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5 Project Management Lessons From History

 

Project managers help teams deliver products, tools and programs on time and on budget. Aspiring PMs can pull their leadership lessons from history, mentors or training. Some of the most important project managers of all time were military leaders - directing large teams to complete dangerous tasks. Two such leaders were T.E. Lawrence  and Joan of Arc.

5 Project Management Lessons From History

History Leadership lessons

T. E. Lawrence - Unpredictability can be a powerful tool

Lesson 1: Sometimes it is best to give teams and managers leeway to both make mistakes and produce unpredictable results.

Thomas Edward Lawrence also known as Lawrence of Arabia was made infamous for his role in uniting the Bedouins tribes during World War I, to mobilize them to fight the Ottoman Empire was a man who was given enough freedom in his role as a field commander to make the impossible, possible.

Having travelled throughout much of the middle east as an academic and a field archeologist, he was specially suited through language and cultural knowledge to liaise between the English military and various parties in the region. 

His commanders were busy in their part of the war and gave him enough room to operate in a unique style - taking their garb and adopting the cultural traditions of the Bedouins tribes he rallied them together helping the growing Arab revolt take hold. In doing so he rallied them against an English enemy winning some of the most stunning victories in battles of the last century.


Lesson 2: Project managers need to manage peoples' talents, skills, ambitions and expectations as well as a projects' budgets and timelines. 

Joan of Arc - Good morale is a strategy unto itself

Joan of Arc

Lesson 3: Just because someone’s idea sounds insane to you one day, doesn’t mean they are wrong and that they won’t make it happen. 

When an illiterate farm girl who claimed to hear the voice of God telling her to lead an army against the English in 1429 the King of France at the time, Charles VII, did what any good leader who was behind the eight ball on a project might do, he said (I'm paraphrasing here) “Go for it Joan, that sounds crazy enough to work.”

Joan’s conviction which started years earlier when she said she received visions from God and a message to help drive the English from France led her to passionately make her point up the chain of command.

Lesson 4: Find people who believe in your plan and refine your pitch until it finds its audience, or you become more effective at persuading the people who need to be persuaded. Joan found people to listen to her idea, she made a case for it passionately and when it came down to execution she got it done.

She was laughed at along the way until the King of France agreed that at least she believed what she was saying, and with hope in little else, he invested in arming her with horse and armor and let her march on Orleans.

She became a moral leader to the army and helped make the war one of religion instead of power and money. After being shot in the neck and shoulder by an arrow, Joan stayed on the field of battle carrying a battle standard and was attributed much of the credit for the ending of a months’ long siege. and taking Orleans. 

After defeating the English in many battles, she fought a group of French dissidents who had broken from the Catholic Church. She'd demanded their conversion back to Catholicism and following a subsequent battle she was captured by a fellow Frenchman, sold to the English, put on trial on nonsense charges and then executed by being burned at the stake. Later she was found to be innocent.

Lesson 5: One big lesson from Joan’s story is one of caution. Know when to stop when you’ve won. Don’t over extended yourself and get burned at the stake for your ideals; stay flexible and role with the punches.

 


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Job hunt securely: 3 tips for safety

 

Jobs

Last week with the reveal that the Heartbleed vulnerability was exposing peoples' private information to identify thieves we ran down a list of best practices of things to leave off your resume.

This week we want to share three other tips to help you keep yourself secure while you're on the job hunt.

1. Avoid open networks

In every coffee shop in the country there are open networks to surf the Internet on. You also have Bluetooth equipment connecting your phone to your computer or your mouse. If at all possible avoid jumping on open networks, this is a great way to expose yourself to data risk. 

Instead, try tethering to your phone, which you can password protect. Also, make sure you password protect your Bluetooth transmissions, because that's another easy way to gain access to your private data. 

If you must use a Starbucks Internet connection don't do any banking, or make and online purchases over the network. You might still be open to risk but you'll make it a little harder for criminals to access your credit information.

2. Apply to reputable employers

When you need a job sometimes we apply to positions that are a little risky. You might find a contract job on Craigslist, or a fulltime position with a company you've never heard of, that your friends don't know anything about and who's website looks like it was made yesterday.

It isn't hard to build a website, it isn't hard to post a job ad. You need look into company's and their reputations before sharing all of your personal information with them and even more important, when you begin to work with them. Ask yourself, is this company a licensed business? What processes are in place to keep my information secure? How am I going to be paid?

If some of these questions start raising red flags, or if after working with someone for a year you don't receive any T-4 information for tax purposes there may be something untoward going on. Reputable companies will have processes to follow when you begin working if you haven't heard about the company find out as much as you can before applying. 

3. Tell someone when you are going for an interview

When you are meeting new people, whether it is a date or an interview it is best to let other people know. Most first meetings today are done in public, but if you are interviewing for a new job in a private office it is always a good idea to tell a friend or family member where and when you are going; if only to have someone call you afterward and ask you how it went.


