If you easily lose interest in your role and fine you want to move on regularly – you may be a perfect candidate for contracting. We are all different, some like to firmly plant their roots with an organisation and stay there for years; others want the challenge of a fresh portfolio and new faces. If you like change then I can highly recommend contracting, I have done it myself and it really does put a fresh perspective on your working life.
Contracting can offer a wealth of experience to your skill set and often the challenges faced on such assignments are not for the feint hearted. Typically an organisation will identify the need for resource on a particular area in the business – this can be anything from implementing a new IT system to streamlining the business. However as the contract roles are usually priced at a reasonably high day rate, the onus is on a professional in that field to join the organisation and implement the change. There are rarely, if ever, any inductions and no settling in periods. It’s time to hit the ground running. You will be self equipped with a laptop and mobile which you will need plugging into the business system (although financial services do tend to offer laptops and mobiles for security reasons) and downloading various applications used by the business, then off you go!
There is little room for forging friendships in such roles however an ability to quickly form strong business relationships is essential. You are there to perform a role and this may inevitably involve redundancies which means it’s no popularity contest – even if redundancies are not in the schedule, employees are often wary of contractors joining the team so you may meet a some hostility. These are considerations to make when looking at contract assignments – a lot of contractors I know are thick skinned and appreciate the day rate is commensurate to the task in hand.
If you are looking to move from your permanent role to a contract role you need to plan ahead and think about your notice period as a starting point – I have yet to come across a contract role which will allow for a months’ notice period. Actually, most contract roles need someone to be in the job within a week if not days of being interviewed. Can you afford to hand in your notice? Weigh up the risk of not securing a new contract for weeks and potentially months after finishing up your permanent contract.
Do your research – understand what level day rate you should be pitching yourself at, remember your first couple of assignments are crucial to gain credibility as a contractor so do not pitch yourself too high whilst trying to gain valuable experience and evidence that you can hit the ground running.
Your CV also needs to be a little different than a when looking to secure permanent work – to discuss, please get in touch with your CV for a free review and to talk further about contract recruitment. www.thecvrighter.co.uk
OK so we’ve worked hard to secure a job interview – most of us actually feel that we can clinch the job if we can just meet with the hiring manager and talk through how good we are. Up until this point the emphasis has been on you, your CV, your application, your flexibility to meet on a set day…. Now you get to meet the hiring manager and it’s all about you performing… Yes and no, yes – you do need to articulate yourself and respond to questions confidently whilst allowing your lovely personality to shine through. But this is also where the tables turn, it is the time when you meet your potential boss in your potential office building and make a decision as to whether you can work with these people or whether it is just not for you. Often we forget that the interview is a two way process, placing all emphasis on ourselves alongside a great deal of pressure. Take a deep breath – it’s a meeting, you are testing them as much as they are testing you.
Be prepared – practice scenarios to talk through which are relevant to the role and do your research on the business. 9 times out of 10 you will be asked if you know who they are and what they do. Now here’s the bit that people forget – your questions to the employer.
You will almost certainly be offered the opportunity to ask questions as the interview draws to a close, here are some things to consider:
- Are there any issues the team are currently facing which you would like me to address?
- How well is change received in the organisation and what is your policy on implementing it?
- In the bigger picture, how does this role fit organisationally within the business structure?
- What in your opinion are the most enjoyable aspects of the role?
- Is there anything else you would like to ask me – anything I haven’t covered or have been unclear on?
Avoid questions such around areas such as money, holidays and sick leave – this will be clarified should you be offered the role and you should have a fair idea having researched before the interview. Do not be afraid to take a neatly written (ideally typed) list of questions to the interview in a folder and ask permission to refer to them when prompted to ask questions. By not asking questions, you are not demonstrating a keen interest in the role. Keep the balance right, do not bombard the interviewer with lots of questions keep them to a concise list which is structured to ensure you are told everything you need to know about the role.
