At Triumph Strategic Consulting we’re all about making it easier for you to find a job you love at a company that inspires you.
This is a quick guide to the strategies that we know work for job seekers when it comes to getting an interview. The tips here will help you secure your first interview, and many more interviews after that, for roles you want throughout your career.
Strategy #1: Use LinkedIn To Attract Hiring Managers
LinkedIn is the most powerful social network for making professional connections. It’s also one of the first places recruiters check when they hear about candidates. “Oh, you think so-and-so would be a good fit for this role? Let me check her out on LinkedIn and then perhaps we could get her in for an interview.” LinkedIn is your shop window for your services, and it (literally) pays to have a profile that pops.
Here’s how to make sure your LinkedIn profile page stands out from the crowd.
You Have a Profile
You are on LinkedIn, aren’t you? If not, go and create an account right now! It’s free. LinkedIn isn’t an upstart site that is going anywhere. Now owned by Microsoft, this social platform has been around since 2003.
OK, now we’ve got that out the way…
Create A Headline With Benefits
You want your headline (the tagline that appears under your name) to sum up what you have to offer a company. Think benefits. There’s no point in overselling yourself here because the rest of your profile will show what you can do in more detail, but if you can claim that you’ve successfully led Scrum teams on three continents, then say it.
Sell Through The Summary
You have the opportunity to add a summary of your skills which appears under your location and at the top of the main section about you. Use this wisely! Not everyone is going to scroll through all your job history so include an overview of your skills and what you can do for a potential employer.
Pick out any facts, statistics, key achievements and numbers from your previous positions and spotlight them here. You can also include how best to contact you (paying attention to your personal safety online). For example, you can add a line saying that you welcome connections through LinkedIn and that you are actively seeking a new opportunity.
There is also the option to add your contact details such as Twitter account, phone number, and email address but these will only appear to people in your network.
You can add media to your summary. Add a presentation, document or image, or link to your personal blog or website.
You can also add a header picture behind your profile photo (get a nice, professional looking headshot for in there). A header picture can help your profile stand out and also draw attention to your key achievements. If you worked on a large construction project, you could put final photos in there, or share a picture of you facilitating a workshop or similar.
Highlight Your Experience
Keep your profile up to date, and you’ll never worry again about when you started a particular job! List your current and previous roles. Include details about what you did, highlighting the benefits to the organization. Focus on measurable achievements instead of stuffing your job summaries with meaningless keywords.
You can also add media to each job, so if you did a fantastic presentation or got a customer testimonial, include it here! You can link to your company’s website or a press release if your project got mentioned in the news, for example. All of this is designed to provide evidence of what you achieved in those roles.
Social proof is the name given to the fact that we are more likely to believe or buy something if someone else has done it first and told us about it, and that goes for buying your skills. It’s why you see so many websites with customer testimonials or case studies, and why sites like Amazon rely heavily on customer reviews to promote you products.
Social proof on your profile comes through recommendations and endorsements. A recommendation is a hand-crafted statement from someone who has worked with you. An endorsement is someone in your network clicking a button to say you have a particular workplace skill.
If you don’t have recommendations, ask for them! Talk to your current project team or manager and ask them to write a line or two about what it is like working with you. You can do the same for them, whether they reciprocate for you or not.
You can often get endorsements if you endorse a colleague for a skill (make sure it is one you believe they actually have). They’ll then get notification that you have done so, and they are more likely to be invited to endorse you for skills that LinkedIn feels you might have.
Build Your Network
LinkedIn’s recommendation is that you don’t invite simply anyone to be part of your network. They should be people you know or have worked with. You can decide which invitations to accept so create your own policy for accepting connections and stick to it.
It’s also worth browsing LinkedIn’s recommendations of people you might know and asking relevant people to connect with you. While you might not want everyone on your current team to be part of your network, LinkedIn’s suggestions are normally pretty good! The more people who know that you are in the market for a new role, the more likely it is that you will be successful in achieving that goal.
Networking is more than just connecting with people. While you are actively building your profile and your network you should:
- Share articles on your profile – either ones you have written yourself on your own website or things you think your network would find interesting.
