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.
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!
LinkedIn has evolved over the years, what was once a business social network has quickly become a tool for hiring managers and recruiter to identify potential employees – with a pool of 200 million users reported it is one big database. The ability to be able to search on location, companies, industries, job titles and keywords makes it a fantastic resource for those tasked with recruitment.
This in mind, have you done the basics to ensure you are making your profile attractive and not overlooked; here are some basics to get you started:
- Endorsements – contacting your previous employers, colleagues, former customers etc. to request a few words is definitely worthwhile. That said you should also look to return the favour with your associates. Endorsements are useful for potential employers to have a look at how others view you; they won’t stand in place of your references but certainly play a positive part in attracting interest.
- Details – seems obvious, but I have lost track of the profiles I have viewed which barely state current or previous employment names and dates. Think about how this looks to others, lazy and uninteresting. Invest some time to add in details which can be (and I advise should be) different to your CV. A stripped down version which talks through your projects and basics on how you delivered should suffice – whet the appetite of the viewer.
- Summary – this is a good area to introduce yourself, make sure you talk about you as a professional – what is it you actually do? But also ensure you add in keywords specific to your skill-set as keyword searches will scan for these. Also think about including industries etc into this section.
- Free flow – as your LinkedIn profile isn’t an official CV you can add an element of creativity and it is important to do this. Not make things up!! But address areas which you merely don’t have the room for on your CV, where your passion lays and also what your outside interests are too. Look to build a strong profile which says all it needs to but engages others.
OK so now you have a profile which is interesting and you feel happy with, make sure it is searchable / open to others. This is a question I am often asked – should I make my profile public in my privacy settings, short answer to those who are looking for their next opportunity, yes! You can always batten down the hatches on your settings once you have secured a new role but in the first instance, how do you expect to be picked up by recruiters and hiring managers?
We have been approached by a number of clients asking for their LinkedIn profile script to be put together alongside their CV so they are set to start their job search; this is certainly another element of our services and something we highly recommend to put you in the right position moving forward.
We have seen LinkedIn evolving over the years and one feature which seems to becoming rather popular is the skill endorsement function. It is very easy to endorse our connections for various skills by “ticking a box” which is displayed in a list on our profiles. Quite an interesting function but does it really add value to your profile, because it is so easy to endorse others and those who have been endorsed may feel compelled to return the favour – which in essence isn’t a bad thing but if you are being endorsed for skills which others haven’t seen you demonstrate then the whole concept falls apart. It isn’t this aspect which I wish to address today; it is the perceived value of a list of skills on your profile which often takes the place of a CV for those interested in gaining a new role. I was talking with a client the other week that had a comprehensive list of skills on his CV, when I pointed out that it is not the best use of limited space on the CV and lists don’t help hiring managers – he questioned (quite rightly) why. I completely understand the need for adding in keywords but with no context the reviewer cannot see where/when/how they were used, therefore they should be integrated into the role remits with further detail on what that skill means in that role. When I pushed back with my client and asked why he was so keen to keep the list, he said that he had a lot of endorsements for skills on LinkedIn and felt that this must be the trend moving forward. I suggested a link to his LinkedIn profile on the top of his CV might be a more valuable way of offering up additional information to hiring managers, after all if you are to place a link to your profile there should be extra information there not just a carbon copy of your CV. With LinkedIn profiles it is a good opportunity to talk through further information and tempt in those recruiting through the website and then when they make contact you will have a CV which can back up the information provided – so it works both ways!
More and more project professionals find themselves in a position where they need to work part time – this may be due to home commitments such as caring for dependents or even other interests such as writing books / working for charities etc. It may seem that employers will not be interested in part time employees as projects can be very time consuming, however there are a great deal of organisations out there who would benefit from experienced project professionals working on a part time basis due to budgetary constraints.
These types of roles are rarely advertised as the hiring managers have not yet thought about taking on additional support in this capacity but it does make sense. Therefore it is important to really think about how you can add value to a project or business and make contact with heads of projects etc. A first port of call would be your existing contacts base – update your CV and drop them a line explaining your desire to work on a part time basis and don’t forget to add in the benefits of a cheaper resource with a great skill-set. Once you have made contact with previous employers, colleagues, and contacts then you are on their radar – hopefully they will keep their ear to the ground and suggest you for additional resource with their contacts too. Then you should look to research organisations who have project management functions to see what is new with them – the best starting point would be to look at their news articles to see if they have anything new in the pipeline which could potentially yield new roles, such as new products / mergers / overhauling legacy systems etc. Before making contact – look to see if any of your contacts have any connection to the organisation, LinkedIn is perfect for this. If you find they do – ask for an introduction to HR or ideally heads of projects. The next part is really important: write a speculative covering letter which includes detail about their changes then talk through your relevant experience and exposure to this, do not be afraid to blow your own trumpet – but simply stating you are brilliant isn’t the way to do it, talk about your actual accomplishments which are relevant to the project and how you add value. Then talk through your desire for a part time position and spell out how this can be a cost effective resource for the project. Some flexibility to your working hours is always a bonus, so if you can be flexible – tell them so!
There is a fair bit of work required on your side with this approach to finding a new role but with competition high for the few part time roles advertised, it is this proactive behaviour which will yield results.