Top of the pile
résumés done right separate the best project talent from the pack
BY NOVID PARSI
A traditional résumé might seem like a relic in today's digital-driven project management world—but it's still a job seeker's best friend.
There's no doubt that social media profiles help project practitioners stay visible to hiring managers, who are increasingly searching for talent online. Forty-three percent of organizations say social professional networks are a top source for quality hires—a 48 percent increase since 2011, according to LinkedIn's 2016 Global Recruiting Trends report. In the United States, 52 percent of employers used social media to research job candidates in 2015, up from 43 percent in the previous year, according to a Harris Poll conducted for CareerBuilder.
But the résumé, also called CV, still has a more universal appeal. In the United States, for instance, 93 percent of recruiters still rely on résumés to find top talent, according to Jobvite's 2015 study of more than 1,400 recruiters and human resources professionals.
“There isn't yet a common online tool that's replaced the résumé,” says Michael Yinger, global delivery leader for recruitment process outsourcing, PMI Global Executive Council member Aon Hewitt, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. “That's not to say we don't source people based on their social media profiles—we certainly do—but the résumé is still the common denominator.”
Hiring managers and recruiters often prefer to distribute a résumé rather than a link to a candidate's web profile, because it doesn't require everyone in the talent-acquisition chain to establish accounts for each professional networking or recruiting site, says James Fox, PMI-RMP, PMP, PgMP, human resources project manager, Vectrus, Kuwait City, Kuwait.
“What makes a résumé stellar is that it's easy to decipher what applicants have done in their careers and when they've done it, and it's a fair reflection of their skills and capabilities.”
—Michael Yinger, Aon Hewitt, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Plus, a well-crafted résumé highlights the skills and experiences most applicable to the project role at hand, so hiring managers don't have to sift through a candidate's entire work history to find noteworthy nuggets.
“What makes a résumé stellar is that it's easy to decipher what applicants have done in their careers and when they've done it, and it's a fair reflection of their skills and capabilities,” Mr. Yinger says.
These five tips can help project practitioners craft résumés that will pique an employer's interest—and get their foot in the door.
93% of recruiters in the United States still rely on résumés to find top talent.
Source: Jobvite's 2015 study of more than 1,400 recruiters and human resources professionals
Make the summary statement a must-read elevator pitch. It should showcase the skills and expertise the project position requires—and entice time-strapped hiring managers and recruiters to read the entire résumé.
“When I look at a résumé, I have about 30 seconds to determine if this person has exactly what we're looking for based on our job description,’” says Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, human resources business partner, Suntech, Florianópolis, Brazil.
Don't list career objectives or describe a fictional dream job, as that won't help organizations find the right fit for their unique opening. Instead, highlight personal qualifications that will directly serve the organization, says Francois Passet, PMP, human resources portfolio manager, HSBC, London, England. For instance, he recommends writing: “A project manager with 10 years of experience in the IT sector” rather than “Seeking a project management position in the IT sector.”
“When I look at a résumé, I have about 30 seconds to determine if this person has exactly what we're looking for based on our job description.”
—Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, Suntech, Florianópolis, Brazil
2 Showcase success.
Quantifying achievements and outcomes on a résumé gives employers a better understanding of the value a candidate could add to an organization, Ms. Azevedo says.
She recommends outlining measurable project results and summarizing positive project outcomes related to each job title. Bullets could include information like “Completed project six weeks ahead of schedule and 20 percent under budget.” It's also beneficial to specify the size and the location of teams that were managed.
“A résumé specifies, ‘I worked on these projects and these were the results achieved.’ Those are the things that really help move someone along through the recruitment process,” Mr. Yinger says.
3 Be specific.
In the project management profession, a job title alone doesn't say enough. Project manager and program manager positions differ among organizations, so candidates should outline the specifics of each job role, Mr. Passet says.
Flesh out titles by describing responsibilities, listing budget figures, outlining the level of organizational oversight and highlighting frequently used project management processes. If the stakeholder management on a project required a creative communications plan, say so. If a project involved stringent risk management, indicate the tools used and the outcomes achieved.
“For project managers, the résumé offers the opportunity to display that they know how to use the tools, resources and processes of project management,” says Billi Ford, PMP, senior consultant, JPI, Washington, D.C., USA.
“For project managers, the résumé offers the opportunity to display that they know how to use the tools, resources and processes of project management.”
—Billi Ford, PMP, JPI, Washington, D.C., USA
4 Hit the target.
Nothing screams “job-search spam” like a boilerplate résumé. More than 3 in 5 employers say they would pay more attention to a résumé customized for their open position, according to CareerBuilder.
“Tailor your résumé to the specific job opportunity,” Ms. Ford says. “Highlight the skills that address the key tasks or competencies listed in the job posting. Show that you can come in and really help that organization.”
For example, if a job description calls for expertise with specific project management tools, outline how those tools were used on previous projects, Ms. Azevedo says. And if the organization is looking for someone who has worked in a specific sector, such as software development, rewrite the summary to emphasize experience in that field.
Many organizations also use keyword filters to sift through the initial wave of applications. Including the right keywords, such as the required skills outlined in the job posting, can help a résumé get through the automated screening process.
5 Cut the fat.
Résumés and CVs typically should be limited to two or three pages, Mr. Yinger says. But successful project managers likely could fill twice that much space with their achievements, responsibilities and interests.
If a résumé is getting wordy, start by cutting social activities and volunteer work, which are better suited for online profiles. Also omit references, unless the job post requests them. Organizations will ask for references when they're ready.
“When you're going through a traditional résumé, you want facts,” Mr. Passet says. “You can get a soft image of the person online with social networking profiles.”
PM NETWORK MARCH 2016 WWW.PMI.ORG
MARCH 2016 PM NETWORK