are, it will be thrown back in the deep. Aesthetics count in this situation, you need to take the time to format your final product to ensure it makes the cut.

CV and Resumes that are difficult to read will be cast aside for products that are sleek, well organized, and designed with the idea of the reader in mind.  If you can’t produce a well balanced and easy to read CV, how will you produce easy to read project reports?

  • Balance white space
  • Use Bold, Italics, and underlining consistently
  • Place your most important features first


No detail is too small when you are determining a close call between to final candidates.  Ensure you aren’t eliminated by ensuring your CV or resume is accurate and includes correct information.  Many people expect spell-check and grammar-check to be enough; don’t fall into that trap! After you proofread, ask several friends to proofread.  Don’t copy and paste information from the advertisement into your CV or resume.  Review the dates for your job experience and be prepared to explain any discrepancies. Verify your references and ensure that you are using the best contact information for them.


Project managers are required to produce documents that are accurate and reflect the project timeline and milestones; if you can’t do this on your CV, how does this reflect on your PM skills?

  • Verify contact information for references
  • Review dates and timelines
  • Proofread, Proofread, Proofread


Once the hiring manager decides to read your document, it needs to be worth their time. Take a few minutes to tailor your CV or resume to the job advertisement which you are applying.  Use the same language and words as the announcement.  Ensure that your write-up explains what you did, the impact, and that it is quantifiable. Provide enough detail to keep the hiring manager reading, but not so much that they lose interest.  This is the time to be bold and brag about your accomplishments.

    • Tailor your language
    • Provide the impact
    • Don’t be shy!

Life is a Project!

Don’t let your CV or resume be the reason you aren’t getting that fabulous new position.  Use these tips to get noticed and be at the top of interview list.

Teaser:  Interview tips will be coming shortly!!!

Some additional information regarding CVs and Resumes from my bi-monthly FB live session!

Lead your team through the summer heat!

Leading your team through the summer heat can be a challenge.  The long, hot days of summer are upon us and it is difficult to focus.   How can we get through these dog days of summer?

Keep it Cool

When the weather gets warm temperatures can flare up quickly.  When you are working in a climate control office, turning up the air conditioning is a good option.  When working outside or in places without air conditioning, you might need to be more creative.  Whether inside or outside, make sure that you and your team are drinking plenty of fluid.  Neither your brain or your body work well when you are dehydrated.  The heat might require you to relax the dress code; if you are in a suit and tie environment, maybe polo shirts and golf shorts.  When in doors, turning off some of lights might make it cooler.  The most important thing is to create a work environment that is best for your team.

Keep it Cool
  • Hydration is key
  • Relax the dress code
  • Limit the florescent lighting

Slow Down

Summer can be more draining mentally and physically it is important to take your time and not rush.  Overheating in the summer is dangerous and it is better to be slow and steady than have someone on your team have heat stroke and become incapacitated.  It is better to lose an hour than a day of work

Slow Down
  • Review your deliverable schedule
  • Take advantage of slack in your timeline

Take a Break

Summer is a great time for holidays and vacations.  Determine which employees will be taking a break and ensure it is part of your gantt chart reflects any changes to resources that won’t be available.  Schedule breaks during the heat of the day.  Mini-breaks and summer holiday weekends offer your team a chance to beat the summer heat. Sometimes if you can’t get away, bring the getaway to your team. Ice cream socials are fun ways to socialize at the office and enjoy a bit of the taste of summer.

Take a Break
      • Schedule vacations
      • Take breaks
      • Create breaks

Life is a Project!

Summer heat can make it hard to focus and accomplish work; use these tips to get through the long, hot days ahead.

Train for your next exam like a Marathoner

Taking a certification exam can be daunting, try these tips for passing your next certification!
  As a marathon runner I have found that the same techniques which I use to cross the finish are also great for preparing for professional certification exams.

Professional Certification Exams are like Marathons!

