Archive For July 30, 2013

Project Manager Contractor – marketing, your business checklist

As a contractor, whether you are a Project Manager, PMO, Programme Manager, Change Manager, Business Analyst, Consultant to name a few, then you know only too well that you as a professional are selling your services to businesses. Yes, that’s right you are a business and as such you need to ensure you are doing all the right things to secure that next assignment.

Here’s a checklist of areas you should be addressing as a minimum to ensure you meet your goals:

  • CV – Your CV needs to be in good shape, not only are you required to have a well written document – it needs to clearly demonstrate your skills and abilities. Look to set the bar with your competitors by creating an inclusive piece of information which also includes your style/approach.
  • Website – More contractors are turning to online marketing through creating their own websites which include a comprehensive CV, case studies, contact info and further examples of achievements. This can also be a great opportunity for you to add in your style and challenges you have overcome.
  • Blog – A blog is a great way to keep fresh information flowing online (or as part of your website), it is a less formal tool which can be used to display your observations of current affairs, open up discussions with your peers over management styles, and it really does show your knowledge and commitment to PM.
  • Networking – Whether it is using your current contacts or generating new ones, this is a fantastic way to gain insight into the industry. By always keeping in touch and not just when you need something you will forge strong relationships and others will be more willing to offer up information/help/recommendations for roles etc.
  • Creating opportunities – Do your research, understand what industries are hot at the moment and identify where you can find a way into organisations. Find out who you should be speaking with, generate meetings, offer up solutions, be prepared to go the extra mile and you will be surprised by the results you harvest.

 Business cards

For further information on writing an effective contractor CV click here.  Additional information about approaching job applications through a number of routes can also be found here and identifying unadvertised roles here.

The rise of LinkedIn endorsements – Project Manager Skills Lists

We have seen LinkedIn evolving over the years and one feature which seems to becoming rather popular is the skill endorsement function. It is very easy to endorse our connections for various skills by “ticking a box” which is displayed in a list on our profiles. Quite an interesting function but does it really add value to your profile, because it is so easy to endorse others and those who have Skills listbeen endorsed may feel compelled to return the favour – which in essence isn’t a bad thing but if you are being endorsed for skills which others haven’t seen you demonstrate then the whole concept falls apart. It isn’t this aspect which I wish to address today; it is the perceived value of a list of skills on your profile which often takes the place of a CV for those interested in gaining a new role. I was talking with a client the other week that had a comprehensive list of skills on his CV, when I pointed out that it is not the best use of limited space on the CV and lists don’t help hiring managers – he questioned (quite rightly) why. I completely understand the need for adding in keywords but with no context the reviewer cannot see where/when/how they were used, therefore they should be integrated into the role remits with further detail on what that skill means in that role. When I pushed back with my client and asked why he was so keen to keep the list, he said that he had a lot of endorsements for skills on LinkedIn and felt that this must be the trend moving forward. I suggested a link to his LinkedIn profile on the top of his CV might be a more valuable way of offering up additional information to hiring managers, after all if you are to place a link to your profile there should be extra information there not just a carbon copy of your CV. With LinkedIn profiles it is a good opportunity to talk through further information and tempt in those recruiting through the website and then when they make contact you will have a CV which can back up the information provided – so it works both ways!

Why Project Management Skills Are Desirable For Any Job

Project stakholder from New York State Department of Evnironmental Conservation

If you are looking to get ahead in your career regardless of your occupation then project management skills can be a great way to make your CV stand out against a pool of applicants. You don’t need to specifically be going for project management jobs to make use of such skills as the abilities and responsibilities of a good project manager are applicable across a wide range of disciplines and positions.

A good project manager is flexible and quick to adapt to new situations, but in general there is a core set of abilities that employers look out for when hiring project managers. There may be specific desirable skills that depend on the industry you are looking to enter, but there are some skills that are applicable across all disciplines:

Time Management
Project managers are held responsible for carrying out the details of their project on time. Delays can be very costly for companies, especially those working under strict contracts and missed deadlines can have very serious repercussions. A good project manager will be able to provide estimates for project milestones and make sure each milestone is met on time.

Budget Management
As project manager you may also be in charge of the budget for the project. You will be expected to complete the goals of your project with a set budget and be able to allocate funds appropriately. Effectively managing your budget is vital as in competitive markets profit margins can be thin, so overspending can result in eating into profits.

