Why is it so hard to provide a snapshot of yourself as a professional? Well maybe because there’s a lot that goes into what you do, all those behind the scenes bits coupled with this ingrained need to follow an old school recipe of placing buzzwords such as team player and motivated into the mix. Argh!!!!!
Time to leave all of that behind an follow a new but effective pattern – forget all you know about writing your profile and follow the below steps:
- Begin with a list of the core skills which are your strongest and you enjoy the most, put them in order of priority of enjoyment.
- Now look at what you actually do day to day – are you a deliverer, do you support, are you a specialist in a particular area such as risk or change?
- Think about areas that are relevant to the roles you’re applying for: managing/supporting teams/budget management/implementing frameworks/global interfacing etc
- Methodologies used and certifications gained: PRINCE2, APMP, PMI, P3O etc
- What type of projects/programmes do you manage or support?
- What industries have you worked in?
Now you should have lost of notes, put all of it together starting with a description of yourself with a job title and flow through the various specialities and core areas which will draw a strong picture of you as a professional. You only need one paragraph, but make it a powerful one – tell the reviewer all they need to know about you in one concise message.
We’ve gone over all the various aspects that make up a winning project management CV over the past few years but I thought it was a good opportunity to have a refresh at the core elements:
- Profile – your profile needs to be a good description of what it is you do, this makes sense but you’d be surprised how many feel the need to tell us they are organised and cheerful blah blah blah…! Think about the reviewer, give them a snapshot of your core skills and what it is you deliver/support/manage etc. If you cannot summarise what you do in a paragraph then there is a big problem, and this will be picked up on.
- Key Achievements – Tell us something about how you work, don’t repeat detail about delivering xyz on time and to budget, talk to us about the bits that make you a success. Think about what it is that you do best, whether it’s turning around teams, working with suppliers etc we want to know about it and how you bring out the best in what you do.
- Employment History – Balance the detail of the projects versus the core competencies; think about what job descriptions ask for, whether it be risk management, change control etc these are the things you need to address in your bullet points.
- Education & Training – List most recent first, pop on all those courses relevant to PM and don’t forget to list your practitioner candidate numbers.
- References – “references are available on request” is perfectly sufficient; we don’t want your referees to be harassed by recruiters looking to generate leads.
As a project practitioner it is highly likely you have gained PRINCE2 qualifications and/or worked with the methodology at some points along your PM career path. Employers will still ask for PRINCE2 qualifications and knowledge as it has long been a buzz word in the PM domain, therefore it is important to do more than merely mention you have the PRINCE2 qualification on your CV. It is good practice to use the terminology within your CV to demonstrate that you utilise the methods, also mentioning in your profile that you have used the method alongside other PM methods married up with the experience talking through the lifecycle for your remits. This also applies to those who have lapsed PRINCE2 or haven’t got the qualifications – if you work within a PRINCE2 environment then talk about it, arguably the experience is far more valuable than the certificate alone.
Make sure you spell PRINCE2 correctly and don’t fall into calling yourself a practioner, it’s practitioner – I’ve lost count of how many CVs I’ve seen this spelling mistake on. As with all detail on your CV, you must be careful to ensure you aren’t making mistakes. Not only is it off-putting to reviewers it can also hinder you when it comes to keyword searches, recruiters still use keyword searching and you won’t come up in shortlists if you are spelling qualifications and keywords incorrectly.
Project Management is all about change and ideally success, therefore as a PPM professional, whether you deliver or support those that deliver then you should have a portfolio of successful stories to share. Your CV is the place to do this but being British we often shy away from “showing off” and leave important pieces of information out of the CV much to our detriment. Now I’m not saying we should go all big headed and start listing project after project, taking a sensible approach to talking through the types of projects you’ve delivered with some specifics is fine and also creating a list of Key Achievements which don’t necessarily need to be about projects as a whole, maybe you’ve done something additional to “just” delivering. Commonly project professionals feel it’s these additional things are just part of the job… Well yes they are if you are to be a success you need to be able to break down barriers and troubleshoot but this differentiates good PMs and PMOs from mediocre or not so good ones!
Remember your CV needs to be balanced, don’t just cram it full of project detail, read though my other articles talking about all the different aspects which need addressing within a good project management CV.