Top Ten Tips

Here’s our list of the Top Ten Tips that will help you put your best foot forward when looking for your next contract opportunity or full-time job.

1   Don’t Let Your Resume Get Lost

  • Include your name and contact information at the top of the resume – not in a header where data may be lost when the resume is scanned
  • Remember that your resume will be one of hundreds or thousands, both in the Project Management Plus database and in any company’s files
    • Make your resume easy to find and identify by using a simple, descriptive naming convention like “John Smith Resume” or “JohnSmithResume07-12-2013”
  • We get resumes every day with cryptic job titles that probably mean something to the candidate, but which don’t tell the reader anything useful.
    • Avoid generic terms like “consultant” or “manager”
    • Make sure that your job title helps the reader understand what you did on that job
    • Use a brief description of your function rather than a vague “official” title

2   Make Your Resume as Close to Perfect as Possible

  • Never forget that your resume will be the first impression you make on a prospective employer
  • Don’t waste this opportunity to look your best
    • You’ve had all the time in the world to write your resume.
    • If an employer sees errors he’ll wonder about the quality of your work on the job
  • Pay close attention to readability, consistency, correctness of spelling and grammar
  • Visit our Resume Tips, Resume Starter Questions and Resume Example pages for detailed advice and more tips

3   Make Your Resume an Effective Marketing Tool

  • Highlight your strengths, particularly those most relevant to the position you’re seeking
  • Minimize your weaknesses or balance them with accomplishments
  • Do not lie or mislead, but focus on your strengths
  • Make sure that your most relevant experience and training for each specific position are included in the summary at top of your resume
  • Plan to generate different versions for different positions
  • Follow the format we recommend on our Resume Tips page
  • See those tips in action on the Resume Example page

4   Don’t Get Rusty

  • Keep certifications current
  • Earn any education or training credits needed to qualify for recertification
  • Seek opportunities to take workshops or courses in your areas of expertise or related fields
  • Consider assuming an active leadership role in professional organizations
  • Look for opportunities at your work sites to learn new techniques and approaches.
  • Consider seeking new certifications if these areas are a good fit for your specialty

5   Connect with People

  • Get to know your PMP recruiter, and help him or her learn more about you
  • Remind your recruiter from time to time that you’re actively looking, and make sure that we have your dates of availability
  • Make sure that we always have your current contact information

6   Be Nice to Your Recruiter

  • Don’t send mass mailings of your resume to dozens of recruiters at once
  • Respond to specific positions, or select recruiters to work with who are active in your area of expertise
  • Don’t waste the recruiter’s time by applying for jobs where you’re not a good fit
  • Track your activities
    • Use a database or spreadsheet to follow positions you’re interested in
    • Makes notes about the companies and recruiters you’ve talked to
  • When you hear from a recruiter who’s looking for candidates for a particular job:
    • If you’re a good fit, respond immediately.  Time can be critical
    • If you’re not a good match for the position pass the information along to a colleague who might be.  (Remember PMP’s Referral Bonus program)
      • Send your colleague’s information to the recruiter.
      • You want to become known as someone who is responsive and professional.
  • Always respond to calls or emails from recruiters as soon as you can.
    • Recruiters are usually working on tight deadlines and may need to find top candidates very quickly.
    • Again, responding quickly tells the recruiter something about you as a professional
  • Offer added value to your relationship with a recruiter – whether it’s of long standing or brand new.  Don’t merely write and ask if they’ve got a job for you. Develop a professional relationship.  Try sending some information that may be of practical use to a recruiter:
    • Something you read in a blog
    • A news item about recruiting in your field
    • Publicity or sponsorship opportunities for the recruiting company
    • Referral of a top candidate whom you can personally recommend
    • A link to a relevant article
  • Your recruiter will appreciate the contact – and you will have continued to build a connection that will pay off sometime in the future

7   Follow Instructions

  • Did you read and follow all of the submission instructions for a position you’re seeking?
  • Is your resume current, accurate and in the format requested?
  • Did you take the time to edit and target your resume to the specific position?
  • Did you submit your resume using the medium requested?

8   Make Sure You’re Qualified for the Position You’re Seeking

  • Avoid applying to large numbers of positions.
    • This will become known to recruiters and/or employers over time.
    • Doing this will affect your credibility as a serious and qualified candidate
  • Read all materials carefully:
    • Job description and required skills and experience
    • Requirements for work samples, suggested approach to the problem, etc.
    • Reference requests and specific information required from references
    • Any addition material sent to you, including job descriptions, statements of work, requests for offers or information, etc.
  • Know the details of the position requirements
  • Respect the client’s “must have” requirements. Don’t apply if you’re not even close
  • If you’re a close match, but not perfect, don’t hesitate to propose yourself.
    • If you’re a good match your other experience or skills may balance what you’re missing
    • Explain what experience or skills you have that would enable you to do the job even if you don’t have a skill that was requested
  • Read through our extensive Interview Tips for more ways to research the job and company

9   Give Your Recruiter the Information He Needs to Represent You Effectively

  • Any recruiter has to present a candidate to the client effectively and positively, no matter how expert the candidate is, or how perfect a match he is for the position
  • Don’t make your recruiter guess at all the ways you might be a great fit for the job
  • Make sure that the recruiter is fully aware of:
    • Your education, certifications, experience and skills.
    • Specific metrics of your achievements in previous positions.
    • What you can do for the client in the position you’re applying for.
  • Don’t hesitate to point out areas that are similar or relevant.  For example: “I haven’t done X, but I’m highly experienced in Y, and these are the ways that the two are similar.”
  • No one can know your experience better than you do
  • Make sure that your recruiter knows the facts, so he can represent you as strongly as possible

10   Be Ready to Answer Questions About Your Resume and Background

  • Does your resume show gaps in your work history? Your recruiter – and prospective employers – will want to know about those.
  • Are you moving from contract work to permanent employment? Or the other way around? Why?
  • Are you local to our areas of activity? Are you planning to relocate? Would you travel if the position required it? How much travel would be acceptable?
  • What is your citizenship or visa status (if citizenship is a requirement)?
  • And, of course: Why, exactly, do you want to work for this particular employer?
  • How can you benefit the employer? What value can you bring to the organization?
  • Our Interview Tips section lists dozens of questions that you may be asked. Review those and practice how you will respond. We also provide a list of questions you might want to ask the interviewer.

Bonus Tip – And One You Can’t Afford to Ignore

  • Remember that the interview process itself – from the moment you walk in the door, until you have earned the position – is absolutely critical to your success
  • Study all of our Interview Tips
  • Make sure that you are fully prepared to represent yourself positively and professionally before, during and after your interview