As project practitioners we strive to manage benefits throughout the project lifecycle to ensure the project outcomes are meeting the stakeholders needs – however when it comes to job applications this key skill is often overlooked. Looking at the job application process as a project (in basic terms) can really enhance your chances of securing that next challenging role. We’ve covered planning and communications in previous posts, today I want to go through the benefits management aspect of the process.
First you should look to establish what the core benefits are you wish to achieve – in some cases it will be “a job” in other cases there may be other factors such as specific challenges (either because it is your specialism or because it is an element you wish to develop in your career portfolio) or money of course. Once you have determined your required outcomes then you should ensure that your actions are met with a constructive and structured approach. This is where research comes into play and some hard work – see the below checklist for ideas on how to strengthen your applications:
- Research similar roles currently being advertised to gain a good understanding of what employers are looking for at the moment, trends and needs change all the time so make sure you are aware of what they are after.
- Match up your CV with the relevant roles – put the CV next to the job description/advert and check off key skills/tools/experience on your CV. Have you addressed the areas required by the employer? Is it clear for all levels of reviewer (i.e. HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers etc)?
- Research organisations which may be running similar projects etc, develop a list of employers who may be relevant to your applications.
The final part of the process is to ensure you are enhancing your own benefits on your CV – demonstrating how you can really add value to businesses. Think about all the process improvement, enhanced project management capability, team coaching/training/mentoring, reducing bottlenecks, relationship establishing/building/rebuilding, and trouble shooting. There must be a plethora of examples you could share, write a list and use ones most relevant to the role/business you are applying for.
There’s always a lot of pushback when it comes to singing your own praises on your CV, how very British of us not to celebrate our success. Often you will consider simply stating “completed on time and to budget” as good enough, but in reality this statement is met with a shrug of the shoulders, as a successful PM is supposed to deliver this a minimum right!? It is all too easy to become very egotistical too which doesn’t paint you in a good picture either as no one likes a show off. So how can you really add in detail to your CV which sings your praises but doesn’t have the hiring manager wondering how they will get your head through the door at interview?
Here are some tips:
- Tell us about the complexity and size of the project, often an area overlooked by throwing in internal acronyms which mean little outside the business or generic terms which could mean anything.
- Talk through some key challenges faced on the project – don’t assume the hiring manager will know that you have had to herd chickens and completely rebuild the hen house. I have lost count of PMs who have said “well it’s all part of the job”, not for every project it isn’t and if you don’t tell us on the CV how will we know just how good you really are?
- Facts and figures are important on a CV; there is a huge difference from delivering £300k of business benefits to 100 users than £3m benefit covering 1000 employees.
- You say you are good with people, but have you demonstrated this with some good examples in the CV. Just what is it you do to create a results driven team?
- Dealing with multiple sites? Matrix management? Offshore and nearshore? There’s a great deal of work goes into working with disparate teams, cultural issues, language barriers and even time differences which can become huge blockers.
- Picking up failing pieces of work? Have you told us this or merely stated you delivered it on time and to budget? It takes real skill to parachute in and fire fight with teams who may have had several PMs trying to deliver the work prior to you.
These are just a few ideas which will assist you in thinking through your assignments, it is important when you perform a skills audit that you list your core issues and how you overcome them, you will soon have a strong piece of information which can be tailored to your CV and really blow your trumpet without coming across as a self obsessed.
Inspired by the never ending rain at the moment I have decided to share a really interesting piece of work a client has worked on and it ties nicely into PM CV tips, as it is a great example to talk about on the CV. I have spoken about how important it is to include project war stories in the CV as it adds another dimension to the document and really helps to demonstrate your management style. War stories are the bits about the projects which are often left out of the CV but they are important in demonstrating how you overcome major issues when delivering projects.
