The project management job market is up and down all the time, having tracked the PM job market for 8 years or so from a buoyant time and through a double dip recession I can honestly say there has always been PM jobs about. OK so employers changed their recruitment methods and processes, it became more difficult to secure a role and the salaries have yo-yo’d throughout. One thing which hasn’t changed is the need for an excellent CV, employers expect the best and will shortlist based on how well they relate to the CVs presented to them. As a standard, a CV must be well written with no spelling or grammatical errors but much more than this you need to be selling yourself in the right light. I thoroughly believe you can actually have less of the experience if your CV clearly demonstrates what you can do and how you do it. If you can match 85% (previously I would’ve said 90-95%) of the role requirements but have some excellent examples of how you have added value to employers, talk through core skills with context and generally have a shining example of your skill-set versus experience then you are more likely to score more interviews.
I’ve always said, if you can write the CV yourself, then do it, however it is difficult to separate yourself from the document and be objective and this can really hinder you. Working exclusively with a former PM recruiter you can really build a CV that works and really talks about you. For a free quote and honest feedback for how your current CV comes across, get in touch!
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.
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.
The PM job market has been up and down over the past few years but there have always been good roles available throughout, and although it has become more competitive offers have continued to be made to good project people. One of the key issues tends to be securing interviews with a application list of hundreds, it isn’t difficult to see why employers and recruiters will naturally pick out the best CVs over anything else. It’s not ideal as the best candidates may be left on the shelf because their CV isn’t telling us what it needs to. I was speaking to a seasoned project manager the other week who has exceptional experience but his CV was really letting him down – it just didn’t attract attention for the more senior roles he had the experience in. He told me he has no issue with delivering strategic pieces of work, improving corporate wide project capability however he really struggles to spend time on recording this detail in a CV. He can talk about it very coherently but putting it on paper to the in point the relevant parts over too much detail isn’t his strong point. When I pointed out that we all have skills in different fields he agreed and said that is why he decided to make contact with me. Having spent years working with clients from all industries in a recruitment capacity – I know what piques the interest of hiring managers and recruiters alike. There’s no shame in being unable to produce an effective CV, if it was that easy then there wouldn’t be so many professional CV writing services available. I have yet to come across another specialist PM CV writer with a background in delivering projects, specialist PM recruiting and over 8 years PM careers support like The CV Righter. I set up the business after being approached on countless occasions by all levels of PM professionals requesting their CV be rewritten, it makes sense that with a proven technique which really generates interviews I write your CV and you concentrate on delivering your projects – as with any resource planning within project teams there are “horses for courses” and achieving good results is what we all strive for.
Taken this all into account, you will see why it is important to make sure you invest in your career by taking advice and making sure you are seriously considered for the roles that are available, whether in abundance or scarce.