- Message people through the LinkedIn interface. Pick someone to message once a week and use the platform to keep in touch with ex-colleagues and work acquaintances.
- Participate in groups. Find a group that fits your industry or job role and join. Then comment, participate and help each other in the group on a regular basis.
LinkedIn also has a publishing feature which means you can use LinkedIn as your own personal blog, or you can repurpose blog articles that you have written elsewhere and reprint them on LinkedIn (as long as you have the copyright or permission to do so).
From your home page, click ‘Write an article’ and you’ll see the publishing interface. Add your story text, a picture, and a headline and click to share your words with the rest of your network. This can really set you aside from others by positioning yourself as a subject matter expert.
Your network gets alerts whenever you update your profile, so it’s worth taking some time today to check that it says what you want it to say about you. Your LinkedIn page should support your job-seeking aims so make it work for you!
Strategy #2: Use An Online Resume Tool
If you’re looking to make your resume stand out, you’ll already know that emailing a Word document isn’t going to help your application rise to the top of the pile.
There are lots of tools to help you put forward a really good resume; one that goes beyond the list-style of previous jobs. Online resume tools make it easy to summarize your experience in a reader-friendly way, highlighting your key skills and taking the stress out of the design. You can quickly build an awesome resume using professionally-designed templates and importing much of your work history from LinkedIn or your existing resume.
LinkedIn is the granddaddy of online tools for presenting your professional experience, but what about the others? Here is a selection of dedicated online resume tools to showcase your skills.
Easel.ly is an infographic maker, but it includes templates for resumes as well. If you work in the creative industries, turning your resume into an infographic and presenting your experience visually like this could go down well with prospective employers.
The free account gives you limited access to graphic templates, and you can’t download your document as a PDF. The paid account gives you that and more, so you’ll have to weigh up whether it’s worth the subscription.
Kickresume turns out a highly professional looking resume, and it gives you access to samples so you can be inspired by what other people have done. The templates are produced by designers, and the company claims that they give you a 60% higher chance of landing a job.
Kickresume will also help you put together your cover letters. There is a free plan, but for more features, you’ll want to upgrade to the paid plan (it’s a lot cheaper to sign up for an annual subscription).
CVMaker has a selection of templates available free, with premium templates on offer if you pay to upgrade. The free ones are perfectly OK, but the options for editing are quite limited. There isn’t a lot of customization you can do in terms of fonts or colors unless you upgrade.
It’s available in 37 languages, so it’s got support for all kinds of characters. You can download your resume as a PDF or in HTML, and you can share the link to it as well.
ConnectCV is more than just a resume builder. You can store multiple resumes, track your job applications, collect and manage references, store cover letters and more.
You can quickly create a resume for free by importing the contents of your LinkedIn profile (but you can only do this the very first time you set up your account, so don’t miss this step). Then you can edit and review, add more information and share your profile. You can share it online, or download as a Word document or a PDF.
At the time of writing this tool is currently in beta, which means it’s not fully launched and developed; it’s still in the iterative design stage. You might find a few bugs, but it’s perfectly OK to use now. The text input options are still quite basic, so if you have long lists of data to include you’ll want to think through how best to make them appear.
There are 28 predesigned templates to create a professional looking PDF resume. The system saves your resume to your Dropbox account, so you can pick it up from there or share the Dropbox link with recruiters.
VisualCV has built-in tracking so you can see who has downloaded your resume (on the paid plan). It also gives you the option of creating multiple resumes, which is great for when you want to personalize your application for a particular company or role. You can include more than just text: add video clips, charts, and photographs for an interactive and informative resume.
The user reviews of this product are really good, so it’s worth checking out. They do have premium templates on offer although there is a free account that gives you limited access so you can review the app before you upgrade.
How to Choose an Online Resume Tool
There are a lot of online tools available, as you can see. When you’re making a decision about which one to use, look for a product that allows you to export your resume in a number of formats so that you always have a file that your prospective employer can open.
You’ll also want to be careful about free online resume tools that talk about ‘creating a resume for free’. You may have to pay to download or print your resume, so read the terms and conditions of the site before investing too much time in creating your resume if you are certain you don’t want to pay to access it in other formats.
