I have been working with a contractor who came to me with a 7 page CV – when I reviewed it I found that he had over 60 short assignments on there and although he had listed a number of projects by name he hadn’t really gone into any detail about how he delivers or what the projects were. When I talked through his feedback I asked why this is the case and bearing in mind he has a significant number of practitioner qualifications there is no evidence of using these. It quickly became clear that the nature of the projects meant he could not administer recognised formal structure and that he struggled to articulate how to note down his key skills in his remits through fear of lengthening the CV further and not knowing what to actually state.
Having had a lengthy discussion about the projects and his approach to managing the projects we soon started to draw out key areas of interest such as dealing with very tight deadlines and cultural differences in project management. We discussed that it is important to list all assignments but to focus on the most recent and differing projects to add in some valuable information.
It is the intention for this contractor to apply to some regulatory bodies with his CV and as such, we discussed the need to take a more traditional format whilst ensuring we highlight how he sets himself apart from other project managers in his field. With a great deal of interaction and collaborative working we managed to reduce his CV down to 3 pages and ensure that we are covering key elements expected by hiring managers.
Here are a few tips for writing a CV to include a lot of jobs:
- Place emphasis on most recent roles, talk about the project, any problems (remember a contractor is often a fire fighter and required to hit the ground running) and how you delivered it.
- Reduce the detail of the remits as you work down the CV but ensure all roles with a difference have sufficient detail which will demonstrate your ability to work on varied assignments.
- Do list all the roles but for those over 10 years old and certainly when you are listing over 20 jobs, you need to reduce the detail to a line stating job title, dates and company. In this case a table was required due to the sheer volume of assignments.
- If you, like my client, have not been working to formal structures; think about how you deliver and add the detail in. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it is wrong, in fact it demonstrates other skills and abilities to work in fast paced, often demanding environments.
- To save space, you may look to add in achievements entwined in the project detail rather than separating out at the top of the CV.
- Learn to articulate detail in a clear and very concise manner – not like a job description but reducing the paragraph down so we get enough information to know what it is you were tasked with and difficulties faced, just avoid waffling.
The first part of your CV a hiring manager reads is (or should be) your profile – this ought to be a short statement no longer than about 80 words. The profile should be a clearly written summary of you and your skills. I have seen statements which take up half a page – too long! And ones which are a short sentence – too short. But putting the length aside, it is content which is important.
The best way to construct your profile is to think about your key skills and where your strengths lay – do not fall into the trap of creating a profile which is all about you being enthusiastic, hard working, etc as these are essential requirements for any role and as such they are expected. Instead concentrate on specific skills. For example if you are hot at financial reporting, stakeholder management, resource management etc then these are the areas you should be focussing on.
Here’s an example of a profile which doesn’t add value:
A driven and enthusiastic individual with an ability to work in a team or own initiative, good with customers and always has a positive outlook.
It is short and really doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything about your technical abilities. These are the types of attributes which will be teased out at interview – although it is unlikely you will reach interview unless the rest of the CV makes up for the lack of professional description.
Here is an example of a strong profile:
An experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP). Overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. Good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.
The profile tells us a great deal about the candidate such as his/her seniority, team management and that he manages projects as well as leads teams of PMs. Reading a profile like this for a programme manager role will make the hiring manager want to read on to really understand more about the programmes of work and his/her style of delivery.
Your profile should be clear and concise – stating “deliver on time and to budget” doesn’t really add value as it is expected that you can do this; that is what you are paid to do and the reality is that about 70% of projects are deemed failures due to not reaching deadlines or budgets and would it not be a great opportunity to talk about how you delivered and issues you faced in the bulk of the CV to give the reader a real understanding of how you work? Plus, I know a lot of hiring managers who would be wary of a PM who has never had any major issues managing a project – the concern being how you would deal with one if it arose.
Try to use the profile as a short snippet of what you can do – if you were at a networking event and only had a minute (or less) to describe yourself to a hiring manager to make a good impression and want him/her to take notice what would you say?
At The CV Righter we work with you to understand what you do and how you do it – from conducting a detailed discussion we can create a profile which will make the hiring manager sit up and want to read your CV, not discard it within a few seconds. www.thecvrighter.co.uk
When was the last time you went to the doctors? A while ago I am sure, but you know you should have regular checks even though you feel as though you are working as you should. The same goes for your CV, whether you are looking for work or not, you need to ensure your CV is in tip top condition so it can perform to its optimum.
The CV Righter offers a free Project Management CV health check for all UK professionals – send your CV in and let us perform a thorough review and let you know where the weaknesses and strengths are. We offer a constructive solution and remedy for any CV under-performing and ensure you understand why it isn’t working; equally if you have a good strong CV we tell you.
Don’t let yourself down by assuming your CV sells you and pitches you at the right level, ensure it can put you in the shortlist for your ideal role.