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  1. #1
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    Default Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    From the thread about deck posts, Jim and Lavrans had made some comments to me about my working towards becoming a project manager, and how I plan to go about getting the best job I can. But I didn't want to hijack that thread, so...

    I'd love to hear any suggestions that any of you might have that would help me out.

    Tom, replying to Jim:

    In all seriousness...
    I am trying, however, to put together a kind of sales presentation that would enable me to make a shift into high-end project management. So I'm in the process of looking through all the notes I have compiled over the years about past jobs. The idea being that I will put something together that will show prospective employers/customers that I approach home building in a manner very similar to how I approached carpentry, with the end goal to find the gig that I really want, one that will pay very well, and most importantly, one in which I will be a great fit, and benefit to the person(s) I end up going to work for.

    Again, thanks for the compliment!

    Tom
    Quote Originally Posted by jimAKAblue View Post
    I wouldn't know anything about putting together a sales presentation to be a project manager. Allan, along with a few others here might have some nuggets.
    Allan has been helpful already, and I'm hoping to get his thoughts on some additional ideas I have.

    Yesterday, I had to do a sales presentation for 1200 sf of low slope. I realized that my current contract has NOTHING for low slope. .... I bring this all up because I didn't close that job .... My presentation was less than stellar: I hardly could understand me LOL! So, my next office project is to develop a separate contract/proposal ... refine the roof contracts and give me the ability to bore the clients to tears while I detail every aspect of the process. I actually like when they get bored and antsy to just sign and end this ordeal LOL!
    I like that idea! Lol. Seriously, I'm a very detail-oriented person. I've been told that numerous times, it's my way of working no matter what I'm doing, so you're right that it may as well be part of the presentation.

    A lot of customers tell me that I'm the only one who talked about the roofs in such detail. It gives them confidence that I have covered all the details and that I will execute them as I have outlined.
    Just like you, I've been told by many people that I've made a presentation to, that I covered much more than anyone else did, and that convinced the customer that they should hire me.

    Therefore, if I was going to pitch a project management proposal to a customer, I'd develop a very detailed contract and just walk them through it, just like it was a roof. I'd include as many pages as I needed to cover everything.
    Thanks for the advice Jim!

    Tom
    Last edited by TSJHD1; 03-27-2012 at 06:11 PM.
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by Lavrans View Post
    Tom, have you been taking, or have you taken any classes to get certified as a PM?

    I'm starting up a PMI certification class next month. I figure it does one of two things- gets me in a better mind-frame about business if I start up my own shop again or gives others one of those additional baubles that may convince them to hire me. Heck, I might just PM tech work- pays really good and the bar of competence is low enough to be nearly vacation-like it appears.
    I have taken a few classes, one of which was at JLC Live that will work toward the certification through NAHB. I wasn't actually planning on focusing on getting letters behind my name however, but I'm interested in hearing more about your own plans. Can you tell me more? What do you mean by what I highlighted above?

    Tom
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by TSJHD1 View Post
    I have taken a few classes, one of which was at JLC Live that will work toward the certification through NAHB. I wasn't actually planning on focusing on getting letters behind my name however, but I'm interested in hearing more about your own plans. Can you tell me more? What do you mean by what I highlighted above?

    Tom
    I'm starting up next month in this program and, if I like it, will get a certificate. It's a PMP management cert., which is... well, I think of it this way; I already know most of what is in here, but the courses do a few different things.

    1. Language. The certificate means a little bit, but knowing the language is more important. We see it here on the forums all the time when people are using different terms for the same thing and someone gets confused or gets annoyed because they assume the other is wrong. So, I learn the common language/terminology.

    2. Organization. I learn better organizational skills, but also more about what is expected.

    3. Refining technological skills. This program is considered the best in the state, better than the UW or the other bigger colleges, largely because of where it is. It's right next door to Microsoft and the other big tech companies that have moved in to the area. There are also a lot of support companies- construction (someone has to build those server farms), etc., and they all need PMs, as do the better residential construction companies building housing for the people at MS, etc. The program is pretty tech heavy, with a lot of resources and people and access to the programs one would be expected to know in just about any level of PM.

    4. More doors. I have been in construction for a long time, but I have experience in several other industries. I forget, though, that my skills are pretty transferable. A project is a project is a project, really. There is very little real difference in running a construction project or a software project from the management side- the end pieces are different, but it's the same series of steps to get from zero to completion.

