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I have applied for 10 jobs and not heard anything – PM CV Tips Q&A

Dear Nicola, I have been in the same role for 5 years (a Project Coordinator) within Central Government with a lot of experience in supporting hardware and software roll outs. I am due to be made redundant next month and so I have updated my CV and applied for 10 positions but not heard anything back. Can you tell me where I am going wrong please? John, Project Coordinator, London.

 

Hi John, many thanks for getting in touch. Firstly let me start by asking if the roles you have applied for are similar to the one you are currently doing? As it is common for PM professionals to apply for anything with PM job titles without reading the job description/advert properly. As you’ll probably be aware, job titles can be very misleading so it is important to read through each role before applying for it. Ensure you can meet at least 90% of what they are asking for, employers are very cautious on the skill set they will want on board the team and in a time where training has been cut they will want a close match to their requirements so you can slip into the role with minimal handholding. Once you start to look at all the roles out there, and there are quite a lot, you will start to recognise the ones you should be applying for and avoiding ones which aren’t going to gain a response.

The next step is to look at your CV, as I have reviewed your CV I can see you have gone into a great deal of detail around the core competencies used throughout the project lifecycle, however these do look a little bland in that there is no context so we have no clear idea of the size of projects you support or indeed the number of PMs you support. There is also a vague overview of the technologies you have been supporting the delivery of – something which can be very transferable into your next role. Your CV comes across very process driven, which is fine but there is little detail about engaging with stakeholders, PMs etc. which gives the impression that you may prefer to be hidden in project documentation. Not ideal when a Coordinator is usually the central point of contact on projects for the business.

The writing is on the board

The other issue may be that you are applying for private sector roles, and there is a prejudice with some employers that public sector staff will not transition well into a commercial environment. I believe that support roles are fully transferable; however you need to convince employers of this. By talking through the projects/technologies themselves and any exposure to dealing with 3rd party suppliers/stakeholders external to the council, you will assist the hiring manager in matching up your knowledge and abilities in supporting the delivery in such projects. By taking all the above advice and revising your CV you will have a stronger chance of securing interviews moving forward.

Switching Industry – Project Manager CV Tips

There are many reasons you may be looking to swap into another industry and sector, such as growth areas in other industries like Financial Services, limited growth in your current field or you may just fancy a change. The job market is constantly evolving and competition is high with a great deal of project professionals looking to take on new assignments. Most advice tends to be that it is incredibly difficult to make the shift over but it isn’t an impossible task, just because there’s reported competition and hiring managers are deemed keen to employ what they know doesn’t mean you cannot do it. Establishing some diversity in your career achievements can really assist you in your career goals moving forward, demonstrating your ability to manage or support projects in a variety of industries and programmes / projects will really boost your perceived flexibility and validates you project management skills.

It is important to make sure you pull away from industry specific terminology in your CV and take a look at the bigger picture, in the Change routefirst instance if you have a great deal of experience in one area such as engineering or public sector – look at the projects which may be transferable into other sectors such as IT/technology or business change pieces of work.  Talk about the actual change and how you were instrumental in implementing; put yourself in the hiring managers’ shoes – what would they like to see? If they have a project which needs delivering, what areas are relevant to them? Think about the project lifecycle – how you deliver, and the type of projects, complexity, team sizes, budgets, technologies, tools used etc. By writing a more generic CV which addresses the users, impact and cultural changes you are starting to build a good picture of what your experience is, set aside from the industry itself. By coming from a different background you can add so much more to a business – asking questions which might be overlooked and bringing a fresh approach to “how we normally do things” whilst offering assurance with your stellar delivery track record.

Working to regulatory compliance is also a great skill that can be transferred into other industries, a great deal of industries have these types of projects and by demonstrating an ability to decipher conformity needs and work to them is valuable. Such as FSA regulations which are applied to new systems in industries across the board – fantastic if you are keen to get into Financial Services.

Don’t go too generic with the CV so the reviewer cannot understand what you have done but take back the terminology and focus on key deliverables combined with your competencies – produce a balanced CV which demonstrates your management style, highlights key achievements and sells you as a PM professional not necessarily an “Engineering PM” or “Public Sector PM”. Be defined by your delivery not the environment.

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

Project Management Frustrations – PINO

An interesting and often frustrating subject when carrying out project management recruitment has to be buzzwords – over the years I have discussed employers’ requirements for project management jobs and been asked the dreaded qualifications question. Now I believe in a balanced and proactive approach to gaining experience and qualifications in project management. After all, a true professional should be keeping abreast of effective methods and as part of their continuous professional development (CPD) training and studying is expected. However in most organisations, a pragmatic approach to implementing and following PM structures is common place – which is how the methods are anticipated for use by the authors and bodies. There are many PM badges available and those who are successful in the PM field tend to dip in and out of a number of methods for delivery and supporting project delivery.

When an employer is looking for a new project management professional they will usually create a job description which includes a number of core competencies and required experience – however for years now a great deal of these employers will ask for PRINCE2. When asked if they use this structure they often say no, but they want someone who has the certification as this means they are qualified. I have pushed back on this preconception dozens of times and only on a few occasional have the hiring managers or HR actually understood that experience counts for more than just a certificate. I have dealt with hundreds of candidates who have no PM experience but have taken their PRINCE2 qualification in the hope of getting a job in project management. Equally I have spoken with hundreds of project professionals who have a great deal of demonstrable experience in delivering / supporting often complex projects and programmes but have no PM related qualifications. I know which I would rather have responsible for my expensive projects.

Don't follow sheepWhy is PRINCE2 so commonly asked for from employers who do not use the method?

Because it is a buzzword – PRINCE2 has been very well marketed over the years, and as such it has gained popularity within the PM field. Just like MP3 players are referred to as iPods, not all are actually the genuine article but the fantastic marketing of Apple has ensured iPod is a household name for personal music playing devices. Therefore if you look up project management on search engines – you guessed it, PRINCE2 pops up straight away. I can understand to a point why employers will then assume that this is the standard for PM professionals but more education is required for the hiring managers to ensure they are not losing out on exceptional candidates just because they don’t tick that box. The use of PINO (Prince In Name Only) needs to be addressed after years of use and a better understanding of what structures are used (and required) still needs clarifying when writing job descriptions.

There are a number of project management specific recruitment agencies available in the UK – if you are an employer who is looking for a new project management professional to join the team, it is well worth talking to one or more as a sounding board and to assist you in understanding your actual needs.