January 14, 2013
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How often have you been called upon to remember past projects? Are you prepared to respond to “tell me about your favorite project and why it was your favorite”? If you are pursuing professional certification, a new job, or promotion, be ready for this question. If your brain is like mine, it is an overflowing file cabinet with some of the best material buried in the back corner. It is not always easy to access the things you have done in the past, especially when new projects are always sitting on the forefront of the mind. As a result, you will likely shortchange yourself by relying on the more accessible recent experiences that may be less relevant in the context of the position. Perhaps you come up short on needed hours experience for that professional certification because you had forgotten about that part time project you worked on when in a different position. There is a remedy for this. That is your Project Portfolio History.
I created my Project Portfolio History when applying from Professional Project Manager Certification from the Project Management Institute. It was a necessary step for completing the application, but I quickly saw a multitude of uses for this listing. The list includes:
- Project Title
- Start Month
- End Month
- Number of Months
- Project Description
Customize your Project Portfolio History to meet your specific needs. You may add a column for percentage of work time spent on the project, the project sponsor, team members, project methodology…whatever makes sense to you. This is your reference and a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. You may opt to share with recruiters in which case it might make sense to keep a “private” version in addition to the “public” version with the private including key words or signals that you want to remember without sharing. My private version has notes to remind me of my favorite projects, least favorite projects, projects where I learned the most, and many of those other common asks when discussing your project past.
The project description should help describe each project and what made each unique. What technologies and methodologies where used? What was the team structure? Who were the users of the solution and how the accessed it? You do not need to answer each of these questions – rather you are looking for what about this project sets it apart from others.
This document has helped me in describing experience in resumes, cover letters, and in interviews, as well as document hours for both the PMP and the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP®) certification. I use it when customizing my resume to the job I am submitting for, developing my cover letter, review prior to an interview for a fresh look, and I even request to keep the document out and handy during an interview. I have yet to be refused to have my “cheat sheet” handy. Recruiters and interviewers have requested a copy. Remember to have a public version available. One recruiter I worked with said, “This is great! Every project professional should have this.” Start putting your together today. I have linked a Project Portfolio History template so you can get started on yours today. Start with your current project and work backwards. You can always add rows to fill in gaps if you miss something along the way.
Please share your experiences with this or a similar document by commenting on this post.