Ready to start applying for a new job, but have you done the necessary to ensure you are in with a good chance of securing interviews? Here we are going to run through a few areas of key criteria you should be addressing in your Project Management CV:
- Well presented CV – move away from using fancy fonts and colours; make sure you spend some time formatting your CV to ensure it is clear and easy to read. Remember this is a professional document!
- Grammar and spelling – don’t rely on spell check for this, print off a copy and go through it word for word highlighting any errors for amendment.
- CV length – keep the document short, ideally 2 pages but 3 maximum keep the detail around your most recent roles and less so on the older positions.
- Contact details – seems obvious but so many forget to put a contact number and email address, make it possible for employers and recruiters to contact you.
- Profile – make sure you include a short statement at the top of the CV which clearly tells the reviewer what you actually do, where your key skills lay and ensure you take a holistic view.
- Achievements – as a Project Management professional you should address some key areas which demonstrate where you go above and beyond the call of duty. Include how you add value – employers want to see what they get for their money and it is often the case that PMs will do so much more than just deliver the project.
- Employment history – starting with most recent experience first, look to include detail of the business (so the reviewer can see which industry/sector you worked in), detail of the projects delivered, and how you deliver. All the skills often listed separately in the CV should actually be worked into this part of the CV as the stand alone list does not add value so leave the list out.
- IT skills – this can be a useful area to add in software used such as planning/tracking tools (e.g. MS Project, Primavera, Jira etc.)
- Hobbies – an optional area which adds a little personal detail, sometimes it can really work in your favour as I have had clients who have specifically requested candidates with a passion for the arts / travel etc.
- References – just state “available on request”, don’t include names and contact details as you will find your referees getting harassed by recruiters looking for leads.
The key to a good CV is to make sure you include enough detail so reviewers can understand what you do, how you work, size of teams/projects and the types of projects. Strike a balance of information including keyword searching criteria. You should be ensuring the CV is understandable to everyone, from recruiters/HR staff with little understanding of PM to hiring managers/senior management.
Interesting talking to a number of contractors recently – some preferring to be referred to as Change Managers as opposed to Project Managers and vice versa – when I pushed back and asked why the need to define, I had a mixed response:
“As a Project Manager I deliver change”
“I am a Change Manager but I deliver as a project”
I wonder if being branded one or the other has a psychological effect of the individual. Back in the day when budgets were less frugal and organisations saw the value of a fully enhanced team, it was not uncommon to see a Project Manager Working alongside a Change Manager – this is still apparent in larger organisations but less so across the board. And I wonder if Change Managers partially feel compelled to sell their service as all encompassing (they can deliver a project as well as the change element) to be included in the running for more PM positions and likewise a Project Manager feels the need to sell their additional skill-set as change management aware in order to deliver as smoothly as possible. I delivered new products into manufacturing across EU/SA/USA and often found that without the sympathetic element of change management I would indeed find workstream leads to be challenging at the best of times. By simply spending time to explain the benefits of prioritising my projects and listening to any concerns, hopefully dispelling any anxiety rather than the company prescribed “Head Office said do it, so DO IT” approach which tended to get peoples backs up – unsurprisingly! It is this experience that lead me on to embrace change management within my practice – as such I feel I have taken on both the roles of PM and CM. Could I split the two now, good question, I am not sure they should be. Do I believe a dedicated Change Manager should be part of the project team? Depends on the size and complexity of the project really, if you have the budget and a great deal of “users” affected by the implementation then it is a good idea.
Some things to consider when delivering change:
- Be open – sometimes it isn’t always possible to be completely open from the outset as the changes may be sensitive and not in the public domain. But it is important to make sure you are as open as you can be from the start. Explain that changes are afoot, what this means to the individual, and generally prepare people.
- Listen – hard when all you may be hearing is peoples woes about additional work, fear of job losses, attitudes such as “we’ve done it this way for xx years, if it’s not broken then don’t fix it”, but everyone deserves to air their views and will it make for a happier recipient environment if they all feel they have had some input.
- Put yourself in their shoes – take a look at the changes from the user’s perspective – try to explain the benefits in a manner which is understandable and actually means something to the individual.
- Structure – put together a strong communication plan, as you would for key stakeholders, think about the users and those directly affected by the change. Regular meetings and updates – even regular posting on the intranet so everyone feels like they are being kept up to speed.
- Bribes – don’t be afraid to bring cakes to the meetings, many a successful meeting has been satisfactorily managed through a little nurture!
I mentioned “individual” above, this is where a lot fall short when delivering change, try not to think of a group make people feel like they have been heard individually. It makes a huge difference when you can have your say and your questions answered; open door policy for all – you won’t be as inundated as you think and some may have very valid points for consideration.
Hi Nicola, I have a long career of software sales experience and I am looking to make my next career move. My question is that I have a great deal of project management experience having delivered a number of software implementations to clients but I am always seen as “just a sales manager” – is there any advice you can give me on how I can be taken seriously as a Project Manager. Simon; Key Account Manager, West Midlands.
Hi Simon, many thanks for getting in touch – what a great question! I can see from your CV that you talk a great deal about the sales you have made and your track record is impressive. You place a lot of focus on the sales aspect which I suspect is why you are not being taken seriously for the roles which lean more towards the PM skill set. One piece of advice I will offer is that you need to be sure that your desire to focus on the PM aspect is realistic – at the end of the day there is a great deal of competition for PM roles out there and you will come up against out and out Project Managers. Should you reach interview with such stiff competition you will need a convincing reason why you wish to transition. However there are a lot of Software Project Manager roles available and most of them are strongly focussed on presales, these types of roles tend to require a good sales person to interface between the client and the development team and will do similar project management to your background – delivering integration of the product.
Therefore I would suggest you balance your CV with information which demonstrates your strong sales track record but also talks through how you deliver projects, think about the project lifecycle and address the various aspects. Add in details on teams, stakeholders, budgets, project details and change management – let the reviewer of the CV really understand what your current and previous roles involved. Place some emphasis on key achievements which really talk about how you add value – this can be dealing with tricky customers, overcoming change and identifying/remedying bottle necks. You will put yourself in a strong position against the perceived strong competition as you have three or more core areas of competence versus the straight forward PM. I have always believed you need to have some good sales skills to be successful in Project Management, dealing with such a mixed bag of stakeholders and gaining buy-in, to be able to combine with a structured approach to managing projects you are in a strong position if you market yourself well.
APMG International Showcase has come around again and will take place on Thursday 20th June at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. This conference is one of my favourites – apart from being set in a lovely location, it offers a wide programme of presentations from practicing project professionals and a few trainers / recruiters thrown into the mix. There are birds of a feather sessions which are great for those wanting to be more interactive in the sessions. It is a great networking opportunity boasting a delegate list of most senior PM professionals you can think of under the PM umbrella and a general mix of interested parties.
This can be a fab opportunity for you to meet some like minded people, introduce yourself to PM related recruiters, see what is new in the software world and gain some valuable knowledge through the sessions… Not to be missed!