Project Management is all about change and ideally success, therefore as a PPM professional, whether you deliver or support those that deliver then you should have a portfolio of successful stories to share. Your CV is the place to do this but being British we often shy away from “showing off” and leave important pieces of information out of the CV much to our detriment. Now I’m not saying we should go all big headed and start listing project after project, taking a sensible approach to talking through the types of projects you’ve delivered with some specifics is fine and also creating a list of Key Achievements which don’t necessarily need to be about projects as a whole, maybe you’ve done something additional to “just” delivering. Commonly project professionals feel it’s these additional things are just part of the job… Well yes they are if you are to be a success you need to be able to break down barriers and troubleshoot but this differentiates good PMs and PMOs from mediocre or not so good ones!
Remember your CV needs to be balanced, don’t just cram it full of project detail, read though my other articles talking about all the different aspects which need addressing within a good project management CV.
When you submit your CV for a job, where does it go? Well it depends on where you apply for the role – whether it is direct to an employer or through a job board. So we’ll take a look at the various scenarios:
- Direct employer: In this scenario the CV will generally go into a pool of applications to be sorted by HR or outsourced recruitment services, at this point the reviewer will skim read your CV and review for various elements required for the role. At this point you will be placed into a YES, NO or MAYBE pile. A shortlist will be prepared from the YES pile; if they are low on numbers then the MAYBE pile will be reviewed again for weaker possibilities. The shortlist will be sent to a number of personnel including the hiring manager and HR manager, at this point the shortlist will be reduced to a number of candidates deemed fit for interview.
- Job board applications: Similar to the above scenario, another layer of scrutiny will be added into the mix prior to reaching the HR department at the employer. The recruiter will receive a (generally) larger pool of applications, and the sorting process will begin. Using a list of key requirements the recruiter will review CVs and quickly sort into YES or NO piles, due to the volume of applications there is little room for a MAYBE pile. If the recruitment business is PM specific then they will tend to be much more focussed on PM requirements and more ruthless when rejecting CVs which do not meet the mark. Once a shortlist is put together, they will be sent to the employer to start the above process, unless there is already a relationship in place where the hiring manager may deal direct with applications.
Because the recruitment process is so stringent, it is important to make sure you really work on that CV and make sure it ticks all the boxes for your applications or you face being placed in the recycle bin.
Stakeholders are key to project management and how you work with them can seriously impact your success, so it is important to ensure you are including detail about your stakeholders and how you interact with them within your CV. All too often I hear PM professionals say that “it goes with the job” – yes it does but don’t assume that reviewers of your CV will draw information like this from a job title. Also, we all work very differently and have differing levels of challenges with stakeholders; therefore you really do need to address your experience within the CV.
One good area to start would be to include an example of where you have overcome stakeholder challenges within a key achievement, this is a great opportunity to tell a story – keep it to the point and ensure you cover what the challenge was, how you overcame it and what the result was. Including your key achievements towards the top of the CV will ensure this detail is read within the first instance and is particularly useful for applications for roles clearly stating/highlighting a need for strong stakeholder engagement/management.
When writing the remit for your roles further information should be included in a bullet point, keep the focus on who/what/where/when. Not everyone deals with external stakeholders or globally dispersed – you can really talk about cultural issues etc with these examples. Internally there may be other factors such as matrix management environments, very senior staff and differing business priorities etc.
Your communication in PM is paramount; don’t expect not to be using this skill effectively in your job applications and the all important CV.
I was at an event recently when I met a hiring manager from a large employer in London, he talked to me about a project controls position which had become available and it really struck a chord with my experience. I asked a few questions and explained my background then asked if he would be interested in my application, to my delight he said yes and gave me contact details asking me to send my CV and cover letter to him. I am fairly sure my CV reflects the detail required for the role but I have little experience in writing a cover letter can you advise where to start? Sarah – Project Consultant, London.
Many thanks for your question Sarah let me start by saying well done for asking questions about the requirements for the role – this is a key starting point for the bulk of the letter. Ideally you should highlight specific examples of your experience which closely matches the role – avoid being theoretical, keep to facts. As this is a project controls role I would keep focus on where you have “policed” governance or put structures in place, talk though background briefly then what you were actually doing and the results achieved from this.
I know you mentioned your CV you feel is up to scratch, however, the CV needs to back up your cover letter – therefore you should read through the letter once complete then read through your CV to ensue it matches up. This is where many fall down, spending a long time creating a great cover letter then the CV doesn’t reflect this experience clearly. As cover letters often get discarded, it is important to make sure you really work on that CV or all that time will have gone to waste and you’ll be left wondering why you’ve not had a call.