I’ve written about this before, albeit a couple of years ago but it is always good to have a reminder. When sending your project management CV for job applications don’t make the mistake of sending a PDF file. Now we are told that sending a PDF file will keep the format of the document and the reviewer will read it as they were meant to but… And here’s the big but…. If you want your CV to go into recruitment agencies systems to be available for recruiters to search for and review for other roles then you may find the file won’t save properly. Unfortunately outdated systems often used by some recruitment agencies cannot process PDF files, therefore large chunks of detail can be missing and basically it renders your CV useless in their system. Now in all fairness I don’t know a great deal of recruitment agencies that bother to revisit CVs in their own systems due to the volume of applications being made regularly making it not necessary. Also the large job board websites have much more robust searching options which means most recruiters would turn to these repositories over their in-house systems. But to always go belt and braces to ensure your best chances by always using a MS Word file format.
After reading a number of stories about those with aspirations to better themselves and secure their dream role it occurred to me that fear of the unknown or more so fear of failure are the major blockers to those wanting to reach their goals. Taking an easy road where you feel secure isn’t necessarily as safe as you may think – securing a position within a large organisation where you feel job security comes before your own career goals can really hinder you and be counterproductive. Taking the leap of faith by going after the career you believe is your forte can be far more rewarding and have equal risk to that faithful safe route. Not only will you feel as though you aren’t being utilised to your full potential you also run the risk of that time old “restructuring” which can inevitably mean redundancy. By researching what it takes to achieve your career goals and taking a few punts you will be taking the right steps towards reaching your full potential and general happiness.
Here’s an example:
John knew at university that he was a strong leader; he had a passion for creating and always felt he would be well suited to managing large construction programmes of work. However, John was worried he may falter along the way by having periods of unemployment as the route he felt was ideal often meant he would be working on contract not as an employee – who would pay the rent when he was between contracts? So he took a safe route as a large blue chip financial institution was offering graduate roles within their accounts department, he worked for years taking the appropriate qualifications and became a qualified accountant. Not a bad course to take but very limiting for someone who clearly had different aspirations. After 20 years faithful employment he was made redundant and because of the recession dip found himself struggling to secure a new role, he was also caught up in a catch 22 situation where a change in career seemed almost impossible. Every day became a struggle and his dreams of building were just that, dreams.
Had he taken the approach of the path less travelled and gained some experience in construction supporting large programmes of work and working his way up he would have no doubt come across the major construction stoppage during the recession but the outcome would have been different. He would be realising his dream and still had the period of unemployment/no contract. However the economy adapted and both fields picked up again for new roles, at least he’d be living his dream and the risks were equal.
Don’t be afraid to chase your career dreams – we spend far too much time working versus being at home, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Having reviewed literally thousands of CVs over the years, one thing which quickly became apparent was that prospective job candidates really struggled to articulate themselves. It’s true and not just restricted to those deemed “junior” or fairly new to project management, those managing multi-million pound programmes and heading up incredibly complex and technical pieces of work (often high profile) are also guilty, if not more so. You may ask how hard it can be to clearly talk about the key deliverables, important facts and “how” you work – when spelled out, it isn’t or is it?
How many times have you made a statement which has been misinterpreted? From a flippant status update on Facebook to a quickly scribed tweet, responses contrary to what you meant often crop up so how common is it to make the same mistakes on your CV – very!
When we write something down, to you as the author it makes sense but often you write as you speak and don’t think about the fact that others do not know what context you are talking in when it’s a flat piece of paper. A short, to the point (or not) document which should be presenting you in a professional manner and selling your abilities to potential employers and recruiters.
Don’t leave it to chance, think long and hard about your target audience and what they expect to see, work through your skills, experiences and knowledge and ensure this comes across clearly on the CV. Don’t make the mistake of writing thousands of words or going polar opposite by barely supplying any info. Remember it doesn’t matter what level you work at, the employer still needs to see what it is you have done and how you have done it. Senior management often believe less is more but this will seriously hinder you from securing that next position.
I had a call the other day from a male asking me if I had any jobs – I pointed out that I am not a recruitment agency and ended the call, but after hanging up I realised that the person who had called really came across as quite rude and a bit of a mumbling mess. Putting myself back into my recruiter shoes I thought to myself how I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to help this person if I had roles available. This got me thinking about the hundreds of speculative calls I received as a recruiter back in the day and how people would come across on the phone. Some days I would be delighted with callers, those who really thought about what they wanted to discuss and could talk through their career/experience without taking too much precious time and were clear on the roles they wanted to go into next. Other days I would have people calling who would take a good couple of minutes to even properly engage in a conversation, they couldn’t summarise their experience and certainly didn’t know where their skill-set fit in future roles. I would remember all of my callers – for better or worse, and would often make a note stating the good and bad points. This greatly assisted me when I was qualifying new roles, I would usually already have a shortlist of candidates I wanted to speak to about it before I had written and advertised the job advert. As recruitment is so very competitive it is important to make sure you get your shortlist to the client ASAP, this way you had a better chance of getting ahead of the other agencies.