When you decide to run a marathon, you put together a plan and practice.  This is the same for training for a professional certification exam.  Instead of base miles, you spend your time reading, taking courses, and learning about the examination requirements.  You also take practice exams from authorized vendors, just like running laps.  Most marathon runners put in their longest run at about 80% of the race distance; when you are getting ready for a professional certification examination like the PMP, you should be


scoring about 80% on your practice exams.

  • Have a Solid Base
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Be at 80%

The Night Before the Event
The day before a marathon I organize all of my gear, the day before a professional certification exam you need to do the same thing.  Make sure you have identification required for the test site, any vouchers you need, and any materials you are allowed to take to the test site ready to go.  Look up your test venue on a mapping tool and become familiar with the route if possible.  Eat a healthy dinner, even if                   you are nervous and not hungry.  Go to bed on time and get plenty of sleep.

The Night Before…

Just like a marathon, don’t train the night before; have confidence in your preparation and training.

  • Organize everything for the next day
  • Eat a good meal
  • Get Plenty of Sleep

The Morning of the Event

The morning of the event is not the time to experiment or try new things.  If you normally have a cup of coffee and toast, don’t try a breakfast burrito on the day of your examination or a race.  Don’t rush to your event; take your time and leave early to arrive at the test center to check in.

Morning of the Event

Take a minute to skim your material, just like a light warm up before a race.  Don’t try to read or cram for your exam.

  • Eat Breakfast
  • Allow plenty of time to get to your location
  • Skim only

During the Event
Use the same techniques to answer questions during your practice exams for the actually exam.  The exam is not the time to change techniques, have trust in your preparation.  Know how long you have for the overall exam and how

During the Event

long per question.  If you get stumped on a question, flag it and come back that question; hold a steady pace. Don’t get frustrated or give up.  You have worked hard to get to this point and maintaining your composure is a key to finishing any event.

  • Stick to your Plan
  • Keep a Steady Pace
  • Don’t give up

Post Event
After an exam or a race it is easy to second guess yourself and criticize yourself.  Only reflect on how you can improve the next time, but enjoy the fact you completed the event, even if you will have to repeat it.  Relax and enjoy the moment, you worked hard to finish, take a minute to enjoy.  There are always second chances, so if at first you

Relax – It’s over!

don’t succeed try, try again.  Each professional examination is a learning experience and even if it is costly, we can take the exam again.  Learn from your journey.

    • Don’t Beat Yourself Up
    • Relax
    • There are Always Second Chances

Life is a Project!

Apply your project management skills to your next exam preparation or your next marathon!  Good luck on your PMP, CAPM, Prince2, Lean Six Sigma, or whatever certifications you pursue.

To learn more exam tips?

Resting, Relaxing, and Rejuvenating

This weekend I took some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate!
  Life can be busy, chaotic, and hectic.  We have checklists and apps and apps that are checklists.  Sometimes to be more successful, we need to take a few moments to do less.  Learn the importance of resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating to be more productive

Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate

The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one out of three adult Americans do not get enough rest.  We live in a busy world and many of us take our phones, tablets, and even laptops to bed with us.  It is not healthy and can actually make us less productive.

Learn to enjoy nothingness.

Just like any other problem, the first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem.  In this case, that you aren’t getting enough rest.  I often hear coworkers brag about about barely sleeping and have read articles that discuss the elite that don’t sleep.  This isn’t healthy for most people and brain functions diminish with sleep deprivation.

Everyone needs sleep and it is nothing to be ashamed of; just admit that you need more quality time in bed….sleeping.

Below are a few tips to help you get the rest you need to function.

  • Have an evening ritual to prepare for bed
  • Exercise daily to aid sleep
  • Keep your bedroom dark and slightly cool
  • Go to bed at the same time each night
  • Drink a warm non-caffeinated beverage

You might think that getting enough rest is all you need, but what about relaxation?Relaxing is different than resting. When you rest, you are allowing your body to recover strength and heal.  When you relax, you are letting go of tensions.  Relaxing can be as simple or as elaborate as you require.

