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??
This is the next part of my PMO CV writing tips series, last week we talked about relationship building, today I want to talk about process. PMOs vary drastically from programme to programme and industry to industry – so it would be fair to say that if you have worked in a few, you have a good variety of experience; one key area to a PMO is process. Now depending on your specialism, you need to look at addressing processes from different angles – first port of call is to identify what type of PMO professional you are. If you work in permanent positions, it is likely that you either set up and manage PMOs moving forward or pick up PMOs and manage them as they stand, maybe addressing bottlenecks and tweaking processes etc. A contractor is likely to be either a fixer or a builder – as a fixer you will go into organisations and identify areas for improvement (sometimes it isn’t actually a PMO but a PM environment which requires some structure), as a builder you will go in and build a PMO in-line with strategic goals and once in place you will probably move on, handing the reigns to a permanent employee. A lot of PMO people that come to me are contractors who work at senior level to address core issues with PM capability within the business, they work with the PMs and business heads to identify why projects aren’t deemed successful and re-engineer processes to work with the organisation. Processes can be typical PMO tool kit things such as planning, reporting, RAID log templates but quite often, the contractors need to develop new processes for specific areas of the business. It is these processes which really showcase their effectiveness within troubled environments and add great value. When you are writing your CV, you must talk about all of these and give examples of where you have worked with the business or suppliers etc to pull together an effective way of working.
Do not assume that employers know this is “just part of the job” – talk about it and sell your skills, organisations are always looking to improve how they do things, if your specialism is identifying weak areas and driving forward solutions, tell us!
Last week I wrote about key factors which make a PMO really work and how you should be including these in your CV to attract employers. As part of a series I will be talking through the various elements to assist you in building a strong CV which will enhance your job applications.
Relationship building is an important part of life; we are constantly doing this whether it is in our personal lives or at work. However in a PMO environment it is particularly important to be forging strong relationships across the board. If your PMO is a new function then it is inevitable that you will need to gain buy-in from a few entities but even well established PMOs must strive to keep communication open and realistic. We come across issues with all areas of business from time to time – whether it be suppliers being difficult, PMs not adhering to governance, business heads not allowing sufficient resources to work on projects in matrix environments, the list goes on…
The mistake most make when it comes to writing a CV is to assume that the reviewer (hiring manager/recruiter/HR) will know that you constantly work on building relationships – it is a huge oversight and as such can be the difference between being shortlisted or rejected for the role, and it simply isn’t good enough to merely state “relationship building”. Therefore it is good practice to make a note of specific examples where you have overcome blockers/brought teams on board etc. When you have a list, work through it to identify which ones you feel added most value. Turn the list into bullet points, short statements which tell the reviewer what the issue was with some context and how you added value. Then you can use selected examples in your CV when applying for jobs, if you know a little about the environment in which you are applying to, such as issues they are currently facing then you can tailor your CV with relevant examples. For the more generic job adverts/descriptions you can supply a variety of examples covering all bases, these examples can be added into key achievements so they are highlighted to the reviewer and/or integrated into the role remits also which will add a little diversity to the roles which may appear to be a bit “samey”.
I am often approached by PMO professionals who want to make their CV more appealing to recruiting managers, as they feel their roles are the same from company to company (or assignment to assignment). It is easy to fall into the trap of being repetitive or trying to rephrase the same information over and over – but this rarely adds value to the CV and makes for a boring read to others. The trick is to really think about each role and draw out the core areas relevant to the assignment, in reality, there is always a difference in these roles whether it be with process or people. But addressing the core areas pertinent to the role in question will not only make for a more interesting read, it also helps you ensure you are talking through core competencies and situations recognised in the PMO field which should ensure you are getting “ticks in the boxes” of the recruitment wish list and ultimately being put into shortlists for the roles you are applying for.
A key starting point would be to list all the core areas relevant to your role within the PMO and then match up specific areas to roles, that way you are not leaving out any required pieces but you are also then beginning to split out some interesting pieces of information which will provide a flow through the CV and paint a strong picture of how you work and your understanding of supporting projects / programmes / portfolios of work.
Think about how you fit into a PMO, do you create templates and provide consultancy work to PMs and PgMs, have you established project capability to an organisation, are you analysing key strategic data business-wide? As the PMO is a complex field, it pays to really address what your specialism is and spell it out to recruiters who might not necessarily know what a PMO is (never mind the roles within them).