Over these past few weeks I have written a series of blog articles aimed to give you some ideas about putting together a strong PMO CV, as a definitive guide to cores areas which you should look to address when tackling your CV here is a list of all the articles related to the series with links:
The key thing to remember when putting together your CV is to ensure you add in some context, do not fall into the trap of writing a job description (or copying and pasting one), this will lead to a flat piece of writing which demonstrates you are either lazy, not adept at presenting pieces of information or do not really understand what or why you have been doing things. Your CV is the first thing an employer will see about you, how it is written speaks volumes about you, your intelligence, professionalism, and how you feel about your roles. As a PMO professional, you will be required to write reports, presentations and guidance notes, therefore if you cannot be clear and engaging in your own CV then it doesn’t look too good for the documents you will be producing at work. It goes without saying that spelling and grammar are always checked and do not get me started on formatting – how many of you state “advanced or intermediate user of MS Word” yet you cannot get your font right or bullets aligned?? That screams less than basic user to those reviewing your CV.
A fair few people are now turning to other means of promoting themselves out in the employment market and one way to do this is to create your own website. It is not as time consuming and crazy as you think, if you search in a search engine for a project management professional as an example, more and more websites are starting to appear. This course of action is particularly good for contractors who need to be visible even when engaged in work as the next assignment needs to be lined up ready.
To start you will need to choose a domain name (a website name) some choose names to do with your field of expertise and others use their own name. You can sign up with a number of website providers for a nominal sum of money and a good deal of these providers will have templates and online support to help you get moving. This can save you money in the long run as companies set up to design your website can charge hundreds, so think smart.
If you are using the website to try and obtain a new role then you need to make sure you add in detail similar to a CV, making sure you put emphasis on your key selling points and including what you think your target audience are looking for. Keep to the CV rule in that a strong layout, good spelling and grammar are adhered to – always include contact details, I wouldn’t recommend putting your full postal address on there but the nearest city or territory you live in (if you are not keen on moving) or stating you are flexible to move for assignments / relocate for a permanent role. An email address and a cell number will be sufficient. Adding in pieces of work as part of your achievements can work well too – photos or links to articles / web pages which you have been involved in helps the viewer really get to grips with your abilities and as it is your website, you can afford to really go to town unlike a CV which has to be concise. You can even have a page dedicated to articles you have written and case studies, testimonials etc. the possibilities are really endless.
Do make the website visually attractive but not overly complicated; it’s about striking a balance. If you are a keen writer and like to write blog articles, your website could be just the place to add in this function. It will help you rise on the search rankings if your articles are relevant to your field too.
By publishing a website such as this you are also demonstrating some valuable skills such as:
- Website development and maintenance – think about those company webpages you have needed to create and update in your career.
- Proactive behaviour – not just placing your CV and trust in the hands of a recruiter, you are making positive moves to be picked up. You are saving potential employers a handsome recruitment fee too.
- Marketing yourself – your ability to market yourself well is fantastic; it demonstrates how you could market products, projects and initiatives.
All too often I am approached by PPM professionals asking me why they are not getting into shortlists for roles commensurate to their salary/day rates and experience. One look through the CV will tell me all I need to know about why the applications are not being taken seriously, if the CV is well balanced with project detail and core competencies then it is usually that the CV doesn’t speak the right level of seniority and responsibility. Overlooked have been key areas such as team management (and direct line management which is less common with PPM professionals these days thanks to matrix environments), levels of management dealt with and of course complexity of projects (with the issues that these attract). Do not assume a job title will cover core areas of responsibility as titles can be very deceptive from organisation to organisation. If you are working at programme level then one would expect to see some reference to the elements of programme management required in order to carry out your role, project support professionals need to address the core areas they are covering such as interfacing the PM teams with senior management as standard and look into areas such as building project capability. Are you hands on or do you orchestrate teams? Or a bit of both, talk to us about how you deliver and deal with underperforming staff. Training and mentoring individuals and teams tends to be par for the course with most PPM professionals however not all and there are many ways to administer and gain buy-in; from your teams and also from your senior stakeholders.
There may be elements of change management you apply to your delivery and particular emphasis on risk – talk about these, all core areas sought after by employers. Don’t get caught into repetition on the CV – you may deliver similarly from role to role but there are always subtle differences, make sure you draw these out to add more value to the CV rather than stating “same responsibilities as XYZ role”. Cover as many elements of the project lifecycle as possible running through the roles so you can really start to tick the boxes of the hiring manager’s wish list. As a contractor you may have some fantastic war stories you can share – talking through how you hit the ground running and trouble shoot, and don’t forget that all important handover to BAU. Employers would much rather have a contractor come in and solve their issues and leave the team capable of continuing the good work once you leave. Always adding value, thinking about the end goal and how you can be attractive to your next employer is very important – don’t sell yourself short.
LinkedIn has evolved over the years, what was once a business social network has quickly become a tool for hiring managers and recruiter to identify potential employees – with a pool of 200 million users reported it is one big database. The ability to be able to search on location, companies, industries, job titles and keywords makes it a fantastic resource for those tasked with recruitment.
This in mind, have you done the basics to ensure you are making your profile attractive and not overlooked; here are some basics to get you started:
- Endorsements – contacting your previous employers, colleagues, former customers etc. to request a few words is definitely worthwhile. That said you should also look to return the favour with your associates. Endorsements are useful for potential employers to have a look at how others view you; they won’t stand in place of your references but certainly play a positive part in attracting interest.
- Details – seems obvious, but I have lost track of the profiles I have viewed which barely state current or previous employment names and dates. Think about how this looks to others, lazy and uninteresting. Invest some time to add in details which can be (and I advise should be) different to your CV. A stripped down version which talks through your projects and basics on how you delivered should suffice – whet the appetite of the viewer.
- Summary – this is a good area to introduce yourself, make sure you talk about you as a professional – what is it you actually do? But also ensure you add in keywords specific to your skill-set as keyword searches will scan for these. Also think about including industries etc into this section.
- Free flow – as your LinkedIn profile isn’t an official CV you can add an element of creativity and it is important to do this. Not make things up!! But address areas which you merely don’t have the room for on your CV, where your passion lays and also what your outside interests are too. Look to build a strong profile which says all it needs to but engages others.
OK so now you have a profile which is interesting and you feel happy with, make sure it is searchable / open to others. This is a question I am often asked – should I make my profile public in my privacy settings, short answer to those who are looking for their next opportunity, yes! You can always batten down the hatches on your settings once you have secured a new role but in the first instance, how do you expect to be picked up by recruiters and hiring managers?
We have been approached by a number of clients asking for their LinkedIn profile script to be put together alongside their CV so they are set to start their job search; this is certainly another element of our services and something we highly recommend to put you in the right position moving forward.