Let go of your tension

When you are stressed at the office with just a split second, there are some simple techniques that you can use:

  • Count to ten
  • Take deep breaths
  • Repeat a slogan or mantra

When you have more time to relax try some of these tips for daily relaxation:

  • Take a walk
  • Try a Yoga class
  • Listen to classical music

For a weekend try a truly relaxing time:

  • Get a massage
  • Go for a hike
  • Enjoy the beach

Taking care of your mind and body will allow you to be more productive over time.

Rejuvenation is defined as restoring to a former state with vigor.  Vigor is a word that excites me just to type it.  We each have different creative resources and outlets. There are things that replenish our energy and activities that drain our energies.  We have to find the balance between the two.

Find what restores you.

Last weekend I had the honor of attending the Toastmasters #95 District Conference in Berlin, Germany.  I was surrounded by professional speakers, fellow authors, and entrepreneurs. The weekend was spent collaborating and I came back with a dozen ideas of what I wanted to accomplish and try.  A Toastmasters Conference may not be everyone’s ideal rejuvenation weekend, but it inspired me!

Each of us has to find ways to rejuvenate or we became stagnant and lose our creativity.  One person may be drained by what another finds inspiring; that is perfectly all right.  We are all unique individuals and the world would be a truly boring place if we all delighted in the same things.

Life is a Project!

The best project managers build slack into their schedule!

To learn more about living a full and happy life through the wisdom of one who is truly living check out Michelle Mras.

Learn more: http://www.MichelleMras.com or Follow on Facebook.com/Mras, Inc.

Michelle’s motto is that no matter what happens to you in life; take a deep breath – You’ve Got This!

Why use both a RACI Matrix with a Swim Lane Diagram?

My recent contribution to http://www.engineeringmanagement.info/2017/05/why-use-both-raci-matrix-with-swim-lane.html


So glad to be able to share with such a great community!

Both a RACI Matrix and a Swim Lane Diagram can be used to improve project team communications.  Often project managers use either one or the other of these tools, to improve communications, both tools can be used together to improve coordination for projects.  The hand off between department/teams is when the project risk is greatest.


A RACI matrix is a chart that outlines the roles for departments and teams.  RACI stands for: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. To create a RACI for your project, identify all of the key tasks.  If you completed a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) for your tasks, you can use the tasks for your WBS.  For each task assign a role and responsibility by team.

Create a table that has the department/team by column and the tasks from your WBS as rows.  Once you have created the matrix, fill in with an R, A, C, or I at the intersection point of the matrix to denote the role of the team/department for each task (example below).

Responsible: This is the person who has to accomplish the task.
Accountable: The person who has to ensure the task is done and approve that the task was completed to standard.
Consulted: Stakeholders with opinions or advice on the task.
Informed: Those that need to know the status and progress.


Double check to make sure that you only have one team/department accountable and one team/department responsible for each task. You may find that multiple teams/departments need to be informed and consulted, this includes informing your project sponsor.

Swim Lane Diagram

A swim lane diagram is a unique type of process flowchart.  The purpose of a swim lane diagram is depict a process from beginning to end and capture the responsible team/department for each task.

This is very similar to what a project manager accomplishes when creating a RACI matrix.  Instead of capturing the other stakeholders, a swim lane diagram, only focuses on the responsible party.

To create a swim lane diagram, list the teams/departments along the top of the chart. Each task should be identified and draw under the team/department that is responsible.

Circles: Represent start and stop points.
Diamonds: Represent a decision point (these should come from your milestones on your WBS).
Boxes: Represent tasks (these should come from your WBS).
Arrows: Connect each type of activity together.


Swim lanes show processes and depending on the detail level of your WBS, there might be a swim lane diagram required for each task or only for your level one and/or two tasks.

How they work together!

