How to Land the Perfect Project Manager Job

When you don’t get a job that you think you’d be dynamite at, it can be a bit frustrating. In the world of project management, companies want to move quickly so it can be a challenge to hear anything back.

Our Ellie Kostopoulos is presently looking for a project manager, so we picked her brain about the ways people are going wrong in getting the perfect job.

Project management is, at its core, about end-to-end process and not simply about delivery. By focusing strictly on delivery, a hiring manager may have trouble identifying how a project manager follows business processes, how a person handles the ebbs, flows, and adversity inherent in any complex project.

PM CVs, says Kostopoulos, also tend to miss the achievements of projects. This is not a problem unique to project managers but particularly evident in people who are focused on process. Having a project that succeeded is a positive tick. But talk about ways that it exceeded expectations—and don’t be afraid to be specific. If you came in under-budget, tell me how much. If you have a record of coming in under-time while exceeding expectations, we want to know about it.

Kostopoulos says that, if you’re suggesting that you’re perfect and not acknowledging mistakes, you’re blowing smoke and nobody is buying it. Take ownership, show growth and learnings, and show your work.

Not all project managers are created equal, and when you’re looking for your next gig you need to keep that in mind. A problem that Kostopoulos comes across often is that there isn’t any quantifiable, related experience listed. Running a big event is vastly different than rolling out software across multiple sites. Ensure that you have the skills relevant to the specific project outlined, and clearly elucidate what was achieved in that field.

There are other reasons that you’re not getting the job. You may not be clearly, boldly saying, “I’m the one.” You might not be following up on your application to show the hiring manager how much you want it.

More suggestions to make your application stand out:

  • Outline responsibilities of your previous roles including team size, project size and budget, and details on your direct reports.
  • Demonstrate your achievements with specifics
  • Clarify if your experience was end-to-end or if you only handled a segment. This helps us understand where to bring you aboard.
  • Show how your experience matches with the job being offered.
  • Balance the length of your CV with relevant information without being too wordy. Make it concise but include plenty of examples. It’s not easy, and will take some trial-and-error, but find the important nuggets and highlight them.

Ultimately, a great CV will get you a phone call but personality and communication skills are what will get you an interview and, ultimately, an offer. So, don’t be afraid to brag a little, showcase your expertise, and be honest about all of your experiences and you’ll get the job.

Project managers, what have you changed on your CV to help you stand out to the competition? Hiring managers, what is the one thing that flags a person as a great candidate? Sound off in the comments below.

To find out more about Ellie. Why not visit her bio page to learn more. There you will find Ellie’s up to date jobs lists and social media streams.


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