Starting out in Project Management – CV tips

Project Management is not for the faint hearted – it’s commonly being recognised as a profession and as such core skills and qualifications are a key requirement for those wanting to venture into the career path. Most of us have used project management whether formally or informally in unrelated roles and often those who wish to take next steps to work in the dedicated field of project management do so due to having a taster. The key thing to remember is that project management can be stressful, with deadlines and often difficult issues to overcome in order to ensure success.

Most of the project management professionals I know have “fallen” into the field, like myself, often carrying out day to day duties in their role and being asked or volunteering up their services to work on a project within the business. Gaining experience working on projects within your current role is one of the best ways to gain attention from potential employers to take you into a dedicated PM role. However, it is a rarity for candidates to go straight into managing their own projects as a first role – look at it from an employer’s perspective, if they have a bundle of cash and a project needing execution they are likely to give the responsibility to a seasoned professional. Especially in frugal times such as today where sign off on projects is being scrutinised fiercely.

A good starting point is supporting a project – either by assisting a PM such as Assistant Project Manager, Project Coordinator or Junior Project Manager or supporting a large project or programme such as Project Support Administrator, Project Support Coordinator, Programme Support etc. But do not be fooled by these roles, there are a vast number of seasoned project / programme support staff out there who are all looking for their next challenge and do not deem these roles as “junior”, the Project Support field is a career in its own right. Often the support people are keen to progress in this area, not to become a PM, but to work in and eventually manage PMOs (programme Management Office).

Here are some tips on strengthening your CV for such applications:

1. Ensure your CV is well written – a key point of project support is to be able to demonstrate effective written skills, if you are providing MI (Management Information) then you’ll need to be able to construct clear concise information.

2. Learn the PM language, utilise the internet and publications in the PM field to understand the terminology used and apply this to your CV. Keyword searching is very popular with recruiters and this can be the difference to having your CV picked up or left behind. Especially those of you who have taken PM qualifications, match up your skills to those required for the role.

3. Be honest, do not write a CV which has all the required competencies if you have not actually done it – you will be found out at interview, try to match up areas you use regularly such as reporting, planning, arranging meetings, taking minutes and client facing skills etc.

4. Don’t aim too high – as stated above you need to take the employers perspective into consideration as to the experience level they are willing to engage on a project. You may have a lot of experience in your current role but be prepared to take a step down as you are effectively taking a career change so it is deemed as starting over.

5. Utilise your relevant sector or industry knowledge and experience. As you are new to the PM field, think about how you can give something back – the employer will need to train you in the role so being able to offer some solid background knowledge to the role is a fair return.

The CV Righter has a wealth of experience in providing careers and CV advice to those wishing to change careers to Project Management, visit: www.thecvrighter.co.uk for further information on how we can help you break into the field.

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