Stakeholders are key to project management and how you work with them can seriously impact your success, so it is important to ensure you are including detail about your stakeholders and how you interact with them within your CV. All too often I hear PM professionals say that “it goes with the job” – yes it does but don’t assume that reviewers of your CV will draw information like this from a job title. Also, we all work very differently and have differing levels of challenges with stakeholders; therefore you really do need to address your experience within the CV.
One good area to start would be to include an example of where you have overcome stakeholder challenges within a key achievement, this is a great opportunity to tell a story – keep it to the point and ensure you cover what the challenge was, how you overcame it and what the result was. Including your key achievements towards the top of the CV will ensure this detail is read within the first instance and is particularly useful for applications for roles clearly stating/highlighting a need for strong stakeholder engagement/management.
When writing the remit for your roles further information should be included in a bullet point, keep the focus on who/what/where/when. Not everyone deals with external stakeholders or globally dispersed – you can really talk about cultural issues etc with these examples. Internally there may be other factors such as matrix management environments, very senior staff and differing business priorities etc.
Your communication in PM is paramount; don’t expect not to be using this skill effectively in your job applications and the all important CV.
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!
I always receive a mixed response from candidates regarding interview expectations, most are confident that once they are interviewed they will be offered the job – great to have such confidence and I hope the theme continues that way. However there are a number of candidates who find interviews terrifying, understandable if you haven’t had much experience of interviews or it has been a long time since your last one. The element of not knowing what to expect is where the fear kicks in for most, in this article I want to address Stakeholders.
Now, whether you are a Senior Programme Manager or a Project Admin, stakeholders are arguably the most important element of project success. Whenever I have seen a project not reach success, it has often come back to a failing communication element.
Here are some questions based purely on the stakeholder aspect which you should look to consider and compare with your own experiences, so you can create a number of responses to use in your forthcoming interviews. Remember to take a holistic approach to your responses, giving detail about the project/situation, your actions and finally the results achieved.
- How do you identify the key stakeholders on your project?
- Realistically this can be as simple as a meeting with all involved and/or;
- Rating their level of interest and involvement in the project.
- Once identified, what do you do next?
- Think about stakeholder mapping, communication plans etc.
- Give me an example of a strained stakeholder relationship, what did you do to resolve the issue?
- A great question, which answered correctly, can really draw out your relationship building skills. Soft skills as more important than process in PM.
- When working with external stakeholders, how do you ensure a balanced communication process is maintained?
- This is an interesting question; it could be a trick to see what information you are willing to share with outsiders to the company. Always difficult to gauge how organisations work, some are transparent whereas others like to keep all issues in-house. Of course the core part of the question is really asking how you keep in touch with the external parties, always check questions which might generate a leading response.
Once you have some good examples to talk through – practice, give the questions to your partner/friend/colleague and run through them, ask them back what you just told them to see if you are communicating clearly. Practice makes perfect and it is all too easy to get embroiled in internal terminology (from your current/previous company), and you need to be able to engage all at the interview including HR and other non-PM people.
Stakeholders play a huge role in projects and effective communication is key to success, working closely with the team to ensure we are all singing from the same song sheet.
So why do so many not talk about their stakeholders in their CV? Your CV is the first piece of communication a hiring manager sees from you, by omitting detail about arguably one of the most important aspects of your role from the CV you are selling yourself short.
Let’s take a look at the fundamentals of stakeholder engagement:
- Establishing who your stakeholders are – once engaging in a new project it is important to understand who your stakeholders are and list them in order of importance to the project.
- Create a communications plan – work with your stakeholders to schedule in regular contact, understand their other commitments and set up a style which fits with this.
- Honesty – don’t hide major issues from your stakeholders, talk about them and provide tangible solutions. You aren’t doing anyone any favours by keeping them in the dark, being upfront but constructive is essential.
Adding this kind of detail alongside some context such as stakeholder locations, involvement and difficulties (yes we have all dealt with tricky customers), you can really start adding value to your CV. It is the anomalies and how you manage them which really start to set you apart from your peers in the field.
I have seen far too many CVs which place all the emphasis on the projects and none on how you work – yes, we want to know what the projects are but remember the CV is about you so we also want to see how you work. Simply listing a string of skills just doesn’t cut it with employers, actually adding in detail about what this means in your role is where you really add value. Forgetting the stakeholders is not giving the right impression and this is the first impression, so work on creating a CV which is inclusive and really tells the reader about you.