Strategy #3: Write A Resume That Pops
Having chosen a tool, you need something to write down!
Your resume is often the first thing that recruiters will see about you. Think about the kind of impression it makes on that audience. You aren’t writing for someone who necessarily knows a lot about project management. The person who is going to read it, and hopefully hire you, may not have a lot of project experience, or perhaps they did but have long since moved into a leadership role.
So you need to write a resume that stands out. Easier said than done, right? Here are 7 tips for capturing attention with your project management resume.
- Talk About How
A long list of your successful projects is interesting, but it won’t help a hiring manager decide if you have the skills and attitude for the job. How did you lead your team? What did you actually do? The intricacies of handling that office relocation are background facts to where your real project management skills came into play.
- Tailor Your Resume
Candidates often make the mistake of ‘perfecting’ their resume and then sending it out for every potential job. The thing is, not every job requires the same set of skills. Yes, they are all broadly project management if that’s the area you are going for, but the clues are in the job ad.
If it says ‘detailed approach to handling project finances’ you want to make sure that your skills at setting up and tracking a project budget are front and center. If the advert highlights teamwork and stakeholder engagement, then you want it to be easy for a hiring manager to spot how you fit the brief.
In other words, a few minutes spent tweaking your resume could make the difference between getting an interview or not.
- Edit, Edit, Edit
Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, there is still plenty that you can fit into your project management resume. After a few years in the workplace, your resume can grow and grow!
Keep your descriptions short. Edit down your text until you are only covering the basics, the context and the key takeaways from a particular engagement. Unless you are going for the most senior level positions you want to keep your resume as brief as possible. Hiring managers don’t have a lot of time and you have a glance or two to make a good impression. Make sure that time is filled with quality, clear information about your skills and experience, and not a lot of irrelevant information or jargon.
Check your resume for formatting and typing errors. A neatly formatted, error-free resume looks professional and shows that you have attention to detail and an approach that doesn’t take quality for granted.
Watch out for:
- Bullet points: make sure these are formatted in the same way throughout the document
- Capitalization of certain key terms or job titles: be consistent
- Whitespace: the document should be attractive to look at which means plenty of white space and a font size that is actually legible
- Structure: make sure that the resume is organized. Don’t jump from your current role to qualifications you gained at college and then back to your previous experience. Make the document flow in a logical order.
- Be Yourself
Your resume is an extension of your professional brand. Use it to paint a picture of what you are like as a leader and project manager. It should reflect what you are about and what you bring to your career.
This is easier to do than you might imagine. Simply start from scratch and don’t copy the text from anyone else’s resume! Be inspired by samples and examples, but make your resume your own.
- Showcase Your Certificates
Make space on your resume for the qualifications you have gained throughout your career. However, be sensible about what you include on the list. As we covered in the point about tailoring above, if you’re going for an IT role they probably aren’t that interested in the marketing certificate you got 5 years ago.
Some qualifications may give you the edge for certain roles, and show the breadth of business knowledge that you have. Some – especially the ones gained a long time again a fast-moving sector – are best left off totally.
Courses that didn’t result in a certificate but that gave you useful and relevant skills can also be included here.
If you are in doubt about what qualifications to include on your resume speak to a professional staffing advisor who can help you shape this section to your advantage.
- Include Keywords
Today, the first step of getting your resume in front of a hiring manager is most likely having it processed by a computer. Your resume will be uploaded into an HR system. It’s often the only way to deal with the volume of applications to various roles in large companies.
Your resume should not be a long list of keywords but where it is prudent, include terms that will pop on a database search. Talk about your projects, stakeholders, team, change management, business cases and other things. The point here is not to pepper your resume with so many keywords that it doesn’t read well to the human eye but to avoid the industry jargon and terminology specific to your company that might make it hard for a search engine to work out what you do.
Working with a professional staffing agency to help you find your perfect role is one-way to maximize your opportunity for that interview. When human eyes are prioritizing and reading your resume, you’ve got less chance of it being lost in the database.
Strategy #4: Include Relevant Skills
Hiring managers want to see that you can do the job. There’s a lot to include on a project management resume, and one of the most important sections will be about your skills.