Sarah* is an Interim Project Manager who was tasked with implementing a data centre and quick reference application on all products for a large organisation. On arrival to the new assignment she found that the stakeholders were less than receptive to the change and being particularly difficult when it came to sharing information which they “held close to their hearts”. It was these stakeholders who were the key to all the product information and as they had always held their own information in pocket books, they felt the information belonged to them and not the business. Sarah worked very closely with the stakeholders to gain buy-in through a number of means, such as one to one meetings and group workshops. She had to sell the change in a way which didn’t threaten the team but demonstrated just how useful it would be moving forward. Forming individual relationships and finding out personal “likes” etc Sarah managed to crack the core issue and was able to deliver a robust application which all the stakeholders finally agreed would be an asset and essential tool to cataloguing products.
Now it would be easy to state in the CV that Sarah delivered on time and to budget blah blah blah, but knowing the issues she came up against and how she overcame them says a great deal to the reviewer of the CV. Therefore some subtle changes to the remit talking through difficult stakeholders and gaining buy-in, coupled with a strong, concise key achievement highlighted at the top of the CV, really brings so much more to the document.
As a former project manager, I know only too well that delivering projects isn’t always straight forward and it is the people skills and management style which can make the difference between a successful project and another statistic for a failure. When you are putting together your CV, always pause to think about the extra mile you go to achieve success.
*name changed for the purpose of the blog
In the Information Technology (IT) business, maintaining project profitability often requires keeping personnel costs at a minimal level. However, rising health insurance premiums coupled with new health care reform legislation is putting an additional burden on IT companies. For employees who spend eight-plus hours a day working on intense projects at their computer stations, the need for routine wellness care is vital to their productivity and quality of work. Not having access to affordable health care support means illness, injury, and lost work time for your most valuable investment: your people. Therefore, it’s up to each IT company to ensure the health and well-being of all employees.
A corporate sponsored wellness program can be a solution to reducing the costs of health care in the workplace. Here are five ways a wellness program can save your IT business money this year.
- Reminds employees of risky lifestyle behaviors. The IT world can be a very high pressure work environment, leading employees to engage in risky health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and overeating. The long work hours can also be damaging to physical and mental well-being, due to being stuck at a desk a lot and not getting enough exercise. Having a wellness program on site allows employees alternative ways to deal with stress and help reduce risky behaviors, which over the long run improves employee performance.
- Provides access to self-managed wellness care. The best wellness program can empower your employees to take better control of their health and well-being. Providing onsite wellness benefits, such as a corporate gym, massage therapy, an employee assistance program, flu shots, and more can help employees see you are vested in their success. Web-based wellness programs, which cost pennies as compared to doctor visits, provide even more value by reminding employees to take care of their health and reach important wellness goals.
- Reduces health care insurance premiums and sick time. A study conducted by Harvard University in 2010 advised that when employees have access to corporate wellness support, this reduces the cost of health care insurance premiums and sick time. For each dollar spent on an employee wellness program, health premiums drop by $3.27 and an additional $2.73 is saved in absentee days. That can be significant for an IT department that deals with frequent illness or absenteeism.
- Prevents catastrophic losses due to illness and injury. Imagine an IT workforce that’s healthy, mentally and physically strong? When IT employees are given the opportunity and encouragement to take advantage of a corporate wellness program, they are less likely to experience preventable ailments common in IT (neck pain, stress headaches, back injuries, repetitive motion injuries) that cause them to miss work or file workers’ compensation claims.
- Increases workplace productivity and project management. To boost your IT employee performance levels, add a wellness programs like fitness programs from Aligned Modern Health. This can give employees a healthier outlet to reduce stress, eat healthier, and get up out of their chairs for some exercise. These activities have been shown over and over again to improve physical and mental well-being, meaning you benefit by having more productive and high performance employees on board.
While workplace wellness programs can be a cost effective way to make your IT workplace better, there are some ways to experience even more benefits. Roll it out with full management support, be consistent, and keep employees informed about new resources they can use to stay healthy at work.
Tess C. Taylor, PHR is a certified Web Content Manager, Human Resources Professional, and Career Coach with nearly two-decades of writing experience. Tess also founded the popular blogazine, The HR Writer. As a regular contributor to multiple HR and Business publications, including Benefitfocus, Dale Carnegie Institute, HR Magazine, PayScale, and US News Careers, Tess is dedicated to educating others about important human resources and marketing topics worldwide.