Category Archives: A bit of fun

Explosive times  

On the eve of Guy Fawkes it only seems fitting to talk through some explosive ways to impress your potential employer and add in a few examples of when the anticipation has fizzled out from a short fuse or two. Getting that next role has become increasingly more challenging over the years with the double dip recession and banks collapsing have left employers strapped for cash and particularly averse to taking risks. The better candidate is deemed as the one who has an exceptional CV and can really sell themselves in interview, often leaving great PMs out in the cold because their CVs aren’t up to scratch. Depending on the industry you are applying to, there are less traditional ways of capturing the attention of hiring managers such as a more creative CV and including hobbies/interests which are deemed a little different. I have had recruitment clients who have specifically asked for candidates who take time out to go travelling and have an “different” portfolio of interests, I met with recruitment clients who like their candidates to be a little more creative with how they dress – not the usual suits for them thank you sir! However I have known candidates to dress in quirky outfits only to be rejected at interview for being a little “too far out there”, you must pick your industry carefully so your rocket doesn’t backfire and set the interviewer alight in the wrong ways.fireworks

Of course for the drier industries the way to really impress is to do your research to understand what it is they really look for with potential new employees, you can look on their website but also check out their employees on LinkedIn to look at backgrounds and particular skill sets. Understanding your target audience and drawing out key experiences and skill sets can really set up your display for the right kind of “oooooos” and “ahhhhhs” as opposed to “oh” and “argh”. It’s going that extra mile which demonstrates you are bought into the business but also how there is much more to you than just “turning up” to work. Keep thinking about adding value, remember you are judged from the moment to make contact, right down to how you word your email so make an effort and be professional. Treat your job applications like you do your projects, provide the right kind of information which isn’t overbearing and ensure your stakeholders are thoroughly informed about the product you are delivering – in this case… YOU!

Christmas Prize Draw – win a copy of The Project Management Coaching Workbook

Would you like to own your your own copy of the fantastic “The Project Management Coaching Workbook”?

As a bit of fun we are offering up this review copy for a Christmas prize draw. 

Prize Draw

I reviewed The Project Management Coaching Workbook by Susanne Madsen for APM Project in October, as I thought it was so good I want to give away my review copy to a deserving Project Professional who can really reap the rewards from the valuable advice supplied in the book. All that you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is share your funniest Christmas story – whether it be work or home related. It might be the office Christmas do or an epic shopping trip to get that all important last packet of stuffing… You choose, and once we have some stories we will put them up for public voting on our facebook page.

Send your funny story to:


The PM Coaching WorkbookThe PM Coaching Workbook sig


All entries must be received by Friday 6th December 2013

The draw is open to UK mainland residents only, winner will be picked Friday 20th December 2013.

Prize is a signed copy of The Project Management Coaching Workbook by Susanne Madsen.


Does your Project Manager CV light fires?

Yes, it is Guy Fawkes and as such we are adding a little fun into the article today to relate all things to the occasion and asking the question – does your CV light fires in the hearts of hiring managers’ or is it a bit of a damp firework?  Expectations are always high when it comes to opening a CV when recruiting for a new role, sometimes (but not always) we have our appetites whet by a really explosive covering letter which really addresses the requirements for the role and we open the CV with excited anticipation, however, often the CV is a real let down. Why does this happen, you ask? Well CVs are often put together and then forgotten about as you feel you’ve done the best you can and it should be fit for all applications. You see a job you like and go about writing a cover letter talking through your career similarities to the position, all the effort goes in here with little thought to how the CV reads now (sometimes months on from when you originally wrote it). It is good practice to always read through your CV and match against the roles you wish to apply for, and then make tweaks so it is substantiating the detail you have supplied in the cover letter.


  • Bonfire – Create a document which really makes reviewers warm to it, think out of the box, and make sure your personality and management style come across.
  • Fireworks – Create a dazzling display on the CV to make recruiters want to read on, it’s not all about formatting and colours, it is content. What would you like to see if you were recruiting?
  • Treacle toffee – Always seems like a good idea until it gets stuck in your teeth, just like writing untruths. Keen it real, you want the CV to be good, more emphasis on what you have done not what you haven’t please.
  • Lanterns – shine a light on your experience; stand out from the crowd by working in good examples of where you have shone.
  • Penny for the Guy – Stop pretending to be something you are not, you will soon be found out. You will no doubt have some great experience so talk about it, think about impacts and change – doesn’t sound so flat when you add in some context.

Have a safe and happy Guy Fawkes!

Skeletons in the Closet – PM CV Tips

As it is All Hallows Eve, far be it for me to pass up on a ghoulishly themed article, last year we looked at all things scary when it comes to job applications.  Something  I came across recently was a CV which seemed to say all the right things in regards to areas covered within the roles, but on asking questions about different aspects such as change management (which had been listed) it became clear that not all was as it seems. As a former PM recruiter I know only too well that candidates will be vetted on the detail supplied in their CV – usually at the point of contact with a recruiter but sometimes not until interview. Regardless of when this happens, rest assured it halloweenwill happen and if you have not got examples to back up your statements then you will be rejected for the role. Therefore it is important to keep it real, when I asked why the candidate had stated areas which they hadn’t actually touched on the response was “I thought it was what the employers want to see on the CV”. I pointed out that it would soon become clear there was no evidence to substantiate the claims and pointed out that they actually have some great experience despite the lack of exposure to particular elements. Why paint an untrue picture when you can create a masterpiece which is true and will gain interviews for the right roles? Scary to think some still believe it is OK to include untruths and not be found out. As tempting as it may be to try and boost your CV, don’t! Leave the dramatics and masks for Halloween parties and going out playing Trick or Treat with the kids.

Here’s a short guide to getting it right:

  • Nightmare on Elm Street or more Elmo on Sesame Street – don’t embellish situations / assignments to make them sound more interesting.
  • Pumpkin Carving or more pumpkin soup – think about how you make your mark within an organisation, are you carving the way or just mixing in with the soup.
  • Skeletons in the closet – lying is lying, you will not only jeopardise your job application by making false statements.
  • Witches and Warlocks – does what you clam sound like magic, or a little too good to be true? This will get questioned; it is about striking a balance between selling yourself and being realistic.
  • Devils and Ghouls – don’t become one of these! You will soon get a reputation with recruiters who will not touch you in the future and certainly won’t thank you if you have ruined a relationship with their client.


Have a fantastic All Hallows Eve and get the need to dress up out of your system – you might get some sweets and will certainly gain a more positive response than doing it in your CV.