Whether you choose to incorporate your skills throughout the document, weaving them into descriptions of your previous roles, or pull them out into a separate section, it’s crucial to highlight to a hiring manager that you know how to do the job.
Here are 7 of the most searched-for skills on a resume: does yours include all of these?
One of the main responsibilities of a project manager is planning. Use your resume to mention your use of Work Breakdown Structures, Gantt Charts, Kanban and other planning tools. Detail the software you use if it is industry standard and you are competent in it.
Remember that planning is more than preparing a timeline for your project, so you have the opportunity to write about the planning documentation you have prepared your Project Charters, and sub-plans that form your Project Management Plan.
This is also the place to mention the methodologies or approaches that you have experience in using. SDLC? Scrumban? Let your future manager know what you can do.
- Stakeholder Management
While the project management industry is moving more towards a discussion of stakeholder engagement, this term isn’t commonly used everywhere. It’s important to ensure that your resume can be universally understood and that the key terms are obvious. So talk about stakeholder management as a skill and within that you can document the engagement techniques you used.
This is also a good place to highlight any particular communications skills you want to bring to a recruiter’s attention, such as your well-received presentation at an industry conference or similar.
Reporting might feel like it’s too incidental to include on a resume but it’s absolutely essential. Hiring managers want to know that you are transparent in how you communicate and that you have an attitude to project control that will allow you to report and manage the progress of the project effectively.
If you have the space, note down who you reported to, what format you used and how you tailored your reporting to meet the needs of the stakeholders and the project.
- Team Management
Managing teams, or resource management, is another crucial skill. In most jobs, you won’t have line management responsibility for the people on the team. Give examples of how you have used your influencing, negotiating and people skills in the past to lead teams to successfully deliver project outcomes.
You can also list the resource management tools that you are fluent in using or any particular techniques that you have experience in such as resource leveling.
- Risk Management
Hiring managers what to know that their project will be in safe hands, so it is worth including risk management amongst your skills. This gives you the chance to showcase what you can do when it comes to handling the things that might derail a project.
You can include any formal risk management tools, approaches, techniques and how you handled any risks that materialized into issues.
- Budget Management
Not all projects will have a sizeable budget, and in some cases, such as a project coordinator role or more junior positions, the job you are going for might not have any budget accountability. However, in your later career in project management, it is highly likely that you will have to manage a project budget.
Include details of the size of budget you managed and how this was done. You can also say if a project hit budget targets or didn’t (and why).
This section also gives you the opportunity to write about contract management and any financial negotiations you were part of that go beyond tracking project expenditure on a spreadsheet. All in all, this skill shows that you have the business acumen to deliver as a rounded project professional.
- Change Management
Things change on projects all the time – experienced leaders know this and expect it to happen. How you respond to and manage change on your projects is an important part of understanding how you would approach and work within their organizational culture. For example, if you give the impression that you are flexible and fluid, working without a change management process, that might suggest to a hiring manager in a very structured organization that you wouldn’t be a good fit.
If you have a preferred style it’s important to be honest about that – you’ll be uncomfortable with a laid-back approach to managing change if you prefer the structure – but if you are comfortable with being able to work within a fluid and structured process then be sure that comes across on your resume.
Documenting your skills on your resume not only lets you showcase your skills but it also gives your interviewer something tangible to ask you about. They can frame questions about how you handle conflict on a team in light of what you have said on your resume about your experience working in a matrix environment, for example.
Including these 7 skills on your resume will help your application shine.
Strategy #5: Research The Market
The tech industry is booming. It’s one of the industries hiring right now, especially for project-related roles. Innovative new players and improvements in development that seem to hit the front pages every day: it all adds up to make this an attractive, fast-moving area where you can build a life-long career.
But what if you don’t even know what coding is and couldn’t tell your Java from SQL? Is there still a chance for you to create a successful and fulfilling carer in IT?
Yes, you can! Let’s look at how you can break into IT, even if you aren’t technical.
Research Available Jobs
Start reading about job opportunities in the tech arena. You’ll see that soft skills and business acumen are highly sought after. If you have the ability to take complex jargon and translate this into something that colleagues in other areas of the business can understand then you’ll be in demand.
