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Project Manager Job Offers: Using The Sharp-Shooter Approach
In case you haven’t noticed, the job market isn’t in great shape these days. Somehow, that outrageous situation came true. Those of us who have been lucky enough (or diligent enough) to have acquired certain professional qualifications have felt the chilling threat of unemployment far less harshly than others…but we still felt it. Also, there aren’t many of them "Project Manager" jobs out there…and when there is one, or it isn’t perfect "in shape" or there is too much competition.
Here are some tips to help you apply for those few PM jobs you may come across:
1. Use the sharpshooter approach
Once upon a time, as the story goes, it was perfectly possible to tell "I managed projects" and for the most part, when looking for a new position, we could find many vacancies that more or less matched our criteria. Nowadays we have to "cut our coat" according to the job description. To put it bluntly, while you wait for a "perfect fit" for your career plans, more bread will not appear on your table. This means you need to use your ability to think analytically and laterally to determine the specific skills each vacancy requires, and focus on the part of your experience that shows you’ve been there and done it. For example, if you have experience in both manufacturing and supply chain management and the job description reads predominantly outsourced procurement, then it is well worth the effort to rewrite your resume to focus on supply chain management and related aspects. outsourcing (rather than manufacturing) in the skills summary section and “responsibilities” of your recent job.
2. Get your PMP certification
Being PMP certified is a fantastic advantage that should put you above 96% of other applicants (only 4% of project managers in the US/Canada are PMP certified). Consequently, you should make clear mention of it in your resume and also dedicate a sentence in your cover letter to underline the fact. Furthermore, you should draw the employer’s attention to how, by achieving your PMP status, you have acquired a broad skill that has transformed you into a highly versatile person. In your resume, make sure the skills summary section describes and illustrates how you can successfully manage projects from inception to closure.
3. Focus on all dimensions of PM work
You will be aware that most Project Management job postings or postings require technical and social skills. Consequently, you should identify and address these two dimensions even if they are not clearly separated in the ad. The easiest way to apply for a job is to create a table in an Excel spreadsheet and list all the job-specific requirements in two separate spreadsheets. For example, in Technical skills include college degree, PMP certification, technology experience, budgeting and financial management experience. And under Social skills include management and leadership skills and experience, ability to motivate, demonstrated success in building team relationships and partnerships across organizational lines, etc. your past experience at this job.
This approach will help you prepare a more focused resume and cover letter for this job posting and force you to think carefully about your "elevator tone" during the interview where you have to prove that you are perfect for this position. All of this would involve some effort on your part, but one or two applications submitted this way are more likely to be successful than hundreds submitted “en masse”. All the while you’re preparing your resume and cover letter, you should be thinking about the interview and the questions you’re likely to be asked. It is a fact that by aiming a question carefully, the candidate can largely vet the interview questions.
4. Research, research, research
If you’re going to avoid creating a cookie-cutter resume, you need to know something about the company you’re applying for. Your resume should not only be focused on the job they are advertising, but on the company itself. Every company has its own corporate culture. You have to show that you fit in with them. An engineering firm and a consulting firm will not ask you the same kinds of questions. Their needs are different and their questions will reflect those needs. As much as possible, you want to answer these questions before they’re asked; so that they say to themselves, "Sounds like just the kind of guy we’ve been looking for."
So what do you need to know about the company? Basically, everything you can find out. Use these questions as a checklist for your scavenger hunt:
– What is their main product or service?
– Who is the end
-user of their products or services?
– Have they recently received new contracts (check out the press releases on their website)?
– What kind of organizational structure do they use for project management (functional, matrix, project)? This can have a major impact on the limits of your authority and responsibility as a Project Manager.
– Do they have an active PMO (Project Management Office)?
– Who will you report to and what is their Project Management background?
– Who are the main stakeholders in the project (government, private industry, environmental groups, etc.)?
– Is the Project Manager expected to have a solid technical understanding of their product or would there be support staff (engineers and technicians) working in the project team?
– What kind of industry specific training do they provide?
– What Project Management tools does the company regularly use (MS Project, Primavera, SAP)?
– Is the PM expected to maintain and update these tools or is it done by others?
Many of these questions can be answered by a thorough examination of the information found on the company’s website or through search engines. The time you spend researching these answers will help you develop your resume to be much more focused on meeting their needs. Some of the questions can become topics for discussion during the interview and to show more interest in the company.
5. Gather information about your past projects
The ammunition you’ll use to create a blasting resume and cover letter is the projects you’ve previously managed or coordinated. What you are selling is your experience and your ability to get things done. Then, seek out all the information you can about your past projects and review it; looking for successes and achievements that you can use to impress the hiring manager.
While your experience may be product or even industry specific, you don’t want to leave the hiring manager with that idea. Project management is project management, whether for aerospace or medical. While you may not have aerospace-specific knowledge, your Project Management experience continues nonetheless.
As much as possible, avoid being product or industry specific unless the product or industry you previously worked in aligns well with the position you are applying for. In both your resume and interview, avoid being specific and move towards being more general; showing how your results and experience can provide an edge to their company and the project they have to manage.
6. Create a "OH" factor
For every position you apply for, you should assume that 20-30 other qualified people are looking for the same position. With this overwhelming deluge of applications to sift through, the average resume may only receive a minute or less. Your resume and cover letter need to get that hiring manager’s attention in that short amount of time, or they just end up on the scrap heap.
Companies that are hiring want to know what you can do for them. They assume you meet the basic qualifications, otherwise you wouldn’t have bothered to submit your resume. A long work history and education only shows you’re qualified, it has none "Wow factor." You want them to look at your resume and say: "I want to talk to this person"
How to impress a hiring manager? Showcasing your successes. Have you saved $200,000 on a project you managed? Have you negotiated a claim that returned $150,000 to the project? How about finishing the projects before the due date? What huge hurdles have you had to overcome in a project, yet complete it? Make sure you brag about those.
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