Monday, July 26, 2010

List of Action Words to Add to Your Resume

In the article, '20 Powerful Action Verbs to Kick Your Resume Up a Notch!' Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast, provides a quick list of words that can make your resume stand out.

I like the words Directed, Leveraged and Mentored, but I think some of the others may be a little too over-the-top. What do you think?

On my resume, I organize my work duties to highlight my skill at management competencies. Cornell provided a list of their 18 management competencies in one of my Project Leadership Certificate classes (CEPL 551 Introduction to Project Leadership).

A list of 8 Management Competencies is here:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to answer weird, "trick" job interview questions

In the Forbes article 'The Weirdest Job Interview Questions And How To Handle Them,' Susan Adams interviews Rusty Rueff, author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business. Rueff offers advice on how to answer oddball, weird interview questions.

I agree with the theory that 'trick' interview questions can be either an opportunity to show your potential employer your problem solving skills by going through your thought process out loud while answering a question like 'how would you move Mount Fuji,' or a chance to show your future bosses your personality by answering an oddball questions like 'what is your favorite comedian and why.' has compiled a list of odd interview questions in their website, but the more valuable part is their database of interview reviews submitted by job searchers. Reviews are sorted by type of job and company. This looks like an invaluable resource for project managers preparing for a job interview at Apple, Google, IBM, RIM, Infosys and other companies. The database is here:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Free Project Management Classes from MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers free online courses through OpenCourseWare (OCW).

The MIT Sloan School of Management offers lecture notes on dozens of undergrad and graduate management courses here:

The MIT class 15.969 Dynamic Leadership: Using Improvisation in Business features video lectures. The course is here:

The MIT Engineering Systems Division offers lecture notes and projects from their Project Management courses from both the undergrad and graduate levels here:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Using Cognitive Surplus to Create Civic Value

Clay Shirky talks about cognitive surplus in this thought-provoking TED speech.

Shirky explores the difference between communal value and civic value. The creation of LOLcats, inside jokes and pet projects provide communal value. Civic value is created when participants make life better for the society as a whole, not just a self-selected group.

I like Shirky's finishing statement, where he quotes Dean Kamen, founder of the FIRST program - "free cultures get what they celebrate."

Shirky explains that the largest gulf is in between those who have undertaken and published a simple creative act, like making a LOLcat, and those who have not.

After listening to this presentation, I have three ideas:

Inspire myself and my colleagues to design and publish something creative, even if it is only meant to have communal value.

Discover how to design my work assignments to add civic value to my community and state, and express that to members of my team.

Find ways to celebrate the creation of civic value.

I first heard about Skirky from author and blogger Seth Godin. I enjoyed reading Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody. The book explores what happens when the tools of collaboration become inexpensive enough that groups can form and create value without formal organizational structure. Read Shirky's blog on Here Comes Everybody here:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Are eCornell classes hard?

I have completed 5 out of the 6 online classes required to earn a Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell University’s College of Engineering.

My completed classes are:

Introduction to Project Leadership
Project Teams: Mining Collective Intelligence
Dealing with Difference
Earned Value Management
Influence Without Authority

Introduction to Project Leadership was the first class I took. I became familiar with the eCornell online learning environment. I "met" my instructor for several of the classes, Bob Emborski, as well as several students that I would see in later classes.

The course itself contained a lot of information. The main challenge was to learn as much as I could in the two week time frame of the class.

Thoughts on my First Week of Intro to Project Leadership

Review of Intro to Project Leadership Class -

Project Teams: Mining Collective Intelligence was the most time consuming class for me, because of my need to interact with other students to complete a joint assignment. My frustration with this assignment was a valuable life lesson.

Resources we used in the class -

Final Thoughts on Mining Collective Intelligence -

Dealing with Difference class provided information about cultural and personality differences. The assignments were time consuming but very educational. I spent a lot of time doing supplemental reading because the idea of being able to understand the personalities and cultural backgrounds of team members and use that information to build a more effective team is very interesting to me.

Thoughts about what I learned from my Dealing with Difference class -

The Earned Value Management class focused first on project control systems and then on employee motivation. The project control systems module introduced me to mathematical formulas for evaluating the progress of projects. The employee motivation portion was comprehensive and introduced a lot of new ideas and theories.

Review of Earned Value Management class -

The Influence Without Authority class was another course with a multiple part assignment, which took time but provided the opportunity for me to evaluate and use the ideas the course taught in a real world situation.

First thoughts on my Influence Without Authority class -

I agree with eCornell's recommendation that students spend an hour a day on classwork. I was unfamiliar with the specifics of many of the theories presented in the classes, so I found the coursework challenging. My instructors were available via email to answer any questions I had and provide guidance and recommendations for supplemental reading. The majority of the classes have multiple part written assignments and group discussions. I highly recommend devoting an hour a day to each class, and not waiting until week two to start participating in the class.

I have found the classes very valuable, and well worth the tuition. I have already used the Eighteen Management Competencies handout to improve my resume, and utilized several of the theories and tools presented in the other classes to educate my colleagues and become a more effective manager.

Additional Tips:

Two Tips to get the most out of Project Leadership Classes:

Study Tip - How to keep track of online class coursework -

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at