“As a senior project manager with experience of working on some high profile projects with large names in financial services I have been applying for a number of project management jobs recently and had a few calls but still no interviews – what am I doing wrong? I am clearly attracting some interest but not a lot and I don’t seem to be getting further that the initial recruiter call and promise of being put forward to the client.” John Senior PM London
Without looking at your CV it is hard to say but I can make an educated guess at where you are going wrong John – for a start, the fact you have worked on high profile projects for reputable businesses will always attract some interest from recruiters. However the experience alone won’t cut it with the employers and this part is the most frustrating for the recruiters, your CV clearly isn’t selling you positively so the recruiters are taking a punt by putting you forward for roles but you are being rejected against your peers who have a much stronger CV.
Be sure to tell us about the projects – what was involved and what they achieved but don’t write an essay, keep it clear and concise (we don’t need to know sq ft just general scale). Then tell us how you work – think about the job description, it should contain a list of wants, are you addressing these wants on your CV?? And not just a list of skills, use the space to talk through context so we know exactly who, how, when, why etc. Do not assume the reviewer will know you work in a particular way, having the PM badges doesn’t excuse you from talking about method in your CV.
With the UK job market seesaw it is important to make sure you are making a good impression with your job applications – often with the lift in roles we are lulled into a false sense of security that the market will stay buoyant for a while and that the volume of roles means we are in with a good chance of securing interviews. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, the volume of applicants remains high and as such the competition is still strong. With recruitment companies endorsing the need for a good CV to yield results from your job applications and a small emergence of courses aimed at assisting project professionals gain the tools and knowhow to create a winning CV it is now widely being acknowledged that job hunters need to step up.
I have been pleased to see such interest in my field and completely agree that more needs to be done, time is of the essence and those who are fortunate enough to have the ability and/or time to put together a winning CV should take heed. For those who recognise they either cannot put together a strong CV or haven’t got the time/inclination are best suited to invest in their careers with a professional CV writer who actually understands the industry and doesn’t just play about with formatting and rewording documents at a high cost.
I am presenting a PM CV writing workshop later in the year with APM as I feel it is important to give something back to the PM community and fully endorse those who can write a CV but need a little guidance should be doing so. For the rest of you, I have put together a series of blog articles with lots of examples and tips on how to create a winning CV and continue to offer a competitively priced CV writing service bespoke to your needs. A great deal of contractors come to me already bought-in to the investment opportunity of having a CV created which time after time secures them interviews moving forward, likewise a great deal of senior PM professionals who are just too busy to work on their CV step forward to take the service. I have also noticed a number of clients wanting to break into project management but not knowing where to start or indeed what the roles actually are – these clients receive coaching in a variety of areas and walk away with a strong CV and knowledge on how to approach a career change.
There are many reasons clients come to us but one which made me smile the other day was a project manager who when asked his reasoning for coming to us was that he is in a position where he can pay others to do the tasks he hates. Just like having a breakdown membership, why change the wheel yourself when there is someone much better qualified to do this whilst you get on with your life. Embrace the help that is out there and identify what is most relevant for you, treat your career needs as an investment, just as you would take PM training or invest in better tools (software) – make a difference to your life.