So what’s the best way to tackle this? Here are ten different ways to think about writing a great career history that really gives the hiring manager what they want to see.
1. Clear on the Introduction
Before getting into the career history content, the headlines have to be absolutely clear:
- The dates you worked, months and years – if you’re still working, state it’s ‘ongoing’
- The company you worked for
- The country you worked in
- The job title you had
2. Which Part of the Business You Worked
If you worked for a large organisation with many locations and departments – make sure you include a line in the career history which gives the reader of the CV some clue as to which part of the business you worked in. Context is very useful when it comes to project based roles.
3. Which Projects You Worked On – Briefly
You need to find the balance between telling the reader enough about the projects you managed or worked on – for PMO, it’s the same – what type of PMO and what was its objective. Again this is about context.
The reader wants to know about your experience but they don’t want to read too much about the ins and outs of the project – because let’s face it, no two projects are exactly the same – they’re not hiring you to do EXACTLY the same project. They need to know that there are enough similarities – so find the balance and don’t write too much about the project – we need the space for more information about you.
4. You Can Jump Straight into Roles and Responsibilities
You can start by making a list of all the things you’ve done – that’s the mix of project based approaches and the skills you’ve used to carry them out successfully.
Something like this example:
5. You Can Write About Competency Areas
That means choosing an area of project management and then writing about your experiences and skills in relation to that – it works well for those working in project support or PMO:
Here’s an example:
Summary of the project: Utilising PRINCE2 methodology to drive forward the implementation and rollout of Network infrastructure and PCs to a number of high profile, complex sites with between 50 and 500 users whilst supporting other delivery teams and ensuring risks and issues were captured and managed.
Competency area: Delivered a program of 20 projects budgeted in excess of £1m and successfully achieved milestones, ensuring projects complied with all cost and scope specifications.
Bullet points to support:
- Planned, controlled and managed project delivery tasks and timescales and ensured all gateways were met and money drops achieved
- Assessed, tracked and managed any assumption, risks, issues and dependencies.
- Ensured the elements of the project followed the Project Delivery model by managing network specific deliverables to agreed contractual requirements.
- Managing the preparation, review and approval of project documentation including; business case, stakeholder analysis, delivery plans, milestone reports and communication plans.
6. You Can Write About Project Lifecycles
This is one way to ensure you’ve covered off all aspects of project delivery. Start at initiation and work your way through to closure. Make sure you cover off all the main competency areas of project management too.
7. Write About a Long Term Career in One Company
And the best way to do that is by starting with an overview of your time there – perhaps showing evidence of different roles and promotions. Then write about your more recent work first, this should be taking up the most space, tapering off the further back you go.
8. Highlight Key Achievements in the Career History
Hirers sometimes complain that they can’t easily match up someone’s key achievements to when and where they did them.
Using individual contributions is one way to overcome that:
Here’s an example:
9. You Can Include Quotes
Sometimes it is better said when someone else says it. I’ve seen a number of CVs that include quotes of feedback about the individual right at the top of their career history before details about the role are shared.
There’s a few things about this that work – it can make you stand out from the competition; it’s just like a Linkedin recommendation so it’s not weird at all; it shows that you’re happy and confident that your reference is going to be great and it’s a great way to call out certain good things about you which would be strange if you tried to do it yourself. I like it.
10. Don’t Write Lists
It’s the most common thing we see on project management CVs – the introduction and then straight into a shopping list.
One of the key strengths of a project practitioner is strong communication skills – so the career history is a great place to show that short, concise and clear sentences that convey a lot of information are your forte.
Here’s a comparison writing about their stakeholder management skills and experience:
- Stakeholder Relations
- leading effective stakeholder engagement with external organisations
- Gain business support: built rapport & influence with stakeholders across international locations, balanced conflicting aspirations, implemented mediations whilst ensuring business benefits realised.