Hand off between project tasks is when your project is at the greatest risk.  Creating both a RACI and swim lane diagram allows your team to see each step and who is responsible. Each team/department that is responsible, needs to ensure that the team/department that will be responsible next is aware of the task status and any changes to the expected hand over dates.

I recommend creating the RACI first and then the swim lane diagram.

I hope that this assists you and your project team.

The Project Manager: Life is a Project


Organizational Change: Leading your Project Team

My organization is currently reorganizing to include both the hierarchy, missions, and physical work spaces.  Organizational change can take people outside of their comfort zones.  Change can be distracting and projects might suffer if team members get distracted by the change.  Refocus your team and assist them with adjusting to organizational change.

Many people are uncomfortable with change and great work has already been done in this area. Many managers are familiar with “Who moved my Cheese?” and “Our Iceberg is Melting.” These are great resources, but each person is different and how they react to change is unique; authentic leadership is required to work with your team and help them with change.

Change takes us to new places

People often fear the unknown, even small changes can have large impacts on team members.  Some team members may even be resistant to moving down the hall to a new office. Assist your team with understanding the change process.

  • How will the change happen?
  • When will the change happen?
  • What is the impact of the change to specific team members?

Rumors about change are far worse than just addressing change to your team as you become aware of options.  This can lead to mistrust in the leadership and the organizations.  It is far better to provide information to your team and let them know that it is pre-decisional. Your team needs to trust you for effective change.

Let your team know how changes impact your project.  Many times organizational restructures merge different business units to work together more closely. At other times organizations are downsizing and team members may be afraid that the project and their job may be going away.  Be prepared to discuss the good and the bad aspects of change with your team.

Why Change?
You as the leader need to convince your team why change might be good.  At the end of a long work day when I get to change from heals to flats, I don’t need anyone to tell me why that is change for the positive.

Change doesn’t have to be bad, change can be exciting and a time for growth and new development.  Let your team know any rewards or benefits that might be gained from the change.  Changing from one project to another while working for the same organization is a great way to build your CV or resume.

Why Change?

Change can be difficult if an employee feels under valued or marginalized.  It is critical for a leader to ensure that new and old team members are all valued and to balance the new dynamics of the organization.  A well running project team may end up going through the five stages of team forming all over again.

Some team members might fear failure on the new team.  Ensure that team members have a clear understanding of their role is on the new team.  As the leader, you can set the tone and let them know about new opportunities and how they can be value added.

Change is Natural
Change is inevitable, just as the seasons change, organizations change. It is important to remember that change is part of the larger scheme of the universe.  Without change, businesses die, the Polaroid camera and big box video rental stores are two examples.

By definition: A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.  This means that by definition projects are temporary and this means change.  Often team members can become very emotional when a project is approaching the closing phase.

Change is Natural

Timing of the change can be important, just as change is a natural to seasons, it has to be at the right time.  Snow in July is upsetting in much of the Northern Hemisphere.  As your project is approaching the closing phase or reaching major milestones that will create change, remind your team.

Change can be hard in both our professional and personal lives.  Being prepared for change will make it easier.

Life is a Project!

To learn more about the employees and change check out this awesome video from Robert Tanner!

8 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change
Management is a Journey


Time: We all have 24 hours in a Day!

We all have 24 hours in a day.  The need to husband our time wisely came up three times in conversations that I had this week.  Everyday we wake up to unlimited choices on how we mange the most precious resource we have, our time!

When starting your day you need to set your priorities.  What do you have to get accomplished, what do you need to get accomplished, and what do you want to get accomplished?

One way to set your priorities is to establish a list, this can be a hand written list or accomplished through a time management app.  Your list needs to include tasks that you absolutely must do that day. Stephen Covey describes this as the quadrant of items that are both urgent and important.  This might include taking your kids to school or going to work.  If you are freelance, it might include meeting with a client are completing an article on deadline.  One example is filling up your car with fuel when the fuel light has come on; if you don’t make this a priority, it will take a lot more time when you run out of gas on the highway!

