In our careers it’s more than likely that we will wind up seeking out new employment at one time or another, or be required to complete an internal resume for assisting the sales cycle with potential consulting deals. With the advent of social networking sites, online job hunting has made it easier for employers to seek out potential candidates however one thing technology cannot replace is how to effectively sell yourself to recruiters. This post is going to take a bit of a departure from what I normally discuss and talk about how to build a great resume that will help you stand out from the others.
Highlight Your Career
This may seem like a no-brainer but I’m surprised at how many resumes miss the mark on this. When I’m looking to hire a project manager, I want to read in four sentences or less how much experience this person has and whether or not I feel I should continue reading. When highlighting experience, the tendency is to list out all the different phases of your career and what got you to this point. While that approach can work, it reads more like an autobiography than a sales pitch (and isn’t that what you’re doing with a resume anyhow?). When documenting my career highlight reel I demonstrate the progression that I’ve taken over the years (i.e. tell your story of how you got here and what makes you different from the rest).
Inventory your Projects
As any good project manager should do, you should keep a running diary of your projects, regardless of the place you call “work”. Keeping the highlight (and lowlight – everyone has them) reel of your career is a great way to reflect back on not only how far you’ve come in your career but it’s also a great way to show employers your “trophy case” of projects. When applying for a specific position you may want to look at projects that you’ve worked on that are of a similar nature and how you added value to your customers. By keeping an active diary of all your projects you don’t lose those precious details to the dustbin of history that is our aging minds but you have a great journalized picture of your humble beginnings, your career development, how you’ve improved over the years and most importantly, what you’ve learned. Employers love to see progression since they want to invest in a rising star.
Demonstrate Your “Generalism”
Nothing attracts suitors to a project management candidate more than being able to demonstrate your Swiss army knife-like abilities and show a potential employer or prospect that you can handle a variety of situations. Look back at your project management experience (and even your experience before becoming a PM) and draw on that to show in your resume how you can be dropped into virtually any situation and quickly establish familiarity and determine the best plan based on your experience. Talk to the different types of industries you’ve served (ex. health care, government, oil & gas, etc.) Highlight the project types that you have taken on (ex. software development, infrastructure, COTS implementation). Make sure to dedicate a section of your resume to speaking specifically to how broad ranging your skills and experience are.
Building a solid resume is something that should be done on a somewhat regular basis. Speaking from experience, having to write one when you need one can prove to be a challenging task and many great details can be forgotten over time. Remember, you want to prove to a potential employer or prospect that you know your stuff and have the experience and drive to deliver their projects and having a great resume that stands out from the crowd is the first step in getting noticed.