Settling back at work after the holidays is always a difficult one; especially if you have been using your time away from the office to reflect on how different life could be, you might well feel like packing up your desk and leaving. You wouldn’t be the first and will not be the last to feel like this but you could use this negative energy in a positive way to give yourself something to look forward to.
Here’s a list of things you can make a start at addressing to put you in a better place to moving on in your career:
- Perform a personal stock take on your skills and abilities – learn about yourself and how your skill-set sits with the job market today, you may well find you are selling yourself short in your current role or you may identify a gap which needs addressing. Either way, it is a rarity for individuals to just sit down and take a long hard look at what you can actually do (mainly because we just get on with it).
- Clean up your online profile – pay some attention to that LinkedIn profile you have left suspended in a half finished state online (says a lot about a professional, especially those looking for a new opportunity), how is your twitter feed looking these days? What no post since 01/06/14? Have you been in touch with your peers online? Sung about your projects? Joined in chat groups… clearly not!
- Dust down your CV – having spent some time on point 1, you should have a good idea of what employers and recruiters are after seeing and you should also be in a good position to update your CV with some fresh information.
- Be really lazy at the job hunting – load your CV on the job websites and let the recruiters come to you. If your CV is good, they will be calling you, if it’s not so great you will be checking your phone for non-existent messages and maybe it is time to get a professional opinion!
Just like people, CVs need a health check periodically, as a project management professional you should take responsibility for your career and part of progression is updating and improving you CV as your experience grows. However there are times just like with your own health when you may suspect something is no quite right, you know when you feel there is something amiss and you aren’t functioning properly… Well you may also see these signs with your CV especially if you are applying for roles. To you the CV looks OK, but you aren’t yielding results from your applications or maybe you are but they aren’t quite the results you were hoping for.
Visiting the doctor is a good idea if you don’t feel right but all too often the GP cannot diagnose and calls for tests, and ultimately will refer you to a specialist in the field, who can investigate more thoroughly and is used to seeing hundreds of patients annually who display similar symptoms to yours and can often pinpoint what is wrong within a short consultation. Unlike the GP who is a general practitioner and is fantastic for uncomplicated ailments and conditions but has not got the in-depth knowledge of specific areas of the body to be able to accurately diagnose and ultimately understand your condition.
The same goes for your CV, you may investigate your CV and even take it to recruiters, managers, colleagues, HR friends etc but as good as their advice can be, the likelihood is that they don’t know enough about project management combined with hiring managers high expectations. Those who do will often miss how to articulate key details.
When you come to The CV Righter, you will have your CV thoroughly reviewed, and moving forward with the service you will have a thorough consultation where weak points in the document will be highlighted, completely missed areas will be teased out and poor parts will be nursed back to health to ensure the CV is really selling you.
Don’t leave it to chance, you could be missing out on some fantastic opportunities just because you hope it will sort itself out and blaming the state of the job market just isn’t an excuse. As a seasoned PM recruiter I know only too well that opportunities are still there even in perceived slow periods.
Project Management is all about variety and achievement – however it isn’t as simple as getting from A to B, anyone who has managed a project which has run smoothly will appreciate the hassle free approach but in reality this is a rarity. It is the challenges and blockers which really make for an interesting project and can really add value to your CV. These challenges can range from cultural issues, resistance to change and suppliers going under. Not to mention disparate teams and no buy-in from the senior management team – every PM professional I have spoken to has a portfolio of stories to share but it is rare to see any evidence of this on their CVs. Employers are usually aware of the major issues faced within the organisation when looking to bring in fresh talent and sharing these war stories can really add a new dimension to your application and set you apart from your peers. It isn’t about whinging, trust me, a lot of PM professionals feel sharing such detail would come across like this however written in a positive light on how you overcome significant challenges you are addressing some core areas such as management style, problem solving and organisation. Although the other perception is that it is all part of the job, to a point yes it is but it takes real skill to turn around a failing or troubled piece of work and as such why are you not singing your own praises? Focussing on particular aspects of PM such as the people element or process are key skills sought after by employers. Quantifying your skill set with some key achievements is a great way to showcase yourself in your CV and let’s face it; the job market is flooded so it is imperative you are marketing yourself in the document. Choosing a few achievements with some variety and also targeting specific examples for the roles you are applying for will certainly highlight you for the right reasons with employers and the all important gate keepers (recruiters/HR).
When noting your achievements you should look to set the scene with enough detail to be clear on the challenge then talk through what you did to rectify the issues, followed by the result / benefits. Keep to a short statement (the CV needs to be concise) and don’t be tempted to share more information than is necessary – it always gives the impression you struggle to get to the point with long winded statements; this is not a good impression to make as hiring managers will assume an hour long interview is likely to go on for 3 hours and project meetings will unnecessarily overrun. Remember it is not just the content that is being assessed, are you being clear, concise and demonstrating an understanding of what it is you do.
I am often asked “what can I be doing to enhance my CV further to attract employers” – it’s an interesting question which is often followed up by “should I take a PM qualification?” It is the 20 million dollar question, some organisations ask specifically for PM qualifications whereas others are happy with the experience in delivering through structured methods. My first response is have you set aside some funds to take a course? If you have been made redundant you may have an agreement with the business for them to pay for a course or two and as a seasoned contractor I would expect you to be investing in your business (i.e. you) with some courses. However if you are new to PM or looking to break into PM then a course may not be the best use of your time or money, I would always say it is good to back up practice with a formal qualification but just taking an exam when you have little or no exposure to putting the theory into practice isn’t going to set you much further ahead of your peers. An introductory course might be a good option for those new to PM, this will provide an insight into how projects are run and assist you in the terminology used within the PM field.
As a practitioner with a number of years exposure to structured methods, it is a clear indicator that you are dedicated to the field by gaining the PM badges and is always good to get back in the classroom now and then to brush up on current practices. Also those wishing to move from PM to programmes may look at qualifications which are relevant to that level of delivery, as you are likely to be managing a programme or two within your portfolio it would be a good exercise to apply a more robust structure to the delivery and set you in better stead moving forward.
In regards to which PM qualification to go for – it is always difficult to know which one the employer will be asking for, my advice is to research the roles you are relevant for and see what the adverts are asking for. However if you have a PM badge or two which are not what the employer is asking for, don’t be put off applying if you fit the rest of the job wish list – some employers just name a qualification but don’t necessarily use that structure, they may just be looking for a PM with a structured approach as opposed to a “just do it” approach. Another good idea is to talk to PM recruiters and ask what they are being asked for most within your field, they have their fingers hot on the pulse of what the trends are in reality.