Big dataheartbleed




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3 Ways big data is changing the world

 

 Big data resized 600

Data visualization now helps us interpret the world

Forget a bar graph, or a pie chart how about a time lapsed representation of rental bike use in New York City which could detail the ebb and flow of cyclists travelling from work to home, or a real time indication of how different city events made people move from one side of the city from another. Or General Electric’s visualization project that helps the company quantify how people use their radiography tools like CT Scans and MRIs.
The advances in programming mean that we can visualize more data in more interactive ways. Languages and tools like WebGL are only starting to be used to make the Internet more interactive.


Data and how it is shared has turn what was a private business conversation, into a valuable marketing tool and a way for the public to consume data in an impactful illustrative way. Readers no longer have to wade through tables of numbers; we can be shown moving graphical statements.

Science is advancing faster than ever before

In science as with business, experimentation is the root of all learning and knowledge. For scientists working around the globe, big data has rose to prominence long before anywhere else. In fact even the World Wide Web (as it used to be called) was invented to help the processing of data coming from the CERN, or the Large Hadron Collider.
The giant particle collider produces terabytes of data and the idea behind the World Wide Web, was that the global partners what built the Large Hadron Collider would all need access to the data so all of the scientists working with the data around the world would be able to work on projects simultaneously.


Everything from biology to astronomy is performed on a technically enormous scale. Today database developers and data analysts playing as important roles in the completion of theoretical and practical science as researchers are. Allowing the data they collect to be interpreted and worked with – even doing so is a science in itself.
In astronomy it would be impossible to collect and interpret the cosmos’ ultraviolet light without the use of big data, these are things we can’t see – we can only “see” them with tools that produce data.

Future generations will know more about us than ever conceived

With every cell phone and key stroke we’re producing a digital record of our lives. Anthropologists of the future will know what we’ve done, where we’ve done it and who we did it with to a degree that is astonishing compared to even 15-years ago..
Even today people are using GPS tools integrated into heart rate monitors to track and quantify physical activity. Other people are using digital tools to improve their productivity or track their spending habits.

It is possible today and will increasingly become possible to put metrics on everything you do and at the end of the day it will be Big Data that lets you understand that data and how you interact with the rest of the world.

Have you seen an interesting data visualization, share it with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada.

 

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5 Things resumes shouldn’t include: identity theft

 

identity theft

Your personal information is safe with Randstad Canada

This week the Internet’s security has been shaken. A vulnerability has been found in OpenSSL which is the most popular cryptographic library, that protects everything form your credit card information to your personal data stored at the Canadian Revenue Agency, whose online tax filing system is still down after the vulnerability was identified.

Randstad Canada is not affected by the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability; we use another form of SSL cryptographic library that is secure. You can have confidence that your personal information is safe with Randstad Canada.

While we know your data is secure with us, your resumes may not be equally safe elsewhere.

The best way to protect yourself and your personal information is to give as little of it out as possible. That includes during the job hunting process. Resumes often contain valuable personal information - protect yourself and avoid including the following;

1. Your Home Address

This used to be a standard on resumes back when we’d all drop them off or mail them in. Responses might come back to us in the form of a letter of offer. Today this isn’t needed and you are giving away a vital piece of your personal information. With your home address your name, your work history and your phone number you are opening yourself up to risk, also resumes don’t need this piece of information, it should be edited out.

2. Age or Birthdate

This is another vital statistic and has been used as an authentication security measure. People do not need to know how old you are and they aren’t allowed to ask. Remove this from your Facebook profile, do not put it on your resume and be wary if anyone during an interview process asks.

3. Social Insurance Number

While this is important for credit checks and once you’ve been hired don’t share this with just anyone and never include it on your resume. Be wary of providing it in emails; if at all possible provide it over the phone or in person on a form. Employers will need your SIN number for tax purposes but that’s about it. Your SIN number is not a form of identification.

4. Driver’s Licence Number

Just like your birthday, or home address your Driver’s Licence information should be kept as private as possible. While this is a piece of ID unlike your SIN number, there is no reason to include your driver ID number or a photo copy with a resume. There are jobs that require this information and application processes that require a copy of your licence to vet you for insurance purposes. These proceses are standard and acceptable, but unless someone needs this information for a reasonable purpose do not provide it.

5. Banking information

Direct deposit is  the standard form of payment for employees across the country. Even the Government of Canada is phasing out its use of cheques of direct deposit.While this information such as a blank cheque or direct deposit form is used in the employment process this isn’t something you should be providing prior to being hired on. There is no reason why a potential employer needs this information.

 

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3 Leadership lessons everyone should learn

 

leadership resized 600 1

Great leadership is about more than simple business success, it is about how you build your teams, help them grow and watch as they work increasingly well together.