Set your priorities

Next comes the list of things that we need to accomplish, these are the items that are important, but not urgent.  These items have to get done but if you don’t accomplish them today, the world doesn’t end.  These items may move into the urgent category if you keep putting them off.  An example of this is filing your taxes in the United States, there is plenty of time in February and March, but when you want until April, this becomes urgent and important.

Finally there are the things you want to get accomplished.  These are items that may not rank as high on your priorities and are the items that are nice to get done.  These items often include going to coffee with a friend or watching a movie. Relaxation might be under valued on your priority list at times, when we don’t make time for ourselves, this can lead to burn out.

It is up to you to set your priorities!  You know what you value and your time is limited, spend your time on the things and people that matter most to you.

Minimize Distractions
Today we are bombarded with both physical and virtual distractions.  Take a few extra moments when you are tackling a project to minimize distractions while you complete your task.  Three ways to do this is by organizing your materials, turning off notifications, and letting others know when you will be available.

Minimize Distractions

When working on a task, it is best to gather all of your materials first.  For example having all of your ingredients ready when making a meal, running to the grocery store when you are preparing food is a major distraction.  When I prepare an article, I gather my sources first and then begin writing.  Physical clutter is also a distraction, remove items you don’t need from your work space, keeping only one or two for sentimentality or motivation.

Notifications from e-mail and social media can distract us from the task at hand.  Schedule time and prioritize your e-mail and social media time.  Turn-off notifications when you are working on a project.  You don’t want your dinner to burn, because you lost track of time surfing your favorite social site.

Friends, family, coworkers, and colleagues can all interrupt us while we accomplish our tasks. Schedule block-out times when you can’t be disturbed.  Letting others know that you need to work on a project and when you will be available is a great way to manage your time.  When you are preparing dinner and you want to be distraction free, let your partner and/or children know when the meal will be ready.  This gives you the time you need to prepare the food, while they can work on homework or other tasks.

You will get more accomplished by focusing on tasks and then moving to the next.

Learn to say “No”
Saying “no” can be difficult.  We are all limited to 24 hours in a day, which means that we can’t accomplish everything.  This requires us to learn to say “no.”  Say no when you really aren’t interested, when you can’t commit the time, and when it isn’t your task to accomplish.

We are often invited to events that we aren’t interested in and go because we feel obligated.  One way to turn down an event which isn’t right for you is to link together two people that have the same interests.  When approached by a friend or cowor

Learn to say “No.

ker, you can say, “No, but I think Jane is fan of horse back riding, why don’t you ask her?”

There are time when you are overwhelmed and your life can be out of balance. There are so many things that we should do: working out, acts of charity, spending time with friends and family.  Sometimes we can’t do it all. You need to determine when to say “no” and minimize the stress in your life.  Maybe you reduce your volunteer activities to once a month or let a friend now that you don’t have time for a movie, but they could join you for a hike.

Sometimes we do the work of others, because it is easier than confrontation.  Perhaps you have a colleague at work that asked you to help with a report once and now they expect you to do it all the time.  It might seem easier to just continue to help rather than to say “no.” Most people don’t like confrontation, but we need to empower ourselves to take our lives back and say “no.”   When you have a rationale discussion with your colleague, they might not even be aware that they were imposing on you.

Time is our most precious resource.  We need to spend it wisely.

Life is a Project!

To learn more about the Covey Quadrants check out this awesome video from Don Howe!

4 Quadrants of Time Management – Golden Nugget #80

Traveling for Marathons and Road Races

Traveling for marathons can be a wonderful opportunity to explore both cities and the countryside while you are traveling. If you’re not feeling adventurous to do run the full 42km, there are plenty of shorter races in a variety of locations. Recently I was able to run the Washington DC Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.  This was a fantastic way to see the monuments and ensure that I stayed fit during my travels. When I left Stuttgart Germany, the weather for Washington DC was predicted to be almost 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  A cold front came through and race day ended up being below freezing.  When you are traveling and road racing, you need to be both flexible and prepared.

