What you missed at the PMI MassBay Career Advancement Clinic in Boston
Thursday, November 17 was a night of learning, networking, and opportunity. PMI MassBay hosted a Career Advancement Clinic at Suffolk University Law School for 200 participants. Our friends at Suffolk provided an entire floor presentation and networking areas that were perfect for this style event. The event brought together people from all experience levels. Graduating students and junior and senior Project Managers and Business Analysts attended the event.
So, what is a Career Advancement Clinic?
Career Advancement Clinics are unique in that they offer many options for people looking for a new job or who are simply interested in advancing their careers. Participants were provided the opportunity to learn from industry Project Management and HR experts, meet Recruiters from local companies and agencies face to face and network with their Project Management and Business Analyst peers.
The evening started with a choice of 30 minute sessions on the following topics:
- Interview Coaching and Tips hosted by Katherine Moody
- This was the most popular presentation provided insightful tips for the job seeker. She also offered one on one speed coaching sessions throughout the evening.
- Transitioning Industries hosted by Michael Madden and Sheila Connelly
- Participants were able to hear from Michael, who successfully made the transition from Financial Service PM to Healthcare PM. Shelia explained how she went back to school mid-career to learn about Healthcare Informatics and land her first role in this area.
- Project Manager from Agile Coach by Ed Thomas
- Ed came in from Hartford to show how made the transition from Project Manager to Agile Coach – a topic of interest to many members.
- Transitioning Military to Corporate roles by Steve Amsden
- Steve provided an unique perspective from HirePurpose, a company that helps military veterans by providing complimentary help with resume writing, interview skills training and coaching.
- Graduate and International Student Assistance by Chet Lang
- Chet advised graduating student and international student son how to approach their search, internships, etc.
- Project Planning and MS Project by Dominic Thomas
- Dominic opened 10 seats in his current MBA class for participants to get a taste of what it is like to go back to school.
These sessions repeated three times to allow participants to sample more than one.
Anthony Hines was on hand to provide Career Advice and tips for staying positive and organized in your search. Anthony is an outstanding example of members helping members.
Ten tables of corporate and agency recruiters were on hand throughout the night to meet participants face to face. Each had multiple contract and full time openings for discussion. The recruiters were impressed by the caliber of the participants and stated that they are eager to stay involved with the chapter and attend future events.
HR Panel Discussion
The evening concluded with a Panel Discussion featuring corporate recruiters from Bullhorn, Harvard University and Children’s Hospital facilitated by John Todd from Downtown Recruiting. Participants were encouraged to ask their most “burning issues” about the interview and screening process. The panelists provided practical advice and insights about resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and interviewing tips. Insights included:
Cover Letters: certain industries: not for profit, Healthcare and Higher Education prefer cover letters to review an applicant’s writing style, understand their passion for the industry and mission of the organization, and to see how their experience can help solve the challenges faced by the department/company. Cover letters are the perfect place to set yourself apart from other candidates, especially if you are attempting to transition industries, etc. However, they also advised to take your time and edit the cover letter carefully. Poorly written cover letters (typos, grammatical errors, etc.) can make the difference in being selected for an interview or not. Remember spellcheck does not pick up all mistakes.
Resumes: most panelist advised that a two-page resume is standard for senior level Project Management and Business Analyst candidates encouraged candidates to list their complete employment history so as not to have a gap on their resume. But, be careful about the size of the font and the amount of text on a page. For candidates with limited experience, a one page resume is appropriate. When asked about functional verses chronological resumes, the panel unanimously preferred chronological resumes to make their screening process easier. They explained that it can be difficult for HR and hiring managers to see where a candidate’s accomplishments match to the role they held.
LinkedIn: The panelist use LinkedIn to research the candidates and search for passive candidates, In one case, a panelist said that 60% of her recent hires came from LinkedIn.
Each advised that it is very important for candidates to keep their profile updates and provide some information about their responsibilities in each role. The question of keywords was asked multiple times. Panelist advised that keywords can be repeated in your LinkedIn profile and that it will make the candidate easier to find when searching for talent.
When updating profiles online, the panelist advised updating your settings to turn off features that automatically update your connections about these changes. This will prevent your manager from being alerted when you update your profile which can lead them to believe you are looking for work.
Candidates in transition asked if they should update their last position with an end date or if they should leave it as current. The panelist advised candidates to be honest and to keep the profile and resume up to date.
Groups: The panel suggested joining select groups on LinkedIn. This helps recruiters find you more easily and shows your interest. Participating in discussions can showcase your abilities as well.
International candidates asked about how to disclose visa restrictions. Panelist who worked for companies that were open to visa candidates advised that the candidate must be upfront with any restrictions, so that they can advocate appropriately for the candidate and advise if the role is open for visa candidates. They gave examples of candidates who were in process and ready to be offered employment who then disclosed these restrictions. This can stop the company from moving forward. Also, keep in mind that most company applications have questions about a candidate’s eligibility to work in the US.
Using agencies verses applying to a company directly: One candidate mentioned that he felt that recruiting agencies were better to market him for certain companies and jobs than applying directly to the company. The panelist discussed that they use agencies for their most difficult positions only and explained that agency fees are an expense to their budgets. One of the panelist had experience from the agency and corporate recruiter side and provided insights into both. The Recruiter and Agency relationship varies by company and role.
How else can a candidate get noticed by corporate recruiters: The panelist advised referrals from current employees, networking through peer groups and associations, etc. One participant asked about the importance of charity and volunteer work and rather to list to on her resume. She was advised that it can show that she is a well-rounded candidate.
Other websites: Some candidates mentioned joining Angel List and Opportunity. Panelists had some familiarity with these sites. There are jobs on these sites for start-up and smaller companies that might not be on LinkedIn or Indeed (consolidator sites). The moderator advised that candidates should be careful when registering on the sites as many will ask if you would like to add your LinkedIn or email contacts and may email them to join as well.
Do your Homework: Candidates need to do research on the company and their products/services. Having a general understanding of the industry and having a few well thought questions for the interview will show your interest.
Lastly the question of how to follow-up with Recruiters and what is appropriate communication with Hiring managers came up. This was addressed as part of the Interview Coaching session led by Katherine Moody earlier as well. Katherine advised that it is okay to suggest to follow-up with the recruiter after an interview – to take this task off their plate. If the recruiter agrees, then follow-up as advised.
Panelists advised that it is usually not appropriate to send a LinkedIn invitation to connect if you have not met the Recruiter or Hiring Manager. You can however use a LinkedIn InMail message to the Recruiter – a carefully worded message explaining your interest in the position and that you have applied, etc. All three panelists advised not reaching out to the Hiring manager directly. When appropriate, they advised to customize the message and not to simply send the standard “I’d like to add you my network” text. In most cases, it is not appropriate to connect with Hiring managers. It is appropriate however to research the profiles of the recruiter and hiring manager prior an interview.
Overall the evening was a success and participants commented that they liked the format. They noted the opportunity to ask questions, learn from their peers and network with corporate and agency recruiters who had actual job openings.
We are always looking for comments and suggestions to continually improve the customer experience at our events. The Career Advancement Clinics are evolving to meet the needs of our members and larger Project Management and Business Analyst community. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Career Advancement Clinics are held in the Fall and Spring annually. If your company has a space that would be conducive for a PMI MassBay event we want to hear from you! It is an excellent opportunity to showcase your company as an employer of choice!
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