Being a project manager is a demanding and skill-driven job. It requires an individual that has two entirely different skill sets that fit between administration, team management, and project development.
Hiring managers are looking for individuals that can wear multiple hats on a given day, and will determine who they call in for an interview based in large part on how well the applicants’ resumes match up to these needs. One essential to a project manager title is the ability to shift focus and essentially demonstrate that in an interview.
Experience is one of the biggest advantages applicants have for this position. Certification and education is also important, and should be highlighted alongside your professional experience and achievements.
With this in mind, there is a whole host of specific hard and soft skills that hiring managers are specifically looking for.
In this article, we’ll go over five resume tips for project managers.
Project Manager Resume Format
The format of your resume matters, as does the order in which items are presented. Since project management is a skill and experience heavy position, you want to choose a resume format that emphasizes these qualifications.
While a functional resume might seem to be the obvious choice, a hybrid of chronological format is more likely to be well received by a hiring manager in today’s market.
Functional resumes emphasize experience and skills, however they do so in a way that leaves hiring managers wary of the actual qualifications of the applicant as it is commonly used to hide employment gaps and cover up lack of direct experience in the position.
A chronological resume is the go-to standard and has been for some time. It allows you to list the positions you’ve had over the past 5-10 years in reverse chronological order, listing your responsibilities, qualifications, and achievements in each position.
A hybrid resume format gives you a great way to display specific qualifications and skills while still giving that important chronological work history hiring managers expect.
Emphasize Project Manager Hard Skills
Hard skills are vital a project manager. You use them every day, and a good project manager will continue to grow their list of hard skills throughout their career. These skills range from practical and general to task-oriented.
Whether you’re a project manager that specializes in construction, IT, or other industries, having hard skills that align with the position you are applying for is key to your success.
You can get a really good idea of the hard skills a hiring manager is looking for by reading the job posting carefully. Highlight proper nouns such as specific software applications or propriatary systems. If any of these apply to you, find a way to work them in your project manager resume.
Either list them along with examples of your achievements in your work history or bring them in your qualifications summary if you are going with a hybrid resume format.
Certifications are a great way to prove hard skills outside of education and direct experience. We’ll get into certifications in more detail later on.
List Soft Skills
Soft skills are the bread and butter of a project manager. These include skills that are difficult to train, such as personality traits like patience and quick thinking. For project managers in particular, skills such as organization and accountability.
Find a way to include soft skills in your project manager resume as directly as possible. Generally, these are implied, however modern resume tracking software depends on keywords to filter out candidates.
Consider listing soft skills and following them with an example from your work experience. For example, here is a bullet point from a job in a resume work history.
- Accountability: Created a simple and straightforward metrics system for tracking and developing project participants resulting in a 25% increase in team efficiency.
Soft skills are sought after by employers for a number of reasons. They are difficult to train, unlike hard skills, and hiring a candidate that is able to demonstrate their ability to meet this criteria is a good thing for the company.
Keep it Simple
It helps to list projects you’ve worked on within your work history, but going too far into detail can make the hiring manager’s eyes glaze over. Think about the stories you can tell in the interview!
List the most important and relevant projects in your work history. Focus on one or two bullet points (at most) for each of them, or even just a brief description of a single sentence.
Keywords are more important that details. Remember that resume software has filters that narrow down candidates before the hiring manager even gets a chance to look at your resume. Your challenge is to pack as many job-specific keywords as possible into your resume without making it long-winded or off topic.
Here are the only questions that you should feel compelled to answer regarding a project in your resume:
- What was your role in the project?
- What made the project a success?
- What was the size of your team?
Resumes should be one or two pages at most. You really only have up to 30 seconds to earn an interview spot here, and your resume should be able to convey the important details in less than that time.
Bring on the Certifications
Certifications, education, and other knowledge-based qualifications are a great thing to have, and should be included in your resume.
Unless you are working with a high school diploma and work experience alone, a certifications and/or education section on your resume is a great thing to have.
IT project managers, for example, often have to have at least a working knowledge of the systems they’re overseeing development for. Having a certification in those systems is a big plus in the eyes of many companies.
If you don’t have certifications, think about obtaining some. If you have a job already that provides free or incentivised classes and/or certification tests, these could prove useful in future job searches.
Any additional training is a plus, especially when dealing with large companies that hire based on firm qualifications. Online classes through respected providers, any personal-time projects that relate to the job you’re wanting, and more could be worth mentioning in either the resume or the cover letter to increase your chances.
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