What information do you include on your Curriculum Vitae – and what do you leave off?
As a project manager you will no doubt have plenty of information, facts and figures that you can include in your Curriculum Vitae (CV). However, the aim of your CV is to get a positive response from employers. You therefore don’t want to overburden the reader of your CV with too many technical terms and information. The way to do this, is to focus first and foremost on your achievements. Rather than focusing on what you have done on previous project manager roles, focus on what the projects delivered. This will excite the employer far more as they will begin to imagine what you can deliver for their business.
Instead of focusing on you in your CV – what we call a C-Me focus on the employer. In fact, try and focus on the company’s pain. Ask yourself, what type of challenges are they facing? Read some job advertisements for technical project manager roles and identify what it is that they are finding difficult to solve. Of course, within the job advertisement they won’t be totally open instead they will try to paint a positive picture. However, try to read between the lines to spot the “pain”.
Developing the Perfect Project Manager CV Template
Before you dive into the CV writing process take time to consider the overall template that you are going to follow.
The first thing you need to consider is that CV aren’t read like a book. Very rarely does someone sit down and read your CV from the first word to the last before making a decision. They scan it. When they scan it, certain pieces of information will stand out and strike a chord, fixation points where the eyes stop scanning. These may be names of companies, previous job titles, technical skills, computer programmes even locations and Universities. Each employer and recruiter will be different fixation points but they will also have many in common. You may not be lucky enough to have gone to the same University as the reader, but you may have used the exact same project management software that the company uses.
Figures tend to create stronger fixation points than word. You see this all the time with blog titles such as 5 ways, in 7 days, 101, 365 etc.
To build the perfect project manager CV template and structure, consider what will be your top ten fixation points. Choose more than this and your CV becomes a mass of technical information. Choose less fixation points and your CV is deemed to be lacking interest and risks being discarded in preference to some else.
Build the structure or your CV around these points rather than just listing everything you can think of.
Creating your own CV template in Word
Once you have chosen your fixation points draw the reader in by offering more information of interest around them. Your project manager CV then changes from being a long list of previous experience to a document that engages with the employer for all the right reasons.
Begin this by opening up a Word document and listing your 10 fixation points in order. Spend plenty of time in the research phase. Read job advertisements, review job descriptions and look other technical project manager’s profiles on LinkedIn.
Once you are happy with your list of ten, start to build sentences around them that will draw the reader in. Don’t worry at this stage where this information will appear on your CV. Just add facts and figures and other information to make your fixation points come alive and engage.
With ten points and two or three sentences to each, you will have roughly one Word page.
Now, begin to place the information into your tried and tested CV format. We would suggest you use one that present your CV in a logical manner. Our preferred CV structure is developed along the lines of any good proposal. It simply presents that “I thought about your needs, this is what I can deliver and to prove it, this is what I have delivered in the past”. We don’t tend to use profile sections and summaries – see below for the reasons why.
Examples of project manager CVs
The employment market for project managers is one of the most competitive. From professional project managers with Prince2 and Six Sigma qualifications to people who just managed a project in the staff canteen, the term project manager has become common place these days.
As it is so competitive, it is best not to follow someone else’s example unless you feel it has delivered. If you are looking for project manager examples, it is best to make sure that they work in today’s employment market. As you will read in the next section, the recruitment process has changed considerably in recent years so you need a new type of CV rather than using an example from the past.
Is it best to produce your CV in pdf or doc format?
This is a simple question to answer. Never use pdf for your CV. Very few CVs are first read by human’s these days. As employers expect to receive their first application within just a few minutes of posting a job advertisement on a job board, they are spoilt for choice as to who to select for interview. They therefore choose to search for CV using what is called an ATS or applicant tracking system. Just like searching for information on Google, an ATS will search based on the key words that the employer or recruiter has chosen.
Using pdf makes it difficult to scan your CV electronically. Therefore always use Word. If you love Mac and pages, remember to export your CV in Word format, as this is the software used in most offices.
One more tip: check your Word properties and also remove all traces of track changes from your CV before sending it.
If you are really bold you may even want to create a txt formatted version of your new technical project manager CV.
Writing your perfect project manager personal statement, summary and profile
For the past 20 years, Career Consultants has always kept up to date with the latest trends regarding CVs and job applications. A few years ago, recruitment agencies began to persuade people to add a personal statement, summary or profile section to the top of the CV. We have never found it works.
The main reason profile sections don’t work is people pack them full of terms that are meaningless such as “hardworking and motivated, entrepreneurial and innovative”. For all the reason stated above related to fixation points these don’t impress. If you are lucky enough to catch the eye with one of these terms the employer is left searching the rest of the document for proof.
Reserve your personal statement, summary and profile section for your LinkedIn account where it has a completely different purpose to the intended one on your Curriculum Vitae.
Adding the covering letter to your new Curriculum Vitae
Some project managers forget this document altogether. If you are applying for jobs, then you need to include one. The purpose of your covering letter is to present the rationale behind your application. Your CV presents the facts. Avoid writing all about yourself in your covering letter. Focus instead on using the word “you” more times than you use the word “I”. Also use your covering letter as a way to further emphasise your fixation points.
Learning the art of self-marketing for Project Managers
If the above information seems a little overwhelming that’s because the employment market and recruitment processes have been turned on their heads in recent years. No longer do the CV format that people learned at school, college and University still work. In the same way that social media has change advertising. LinkedIn has changed recruitment. The employer now has a huge choice of who they recruit and how they recruit the right person.