Can volunteering help job prospects?
After leaving my last contract as a project manager, with two years' experience working for a blue-chip air transport company, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get noticed by agents, let alone potential employers. I have rewritten my CV a number of times and had it rewritten by a specialist. But I have had just two interviews in as many months.
I feel I am stuck between having too much experience for project analyst/assistant manager roles and too little experience for most project manager roles.
Also, I took a nine-month career break; could this be putting potential employers off?
I am actively trying to manage my career, and have passed the Prince2 practitioner exam.
I am considering offering my skills as a volunteer, mainly to show I am capable of delivering. I am thinking of contacting established companies, start-ups or non-profit organisations. Are there any resources I could use to help this line of investigation?
Yes, but make sure you choose wisely
A career break can sometimes hinder your chances when looking for work. However, I am sure you found it rewarding and career breaks can revitalise you for a return to work.
Volunteering is a good idea, but you must be sure you are able and happy to work free of charge, as exploitation is a definite de-motivator. Perhaps a non-profit company or charity would be better than a start-up business.
The Prince2 qualification is a good addition to your personal development and should make you a bit more marketable.
Have you tried contacting employers directly on a speculative basis? I would recommend you focus on permanent work for now, partly due to the break, but mainly because the contract world is more competitive on every role within the project manager area.
Solution by Jason d'Silva Williams, manager, commercial IT recruitment, Hudson
The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching
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This was first published in August 2005