    Sooooo.... I am thinking that the broader range of a program like this would help in construction, but also should open doors to doing things outside of construction. I could get into the tech fields as I have some computers in the way background, or just about anything else for a while. In construction it should open doors to some bigger companies. A friend is a PM at one of the large construction firms here, and she is managing part of the UW stadium renovation that is happening. She has asked me before about project management and notes how they have a fairly hard time finding people to manage construction projects who actually have any construction experience- turns out most of the PM's are from other industries and, even though my earlier comment about projects being the same, we all know that familiarity with the industry makes for a better manager.

    And, hey, if I decide I don't like the employee side of things, it can only help me organize my next business venture better.
    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    I completed this program.

    http://www.agc.org/cs/career_development/supervisory

    It's pretty good, although I knew most of it already. The main value-add for me was the people teaching it. Extremely experienced higher-up people involved in various aspects of major construction firms. (Mostly not residential.) I asked tons of questions both inside and outside of class, and got a much better perspective on the industry as a result. Good, practical information from guys who had been there and done it, and who were honest enough to share mistakes so we could all learn from them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Oh- as for the "near vacation-like", that's kinda tongue-in-cheek. My girlfriend does contract work in the tech industry and listening to her (and what I've seen), it's pretty clear that a lot of these big huge firms are surprisingly like a new GC running his first bathroom remodel; lots of running around, lots of re-work, lots of re-inventing the wheel. Sorta like it was back in the '80s, as far as I can tell. But- there's a lot of money floating around there, and most of the companies are used to paying quite a lot for a fairly negligible return. Not that I'd plan on being negligible, but it's another place where it's fairly easy to stand out. Any experience puts you ahead of most of the pack in the tech industry.
    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Tom, I can't add any more to your project manager quest but here's an update on that flat roof presentation: I got that job! Yay! I must have wowed her with my good looks. I'm only doing the roof but I did manage to get her insurance settlement bumped from $2300 to $8300 after a re-inspection today. I filed for her supplement after she committed to do the work. When she signed, she thought she was paying EVERYTHING out of pocket due to her deductible. The insurers are getting worse about paying fair.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    I would put together a very good resume & portfolio of the jobs you have done & start knocking on doors. Even if they are not hiring now it helps to get your name out there. That's how 2 of my friends went from builder / owner to PM. What side of the creek do you want to work on ? The only work we have done in the last 3 years on your side has been commercial & it has been in DE. We have been staying busy on this side, because we do a lot of work in & around DC. BRAC has help for some work near Aberdeen & Ft.Meade.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Tom

    I would spend some time and try to zero in and visualize the job you are applying for.

    Project management is a very broad term. You spoke of doing "high end work" and taking courses associated with NHBA so that narrows it down to managing more complex, unique residential projects. Within that scope I would say there are 2 positions that are "project management". Site supervision and the PM who administrates and coordinates the business end of the project.

    There is a lot of crossover in these two jobs but there are distinct skills and qualities associated with each position. I think the most important skills that you want to sell to prospective employers are the "soft skills" which are hard to quantify on a resume as opposed to the technical skills which are more self evident.

    Superintendents need more real world experience. They need to be charismatic leaders, they need to be good at reading people and motivating them. They need to be creative problem solvers. They need to be forcefully persuasive in order to stay on schedule.

    PM's need to be analytical and logical. They need to be good at organizing. They need to be able to visualize and work out the logical order of operations of a project to ensure that there is the time necessary to stay on schedule. They need to be meticulous and thorough. They need to be patient and persistent with vendors and clients.

    One aspect that is very important in my opinion is the synergy between these 2 members of the management team. They have to work well together, cooperate and ideally trust each other. They have to know what each other are doing, or better yet what they are going to de in a given situation.

    Visualize the job you are applying for and present your strengths that apply to that position and the particular company you are applying to.

    Again, the technical skills and experience are easy to show in a resume. You have one page to impress an employer don't overdo it with facts and figures. The difficult skills to communicate to your employer are the soft skills so try to find a way to identify the soft skill requirements for the job and show that you have these skills.

    Last, don't listen to me. I haven't had to apply for a job in 25 years and I would be lost if I had to do it today.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    It is very difficult to get a job today with just a resume, even a good resume. Most people find their next job through networking, i.e. people they know. And there are a lot of unemployed and underemployed people looking for work at the moment so you'd have a lot of competition. On the other hand, sooner or later the economy is going to recover and it's not too early to position yourself.

    The PMP won't hurt, but by itself it probably won't get you your next job. But the networking you do once you get it might. So join all of the appropriate organizations and get involved in them too.

