This week we have a question form a recent graduate who is looking to forge their career in event management.
Hi Nicola, I have been looking for a new role recently as the current position I am in is temporary – I have got some good experience in managing events as part of a placement at University and my current role. However I don’t seem to be attracting hiring managers with my CV and wondered if a functional format CV is the right format for me? Without this format my CV looks limited and listing my recent assignments as suggested by recruiters doesn’t seem to be effective either.
Wendy – Project Executive; Derby
Hi Wendy, Many thanks for your question. I am often asked if a functional CV (one which highlights out core competencies at the top of the CV) works for project management roles as effectively skills are the same throughout each role. I have to disagree with this statement as every role is different and I have yet to meet an organisation which runs its projects the same as another business. Therefore it is important to use a chronological format where you can drill down into what the projects were and how you delivered them in each role. Now I understand that you have a limited number of roles on your CV being a recent graduate but this is where you can list your part time positions and responsibilities too, as all experience is good experience. You have been fortunate enough to get some solid industry experience on your placement and in your current role which I would suggest you place most emphasis on and also draw out some key achievements. Your CV will soon be rich with information about your abilities and experience to date; by taking a professional approach to contextualising your experience and where you have used your skills you will be demonstrating excellent communication skills to your potential employer and should start to attract attention from hiring personnel. Here’s some further information about Functional Vs Chronological CV formats.
The main reason job applications are rejected comes down to not demonstrating the right skill set and experience for the job applied for; however there are a number of little mistakes which can put you straight into the rejection pile. When I say little – these are big errors which often get overlooked but should be addressed as a first port of call when proof reading your CV and applications.
Here’s some food for thought:
- Grammar – poorly written CVs are still a major concern for employers, think about writing your reports for senior management, badly written pieces of information in the workplace are not acceptable and by demonstrating poor grammar in your application you are effectively telling the reader that your reports won’t be much better.
- Spelling – spelling mistakes are very common in CVs and with the likes of spell checker in-built into software packages these days, it is unacceptable. Make sure you proof read the entire document carefully and get someone else to do this for you too.
- Incorrect information – do spend time gathering information which is true to your work experience, you will get found out if you are bending the truth as recruiters and hiring managers do check the details out for validity.
- Etiquette – your approach to applications should be professional from the outset, you are being judged from the moment you send in an application. Make sure you add an introduction email in the form of a cover letter not just a line stating; “see attached” or a blank email with your CV attached and if you call to check the email have been received, be professional and polite to all you speak to.
- Following instructions – read the job advert properly, check who you are sending it to, if any additional information has been requested and demonstrate that you can follow instruction.
- Contact details – make sure they are correct and included on your CV; I have seen a great deal of CVs with incorrect phone numbers and email addresses and also CVs with no contact details at all. How do you expect to be contacted if you cannot provide the right information?
- Misguided focus – keep focus on the work history and skill set not on activities out of work and family, you can add a short statement about hobbies to the back of the CV but the hiring managers want to know about you in a work capacity over flying kites at weekend and what subjects your children are studying at school.
- Format – try to keep the document in a professional format, adding colours and clip art is not what the employer wants to see for a professional role – it can detract away from the content and a good deal of databases cannot handle images etc so you will lose them and the format of the CV anyway.
Remember it is not always the best candidates which make the interview short-list – it is often the best CVs! Take time to do the basics and you will notice a marked increase in activity after submitting your applications.
When it comes to making job applications, the easiest route would be to apply for anything which remotely fits your skill set – however doing this can have a detrimental affect on your plight to secure a new role. Look at it from the recruiter or hiring managers perspective, by applying for anything with the word “project” in it you are demonstrating that you have not read the job description or that you do not understand where you skill set sits in the project environment. If you are currently at the project coordinator level and are applying for senior project manager or programme manager positions it is pretty clear that you are not quite ready for such roles unless your remit has actually seen you performing these delivery duties at the levels seen in the JD. In which case you will need to clearly demonstrate these skills in your CV, do not change your job title but ensure you cover the delivery experience and types of projects and programmes being managed.
By taking the time to read through job descriptions and match up your skills to the requirements you will yield much more effective applications for the roles and as such will have a greater success rate for securing interviews. Although it may seem like you have to put a bit of effort in to begin with and with recruiters and employers often not responding to applications which can be frustrating – you are demonstrating your professional approach and buy-in to securing a role which is right for you. I have come across a great deal of recruiters, HR staff and line managers who tend to disregard multiple applications for vastly differing roles as they already have a huge list of applications to review and being frustrated they will recognise a name and reject it outright without checking the resume against the requirements because of this kind of practice.
Remember that you are being tested from the minute you apply for a role – first impressions last, be remembered for the right reasons.
This week we have another great question about entering into project management from the armed forces.
Hi Nicola, I am due to leave the army soon and I am planning ahead my career – on discussing courses with my commanding officer it was suggested that I move in to project management as a lot of my skills match up closely with core PM requirements according to a skills checker used by careers advisors in the MoD. My background is within the officer ranking where I manage large teams in rolling out technology in global locations – as such I have been working to MoD structures and I feel these are transferable outside of the forces.
Hi Keith, thank you for getting in touch – glad to hear you are thinking ahead of moving back to civilian life, you have taken the right steps to speak with your CO and I assume you are taking advantage of all the courses and training which is provided to you when you have been given notice of leaving the forces.
Your experience lends itself well to a number of projects across industries – it saddens me that advice for our troops moving back to civilian life is grim at best, especially for project management. Having a brother who currently serves with the army I believe we need to be encouraging the transition of MoD personnel. Personally I have come across a great deal of ex forces personnel who have settled very well into project management roles for sectors such as defence, engineering, construction and manufacturing. Keys areas to focus on would those which you can offer something in return – think about the technologies you have rolled out, global delivery / exposure to cultural change, managing large teams and direct line management. All these skills are sought-after with large global organisations and businesses who adopt a “policing” approach to project management may also express an interest in your background.
What you need to focus on now is your CV – take time to make sure you research the roles you are interested in and check the core areas of interest, now make sure you focus on those aspects in your CV. Such as planning, reporting, risk management, stakeholder management etc. keep the focus on the technologies implemented and use terminology from project management (which you should be picking up from your courses and training) to ensure that the resume reviewer can match up your experience with the role. As with all writing their resume – it is important to make sure you are not using internal language from your current employer in the CV, a common language needs to be used as the hiring manager probably hasn’t worked at your places of employment.