Reasons why your project management job applications fail

I have been approached literally hundreds of times over the years by job hunters asking why they are not getting calls following on from job applications – each case is usually slightly different but on the whole it comes down to a few reasons listed below:

  • Incorrect matching for job – in the current climate, most employers are less flexible with what they will accept in regards to skill-set and experience. If they are asking for a professional with specific product knowledge or project management method of delivery then they tend to stick with this requirements list and interview those who already have a close match. Remember, you need to meet at least 90% of the role requirements to be in a position to be considered for the job.
  • Poorly written job adverts / job descriptions – this comes down to recruiters and HR staff either not understanding the role or using old job descriptions to create new ones which are often out of date and not relevant. Therefore when you see an advert which doesn’t give any real detail about the organisation / projects in hand you are taking a leap of faith with your application.
  • Generic CV – alongside the generic job descriptions, these rarely give enough detail about your experience and specialism. As employers want project professionals who are closely aligned to their requirements it can be difficult for them to gauge you and they will naturally pick out the CVs which spell it out.
  • Job is closed – yes, a lot of roles are already closed when they go to advert. Why do it then you ask. A good recruiter will already have some candidates in mind for a role as they are qualifying it; as such they will have made contact with the candidates and will have sent in a shortlist to their client before writing up and publishing an advert. This is because there is a lot of competition for these roles with recruiters and time is of the essence, the advert will go online after, which will generate interest and more CVs for next time. Also the recruiters know that the best way to generate further business is to be seen to be publishing lots of new roles – the busier the agency appears to be the more likely they are to get more leads.
  • Fake job adverts – there are still a number of job adverts placed out and about which are “fishing” adverts, usually generic in their form and not unlike the above scenario. But these tend to be nonexistent jobs purely used to help build a recruitment database.
  • Too slow – not all roles are filled when published online, especially the harder to fill positions, but with competition high from your peers, you must be quick. I have published roles which have generated hundreds of applications within the first few hours, I have interviewed and shortlisted before the day has ended.

Looking for work

It is not uncommon to believe your CV is saying all the right things and reads clearly to others but all too often the common trait is that you know your job inside out and assume others will understand this. The CV becomes a document so in tune with what you know rather than a clear communicator of your exposure to different elements, difficulties you have faced (this sets you apart from others), core competencies (as you assume the reviewer will know you covered all aspects) and the types of projects you worked on (believing that leaving out the technical element will make you a more transferable candidate). My advice is to first address your CV, ask for a review – make sure it is honest! Then when you are confident it is good, keep an eye out for roles which look genuine and apply swiftly.

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