I thoroughly enjoyed presenting at the APM PM CV Workshop on Thursday 5th Dec – not only was it a pleasure to give something back to the PM community but it was also great to meet a bunch of really enthusiastic and engaging PM professionals. I was in talks with Graham the NW Branch Secretary about running a session back in April 2013, and I hadn’t expected the year to fly by as quickly as it did. Unfortunately on the evening we were met with horrific storms which lead to a reduced number attending the session, but this in no way reduced the energy in the room. For those who missed out here’s a synopsis of the evening. The session was broken down into sections, first we talked through an introduction lead by myself on who we were and a little about our backgrounds so we could establish a relevant theme to take throughout the evening. We then talked through structuring the CV and the importance of getting the right kind of information presented without producing a lengthy document. We discussed what employers look for in a CV and how the market has changed over the years, delving into experiences from the recruitment aspect and also how the delegates had found the shift. It was interesting to have a mix of delegates from permanent and contractors to those happy in their roles but recognising a need to have an up to date CV. We had stories from those who had never really needed a CV as their contract assignments had usually been secured through word of mouth and networks but had seen this type of behaviour dip over the years and those who had been in their current employment for over 10 years. It was interesting that one of the delegates pointed out that the demographic of the attendees was 40 year old plus, which sparked a discussion about ageism and how this could play a part in recruitment whether beneficial or discriminatory. However as the group was reduced due to the storm it was not a true reflection of parties interested in improving their CVs, although the willpower to attend against the blocked roads and gale force winds was noted. The session lasted a good hour and a half due to lots of discussions about various aspects of the CV and talking through examples, lots of great questions were asked and by the end of the session although some felt their CVs needed shredding and starting over. Everyone felt reenergised about how to put together a winning CV. I also gave some personal CV reviews after the session and provided all attendees with a CV template sample and guidance notes to achieve the winning CV. Asking around the room (also receiving some fantastic feedback afterwards via twitter and the blog) everyone felt the session had been a real eye opener and useful for them moving forward.
I must say I tend to find presentations quite stale when too formal, so taking a more collaborative approach to delivering and sharing information came as a refreshing change and a style I shall adopt for future workshops.
I have been asked to present at future APM events, which I look forward to – hopefully next time we won’t be faced with adverse weather conditions!
Although there is limited information available for project management professionals looking for advice on careers – in an ever evolving job market and with project management being such a vast area to cover, bespoke advice can be very hard to come by and often rather expensive. That is why we also provide guidance with our Project Management CV writing service, some require a little coaching or advice and others necessitate dedicated sessions adding value for money. When you make contact with The CV Righter we talk to you about your career aspirations and what you have done so far working towards achieving these. We then identify where you may need further assistance which is integrated into your service package, unlike other CV writing and careers service advisors we make sure that you walk away with a CV which will yield results and be informed in how to tackle those career pitfalls moving forward.
Some areas we cover (although not exhaustive):
- Job Applications – where to start
- LinkedIn usage
- Cover letters
- Engaging with recruiters
- Internal career progression
- Negotiating job offers
- Identifying unadvertised jobs
- Understanding project management
- Understanding PMOs
- Career progression planning
- Breaking into project management
- Planning your approach to job applications
- Understanding interview feedback
- Confidence building
If the assistance you require is not listed, just ask – we cover a wide area of advice related to project management and careers advice. All our clients are encouraged to keep in touch after the service has been completed, we are there for support moving forward for as long as you need and even if you just want to tell someone about how things are (sharing good and bad news is always better than keeping it to yourself).
Only a small percentage of jobs are filled by recruiters, in fact the percentage doesn’t increase greatly with advertised roles either. The majority of roles filled are through other means – now I have always said that recruitment can be like a lottery, you need to be in the right place at the right time. However there are some things you can be doing to ensure you are likely to be in the right places and highlighted specifically for upcoming roles and roles which haven’t necessarily been identified.
- Networking – personal networking and social contacts are a valuable tool when you are looking to secure a new position, do keep in touch with your contacts regularly and not only when you want something! Update or create a LinkedIn profile and connect with your previous employers, colleagues, friends etc. Make sure you join groups and get involved in discussions, this keeps you at the forefront of people’s minds but also demonstrates your passion for your profession and you can easily gain new valuable contacts through this practice. Go to PM specific events, there are a fair few which are free to attend – go listen to seminars and network with delegates to strengthen your contacts list. Join in social networking discussions beyond LinkedIn – twitter has a regular gathering on a Friday afternoon under the hashtag #pmchat – the topic differs from week to week and it is a great opportunity to talk live about PM related subjects with other Project Professionals.
- Create opportunities – if you are already in a contract or employed you can take the consultative approach and get involved with other project teams, understand what changes are afoot and identify how you could tap into these changes. Even talking to other PMs over coffee and hearing their challenges can unearth some interesting pieces of work you can take to Head of Projects etc.
- Direct approach – I can almost hear your sigh at the thought of a speculative application, after all in the past you have done this and received the generic response of “keeping your details on file”, but there is a more effective way to approach businesses.
- Create a list of companies you would like to work for and know have project management functions.
- Research the companies, track them online – identify changes, look at anything which might generate jobs, from new product launches to mergers.
- Identify Heads of Projects – a bit of searching online will soon generate some names and contact details.
- Draw up a tailored cover letter, talk through the change you have identified and match up your experience to how you have delivered similar change in the past.
- Tweak your CV to ensure it is relevant to the business and look at other employees’ profiles from that business to grasp an idea at what attracts the business to them.
- Approach the contact, be assertive but not pushy and ask for a call or to meet for a coffee to discuss.
The direct approach is time consuming but, think about how your chances of securing a new role have increased significantly by demonstrating key skills such as being proactive, commercially astute, good researcher etc. you could also save them costly recruitment fees moving forward and avoid the long queue for a role which has later been adevertised.
Careers advisors have been working with young people for decades to help them recognise their potential through various testing and quizzes which often list project management as a suggested route for those who demonstrate an organised approach to working. However it is one thing being listed as a suggested profession and another thing actually being able to attain a project management role. Most of the PM people I know happened to fall into the field – like myself, I was working on quality control for a large blue chip when I was asked to get involved with some continuous improvement projects. Having demonstrated my willingness and aptitude to managing these projects I was put on courses to learn a structured approach to delivery and quickly moved into a role where I was managing new product introduction projects across Europe. I haven’t looked back and having been fortunate enough to have a supportive senior management team I learnt a great deal very quickly.
I would always recommend those who want to get into PM take a look at their current circumstances, what can you do where you are to achieve your goals? If you are yet to secure a new role then I suggest targeting businesses with the scope to be able to offer more, later down the line. Make a point of securing a new position which is ideally office based and work hard, get noticed for the right reasons and don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel you are moving at a pace you feel you deserve. It is important to make sure you gain some trust by the senior management team, once they know you can do the task in hand (i.e. the job you were employed for) and can see your willingness to be involved in projects you should start being invited to get involved. In the first instance you are likely to be asked to support a project, this is a great basis to build up your portfolio of skills and gain a greater understanding of how projects are run. You will also get to work with other parties around the business and begin to be recognised in this field. The knock on effect is that you may then be requested from other areas in the business to join new projects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be open to training, and be keen to join in.
This can work for those already established within a business, if you have been working in a job which isn’t challenging you, take time to speak with your manager and ask if there are any projects you can get involved with. Explain you are keen to be involved but be careful not to be too dismissive of your current role – think about the reasoning behind why you want work on projects, always take a positive approach.