Struggling to articulate yourself on your Project Manager CV – Q&A

Hi Nicola, I have over 15 years experience delivering system integration projects as an interim. I had my CV professionally written a while back by a generalist, however I have not received any contact from my applications over the last 3 months and I am beginning to worry now. I feel my CV is clear but there is something wrong otherwise I would surely be getting calls and interviews?

The reason I originally went to a CV writer was because I struggle to put my experience in a format which meets the terminology and expectations of employers. Can you advise? Rebekah, Project Manager; London

Hi Rebekah, many thanks for getting in touch – I know it can be hard to articulate a great deal of information into a clear and concise document. Having reviewed your CV I can see that there are a few reasons why you are not generating any interest from employers and recruiters, first of all the document is written in the first person which is often frowned upon in a professional environment. The profile doesn’t give the reviewer a clear view of what it is you actually do, this is the introduction into your CV so it is important to make sure it draws the reviewer in to want to read on. The detail about what you were set out to achieve with the projects is quite good, although it is a little long winded so needs reducing. The main issue is with the “responsibilities” bullet points, stating a list such as:

  • Business Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Budget Management
  • Risk & Issue Management

Although you will be hitting the mark with some keyword searching, the reviewer has little information to go on in regards to context, it does make for a good starting point, but you should look to add in further information such as with budget management – how much? Do you hold full budgetary responsibility / P&L? How is it managed? By pulling together a short statement, you are telling the reviewer a lot more about how you work and the complexity of the piece of work.pic 1 (2)

You state a few key achievements which, again, do not tell the reviewer a great deal about the involvement, having since discussed the project you have told me the challenges you have overcome in order to achieve success – now this detail is what makes for a great achievement. Taking these achievements out of the body of the CV and moving them to underneath the profile will highlight to the reviewer how you add value and will certainly set you apart from your peers. I agree that project management is almost a different language and that you need to grasp the lingo in order to gain interest from hiring managers – look back to your formal PM certification/training and start to match the language up to your experiences and you will soon generate some interesting bullets. It is hard not to get too embroiled in the PM language and I know from talking to you that you prefer a more direct approach to communication but striking a balance between the two is key to success.

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