PMOs have been around for years, although originally underutilised, they now play a major role in the successful delivery of projects and programmes within organisations across all fields. As such the salaries commanded for support roles have improved dramatically along with the role remits, therefore the field of project and programme support has become a competitive field to get into, no longer are PMO professionals glorified secretaries, you’re the drivers behind project capability. As the support roles are now no longer a stepping stone to project management (although still can be) there is a clear career path in this field which is well suited to those who have a passion and flair for process and people improvement.
Your CV is the key to the gateway of recruitment, ensuring you are being put forward for roles and more importantly, for the right roles. I have spoke to a number of PMO contractor who are persistently put forward for project coordinator positions – completely the wrong role for them, after reviewing their CVs the theme is that the CV is not focussing on the strategic aspect of project support. At the CV Righter, we have specialist PMO recruitment experience which is used to underpin the core areas looked for by both recruiters and HR professionals in the field, producing a strong document which clearly depicts your experience, specialities and needs moving forward.
Why use a PMO CV writing service? Because that’s what we do, we specialise in PMO and PM, just as you specialise in implementing structure and guiding project teams. Horses for courses, we are a well established business which focuses on PPM and having worked with multinational to small businesses within every field and sector we know what the employer actually wants to see and what makes them interview.
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.
At some point during your job hunt, you will ask yourself whether contract positions are worth considering. The promise of high day-rates and more freedom is certainly appealing, but there is much more to contracting than simply doing the same work for more money. There is the additional risk you accept of being out of contract for long periods. You can wave goodbye to paid sick leave and holidays.
You will also need to consider the way you operate. Umbrella companies can leave you with the worst of both worlds: continuing to be taxed as a permanent employee, whilst shouldering the risk of being self-employed. Setting up your own limited company will give you more freedom, but you have to operate as a business or risk being taxed under IR35 legislation.
IR35 is a tax legislation designed to pick up people who are in so-called ‘disguised employment’. Put simply, if HMRC decide you are actually acting as an employee rather than a business, you will need to pay tax accordingly. This can be more costly than a permanent job as you have to factor in the costs of Employers’ National Insurance. If you are operating outside of IR35, as most contractors are, there is the risk of a considerable tax bill if you’ve accounted incorrectly.
The best way to avoid falling foul of IR35 is to look at contracting for what it really is: you are an entrepreneur running your own small business. Do it right and not only will you avoid tax shocks, you can actually build your business and increase profitability. Here are a few of ideas to get you started:
- Outsource some routine work. www.sidekicking.co.uk specialise in subcontracting for IT Professionals. They can create dashboards, communication plans – even write up your meetings based on your whiteboard photos. As well as providing you evidence to pass HMRC’s ‘Actual Substitution test’, this will also allow you to work more efficiently – taking on more or higher value contracts;
- Consider taking on fixed-price pieces of work, or work with additional payments for hitting key milestones. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be contracting if you were not confident in your ability to get things done. Fixed-price contracts or contracts with milestone payments can be more lucrative than pure day-rate contracts and will be attractive to the companies you work for as their risk will be greatly reduced;
- Market your company and build your brand. It is surprising how many contracts are initiated through networks rather than job boards. Build a presence on Linked in and create your own company page. Raise your profile further by writing white papers on areas of expertise and maintaining a blog. Don’t confine your marketing to the Internet. Business cards are still an important networking tool to use at meetings, conferences and networking events.
So there we have it. What started as a simple job search has resulted in you becoming director of your own limited company, subcontracting work and taking on lucrative fixed-price tenders. What started off as a desire to avoid IR35 has propelled you into running your own small business. Congratulations and best of luck for the future.