Archive For August 31, 2012

Applying for too many project management jobs – Friday snippet

When it comes to making job applications, the easiest route would be to apply for anything which remotely fits your skill set – however doing this can have a detrimental affect on your plight to secure a new role. Look at it from the recruiter or hiring managers perspective, by applying for anything with the word “project” in it you are demonstrating that you have not read the job description or that you do not understand where you skill set sits in the project environment. If you are currently at the project coordinator level and are applying for senior project manager or programme manager positions it is pretty clear that you are not quite ready for such roles unless your remit has actually seen you performing these delivery duties at the levels seen in the JD. In which case you will need to clearly demonstrate these skills in your CV, do not change your job title but ensure you cover the delivery experience and types of projects and programmes being managed.

By taking the time to read through job descriptions and match up your skills to the requirements you will yield much more effective applications for the roles and as such will have a greater success rate for securing interviews. Although it may seem like you have to put a bit of effort in to begin with and with recruiters and employers often not responding to applications which can be frustrating – you are demonstrating your professional approach and buy-in to securing a role which is right for you. I have come across a great deal of recruiters, HR staff and line managers who tend to disregard multiple applications for vastly differing roles as they already have a huge list of applications to review and being frustrated they will recognise a name and reject it outright without checking the resume against the requirements because of this kind of practice.

Remember that you are being tested from the minute you apply for a role – first impressions last, be remembered for the right reasons.

Career change – questions answered

This week we have another great question about entering into project management from the armed forces.

Hi Nicola, I am due to leave the army soon and I am planning ahead my career – on discussing courses with my commanding officer it was suggested that I move in to project management as a lot of my skills match up closely with core PM requirements according to a skills checker used by careers advisors in the MoD. My background is within the officer ranking where I manage large teams in rolling out technology in global locations – as such I have been working to MoD structures and I feel these are transferable outside of the forces.
Keith; Germany

Hi Keith, thank you for getting in touch – glad to hear you are thinking ahead of moving back to civilian life, you have taken the right steps to speak with your CO and I assume you are taking advantage of all the courses and training which is provided to you when you have been given notice of leaving the forces.
Your experience lends itself well to a number of projects across industries – it saddens me that advice for our troops moving back to civilian life is grim at best, especially for project management. Having a brother who currently serves with the army I believe we need to be encouraging the transition of MoD personnel. Personally I have come across a great deal of ex forces personnel who have settled very well into project management roles for sectors such as defence, engineering, construction and manufacturing. Keys areas to focus on would those which you can offer something in return – think about the technologies you have rolled out, global delivery / exposure to cultural change, managing large teams and direct line management. All these skills are sought-after with large global organisations and businesses who adopt a “policing” approach to project management may also express an interest in your background.

What you need to focus on now is your CV – take time to make sure you research the roles you are interested in and check the core areas of interest, now make sure you focus on those aspects in your CV. Such as planning, reporting, risk management, stakeholder management etc. keep the focus on the technologies implemented and use terminology from project management (which you should be picking up from your courses and training) to ensure that the resume reviewer can match up your experience with the role. As with all writing their resume – it is important to make sure you are not using internal language from your current employer in the CV, a common language needs to be used as the hiring manager probably hasn’t worked at your places of employment.

What is an interim and should I hire one?

Should you hire an Interim Manager for your business? Firstly, let us examine what people who say ‘Interim Management’, are actually talking about. Most likely, they are referring to a job placement within industry at a high professional level which is taken on a temporary (short term) basis, usually with the role being taken by a person from outside of the existing company workforce. The reasons for this are varied, but will probably be at least due to the position only being necessary for a short time and usually impossible to fulfil from within an existing company structure either due to a lack of a specific skill or shortage of workforce.
While the actual concept of Interim Management has been around since the earliest recorded periods of History, notably in Roman Times, more recently during the 1980’s in the period of economic boom the concept began to gain huge popularity. Suddenly, with modern, fast communications and cheaper travel, companies could see a benefit in keeping both a core staff and a fluid, peripheral fringe of specialists that can be called upon when needed. This allowed them to deploy a powerful yet flexible workforce, as required.
Many exceptional individuals specialise in Interim Management and are headhunted by businesses to drop in to short term positions in order to utilise their specific skill sets. They often help and guide through a specific phase of development, growth or even setback, before moving on to the next assignment. It can be a particularly satisfying and exciting profession for people who have good organisational understanding, effective people skills and who thrive on tackling a wide variety of challenges and situations.
The benefits of hiring an Interim Manager are many. These might include added accountability, and a good ability to encourage growth and positive change (being employed in more than a purely advisory capacity). Goal based contracts and a new found freshness and objectivity that the prospective employer was previously lacking are also seen as advantageous. They can be deployed quickly, often have a proven track record for the task in hand and are generally more effective than a ‘temp’, as they are highly focussed and motivated and can operate freely at near-board or board-level.
Once a decision has been made to hire an Interim Manager, a fairly common pattern usually occurs involving locating and assessing a prospective employee, them reciprocating with an  assessment and proposing a diagnosis (if appropriate). A contract is then agreed and the new staff member begins implementing the necessary course of action before exiting the position, usually involving the careful handover of responsibilities, skills and commitments.
So, to return to our original question, ‘Should I hire an Interim Manager?’. If you have a specific post which needs filling and requires a skilled and experienced manager, very often due to sudden departure, illness, death, transition, mergers and acquisitions, and project management within your company, then yes! If no one from your organisation is available or looks capable of doing an effective job, (and of course, assuming that it is a short term opening), Interim Managers are generally regarded as an excellent Value Proposition.

If you are looking for someone special to fulfill your Interim Management requirements, Joe Clarke suggests you take a look at www.russam-gms.co.uk

Building up your PPM network

With the increasing use of social networking sites such as Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest etc there is no excuse not to get professionally involved in project management groups to widen your networks – however some groups can seem a little cliquey to begin with and when first starting out it can seem like your first day at a new school when you have no friends. The key to engaging with groups is to make sure you sit back and take a look at how others communicate, gaining a sense of etiquette and what is OK to talk about will set you in good stead to start engaging with like-minded individuals. Do not be afraid to ask questions to get involved in the groups and strike up a conversation. Also take a look at some of the more prominent and respected members of the groups to see their backgrounds and read through their blogs. Taking an interest in a particular subject or adding your opinion will gain you credibility quite quickly too. Once you start to strike up conversations you will find others get involved and add their comments too.

If you have a particular interest in a subject then research to see if there are groups already formed covering the subject and also check out journals – each month they will pick topics for their content and you may well have something you can add in the form of an article. Make sure you are prominent in social networks if you plan to do this so others can make contact after reading your article. You will be surprised by how many do make the effort to make contact to discuss the subject further or simply to agree / disagree with your opinions.

As a project professional I would suggest as a bare minimum you have a Linkedin account which is up to date and a twitter account which will help you be contactable – then join in some of the active groups, there are hundreds on Linkedin and a good starting point for twitter would be #pmot and #pmchat.

By widening your network you will naturally start to keep abreast of new techniques being used and also share in the war stories of project professionals in the battlefield of project management. Not only will this enhance your working knowledge of PPM you may also get to hear about new job opportunities, writing articles for journals will enhance your resume and demonstrate your dedication to the PPM profession.