Focusing on available Skills to Find the Next Project Management Role
Regardless if you are a project manager who contracts or looking for the next permanent role, there are always fundamental skill requirements to focus on or highlight when landing the next role along your project management journey. It is essential to invest quality time into getting the CV or resume right.
Being able to sell yourself and your skills will separate you from the many other candidates also applying for that next role. Even the most experienced project managers can find themselves being overlooked for roles they are ideal for, by failing to adequately highlight the skills they have. The quality of the CV can make or hinder job-seeking prospects, so no assumptions should be made that experience and qualifications alone are enough. There are some ways available to draw attention to skills and make sure landing the next project management role is easier.
Some of the considerations here may seem like common sense, but you will be surprised how often they are overlooked, and if you are able to hone in on these items it should enable you to stand out from the pack.
The audience should be considered when the CV or resume is composed, remember it can be modified for each role being applied. When asked to consider the audience for a project management CV, most people will assume the answer is simple: the hiring manager, who is looking for a new project manager. However, in reality, things are not always this simple and there are actually often multiple audiences to consider before the hiring manager is reached.
The CV should be written with three key audiences in mind. The first is a machine, the second is the person in charge of shortlisting, and the third is the hiring manager who will eventually make the decision.
The problem with focusing solely on the hiring manager is that your CV may never reach them. For this reason, you need to give consideration to what a machine will be looking for in order to pre-qualify CVs, and what a shortlisting professional might look for, given they may not actually have any project management knowledge.
Machines are likely to want to see common project management training phrases, keywords and qualifications, so make sure these are listed clearly. For instance, highlighting any completed online PM courses, and certifications such as PMP or PRINCE2, this should also be clearly mentioned.
The person in charge of shortlisting is more likely to be looking into personal details and general competency. Make sure any gaps in employment history are explained and avoid spelling and grammatical errors. Then focus on impressing the hiring manager with specific skills and past project successes.
The CV should always be tailored for the role, so it shows the specific skills and attributes that the role being applied for requires. Ensure to thoroughly read through the job advertisement, the person specification and any other relevant material and make a list of the skills they request.
Once known what they are looking for, create a CV that showcases the relevant skills and helps you to stand out as the ideal candidate. For instance, if the recruiter is looking for Agile project management skills, then list any Agile project management training completed, and giving examples of past Agile projects.
Again the following may seem logical, but is a feature frequently missed, this could be because there is an assumption from your experience that it is a given that your skill complies with the role. So if the role is for a project manager, you should describe yourself as a project manager. If they speak about a project charter instead of a project statement, you should too. Remember to always be truthful when describing skillset and where worked as any lies are likely to be found out.
When describing skills and roles, remember to be as specific as Possible. Regardless of whether emphasising soft skills or job-specific skills, avoid being too general. There are only so many times a recruiter can read phrases like “excellent communication skills” and “great attention to detail” without rolling their eyes, so stand out by being as factual as possible without being repetitive.
Also focus on any soft skills possessed, highlight communication skills, and make sure the CV reads well. If you are committed to continuing your own personal development, make sure your CV shows evidence of this through any online PM courses completed. In terms of more specific project management skills possessed, try to think of the ones that are going to be most relevant – planning skills, risk management skills, resource management skills, etc. – and demonstrate that you have them. This can be achieved by talking about specific previous projects you have managed, and any awards received.
Job history should include some basic contextual information about what the role was, what it entailed, and what successes enjoyed. Of course, the balancing act with this is to avoid going into too much detail. Try to be clear and concise, as ideally a CV should fit onto two pages.
Regardless of how qualified for project management roles you may be you can still miss out. Don’t fail to take the appropriate steps to manage your CV, by highlighting the skills possessed by writing with all relevant audiences in mind, by tailoring your CV to the role you are applying for, and by being as specific and factual as you can. Remember, you are not the only one applying for roles, so take advantage of skills and highlight certifications to land the next role, as you are competing against your peers.