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 Unfortunately outdated systems often used by some recruitment agencies cannot process PDF files, therefore large chunks of detail can be missing and basically it renders your CV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.
As a project practitioner it is highly likely you have gained PRINCE2 qualifications and/or worked with the methodology at some points along your PM career path. Employers will still ask for PRINCE2 qualifications and knowledge as it has long been a buzz word in the PM domain, therefore it is important to do more than merely mention you have the PRINCE2 qualification on your CV. It is good practice to use the terminology within your CV to demonstrate that you utilise the methods, also mentioning in your profile that you have used the method alongside other PM methods married up with the experience talking through the lifecycle for your remits. This also applies to those who have lapsed PRINCE2 or haven’t got the qualifications – if you work within a PRINCE2 environment then talk about it, arguably the experience is far more valuable than the certificate alone.
Make sure you spell PRINCE2 correctly and don’t fall into calling yourself a practioner, it’s practitioner – I’ve lost count of how many CVs I’ve seen this spelling mistake on. As with all detail on your CV, you must be careful to ensure you aren’t making mistakes. Not only is it off-putting to reviewers it can also hinder you when it comes to keyword searches, recruiters still use keyword searching and you won’t come up in shortlists if you are spelling qualifications and keywords incorrectly.
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!
Skills are an obvious subject to address in your CV, but are you actually writing the right things? We’ve all heard that recruiters keyword search on specific words which are relevant to PM and delivery/support etc, and this is true, however a list of keywords just doesn’t cut it. Anyone can write a good list from a little research which will have your CV come to the top of a search but with no context it is just a list or a word, we can’t actually see where or when you have used the skill. Equally, copying and pasting your job description may look like you’ve made more effort but it is obvious this is what you have done to recruiters and HR professionals, they read bland and generic (and dare I say….Lazy!).
If you have already created a list then you are half way there to getting some really good pieces of information on the CV, have a think about how you have used the skill, some skills are a daily requirement so you can talk about how you regularly do XYZ and talk about why you do it, if it is a skill you don’t use as regularly but for more specific pieces of work then talk about specifics for using it. You’ll soon have a good list of bullet points which incorporate the keywords but they actually tell a story and make your use of them more realistic to the reviewer. Not rocket science, but an area that a lot of project professionals fail to do with their CVs, placing more focus on the project which in turn makes for a great marketing pitch for the project and/or business but does nothing to sell you and your skill-set.