Well this year has flown by; we’ve seen a great deal of change in the recruitment market with rollercoaster dips and rises in jobs. Good to see a rise in contract positions which have suffered over the years and PMO roles coming back into play. Clearly organisations are yet again realising the benefits of a central control room for project capability, having spoken to a number of interim PMO specialists a trend of businesses cutting back on the support aspect of projects have seen a significant impact on project success. Businesses are not meeting targets and delivery is a major contributor to this, thank goodness the value of the PMO is so apparent. Financial services are still the leader in volume of roles but technology is also a very healthy area too. Unemployment is reducing and I have worked with a number of candidates struggling to get back into work who I am pleased to say, have all now secured new roles.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and look forward to working with clients new and old in the New Year. Hopefully the rise in new roles will continue and I wish you all success, good health and happiness for a promising New Year.
A question I often get asked by recruitment candidates how describe themselves when they feel they are “a jack of all trades”. I was recently working with a client on their CV and asked them how they would describe themselves and was faced with a 5 minute dialogue. I pointed out that if he didn’t know, then how would a recruiter or hiring manager figure it out? The person in question is very much a team manager, contract manager and operations/projects manager. So when we drilled down to what the day to day role actually included it became clear that first and foremost he was actually head of operations and programme manager, he has significant exposure to contract management and leading large teams of circa 200 people. So when it came down to describing him on his CV we took this lead and placed him in a recruitment pigeon hole – unfortunately it is pigeon holing, but as much as we do not like being labelled it is important to define yourself clearly so others can understand what you do. If a reviewer cannot understand what it is you do in the first statement they will reject your CV, it is as simple (and harsh) as that.
Therefore when you are writing your profile on your CV you must think about this and categorise yourself, you can talk about demonstrable exposure and experience too but you must make that decision as to where your skill-set belongs. I don’t know too many project professionals who don’t have some exposure to Business Analysis or PMOs and equally, established PMs will have often delivered programmes of work and it is these blends of skills which are greatly appreciated in the business world. After all, how often have these additional skills and exposure come in handy for non-related assignments? Employers see it as having more for their money, but you do need to decipher the initial quandary for them – realistically, what is your job title? What is it you actually do?
I have seen some getting around this by having various versions of CVs, each tailored to one element of the skills and experience which can work too – the only issue I see arising from this is having multiple copies of your CV online and registered with agencies may raise questions, again about how you define yourself.
A lot of people come to me for advice and help about their CVs, not because they cannot write their own CV but because they want to understand how others view it and if they are being clear. It is common for those who create a document to assume others will know what it is they are trying to say. As you are doing the job it makes sense to you but it may be baffling to others – striking a balance between clearly defining your role and projects whilst engaging a number of levels of understanding can be tricky. The reviewer of the CV could be a non-specialist recruiter, HR administrator and equally a line manager who hasn’t got the PM experience (hence wanting to bring a subject matter expert into the team). Therefore it is important to ensure you have others look over the CV for you to gauge how clear the information is and if it is hitting the mark in regards to including the relevant detail. Those who assist others with writing CVs will know only too well how easy it is to reshape the document to say the right things even if not entirely au fait with what recruiters need to see in an evolving market place.
I would recommend having a number of people review your CV – from those who have no understanding of PM to those who are seasoned PM professionals, remember you are asking for feedback so take all comments and criticism on the chin. All feedback is good feedback, take on board what is being said and see how you can address the CV to ensure it makes sense to a wide audience.
Remember project management is all about communication, often we need to address a variety of technical and non-technical stakeholders. As your job application is being judged from the moment of contact you need to ensure you are displaying all the right qualities, engagement being very important you should be treating every step of the application process with this in mind. Instead of stating you are a clear communicator – demonstrate it with your CV and the all important email. Don’t tell us you understand PM methods, tools and strategy – demonstrate it, it is very obvious who truly understands their role (and trust me, a lot don’t) by how they communicate the what, how, when, who and where’s of an assignment. Employers want to know what the benefits are to the work you have delivered, do you know what they are… I would hope so, have you communicated this in your CV?? Probably not!
Put yourself in the shoes of those recruiting; don’t assume they will know you have had exposure to a structured approach to PM just because you have the PM badges. Demonstrate your knowledge and use of structures as these are the core criteria being assessed on your CV when you apply for a role.
I am often asked to provide a Project Management CV sample by clients, unfortunately I cannot show you any of my clients’ CVs under data protection, however I have put together a generic CV which will give you a flavour of the type of information to include in the document. Do not forget that more detail is required to ensure you have a CV which tells a holistic story and provides context, but as a starting point……