Archive For February 28, 2013

Example Project Management Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter seems to be a daunting act for so many – I have previously written about what to include but wanted to provide an example letter to assist you in gaining interest from potential employers. Cover letters should be tailored to each application and it is a good idea to spend time making sure you tailor your CV too. Unfortunately, gone is the day when one size fits all so taking time to apply for fewer jobs but putting more effort in will give you a better chance of success for generating interest and that all important interview.

Letter

Here is a fictitious job advert:

Project Manager required to manage a number of new product development projects within FMCG manufacturing, the successful applicant will have a good understanding of project management methods such as PRINCE2 and will have managed teams within matrix managed environments which are globally dispersed.

  • Exceptional project planning using MS Project
  • Manage resources across different cultures
  • Competent in PRINCE2 methods
  • Good client facing exposure
  • Extensive financial tracking and management responsibility
  • Comfortable providing monthly presentations to site managers and senior management teams

Of course the tailored letter for this role is only applicable to those with at least 90% of the above required skills and experience. This is a rule of thumb for all job applications; don’t waste your time applying for roles which are not relevant to you.

So a cover letter will go something like this:

Dear Sir / Madam (ideally try to get the name of the person you are applying to)

Please find enclosed my CV in application for the role of Project Manager as per your advert (reference CVR2905) advertised on XXXXXX.com.

I would like to draw your attention to my current role at XXXXX where I am responsible for managing up to 15 concurrent FMCG new product introduction projects, although PRINCE2 is not a process used at this organisation I have previously used this method at XXXXX where the business adopted a light version and all projects were managed through aspects of the project lifecycle.  I should also point out that during a contract position prior to this I implemented PRINCE2 methods into the core project management function within XXXXX.

All my roles have required extensive stakeholder management with internal and external parties based across the UK, Europe and USA. Most of my team management experience has been within matrix environments and where resources are globally dispersed. I am an advanced user of MS Project and have used this to plan projects for the past 10 years; I have held full P&L responsibility for all my projects with budgets ranging from £100k to £1.5m. I currently provide bi monthly presentations to our senior management team on project status, financials and forecasting – these are generally utilising Powerpoint and on site however I have also travelled to a number of our manufacturing sites for this purpose also.

I am available on my mobile to discuss further and look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours Faithfully (if you do not know their name) / Yours Sincerely (if you do know their name)

Jack Tyler

07000000000

So as you can see – the letter addresses all aspects of the job description with examples and tells the reviewer more than the CV allows as we only want a 2 or 3 page document which should be highlighting the above but may not have all that detail. This will greatly enhance your application and should do all the right things in getting the reviewer to really read your CV not just skim through it along with 100 other applications. It also does the trick of helping the HR / recruitment consultant understand your relevance to the role; bearing in mind that a great deal of these reviewers won’t always have specialist knowledge of the role.

How to refer to yourself in your CV

Always an interesting subject, how people refer to themselves in their CV – some opting to take the “I” approach, others opting for “We”, the third person approach and no pronoun. Let’s take a look at each approach and talk through the benefits and pitfalls when using them:

  • Using “I” – a common method, put in context this would usually be used like this:

“I was responsible for doing xxxx” or “I have a team of xx” – although you are keeping the emphasis on what you did it does tend to look unprofessional.

  • “We” – often we work in team environments and talk about our achievements in an inclusive context, however this can be very difficult for hiring managers and recruiters to really understand what your involvement was. Being vague can be very off putting and doesn’t tend to favour well on applications.
  • The third person – referring to yourself in the third person such as “John was engaged in xxxx”, this style can work but be careful of grammatical errors and confusion in the CV. Also I have had feedback in my recruitment days from clients feeling this line comes across as egotistical.
  • No pronoun – this is my choice of tactic for a CV, avoiding using any personal pronoun by making statements such as, “Managed the technical team on the xxx project to produce xxxx”

Here’s an example profile I have used previously in a blog, I have written it in all the above styles – which do you think works best?

Example 1; Using “I”

I am an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back my practice (APMP & MSP). I have overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; I lead a team of 10 project managers and I also have hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. I have good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

Example 2; Using “We”

As an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP) and with overall programme responsibility for our corporate wide initiatives. We lead a team of 10 project managers and we boast hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing our business’ ability to achieve its goals.  We have good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

Example 3; using the third person

John Smith is an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up his practice (APMP & MSP). John has overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals.  John also boasts good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.  

