All too often I am approached by PPM professionals asking me why they are not getting into shortlists for roles commensurate to their salary/day rates and experience. One look through the CV will tell me all I need to know about why the applications are not being taken seriously, if the CV is well balanced with project detail and core competencies then it is usually that the CV doesn’t speak the right level of seniority and responsibility. Overlooked have been key areas such as team management (and direct line management which is less common with PPM professionals these days thanks to matrix environments), levels of management dealt with and of course complexity of projects (with the issues that these attract). Do not assume a job title will cover core areas of responsibility as titles can be very deceptive from organisation to organisation. If you are working at programme level then one would expect to see some reference to the elements of programme management required in order to carry out your role, project support professionals need to address the core areas they are covering such as interfacing the PM teams with senior management as standard and look into areas such as building project capability. Are you hands on or do you orchestrate teams? Or a bit of both, talk to us about how you deliver and deal with underperforming staff. Training and mentoring individuals and teams tends to be par for the course with most PPM professionals however not all and there are many ways to administer and gain buy-in; from your teams and also from your senior stakeholders.
There may be elements of change management you apply to your delivery and particular emphasis on risk – talk about these, all core areas sought after by employers. Don’t get caught into repetition on the CV – you may deliver similarly from role to role but there are always subtle differences, make sure you draw these out to add more value to the CV rather than stating “same responsibilities as XYZ role”. Cover as many elements of the project lifecycle as possible running through the roles so you can really start to tick the boxes of the hiring manager’s wish list. As a contractor you may have some fantastic war stories you can share – talking through how you hit the ground running and trouble shoot, and don’t forget that all important handover to BAU. Employers would much rather have a contractor come in and solve their issues and leave the team capable of continuing the good work once you leave. Always adding value, thinking about the end goal and how you can be attractive to your next employer is very important – don’t sell yourself short.
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.
Event Management is a complex field and is often overlooked by the traditional sense of Project Management due to its relaxed approach to structured delivery. However this is a misconception, as with all project managers – we all approach things differently! Events can be fairly straightforward pieces of work for training weekends and new product launches etc but the rise of large scale events such as festivals and industry conferences demanding a structured approach to presenting a business case, planning, resource management, risk & issue management, change control, reporting and stakeholder management. The role that was once deemed a “write requirements on the back of a cigarette packet” has had to change its ways, especially as even large scale festivals have had to cancel due to lack of interest – wasting time and resources. A failure in the research element could be put to blame here as the market has been flooded by such events – a huge revenue earner but only deeming real success when big names in music are headlining, and with so many to choose from naturally the greater band lists attract the majority.
Such pressures mean that events which are running need to go without a hitch – bad press for chaotic amenities and cancelled acts can damage future ticket sales.
Here’s a word cloud taking in some of the considerations for Event Management, now that is a project plan I wouldn’t want to manage – certainly testing the length of any Excel spreadsheet and the patience of an Event PM.
The Event Project Manager, not such an underdog after all – expert Planner, Benefits Manager, and Stakeholder Specialist a great big must!
Interesting topic, as relationships are the basis of life – whether it is partners, children, pets, colleagues, or suppliers to name a few. So how do we keep a relationship healthy and happy? A starting point has to be managing expectations, you commit to a certain level of engagement and this must be clear from the outset. Most of the time, with personal relationships this tends to be easier as you agree to call or do something and as long as you keep on top of your commitments then you have a healthy relationship. In work it can be difficult to juggle relationships especially when you are very busy and are constantly asking for parties to do something for you (usually because it is in the plan). So when things occasionally go sour or you inherit a bad relationship with a client or supplier, what should you do?
- What went wrong – talk to all involved to get a greater understanding of when the relationship started to struggle.
- Discuss feelings – all sounds very touchy feely I know but just listening to others and letting them vent their frustrations can relieve tension greatly.
- Listen to all points of view – don’t just listen to those who shout loudest, take time to speak with those who seem to be happy (it is often these who are just “getting on with it” grumbling under their breath).
- How can we put things right? Having taken in all views and opinions it is time to sit down and work out a strategy to improve the working environment moving forward. Take an inclusive approach, call a meeting with all involved and talk through your ideas and reassure everyone that you are acutely aware that things need to change and will.
I remember back when I first started managing my own projects, my programme director told me to refer to the plan with workstream leads who were not prioritising my projects. I did as I was told for a while but found that this corporate threat was damaging my relationships, I decided to take a different approach, bearing in mind I was working within a matrix environment so often had to go to their managers with the threats. I decided to spend some time with each workstream lead, visiting them in their work environments, having a coffee and chat about their workloads. I found that explaining the benefits to them completing their commitments to my projects and sympathising with their woes really started to build relationships to the point that they were very honest about statuses and pressures from others within the business. From this I met with other managers to discuss how we could all get what we needed. It wasn’t completely fool proof but certainly made for a more productive and happier work environment. Just remember that yes there is a plan but just because it is there doesn’t mean it will be followed without some intervention and management of expectations.