    Work on any additional certificaitons that might give you an edge over others in landing that next job. HERS II, BPI, Green Rating, Leed, etal. certifications aren't that difficult to get and just might be what causes a potential employer to pick you over someone else (even if you aren't planning on actively doing ratings or working on Green projects).

    You might consider taking some courses in Landscape Architecture or AutoCAD or Revit or ArchiCAD to give you more knowledge and an edge over others.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by BeachBoy; 03-28-2012 at 06:07 PM.
    HERS Rater • BPI Building Analyst • BPI Envelope Professional
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by wyattg View Post
    ... it helps to get your name out there........ What side of the creek do you want to work on ? ........We have been staying busy on this side, because we do a lot of work in & around DC.
    It's not what you know. It's who you know that knows that you know what you know.

    I believe networking will play a large part, but I don't think I can rely too heavily on a resume. I see it being a part of my presentation, however in this market one has to do more as far as I'm concerned.

    I want to relocate to DC. I've been hearing positive reports of the amount of work available and how it's been on the rise in DC, NOVA, and Montgomery County, so that's one reason why I want to move.

    How do you feel about the amount of work in these areas?

    Tom
    Last edited by TSJHD1; 03-29-2012 at 01:34 PM.
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    In Houston, which is probably the largest residential market going, it is pretty well known amongst the 2 dozen or so top custom builders who the good PM's are. The top guys are hired guns who know the local subs, vendors, architects, and interior designers and how to work with them. They also know their way around the dozen or so Cities that make up "Houston", and most importantly are really good at what they do.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by dave_k View Post
    Tom
    ...Within that scope I would say there are 2 positions that are "project management". Site supervision and the PM who administrates and coordinates the business end of the project. ....
    When I worked for Gibson Builders, it became evident to me early on that their approach was to marry both of these positions into one. They placed one man on each of their projects, and he essentially assumed both roles. It's a different way of running a project, but it certainly worked for them.

    And here's what I'm thinking: With all the new tools and technology available to us these days, why not? I believe combining the two positions into one is not only quite feasible, but also an excellent way to be more economically efficient.

    So when I say "Project Manager", I really mean Project Manager, as in, the guy who runs the project. The whole thing.

    And thanks for the comments. I won't listen to anything you said! Lol

    Tom
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by BeachBoy View Post
    It is very difficult to get a job today with just a resume, even a good resume. Most people find their next job through networking, i.e. people they know. And there are a lot of unemployed and underemployed people looking for work at the moment so you'd have a lot of competition. On the other hand, sooner or later the economy is going to recover and it's not too early to position yourself.

    The PMP won't hurt, but by itself it probably won't get you your next job. But the networking you do once you get it might. So join all of the appropriate organizations and get involved in them too.

    Good luck!
    Greg-
    I agree about the resume and networking 100%. I'm going to join Linkedin to help with the networking, as it seems like a great concept to really help with getting the job you're looking for. Thanks for the comments.

    Tom
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by dave_k View Post
    Within that scope I would say there are 2 positions that are "project management". Site supervision and the PM who administrates and coordinates the business end of the project.
    We use a Construction Coordinator to fulfill the 2nd position you describe, and he can actually work with/under/for multiple project managers. The CC does more of the admin type work that is required to expedite the work, but can also do some field supervision.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Discussion Started With Jim And Lavrans Re My Move Back Into Project Management

    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Edwards View Post
    We use a Construction Coordinator to fulfill the 2nd position you describe, and he can actually work with/under/for multiple project managers. The CC does more of the admin type work that is required to expedite the work, but can also do some field supervision.
    I've seen that setup as well, especially on large jobs. PM's and estimators are often the same guy as well depending on the workload, if they're bidding lots of work then they are estimators, if they're building lots they're PM's. The coordinator is often an entry level or junior PM position.

    Tom, Whether you can pull off being a PM and site super in one depends on the complexity of the job. It also depends on the organizational structure of the company. One man can run one job by himself or you can have a PM in the office covering 2 or 3 smaller jobs and a super covering 2 or 3 job sites. It covers the same $ value with each guy being a specialist.

    When I've worked as a superintendent I like having a PM in the office. First he's in the office at least some of the time with the owner, accountant and administrative support. Second he's a filter making sure you are just getting the information you need instead of you having to deal with all the details that don't need to flow through the job site.

    I found that when things are really moving on a project I have a lineup waiting to talk to me. It's non stop. I wouldn't really want to be chasing down my tile shipment and writing up change notices as well.

    It's also nice to have some support. It's nice to have an ally with the same vested interests in meetings. You can persuade..., do the good cop, bad cop routine, tag team, "I've asked the PM about an advance and he said no" You know.

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