Another tip: when you are researching, find something out about the business which is in the public domain such as new product / initiative / partnering etc and mention this in one of your questions. For example; “I was interested to read that you are currently integrating a new web system within the organisation – will it have any direct effect on this department?” A sneaky way to demonstrate that you have indeed been doing your homework and are very interested in the business. I once had a client call me after interviewing one of my candidates laughing because my candidate knew more about a new initiative within the business than he did. He promised to find out the response to her question for next time they met. She got the job!
Whenever anyone mentions cover letters I hear the same old sigh and comments such as; “Does anyone actually read them?!”. It is a bit of a lottery depending on who is reading your application but it cannot hurt to write one specific to the role and especially when applying direct to an employer it is courtesy. Remember you are being judged from the moment you make contact with an employer or recruiter – simply writing, “See attached” or even sending a blank email with your CV attached is not good form. Equally, writing a cover letter which is generic is also not adding to your application.
- When writing an effective cover letter you should look to address the person you are sending properly – if the job advert states the name of the person accepting the application, make sure you address it to them personally.
- Ensure you state where you saw the advertisement and what the role is (remember HR and recruiters deal with numerous roles at once).
- Look to add some strong content which matches up your relevant experience to the role itself – if the job advert states it requires someone who has implemented PMO procedures then make sure you add detail about a time or times when you have had this input.
- Do not copy and paste detail from your CV – you’ve already stated this.
- If the business product has a strong synergy to a current or previous employer – talk about this, demonstrating your understanding of the way the industry works.
- Do not be afraid to add into the letter that you will follow the application up with a call to discuss your experience further and state a date; then do as you say you will.
Remember you are one of a number of applicants for any one role – making an effort to tailor your application not only demonstrates your enthusiasm for this role, it also demonstrates your written communication skills and ability to follow up on pieces of work. As a project professional these are key qualities and as stated above, will be judged from the outset.
Making a smaller number of tailored applications will return a higher number of call backs and interview possibilities rather than applying for everything with the word project in it. Remember when dealing with recruitment agencies you will soon gain a reputation if you apply for everything, especially when the roles as so dissimilar. Create a good impression first time around and be remembered for the right reasons – you may not make it into the shortlist for that role but a new role may just be being qualified that has your name on it, a good recruiter will recognise this and have you top of the list to speak to for that role.
The CV Righter is a professional CV writing service aimed at project and would be project professionals – we can assist you in tailoring your CV and cover letters for specific roles too.
For a free CV review visit: www.thecvrighter.co.uk
Time and time again applications are made for project management roles and are either rejected or a lucky few make it through to interview shortlist but candidates are “pipped at the post” by the competition. Competition is exactly what recruitment is all about so in this blog post I want to delve into a common reason why some candidates appear to walk seamlessly into that next role while other good candidates are left on the bench.
I have addressed a number of key areas to be considered when creating your CV in my previous blog posts – this piece of information is taking that well written CV to the next level.
So, what actually does set you apart from others? Only you know this, have a think about what you do beyond what you are actually paid to do. Going the extra mile is a sure way of adding to your skill set and getting noticed for the right reasons, it also adds value to your marketability. In a time where employers’ resources are limited it is crucial to demonstrate how you can really enhance the team and the business with that extra set of skills and your willingness to do so. In smaller organisations it is common place for employees to not only perform their own role but to also get involved in other aspects of the business, such as implementing structure, business development and training personnel. In larger organisations employees tend to be kept within the structure of the business to manage their own workload however you can look at various aspects of your departments – identifying bottlenecks and working with departments such as IT to create more efficient tools for delivery.
Embrace the opportunities and think about the bigger picture – what skills will you gain or develop from being more actively involved in the business and how can you add this experience to your CV. Remember that other candidate that pipped you to the post may have a very similar delivery skill set but have also been involved in marketing campaigns which is something the potential employer is looking to embrace moving forward- therefore that other candidate got the job (possibly with an even more attractive package offering).
Do not deflect too far away from your core experience and skills in your CV but adding elements of additional aptitude will certainly add to your attractiveness with potential employers.
For a free CV review and discussion about how to best market yourself in your CV – get in touch: www.thecvrighter.co.uk