Here are 3 Leadership lessons everyone should learn

1. Allow people to fail

Failure is a powerful teaching tool. Controlling the parameters around that failure and the risk to your business or department are keys to personnel development. Give people the opportunity to try something new, teach them what you can and watch their growth. If they falter be prepared to help them and if they fail let them know that is a part of both life and business.

2. Message control

Giving you teams freedom to communicate builds interoffice cooperation and flattens the typical vertical power structure. There are risks to doing this; you never want to be put in the situation where your stakeholders are being told one thing by one project group and another by yourself or another team.

As a leader of a business, a team or an organization controlling what messages are going where is almost as important as what you're saying. Your reputation is on the line, protect it by building processes and stages of review for external or internal (vertical) messaging. Listen to your team and build concensus - then at least if there are multiple messages they'll be singing the same song - only perhaps a bit out of tune.

3. Stay positive, focus on your successes; don't divide people

Everyone will make mistakes, sometimes we slip up in what we say on a conference call, other times we aren't as prepared as we should be for a meeting. The matter of it isn't whether we'll make mistakes, but what we do afterward - not repeat them.

In cases were have the opportunity to share your accomplishments focus on the positives results, talk about how your projects benefited the teams and keep as up beat as you can be about scenarios that were less than ideal - speak honestly and learn from what didn't work or what didn't bring your team together.

The lesson is to not overreach and to plan accordingly. Division doesn't lead to strength within an organization or team. Controversy can lead to the development of strong ideas but teams need to coalesce into a unit to accomplish anything of real value.


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Westeros Labour Force Survey: Game of Thrones Employment

 

WESTeros Labour resized 600

Westeros’ labour market has seen a dramatic shift over the last three seasons. After a change of leadership from Baratheon to Lannister, employment of farmers, merchants and craftsmen has seen a sharp, 67% decline, while there has been a boom of spearmen, marauders and pillagers to make up for the losses in the soft skilled trades of vintners of the south. Employment in soldierly is up 61% year to date. 


soldiers resized 600The Dreadfort has seen a boon in dungeon guards with a modest increase of 12%, but that has been offset by a decline in fortification maintenance positions, resulting in a net loss of 41% for the month of March.

The North

Beyond the wall, Wildings are riding in a high labour market after The King of the North made a series of acquisitions prior to his projected march on The Wall.

Castleblack and the Men of the Night’s Watch, continue to see difficulty recruiting, with losses caused by White Walkers and other perils resulting in a decline in ranger employment by general attrition of 2,300. On that note, with the dismissal of their current CEO, the Night’s Watch is searching for a new Lord Commander, there are also many positions available in the Rookery, with new ravens needing to trained and maintained.

The Free Cities

Despite the hiring of 10,000 Unsullied unemployment in the Free Cities is up 41% due to the release of slaves in Astapor and Slaver’s Bay. This number is inflated largely due to the damage to the slaving industry done by dragons and freedom.

Are you going to watch Game of Thrones this season? 

 

Looking for work outside of Westeros?

 



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6 Posts you always see on LinkedIn

 


6 posts you always see on linkedin

Every social media platform can be a valuable networking tool for your business or yourself. Whether you are job hunting, or doing business development knowing what to post online can help you or hurt you.

Linkedin as a platform for self-marketing can help you reach hundreds or thousands of people in your industry or community – but you need to be careful with the content you are sharing and what it says about you or your company. Being too repetative or sharing the same things as everyone else can make you blend into the crowd.

Find what speaks to your audience, what gets people to engage with your thoughts or projects. Then create pieces that highlight your strenghts and that people have fun with.

6 Posts you always see on Linkedin

This stock image

stock image
We are all guilty of overusing stock imagry. You'll see this shot everywhere. There is probably an algorithm out there; time on Linkedin / likelihood of engaging with this stock image. 

Word games

word search
Word searches are a lot of fun, they are also all over Linkedin right now. The science behind how your brain recognizes letters is complex; don’t read too much into it if you read Soda before Patient.

Math games

math game

These frustrating numerical puzzles will often get 300 or more comments with people explaining their answers; we see a lot of engineers sharing posts like this. Try making one yourself, new puzzles become very popular.

Tongue in cheek jokes about different professions seasonally

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There is a collegial attitude on Linkedin comparing different professions with each other and making jokes about professional stereotypes. This was a favourite last month in relation to Canada’s National Engineering Month, it will doubt pop up again next March.

 

What salary should you expect?

 

Inspirational everything

linkedin

If it can go on a poster in meeting room, or the gym, you might see it on Linkedin. Before posting things like this, try to determine what this piece means to your audience and how widely it has already been shared.

Keep calm and something

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The British axiom popularized during World War II has been given a new life as the catch all get-things-done meme. 