Example 4; using no pronoun

An experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP). Overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals.  Good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

Example Project Manager CV profile

So you’ve taken the first step and decided to update your CV, there are many example Project Manager CVs on the internet but none are aligned to your specific needs. This is where The CV righter can help you, having worked with thousands of project management professionals over the years in a recruitment capacity and latterly producing CVs – we have seen every shape and size. There is no one size fits all template but we can focus on key areas of importance to employers and recruiters alike. This article is centered on the start of the CV – the profile.

We’ve addressed this a few times on the blog; but as it is (or should be) the first element a reviewer reads beyond your name and contact details then it needs to be strong. Think about summarising who you are as a professional by talking through the type of PM you are, highlight your key skills whether it be managing multiple concurrent projects, complex high budgeted projects, business transformation pieces or implementing PM structures (to name a few) and think about team management, direct line management, locations, internal and external stakeholders, and benefits realisation. Do not fall into the trap of merely stating you deliver projects on time and within budget – this is expected, however if you have been dealing with particularly difficult situations to achieve this then that is something which can be addressed briefly in the profile and further examples can be made in your key achievements. This kind of information is very interesting for hiring managers.

Here’s an example of a generic project manager profile for a CV:

“Project Manager with experience of managing multiple interdependent concurrent software projects within large organisations – boasting demonstrable experience of exceptional stakeholder engagement with both internal and external parties from technical staff through to board level. Currently managing globally dispersed teams within a matrix managed environment requiring a good understanding of cultural diversity.”

It is short and sweet and by adding in a little more detail about your situation you are clearly pitching your skill-set and level of experience to the reviewer. The profile should really not go on beyond a short statement, it needs to capture what you do and the rest of the CV is there for you to go into more detail and pick up all the other bits and pieces required for a job checklist.

Project Manager CV profile word cloud

Profiles can be tweaked for specific applications, however the core element wouldn’t change too much unless you are applying for something rather different from your current skill-set and this means that you may actually be applying for the wrong role. Just keep this in mind when you are tweaking your CV generally – you will harvest greater success with applications for roles most closely aligned to you core skills and experience.

How Body Language Makes or Breaks an Interview

We may think that what we say in an interview is most important, but how we say it is what really counts. A famous study, known as the 7-38-55 rule, states that 7% of a message is conveyed through words, 38% is through tone of voice, and a whopping 55% is conveyed by body language (Wisebread.com). How you move your hands or hold your posture can therefore be deciding factors in whether you get the job. Here are three pointers to keep in mind during your next interview.

Handshake

Our first impressions really do count. According to Wisebread.com, studies show that many employers can spot the right candidate in the first 30 seconds! The way you introduce yourself is, therefore, pivotal. Everyone knows to make eye contact and not to shake hands limply, but research shows that the most important factor is, in fact, making palm-to-palm contact, not necessarily firmness. According to Patti Wood, author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, people who shake with only their fingers (not the full palm), are perceived as trying to hide something (Money.USNews.com).

Shake hands

Mind your Head

Although agreeing with what your interviewer has to say is recommended, excessive nodding is not. Studies show that over-enthusiastic head bobbing comes across as too eager to please, and even weak. What’s more, if you’re just blindly nodding the whole time, your interviewer could catch you off-guard by asking you to explain why you agree with a particular point. If you haven’t been listening, you’ll look like a moron. According to Forbes, you should only nod once or twice in agreement, while adding a smile. Remain centred and focused on what’s being said at all times.

Mirror on the Wall

According to Wood, an easy way to subliminally convince your interviewer that you’re The One is to mirror what they do. The key is not to imitate everything (that would be weird), but to just subtly copy them. For example, lean slightly in the same direction or smile when they do. Wood also suggests that you start mirroring right at the beginning of the interview, as this will put your interviewer at ease and make them feel comfortable with you. They should get to like you, right off the bat (Money.USNews.com).

When preparing for an interview, not only is it vital to think about what you’re going to say, but it’s also important to practice how you’ll come across. Sometimes it’s hard to be aware of our body language, as most of it is unconscious. So, it’s advisable to look at your actions in front of a mirror, or do a practice round with a friend. Most importantly, try to remain calm, and, hopefully, put your best foot forward.

Written by Ang Lloyd on behalf of Dynamics Careers, a niche job board that specialises in Microsoft Dynamics jobs.