Project Management CV Writing – Keyword Bingo

At Arras People one of the key challenges practitioners ask us about is how best to get past the CV sifting stage of the application process.

As an applicant, you have to think of it like a game of keyword bingo.

You know the one? When you make a list of keywords and phrases and tick them off as they get said, with the winner being the person who ticks of the most.

Writing your CV with this in mind can help you with your job application. But to win this game you’ll have to do more than just litter your CV with keywords and phrases.

So what is keyword bingo in relation to a project management CV?

Put simply, when you’re applying for a new role always read the job specification and make sure the project management keywords it contains are prominent in your CV.

A lot of project practitioners are reluctant to do this because they see this as dumbing down the CV.

The truth is keywords really do matter. Whether you’re applying via job boards, Linkedin or directly. They all rely on how you present yourself on paper first.

Technology is everywhere in modern-day recruitment and keywords fuel it, so you need to understand and play by the rules if you want to get through to a real person.

Practical example for using keywords

Here’s a job taken from doing a keyword search for “project manager” on the jobserve website:

The person most likely to get past the first stage will have these keywords in their CV:

  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Document Processing
  • Financial Software
  • Automation
  • Consulting
  • Workflow Solutions
  • Transformation
  • ERP

Makes sense right?

Many of the project management CV’s we may see for a job like this fall at the first hurdle because they fail to define themselves correctly. The job is asking for a project manager, so that’s what you need to define yourself as in your introduction. For a job like this we would get people who class themselves as Finance Managers, Solutions Architects, Programme Managers, PMO, IT Managers and so on. Their opening profile line would use one of these titles rather than what the job is looking for.

You may have done all of the above and explained that in your CV, but unless you explicitly use the keyword you will keep getting stuck at the first stage.

Using keywords alongside your project management skills

We’re not saying that you should have random keywords all over the place in your CV. And we’re definitely not saying you should use keywords that indicate that you have experience that you don’t. That would be a fraud and a waste of everyone’s time.

Remember what we said above, if you get past the machine a human still needs to read it. We still want to see the context of your skills and experiences that back up the keywords. You can get past the machine by just listing keywords, but when the hiring manager reads it they won’t be impressed.

It’s about finding the balance. It’s about caring enough about your applications to take a minute, read the job specification, find the keywords and then read your own CV to see if there are enough of those keywords in there.

Remember the machine is looking for a keyword match on the first scan.

If the keywords aren’t there, rework it.

Take 5 minutes to do a decent job rather than just sending a generic CV. Take the time.You may as well give each application your best shot.

And then bingo! You’ll start seeing a lot more interest, I guarantee it. You’ll be onto the next gate which is when people are interested in talking to you and the machine has been put back in its box.

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