What are some other popular memes you've seen on Linkedin? Share them with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada

If you need more advice on networking read, Great Places to Network Offline.


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Great places to network offline, yes offline

 

networking
Fortune recently published an article titled,
How millennials can think beyond the selfie  written by Hootsuite’s CEO, Ryan Holmes.

In it, Holmes indicts multiple generations (anyone ranging in birth year from 1980 to 2000) by cherry picking examples of poor social media use like offensive remarks made on Twitter by one notable CTO and citing the debunked Time Magazine feature calling millennials generation Me, (every generations has called younger generations selfish).

Homles’ critique of 20-years of social media users is unfair for a number of reasons, one being that the way a 33-year old and a 13-year old use social media are completely different but that’s beside the point.

Where today’s networkers fall flat isn’t digitally, it is in real life where their skills need work.

The connections you make face to face are deeper, they carry more meaning and build greater mutual empathy.  In a study performed by reasearchers at the University of California, Berkeley, they found that even through video conferencing you elicit greater empathy than through text or phone.

Empathy is your ability to recognize and respond to others’ emotional state. Peoples’ emotions are important in networking and in business. Do people like you? Do they like what you are saying? In your responses to their statements or questions are you responding in a way that helps or hurts them? By meeting face to face you increase your chances of building strong connections.

5 great places to network offline

1. Alumni associations

If you’ve graduated from a college or university connect with your old classmates and get involved locally in events at your alma mater. You class mates; teachers and deans may have job leads for you.

2. Conferences, trade shows, and public meetings

Find industry or community events that interest you and take the time to get engaged. Don’t attend and tell people you are networking, attend and learn about your community or industry interest. You might not immediately find the job or business connection you are looking for, but you will be bridging towards that connection by meeting people and being interested.

3. Volunteering anywhere

Helping others is a great way to put your name out there. This is a way to put yourself in the best light possible. Charity events are seasonally abundant in almost any community and instead of paying for a conference ticket, see if you can volunteer. It can be a rewarding experience and the personal connections you’ll build help you in the long and short term.

4. Local intramural sports or other competitions

If you are so inclined, sports are a great way to get to know people and keep yourself healthy. You meet fun people and work with them over a period of weeks or months. Any type of competition where you are engaging with groups of people is a strong networking opportunity. Whether it is a poetry slam or a Scrabble competition you will meet people!

5. Tweet ups

Tweet ups blend real life and our digital lives in an exciting way. They give you a chance to meet people who you follow and engage with personally. Any time you actually connect with your followers in real life you build value into your social network, making those digital connections stronger and making the relationships you’re building more worthwhile.

 What's the best experience you've had networking in real life? Share you story with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada

 

 

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3 Job Hunting Life Hacks to Save You Time

 

Job hunting life hacks resized 600Job hunting online can be exhausting. Drafting cover letters, modifying your resume and waiting for responses from possible employers can drain you. How many times do you want to rewrite your own story?

Today with online profiles and digital applications you can apply to more jobs, more quickly than ever before – but blanketing your industry isn’t going to get you a job. Your time is valuable. Once you are treating your job hunt as a job in itself, think about your applications as a set of action items – you need to prioritize your efforts and put your energies in the right place.

Build templates

Templates make everything a little easier. Before you begin applying to anywhere, think about the type of businesses you want to work for and scope out your experience within those industries, organizations or regions.

  • Make sure each template zeros in on the specialized industry experience you have, write about your experiences that are closely tied to the industry you are building your template for.  
     
  • Once you have your templates built, you need only customize cover letters, or introduction emails as carefully, you won’t have to rewrite your resume when you broaden your job search.

Be pragmatic

Going back to “your time is valuable”, don’t apply to jobs where you are missing 50% or more of the job requirements for.

  • Education, years of experience, language skills or technical skills are major requirements, but there are minor ones you should pay attention to as well.
     
  • If the job description lists secondary or tertiary skills that are “nice to haves” and you are missing most of them, you need to bring something extra outside of those that the interviewer and employer will find very attractive and you’ll really need to sell it in your resume.
     
  • Use the time you have wisely, put your energies into jobs you have the best shot to get.

Focus on your email introductions

The 100 words anyone will read from you will be in an email make them count!

  • Be personal: Try to find out who will read your email first and direct the email to them; use their name. “Dear Future Employer,” isn’t a great way to start your email.
     
  • Keep it short: Hiring managers receive a lot of email, keeping your message succinct makes a huge difference.
     
  • Subject line: Make is obvious you are a candidate applying to the role they are looking for. JAVA Developer Candidate, or something more exciting like Outstanding JAVA Developer Candidate can help grab someone’s attention and get your email and resume read. 

 Job Hunting Advice


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Advice@Randstad on #RUTalks

 
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