Your problem-solving skills, approach to detail, analytical ability, customer-friendly outlook and solid communication skills will all serve you well in a multitude of IT jobs. You’ve also probably got consumer-level digital skills just from navigating your way through social media and using online services. It won’t take a lot to brush these up to show a future employer that you have what it takes to make it in the digital marketplace.
If you have a clear idea about which direction you want to go in, take a look at training courses that will support your goals.
Review the Roles
Let’s not be unrealistic: if you’ve spent 10 years in retail and have never written a line of code then you’re going to have to retrain to have a chance in a development role. However, there are plenty of roles in IT that allow you to use the skills you have learned in other areas without needing to be able to program or build or CPU from scratch.
Positions in system testing and customer service (think: help desk phone support) offer entry-level opportunities but a good way to transition into IT is to consider project management. This is a great path because it can be seen by hiring managers as a sideways step, especially if you have project management experience outside the industry. A lot of project management skills are transferable, and if you are prepared to quickly gain the domain knowledge from the subject matter experts, you can soon add value to your new team.
If you need more help about what tech roles might be a good fit for you with your current levels of experience, talk to a professional staffing firm about your options.
Tailor Your Resume To Highlight Your Experience
Have you set up a blog, or helped a friend with a website? Do you run the social media pages for your local sports club? Have you helped out in your child’s school with IT lessons or digital literacy? Do you build computers or tinker with mobile apps? All these things (and lots of others) will help show employers that you are keen to learn and that you have a basic awareness of all things tech.
All these should be on your resume. Tailor your resume for the role you are applying for, calling out the projects you have worked on in the past that had an element of IT, or the interpersonal skills you feel would be most relevant in the role.
Think about how best to present your experiences to show potential employers what you can do. Make sure your passion about tech shows through and be willing to talk about why you are interested in a transition to IT at this point in your career.
Be flexible about how you seek out opportunities. A good starting point might be your own internal IT department, for example, or an outsourced third-party IT services firm that your business deals with. These would know you (or be able to source reliable references about you quickly) and may be prepared to take a chance on moving you into a more technical role than the one you have now.
Sometimes, though, you’ll need a clean break and a new start to forge a career in a new industry. Look for opportunities with contacts in your network and reach out to professional staffing firms who have contacts you can’t reach personally.
You may have to be flexible with your career aspirations and be prepared to take a sideways move or even a step below where you currently feel you are in order to make the move. However, if you find the right role, the transition should be far easier and with far less risk of losing a chunk of your take home pay.
IT skills are definitely in demand at the moment, and while you may be competing for roles alongside recent tech graduates, your experience in other areas brings something to the business that they don’t have. Whether you studied arts and want a tech role as your first step to a long-term career or worked for 20 years in oil and gas, it’s never too late to consider swapping industries.
With skill shortages affecting many areas of IT, hiring managers are open to the idea of candidates with a wide range of diverse experiences and it isn’t necessary to have a tech degree to open doors in IT any longer.
If you’ve worked through these 5 strategies for jobseekers you’ll be well on your way to securing the interview you want for a job you’re passionate about. All you have to do now is reach out with your well-crafted resume and wait for the interview requests to come rolling in.
How we can help
Triumph Strategic Consulting can help you find the right IT job for you, whether you have a background in tech or not. We can get your resume in front of the employers who are looking for people just like you. We know a business is only successful if it is run by individuals who are qualified, experienced and ready to put some passion into their work.
At Triumph Strategic Consulting our mission is to make getting a job easier.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, our strategic IT consulting firm is widely revered as Southern California’s premier agency among those who refuse to settle for anything less than the best. We understand that the consulting needs of local startups, mid-level corporations and established global enterprises can vary, we proudly offer a range of staffing services to adequately meet and exceed the expectations of all of our job seekers and clients. Over the years, our recruitment specialists have managed countless projects and programs using our five key values: Teamwork, Integrity, Diversity, Trust, and Collaboration.
While we specialize in placing IT Project Managers, Information Technology Consultants and Agile Professionals, we have also staffed companies in an assortment of other industries, including media, entertainment, automotive, healthcare, financial services and more.
Please contact us today and find out how we can help you secure the perfect job.