People Skills
Project manager jobs inherently involve working with a team under your command, so it is vital for project managers to be able to both instruct and inspire people. Project managers may be hired from outside but often companies will look from within when seeking to find a project manager, so you may find yourself in a position of authority with your colleagues and work friends. A good project manager must be able to remain professional in such situations and not let private relationships interfere with fulfilling professional duties.

Effective Communication Skills
Being a project manager involves not simply interacting with the team members under your command but also reporting to your bosses and potentially meeting with clients. Both situations will demand good communication skills of the project manager; superiors will want to know how the project is progressing, whether target deadlines and budgets are being met and how any potential issues will be resolved.

Good Technical Knowledge
Leading on from effective communication skills, when meeting with clients they may have several questions about the project which will require a technical expertise to answer. Project managers will be expected to handle any and all queries professionally and confidently so having a good grasp of your project and the technical knowledge surrounding it will be vital to assure clients.

All the above skills are vital for project managers but can also be applied to a wide range of roles. People who possess these skills can be very valuable so if you’re looking to increase your employability then investing your time into improving your skills in these areas can pay dividends in the end. There are a wide range of books on the subject which can help you, so if you’re looking for a new job or want to improve your CV then learning project management skills can be a great personal investment regardless of your occupation!

Featured images:

Amy Sawyer provides career advice and tips for jobseekers at Gatwick Diamond Jobs – a UK job board specialising in local jobs in South East England

Case Study – Project Manager not securing interviews

Last month I worked with a client who we shall call Matt, he is a Project Manager who implements bespoke software solutions. Working closely with clients Matt takes the project from scoping in conjunction with the account management team right through to business as usual. Matt was made redundant at the end of December and decided to take a few weeks break as he had been with the company for a Head in handsnumber of years and felt a short break with the comfort of his redundancy payout was well deserved. When Matt came to start applying for jobs (bearing in mind he had not been on the job market for a number of years), he found that his applications were going into a black hole – rarely receiving acknowledgement.

 

We talked through how he was applying for roles and he was covering all the usual approaches such as online applications, registering with agencies, making his CV searchable on all the large job websites and using his contacts for advice/referrals/insider information etc. I performed a review of Matt’s CV with him over the phone, pointing out the areas which weren’t adding value and also clarifying information, as it soon became clear that he was selling himself short with the information he was supplying.

At the end of the call, Matt told me he’d never had such a thorough review of his CV and that asking recruiters he was told it was OK. I pointed out that calling up already very busy recruiters for feedback might not be the best route as they are often just trying to get you off the phone so they can get on with filling roles. Also the recruiters might not have an in depth knowledge of Project Management and so wouldn’t really know where to start in teasing out the relevant information. At the end of the review, Matt explained he was very low on funds and couldn’t justify paying out for a professional CV writing service as his house was soon going to be at risk. I sensed his desperation and supplied him with some support documentation which together with his notes from the review would arm him to rewrite the CV himself. I offered to review the CV again once he had rewritten it and told him to spend some time over the weekend working on it.

On the following Monday I had another call from Matt who told me he needed to secure a job within 3 weeks and he had sat down to write his CV but was struggling to articulate himself, he decided to take the CV writing service and I promised to coach him in addition to sorting the CV. We worked together to create a fresh CV, performed a skills audit and worked through effective job application coaching.

At the start of the process, Matt was panicky and deflated – by the end (which we conducted an intense few sessions to quickly get him in a good position) he was reinvigorated and had a new found confidence in his abilities. Within hours of loading his CV online he had recruiters calling him and also started to receive call backs from the roles he applied direct to. Within a week he had 3 interviews secured, by week 2 he was on second interview stage with 2 companies and by week three he had an offer for a job he really wanted.

We did it!Matt called me to thank me and told me he was initially hesitant to engage because of his financial situation but now realised it was the best investment he had ever made towards his career.

Advice I always give to those who are between contracts or made redundant is to try job applications with your current CV and see what kind of response you get, but always set aside a budget for support services such as CV writing and don’t waste your money on services which do not understand where you are coming from. You may not need the assistance, but as Matt found out, sometimes you may just need that helping hand. The most common comment I receive from those who contact me is that they just need to get through the door of the interview and they know they will do fine, but actually getting their foot through the door is the issue.