Having reviewed literally thousands of CVs over the years, one thing which quickly became apparent was that prospective job candidates really struggled to articulate themselves. It’s true and not just restricted to those deemed “junior” or fairly new to project management, those managing multi-million pound programmes and heading up incredibly complex and technical pieces of work (often high profile) are also guilty, if not more so. You may ask how hard it can be to clearly talk about the key deliverables, important facts and “how” you work – when spelled out, it isn’t or is it?
How many times have you made a statement which has been misinterpreted? From a flippant status update on Facebook to a quickly scribed tweet, responses contrary to what you meant often crop up so how common is it to make the same mistakes on your CV – very!
When we write something down, to you as the author it makes sense but often you write as you speak and don’t think about the fact that others do not know what context you are talking in when it’s a flat piece of paper. A short, to the point (or not) document which should be presenting you in a professional manner and selling your abilities to potential employers and recruiters.
Don’t leave it to chance, think long and hard about your target audience and what they expect to see, work through your skills, experiences and knowledge and ensure this comes across clearly on the CV. Don’t make the mistake of writing thousands of words or going polar opposite by barely supplying any info. Remember it doesn’t matter what level you work at, the employer still needs to see what it is you have done and how you have done it. Senior management often believe less is more but this will seriously hinder you from securing that next position.
People in PMOs – well that’s what a successful PMO is all about surely? It’s all well and good having frameworks, templates and processes but without the right people behind them driving, nurturing, coaching, selling, and adding value to the business change will not happen. So, are you talking about this aspect in your CV? I didn’t think so! I’ve touched on this on a number of occasions, as your teams are also a big part of the role. As a successfully PMO professional you will be dealing with and educating a wide range of people, from senior management teams, sponsors, delivery staff, users and technical teams to name a few. Your influence can mean the difference between an inclusive and responsive experience or poor comms, delivering out of scope and no buy-in to the value of what is trying to be achieved. Therefore it is important to think about what involvement you have had, and positive changes you have made to businesses – capture this information and make sure you demonstrate good examples of this on your CV.
PMOs are often challenged by senior management for their effectiveness and ability to add value so don’t just focus on process, you are an interface and as such you will provide a range of services whether it be consultative, supporting, mentoring & training or policing… Every business is different and if you have a range of exposure to PMOs then you should exhibit your portfolio to really enhance your chances or securing that next role and improve your rate/salary.
Next in the series of PMO CV tips I would like to talk about coaching and mentoring – arguably one of the most valuable roles a PMO can play within an organisation. Of course there are varying levels of coaching that can take place, depending on how the business is structured. Those who do not have a dedicated project management team that assign business heads to manage projects. Those growing in-house PM teams and the well established PM functions that may need some steering in the right direction. It is always worthwhile noting down a few details about what you are doing in your role regardless of whether you intend to move on or stay put for the meantime – this way, when you are ready to tackle the job of updating your CV you will have some notes to work from.
- Think about the skill-sets of those you are working with, their seniority within the business and how many you are supporting.
- What is it you are educating them in – planning, risk, change, benefits management, reporting etc.
- If you have those new to PM, are you teaching them how to manage a project? Working through scoping to close and lessons learned or on specific areas.
- You may have implemented new frameworks and be training top down.
- Have you been running workshops? Have you put together the presentations, workbooks and handouts?
- Are you writing training materials?
These are just a few areas to get you thinking, once you have made some notes you will be in a position to write some good bullet points for your work experience and you may also draw out an interesting case for a key achievement.
PMOs have evolved over the years and generation of the P3O® method has certainly pushed forward the promotion of the PMO working as a consultancy for the project team, as such the roles have become far more progressive therefore it is important to include this detail within your CV to really showcase your abilities.
We are all different and view our careers in a variety of ways; however one theme I have seen with a lot PMO professionals is passion. They really do enjoy going into organisations and making their mark, whether it be picking up the reins of a PMO, setting up a PMO or putting together programme strategies. The passion comes from seeing their work really making a difference to the business and of course, working with people. So when it comes to a CV, how can you really demonstrate this passion?
- The first point would be to think about some of your favourite examples of when you have added value, by listing some cases you will no doubt identify some themes.
- Bunch the instances into categories and think about what you enjoyed most about the experiences.
- Start to draft short statements which run through a basic overview, actions you took and results / benefits achieved.
- Now some examples may well be worth highlighting – these can be placed in the key achievements section, make sure you drive home the bits you are proud of and are demonstrated in your bullet points.
- Other pieces of work which are notable but may be better placed under the specific roles, I would suggest reducing the content down in this instance but you can still ensure you are getting the message across about your enjoyment of your work.
I have read many a PMO CV and some are fantastic, some are OK, others are not doing the candidate justice. On discussion I often find that there is a real passion and warmth around the work being done but the CV reads rather flat, when I point this out I am met with agreement. It often takes an independent evaluation of the CV to really highlight where improvements can be made, I always actively encourage people to ask for feedback from anyone they can as there will always be something brought to your attention.
I remember a few years ago I attended one of the APM PMOSIG events and took part in a group session talking through what is important for a successful PMO, lots of great suggestions were thrown into the hat but did tend to be along the lines of process, people, buy-in etc and not one of the PMO professionals had considered passion until I pointed it out. The winner of the most important element for a successful PMO ended up being “passion”.
Now job applications tend to be faceless with the process being “submit your CV for review” – you are not given the opportunity put across your personality or passion in person, so make sure you do it in your CV. PMO roles are very competitive (especially the well paid ones), you could be up against dozens of really strong candidates, what actually makes you think your CV will be picked over someone else??