Five Project Management CV Myths

The CV is still the most important career tool you have. If you’re currently looking for a new job, you want to make sure it’s working for you in the best way it can. Here are the five biggest myths for a project management CV.

1. I can use the same CV for each job I apply for

Gone are the days when one version of your CV was good enough. If you’re looking at multiple opportunities, each one is going to have something unique about it. Hirers want to see that you have what they’re looking for but they’re not prepared to hunt around in your CV to find it.

If you consider that the CV is marketing or sales brochure and the reader is thinking about buying (otherwise why would they have picked it up) you can see that you would want to tweak that brochure to make sure you’ve written the most relevant stuff for that reader.

You should change it slightly for each role you go for. You don’t need to make massive changes either. You may want to bring some information further up in the career history or change the language in the profile statement to match the one used in the ad.

But don’t just keep adding stuff to the CV. Writing a bigger CV doesn’t help.

2. It doesn’t matter how long it is

Writing a really long CV in this day and age is just dated. Short and snappy, three pages at the most is the norm today. The CV is a sales and marketing brochure, not a detailed product specification.

It has to be shorter because people don’t want to read that much about you. They’re hiring based on what’s current experience. They want to know about what you’ve been doing recently, not from years ago.

Of course longevity of career is important in project management but current experience is what the hirer is most interested in, and the customer is always right.

That means you have a challenge on your hands – knowing what to keep in and what to leave out. The answer will depend on the job you’re going for. Keep in the things that are relevant. Ditch the noise that distracts.

If you’re a project manager that relies on the ability to communicate clearly and concisely on your projects, this task should present no problems.

3. Writing about my projects is good enough

Project management CVs are notorious for highlighting great details about the ins and outs of the project but the CV is not a sales and marketing brochure for the project, it’s supposed to be about you. So what if the project was successful, on time, on budget… The hirer wants to see what your role was in that success. What did you actually do? Look at your own CV now, do you have about three sentences dedicated to telling us what the project was about? If so, rewrite that now to tell us what you did on that project instead.

4. Keywords are important, I’ll just make a list of skills

Yes keyword is king with a CV but so is context. The keywords you choose demonstrate your relevancy to the job and you demonstrate your skills and experience to do the job through the context around those keywords. The keywords, of course, are going to come from the job ad and that’s why you need to change the CV for each job.
Don’t include a list of keywords under a heading like Skills. Your CV might get picked out on an initial search by a recruiter but if on reading it, it’s just a word in a list, it doesn’t really do you any favours.

Get started today by writing your top ten keywords for the role you perform, the types of projects you deliver and the industry you work within.

5. You need full contact details and personal details

Consider the footprint of the CV. You write about yourself and include personal details like marital status, age and nationality. You then add your home address and phone numbers. The CV then ends up, well heaven knows really. The only details you need on a CV today is your name, postcode, city or town and your mobile number.

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This article was originally printed in the project management magazine, Project Manager Today

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