I’ve hired project managers at all levels from graduate trainees up to experienced senior project and programme managers. What did I look for? Well that depended on the level and the particular role I was trying to fill. If it was to fill a specific role for a specialist project I’d be looking for relevant skills and experience, where as for graduate trainees it was all about aptitude and potential. But in all cases one of the key attributes I always looked for was attitude. In project management and in business in general, attitude is everything. You can teach someone skills but if they don’t have the right attitude they will never apply them effectively.
Get the basics right
Before we talk more about attitude, let’s talk about some basics. If you are a fresh graduate or school leaver with the right attitude, nobody expects you to have all the skills and experience for a hands on project management job. You’ll be a trainee so you need to look for an employer that will nurture, train and mentor you through your early years. For school leavers an apprenticeship would be ideal as it provides that structured path to development.
If you already have some experience and are looking for a career move, does your cv support your ambition. Have you taken the right training courses and backed them up by putting the learning in to practice. Does your cv explain the why and how and well as the what you’ve done? Is it even up to date and in-line with what your online presence says about you? The little details can make all the difference in getting hired as a project manager
How do you make yourself attractive to potential employers? Well, I know it was a good few years ago, but before I started full-time work I did a range of part-time and temporary jobs and extracurricular roles. I was head of Saturday staff for a supermarket while at school. I did a summer job each vacation when at Uni gathering lots of little stories and experiences I could use in future job applications. And I took on extra roles like running a table tennis team, being hall of residence treasurer and setting up and running the University RAG week. When I left Uni many of my peers struggled to find work. I had 12 second interviews and 7 job offers from major companies. All because I had demonstrated the right attitude.
In the current jobs market you have to display the right attitude but that can be difficult to get across in your cv. You need to have a brief summary section at the head of your cv which screams “I have the right attitude”. You wont have the space to go into detail – most recruitment consultants want brief cv’s as they have to read a lot of them. But you need to say enough to get them interested. Point them to the place where you can provide more detailed information – your LinkedIn profile.
Many people consider LinkedIn to just be the online version of their cv. If you treat it like that you are missing a huge opportunity. LinkedIn is the most under-utilised sales and engagement tool in the world today. And when you are in the jobs market you are selling you. The features available in LinkedIn go way beyond any cv could ever hope to go and you need to leverage them all to give you the best chance of getting that prized new role.
The right profile on LinkedIn will also get you noticed. You’ll get people approaching you with career opportunities you may never have thought of. I’m not in the market for a new permanent role, but I get approached a couple of times a month to see if I would be interested. I also get regular connection requests and enquiries related to contract and consulting positions. My profile does the hard work so I just have to turn up and be me.
If you’d like to find out more about how to make your LinkedIn profile scream “hire me” grab my new guide “The 9 Key Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile”. It’s absolutely free and packed with great advice on how to stand out from the crowd. Click here or on the cover.