Read more at The Dining Traveler

Generalities – Don’t exclude your audience!


Generalities can be inclusive, but also exclusive.  I learned this lesson about six months ago from one of the most charismatic speakers in the world today, Florian Mueck, at a conference in Madrid. Florian is a professional speaker on transformational communications, author, and game designer. His advice on communications and public speaking is invaluable.

Ask the Question

Ask the Question
Generalities can make people feel like they are part of something larger.  When you give a speech or write a many this is a way to include people, but recognize not everyone feels the same way. Asking a question that reflects a shared understanding is a great way to identify with your audience.

“Have any of you ever?”  or “Do you know?”

These questions can be more powerful than absolute statements such as “Everyone has….” or “Everybody knows…”  When you make an absolute statement, you lose members of your audience, both in verbal and written communications.  You will always have outliers, who can’t relate or haven’t experienced the subject which you are discussing.

Try using a generality that is not absolute and track your own results.

Your Perspective

Your Perspective
Each one of us are unique with different backgrounds and experiences.  It is important to stay true to your core values and recognize that you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.

There will always be those that disagree with your views or who are unable to relate, remember that is not your core audience than. Focus on the group of people who are able to share similar experiences and views.

An example is that many people find that public speaking is terrifying and rate it higher than their fear of death.  A few others however, love public speaking and never experience this fear.  It is also normal to fall some place along the spectrum.  Sharing your thoughts on a topic and where your experience can encourage others to share and relate to you.

Those that Relate

The people who relate to you and your passions are the audience that will be receptive to you and your ideas.  As a public speaker and project manager, I would be at a hopeless loss speaking on quantum physics.  It is important to know your audience and how to relate to them.

As a project manager, it is critical to

Those that Relate

understand how to communicate effectively with your team members, project sponsor, and other key stakeholders.  Leaders also understand that different members need different types of communications to be effective.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider those that have different views or opposing opinions.  Be open to feedback and determine if it is valuable to you.

“If you go about trying to please everyone, there’s going to be endless struggles.”  Sonny Bill Williams via @BrainyQuote

Life is a Project!

Watch Florian on Europe: how to unleash a common spirit at TEDxBarcelona (Spanish) 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM9CPSHVOT8[/embedyt]

Authentic Leaders are both Responsible & Accountable


Have you ever had a leader who said what you wanted to hear, but actually acted completely different? Authentic leaders understand the importance of not only espousing a vision, but living their vision. They practice what they preach! It is hard to follow a leader when you hear them say one thing and then do another.

Authentic leaders understand that they need to provide the right environment to their team for success. Real leaders create a positive work place that encourages relationships and friendships between members.  They understand that employees need socialization and stimulation at work to spark creativity and innovation.

Authentic leaders acknowledge that each of their team members are unique people and require different levels of supervision, interaction, and mentorship.  Real leaders live in the real world where kids get sick, cars break down, and the pluming goes out; they recognize that their staff also live in that same world.

Authentic leaders are genuine and say what they mean and mean what they say.  They are responsible for their actions and not too proud to admit when they are wrong.  They demonstrate that they are genuine by being responsible for their actions.

Authentic leaders do not tolerate workplace bullying or harassment, they hold violators accountable.  They realize that the modern workforce comes fr
om diverse backgrounds with unique experience and beliefs that should be respected by their teammates.

Authentic leaders give credit to their followers. They never try to pass off the ideas of their team members a their own.  The develop their employees to become leaders themselves one day.

Authentic leaders want their followers to hold them accountable.  Real leaders accept that they are flawed human being and want to know when they make mistakes, so that they can improve. They also hold themselves accountable to the value system that they espouse.

“Authentic leaders love, challenge people to do what they didn’t believe possible, and generate the energy to make the impossible possible by their passion for their people” (Kerfoot, 2006).

Life is a Project!


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