Project Management is all about change and ideally success, therefore as a PPM professional, whether you deliver or support those that deliver then you should have a portfolio of successful stories to share. Your CV is the place to do this but being British we often shy away from “showing off” and leave important pieces of information out of the CV much to our detriment. Now I’m not saying we should go all big headed and start listing project after project, taking a sensible approach to talking through the types of projects you’ve delivered with some specifics is fine and also creating a list of Key Achievements which don’t necessarily need to be about projects as a whole, maybe you’ve done something additional to “just” delivering. Commonly project professionals feel it’s these additional things are just part of the job… Well yes they are if you are to be a success you need to be able to break down barriers and troubleshoot but this differentiates good PMs and PMOs from mediocre or not so good ones!
Remember your CV needs to be balanced, don’t just cram it full of project detail, read though my other articles talking about all the different aspects which need addressing within a good project management CV.
The project management job market is up and down all the time, having tracked the PM job market for 8 years or so from a buoyant time and through a double dip recession I can honestly say there has always been PM jobs about. OK so employers changed their recruitment methods and processes, it became more difficult to secure a role and the salaries have yo-yo’d throughout. One thing which hasn’t changed is the need for an excellent CV, employers expect the best and will shortlist based on how well they relate to the CVs presented to them. As a standard, a CV must be well written with no spelling or grammatical errors but much more than this you need to be selling yourself in the right light. I thoroughly believe you can actually have less of the experience if your CV clearly demonstrates what you can do and how you do it. If you can match 85% (previously I would’ve said 90-95%) of the role requirements but have some excellent examples of how you have added value to employers, talk through core skills with context and generally have a shining example of your skill-set versus experience then you are more likely to score more interviews.
I’ve always said, if you can write the CV yourself, then do it, however it is difficult to separate yourself from the document and be objective and this can really hinder you. Working exclusively with a former PM recruiter you can really build a CV that works and really talks about you. For a free quote and honest feedback for how your current CV comes across, get in touch!
Skills are an obvious subject to address in your CV, but are you actually writing the right things? We’ve all heard that recruiters keyword search on specific words which are relevant to PM and delivery/support etc, and this is true, however a list of keywords just doesn’t cut it. Anyone can write a good list from a little research which will have your CV come to the top of a search but with no context it is just a list or a word, we can’t actually see where or when you have used the skill. Equally, copying and pasting your job description may look like you’ve made more effort but it is obvious this is what you have done to recruiters and HR professionals, they read bland and generic (and dare I say….Lazy!).
If you have already created a list then you are half way there to getting some really good pieces of information on the CV, have a think about how you have used the skill, some skills are a daily requirement so you can talk about how you regularly do XYZ and talk about why you do it, if it is a skill you don’t use as regularly but for more specific pieces of work then talk about specifics for using it. You’ll soon have a good list of bullet points which incorporate the keywords but they actually tell a story and make your use of them more realistic to the reviewer. Not rocket science, but an area that a lot of project professionals fail to do with their CVs, placing more focus on the project which in turn makes for a great marketing pitch for the project and/or business but does nothing to sell you and your skill-set.
Stakeholders are key to project management and how you work with them can seriously impact your success, so it is important to ensure you are including detail about your stakeholders and how you interact with them within your CV. All too often I hear PM professionals say that “it goes with the job” – yes it does but don’t assume that reviewers of your CV will draw information like this from a job title. Also, we all work very differently and have differing levels of challenges with stakeholders; therefore you really do need to address your experience within the CV.
One good area to start would be to include an example of where you have overcome stakeholder challenges within a key achievement, this is a great opportunity to tell a story – keep it to the point and ensure you cover what the challenge was, how you overcame it and what the result was. Including your key achievements towards the top of the CV will ensure this detail is read within the first instance and is particularly useful for applications for roles clearly stating/highlighting a need for strong stakeholder engagement/management.
When writing the remit for your roles further information should be included in a bullet point, keep the focus on who/what/where/when. Not everyone deals with external stakeholders or globally dispersed – you can really talk about cultural issues etc with these examples. Internally there may be other factors such as matrix management environments, very senior staff and differing business priorities etc.
Your communication in PM is paramount; don’t expect not to be using this skill effectively in your job applications and the all important CV.