Tag Archives: CV Tips

Professions being open to all backgrounds – we need to do more!

Interesting news article on the BBC news website this morning headlined; “Professions must be open to all backgrounds, Alan Milburn will say”. Reading through the article explaining that those from less privileged backgrounds are missing out on professions such as law, journalism and medicine – it states education plays a big part in who will succeed but mainly an issue surrounding the actual schools and universities the current professionals attended being exclusive to the wider audience. It makes an interesting read and food for thought when making decisions about your career path.

I was very interested to read that internships are a key area for job seekers to be able to enter their chosen fields in such areas and how you would present yourself in an attractive way to potential sponsors. In my experience as a recruiter I have seen many a good candidate discarded due to their poorly written CVs – so maybe it doesn’t just come down to where you studied but also how you sell yourself?

I have spoken to a lot of recent graduates who have sort advice through their education establishments to write CVs – the results; some good, some not so good. Being a graduate myself and having been in the same position as others I found the assistance I received to be rather poor – basically I was pointed in the direction of a rather small area in the library with a few outdated books and told to “get on with it”. I am sure, not all, education establishments are the same and times have changed with the internet but I would hardly call this support. Could it be said that the government are missing a major point here – with the rise of recent graduates and fall of graduate level jobs and internships, surely a major starting point would be to address the overall guidance graduates and school leavers are presented with?

Workshops for graduates and school leavers would be a great start to ensuring everyone has a fair chance at securing work experience – such as professional 1 to 1 CV writing guidance and feedback, leads to follow in sourcing potential employers, effective researching skills for making a tailored approach for roles, interview techniques and basics on presentation skills would be ideal. As we now have to pay substantial tuition fees, part of the selling point from Universities could be the dedicated career service and for those who choose not to take degrees, a more robust system in school. As the government is urged to tackle the issue of opening up opportunities, they could put pressure on establishments and even offer funding to ensure targets are set and met.

At The CV Righter we offer a graduate package which addresses areas such as CV writing, effective job searching and interview techniques. Get in touch with your CV and have a free CV review:www.thecvrighter.co.uk

Skills based CV versus Chronological CV – which is most effective?

Having read thousands of CVs in my recruitment days and interviewed hundreds or candidates it became abundantly clear that the answer to the above question is the chronological format is most effective within the Project Management domain – why? Because employers need to understand where and when the skills have been used, simply listing core competencies does not give the reader any context. Also some skills may not have been used for 5 or 10 years, the hiring manager may require recent exercise of a particular skill as this plays a major part of that project. By listing expertise in skills based CVs you may be fortunate enough to reach interview but will be asked questions about those skills in the interview and be rejected against another candidate who does have recent relevant experience. Bear in mind when applying for a role you could be up against a large number of applicants, if there are candidates contextualising their skills on their CVs it is likely your CV will be discarded for those “ticking the boxes” for the recruiter / hiring managers role requirements list.

In a chronological CV each role should have a good level of detail which clearly states the key skills required for that role, every project is delivered differently and due to size and complexity a pragmatic approach to which aspects of formal methods used is key to successful delivery. There’s no point over complicating a fairly straight forward project, this only ties up the project manager or the support team in unnecessary “paperwork”. Do not assume the reader has worked in your organisation or on similar projects – if the CV isn’t clear, it does not get short listed.

Writing a skills based CV may seem like the easy option, it is. Being able to provide a list of bullet points or statements at the top of the CV which covers your entire career in project management would seem to make sense but it detracts away from the subtleties of each role and makes it difficult to actually “paint a picture” of you, the types of projects you have delivered and your style of execution.

Your CV is your personal marketing document – your customers are the recruiters and more importantly the hiring managers. What sells a product to you? For me it has to be a straight forward piece of information which says what it can do, how it works and how up to date it is in key areas of interest for me. Now take that formula and add to it the key requirement for any project management role which is exceptional attention to detail and written communication – think about all the reporting, MI etc.

The CV Righter is a dedicated Project Management CV writing service aimed at righting the CVs of project professionals who could use some insider perspective from PM recruitment specialism and having worked in PM previously. For more information visit: www.thecvrighter.co.uk

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.