Creative writing does not need to be fictional – in fact a good story teller should be able to apply a style to factual events to make them an interesting read. Some readers actually have a greater buy-in to pieces of literature which are true and this often makes for a larger following. As the web has grown into huge proportions and businesses are reliant on websites, Facebook pages and blogs to market their products it has become necessary for copywriters and content writers to look at different approaches.
Having a creative background albeit visually, I found quite early on in my degree that I could apply my abilities to written form – at first it was a lecturer who read one of my journals and said he liked my humorous approach to writing and from there I was encouraged to write more. I did this throughout my degree but when I left University I went on to forge a career in project management and found that a straight forward factually based style was required especially as I was dealing with a number of teams based across Europe so language barriers became an issue. However I believe that a more creative approach to writing presentations and particularly for workshops, the style can be much more engaging than stuffy communication.
It was when I started working for a project management recruitment agency that I found a balance between writing factual pieces of work and being creative – I was quite heavily involved in contributing to the company blog, newsletter, and I also wrote my job adverts for prospective candidates. I noticed the more inclusive a job advert was that I received a greater focussed set of applications for my jobs. By noting down key elements but also trying to give the reader a flavour of the organisation, I was starting to generate a great deal of interest. Talking through what they could receive in return for working at the organisation such as culture and making a mark, could easily make up for less competitive salaries.
The interest was not just from the prospective candidates but also other businesses who were particularly interested in my style and I was approached on countless occasions by head hunters. It is true to say that this style of writing has also proven very successful for my current business of professional CV writing – taking a bland piece of information and applying a creative slant to the document has struck a chord with my clients and employers. Bringing some personality to the CV and really painting a picture about the individual in regards to abilities, skills, management style and problem solving.
It just goes to show that you can apply your creative writing abilities to many aspects of work and making an extra effort can really help you get the message across… No more death by powerpoint!
Here’s your 7 step guide to reaching success when looking for a new job:
- Research – when you take the decision to start looking for a new role you really need to understand the industry and the roles you are applying for, make a start by looking at the types of roles you wish to apply for. Job descriptions and adverts are widely available online, by reading through them and understanding what is involved you will quickly identify the roles most relevant to you. Also spend some time researching the industries you wish to work in. Look at some of the larger corporate websites to gain a greater knowledge of what is hot at the moment as these will likely be the growth areas in that field. Start to match up your skill-set and exposure to relevant projects, make a note of these and use them as examples in your CV.
- Make a list – gather a list of the relevant role titles to your skill, and place in a spreadsheet to keep track of websites which yield good search results for them. As well as searching job boards, think about placing random searches into search engines as you will also bring up roles with direct employers too which you may have otherwise missed – a lot of employers will only advertise on their own websites.
- Focus – Ensure you are spending time on roles which you can meet a minimum of 90% of the criteria listed, this saves you wasting time on roles which you are unlikely to get into the short-list for and keeps your list down to a manageable size. It is important to streamline your applications so you can spend more time tweaking your CV and writing a cover letter for so you can yield more results. It is quality not quantity!
- Make another list – create another spreadsheet of roles you have applied to and through which websites, when etc. you need to be organised when you start receiving calls from HR / recruiters etc. it does make all the difference when you sound on the ball during these calls.
- Follow up – leave it a day or two after you make an application then call up the person handling your application. Check it has been received and offer to clarify anything further they may need to know. Round up the call by asking when you can expect to hear a response regarding your application – remain professional throughout, this includes speaking to receptionists etc. be friendly, clear, helpful and don’t let frustrations show. The person handling your application makes the decision whether to pass on your CV to clients/hiring managers so keep in mind they are testing you from the first point of application. Put yourself in their shoes – if you come across abrupt or desperate then they are highly unlikely to put your forward through fear of having their reputation soiled.
The title “Project Manager” covers a multitude of roles under its umbrella therefore it is important to paint a clear picture of what your role actually involves. Remember that project management is all about delivery, the reviewer needs to see what projects and programmes you were engaged on, were these multiple concurrent? Were they interdependent?
All PMs work differently and organisations work differently. Some organisations are matrix managed and others have dedicated PM teams. This can make a huge difference to how you get things done.
Programmes are more strategic by nature so giving the reviewer an idea of how involved you are strategically is paramount as is team and line management exposure.
A great deal of PMs fall into the trap of writing a long paragraph about the company – think about it, the CV isn’t a marketing document for them, it is a marketing document about you. Don’t waste valuable space, a short statement (a few words) can easily encapsulate the business and then you can use the space to talk through what you were engaged to do, including some detail about the project. This statement should be clear in that is states the type of business and what you are/were doing there. Then run through core competencies in the bullets underneath, do not cut and paste the job description – apart from it being so very obvious to reviewers it reads as lazy and we all know that the job description isn’t necessarily the reality of the role. We need to have some context which is where these questions come into play:
- How big are the teams you are leading / working within?
- Who do you report to?
- Are you hands on or do you manage teams to deliver?
- Who are your stakeholders?
- Where are your stakeholders based and how do you communicate with them?
- How structured an environment is it you work in?
- What structures / methods are adopted?
- Have you Introduced and embedded new processes / structure to projects and programmes?
- Do you have full budgetary responsibility?
In addition to this, make sure you highlight out some key achievements, talking through the challenges you have come up against. Project management is rarely straight forward, it is this additional piece of information which will make you stand out from the crowd and bring some personality and management style to the document.