Archive For May 31, 2012

Changing lanes – CV tips for changing industries

There comes a time in our careers when we look for a change in direction – however with a tightening market and risk averse hiring managers blinkered to anything different form their industry, it has become a difficult task for job seekers to make that move.

Project management is a skill set which should transfer fairly seamlessly depending on the projects you are managing or supporting – particularly for the support roles, as promoting governance should take a pragmatic approach in best practice. Project managers should look to demonstrate their transferable skills and experience with projects which are common place across any sector or industry.

Here are some suggestions when preparing your CV for a change in industry:

1. Keep the focus on your skills – don’t get bogged down with terminology from your industry field.

2. Look to emphasise the projects which may be transferable into other industries such as IT, business change, office moves, equipment roll out etc.

3. Make sure you talk about the role more generically – not only are you being clearer for the hiring manager (who probably has not worked in your current business so doesn’t understand acronyms and typical terminology for that field); you are presenting a professional document to a variety of readers from recruiters, HR staff through to senior management.

4. Write a good cover letter – make sure you go the extra mile, recognising that you are effectively making a big career change – what can you give back? Match up your skills and experience specific to the task in hand.

When applying for a new role, do take into consideration what the job advert asks for – if it states youmust have experience in a particular field then it is highly unlikely you will pass through the filtering process. However if it states ideally then you are in with a chance if you can match up your experience to the projects and competence requirements. When you make an application, take time to tailor your CV to the role requirements ensuring you are ticking the boxes for the recruiter / HR staff – yes they will, generally speaking, have a must have list which needs to be complete for your CV to be placed in a shortlist for serious consideration. Do not assume the reader knows what all aspects of your role are, spell it out.

The CV Righter has a tailored service which specifically addresses your needs as a project professional making that next move – get in touch to discuss how we can assist you in creating that all important CV aiding you in a career transition into a new field. www.thecvrighter.co.uk

Professions being open to all backgrounds – we need to do more!

Interesting news article on the BBC news website this morning headlined; “Professions must be open to all backgrounds, Alan Milburn will say”. Reading through the article explaining that those from less privileged backgrounds are missing out on professions such as law, journalism and medicine – it states education plays a big part in who will succeed but mainly an issue surrounding the actual schools and universities the current professionals attended being exclusive to the wider audience. It makes an interesting read and food for thought when making decisions about your career path.

I was very interested to read that internships are a key area for job seekers to be able to enter their chosen fields in such areas and how you would present yourself in an attractive way to potential sponsors. In my experience as a recruiter I have seen many a good candidate discarded due to their poorly written CVs – so maybe it doesn’t just come down to where you studied but also how you sell yourself?

I have spoken to a lot of recent graduates who have sort advice through their education establishments to write CVs – the results; some good, some not so good. Being a graduate myself and having been in the same position as others I found the assistance I received to be rather poor – basically I was pointed in the direction of a rather small area in the library with a few outdated books and told to “get on with it”. I am sure, not all, education establishments are the same and times have changed with the internet but I would hardly call this support. Could it be said that the government are missing a major point here – with the rise of recent graduates and fall of graduate level jobs and internships, surely a major starting point would be to address the overall guidance graduates and school leavers are presented with?

Workshops for graduates and school leavers would be a great start to ensuring everyone has a fair chance at securing work experience – such as professional 1 to 1 CV writing guidance and feedback, leads to follow in sourcing potential employers, effective researching skills for making a tailored approach for roles, interview techniques and basics on presentation skills would be ideal. As we now have to pay substantial tuition fees, part of the selling point from Universities could be the dedicated career service and for those who choose not to take degrees, a more robust system in school. As the government is urged to tackle the issue of opening up opportunities, they could put pressure on establishments and even offer funding to ensure targets are set and met.

At The CV Righter we offer a graduate package which addresses areas such as CV writing, effective job searching and interview techniques. Get in touch with your CV and have a free CV review:www.thecvrighter.co.uk

CV format

As it is Friday and the sun has blessed us all week I wanted to share a few insights into CV formatting from a recruiter’s perspective with our Friday snippet.

Here are a few things to consider when creating a CV:

1. Make sure you format your CV properly, using different fonts and inconsistent spacing, not to mention bullets that do not align throughout the document says a great deal about your MS Word skills. I have lost count of the CVs I’ve reviewed in a recruiter capacity which state advanced user of MS Word – and this is clearly not demonstrated. smiley

2. Placing a photo of yourself on your CV may be the recognised format across the EU, it isn’t popular in the UK especially if you are using a holiday snap or one from a wedding – it’s quite endearing I know but honestly, do you expect to be taken seriously? Why not have a pic on your Linkedin account and a link to your profile on your CV.

3. Using tables may make formatting easier for the document but please do remember that a great deal of software used by recruiters cannot read such formatting therefore you could lose a great deal of information in the system and thus not have your CV viewed as your keywords are not searchable in their databases. This also goes for a good deal of the online job boards, I have come across one major well known job board which loses all formatting of CVs and sends block text in an email for job applications. If you have the opportunity to send a MS Word attachment – do so.

4. Font style should be kept to something readable – back in the day, Times New Roman was the font of choice, however this is dated and with much reader friendly fonts such as Verdana and Tahoma available – use them. Avoid creating a rainbow on your CV utilising different colours, black is fine – remember this is a professional document, you want it to stand out for the right reasons and colours tend to detract away from the content.

Make sure you regularly check over your CV and ask someone else to do so for you – working on your own document over and over can start to restrict your objective observations.

Have a fantastic weekend and keep checking in to our blog for tips and advice in creating that all important CV.

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Skills based CV versus Chronological CV – which is most effective?

Having read thousands of CVs in my recruitment days and interviewed hundreds or candidates it became abundantly clear that the answer to the above question is the chronological format is most effective within the Project Management domain – why? Because employers need to understand where and when the skills have been used, simply listing core competencies does not give the reader any context. Also some skills may not have been used for 5 or 10 years, the hiring manager may require recent exercise of a particular skill as this plays a major part of that project. By listing expertise in skills based CVs you may be fortunate enough to reach interview but will be asked questions about those skills in the interview and be rejected against another candidate who does have recent relevant experience. Bear in mind when applying for a role you could be up against a large number of applicants, if there are candidates contextualising their skills on their CVs it is likely your CV will be discarded for those “ticking the boxes” for the recruiter / hiring managers role requirements list.

In a chronological CV each role should have a good level of detail which clearly states the key skills required for that role, every project is delivered differently and due to size and complexity a pragmatic approach to which aspects of formal methods used is key to successful delivery. There’s no point over complicating a fairly straight forward project, this only ties up the project manager or the support team in unnecessary “paperwork”. Do not assume the reader has worked in your organisation or on similar projects – if the CV isn’t clear, it does not get short listed.

Writing a skills based CV may seem like the easy option, it is. Being able to provide a list of bullet points or statements at the top of the CV which covers your entire career in project management would seem to make sense but it detracts away from the subtleties of each role and makes it difficult to actually “paint a picture” of you, the types of projects you have delivered and your style of execution.

Your CV is your personal marketing document – your customers are the recruiters and more importantly the hiring managers. What sells a product to you? For me it has to be a straight forward piece of information which says what it can do, how it works and how up to date it is in key areas of interest for me. Now take that formula and add to it the key requirement for any project management role which is exceptional attention to detail and written communication – think about all the reporting, MI etc.

The CV Righter is a dedicated Project Management CV writing service aimed at righting the CVs of project professionals who could use some insider perspective from PM recruitment specialism and having worked in PM previously. For more information visit: www.thecvrighter.co.uk