A project manager (PM) is responsible for leading an entire project through initiation, planning, execution, and control. As you can imagine, project managers always work in a team. They need a lot of soft skills along with hard skills.
So how to showcase your project management skills in a resume?
What should be on a project manager’s resume?
1. Contact information
Start your resume with a clear contact information section. You want recruiters to know who you are at first glance. Here are some key infos:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn profile
2. Resume summary / Career objective
When HRs receive tons of resumes, they often scan only the top of the document. That’s why you need a resume summary or objective. You want HRs to quickly get a picture of who you are and why you’re a good fit.
A resume summary is usually for experienced people to summarize their achievements, while a resume objective or a career objective is for fresh graduates or career changers to describe their career goals.
Here’s how to write a resume summary that stands out:
- Start with your title.
- Share your years of experience in the project management field.
- Include your best PM achievements, preferably with specific numbers.
- Speak to the job description. What skills is it asking for? What area of knowledge does the position require? Mention them in your summary.
- Keep it within 2-4 sentences.
- Write your summary AFTER you’ve finished the rest of your resume, and make sure it aligns with the rest of your resume.
If you’re writing a career objective, follow the same tips as above, but put transferable skills instead of PM experiences. Finally, add a strong career goal that aligns with the job and the company.
3. Work Experience
Listing past titles is easy, but writing an impressive work description takes effort. Follow these steps to nail your professional experience section:
- Read the job description carefully and highlight the skills they’re looking for.
- Dig into your work experience and search for any past project that applied those skills.
- Find metrics that can prove your skills, such as revenue growth and cost savings.
- Write bullet points that start with action verbs such as created, ran, led, implemented.
Why metrics? If you mentioned only job duties but not results, that’s as if saying, “I’ve taken a course in Project Management.” Great, but did you get a C or an A?
For example, “slashed costs by 20% in 3 months” looks much more impressive than “responsible for cost management”.
In addition, leave out technical jargon. Keep in mind that your resume may be read by HRs or seniors who are not necessarily in the project management field. You want all readers to be able to understand your experiences and skills, regardless of their background knowledge.
Education can be a minor section if you graduated more than 5 years ago. Simply put your highest degree with dates. But if you’re a junior project manager with less than 5 years of experience, make use of your education section.
Here are some valuable details you can add to your education:
- Relevant coursework
- Academic awards
- GPA (if it’s impressive)
- Student clubs or organizations
- Leadership roles
Why student clubs? In fact, many student activities require some sort of project managing, especially if you’re in a leadership role. Add those experiences to your resume as long as you’re able to explain how you managed student projects.
Project managers need a variety of skills, often depending on different fields of expertise. Here’s a list of popular skills for project managers:
- Risk management
- Scope management
- Methodologies (e.g. Agile, Scrum, CPM, Lean, Kanban)
- Cost control
- Business strategy
- Business case writing
- Project management softwares
- Time management
- Analytical thinking
- Active listening
Reminder: Do not dump a bunch of skills you find online into your resume. It shows that you don’t really have those skills.
How to pick the right project management skills then?
First, list all the skills you demonstrated from your past experience. Next, read the job description again carefully and list all the skills they’re searching for. Finally, compare the two lists and highlight the skills that are on both lists. They should be on top of your resume skills.
If the list looks too short, search for skills you have that also seem relevant to the job duties.
While certifications are not a must-have, consider getting one if you have several years of experience and are looking to take your career to a higher level. You certainly look more professional and trustworthy to employers if you are certified.
Some popular certifications for project managers include: Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), Associate In Project Management (APM), and Professional In Project Management (PPM).
If you have an impressive certification that will catch employers’ eyes, add it to your resume summary, such as “PMP certified project manager with 5 years of experience”.
7. Other experience
Extra information can make you stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to add a bonus section if you have more to show off.
Attended a well-known conference? Published an article on a famous media? Did some volunteer work that shows your personality? List them on your resume as long as it fits the job and the company, but keep it short and sweet.
How to choose the right resume format?
You may have heard about the 3 common resume formats:
As long as you don’t have large gaps between each job, use a chronological resume. It’s the most straightforward format for HRs since your highest achievement is on top of the list.
Will your resume go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before an actual HR? If you’re not sure, stick to a traditional one-column format. Most ATS systems are incompatible with two-column resumes and may lead to distortions.
If you’re sure a human will read your resume, two-columns are usually more visually appealing and easier to read. You can move shorter sections such as contact information, resume summary and skills to the left column.
Even though project managers don’t usually need design skills, they should be great at delivering information, communicating with people, and keeping stakeholders in mind.
A clear and reader-friendly resume proves that. Use resume builders such as CakeResume to make a resume with clean formatting, or look for a neat template to change from.
Further reading: Free Resume Templates & Formats｜Create a Professional Resume
To show professionalism, classic fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica and Times New Roman are considered the safest options. For some recruiters, though, Arial and Times New Roman are overused and outdated.
Again, think about the company you’re applying for. What’s their style? What’s the font of their brand? For example, use more modern (sans-serif) fonts such as Lato or Avenir if you’re applying for an innovative startup. Whichever way you choose, make sure it’s readable.
Tempted to include numerous font types? Resist. Use no more than 2 font types and no more than 2 colors other than black and white. Remember that this is a formal document. Finally, make sure the font size and spacing are easy to read.
Project manager resume examples & templates (Downloadable!)
Like the design? Use CakeResume's free resume builder to easily make yourself a stunning resume.
Check out more resume examples on CakeResume!
3 bonus tips for project managers
- Write a personalized cover letter. Even if it isn’t required, you will definitely stand out if you have a great cover letter. Keep it brief, but remember to highlight your top achievements and prove your understanding of the job.
- Stress business needs. Throughout your resume and cover letter, make sure you speak in the company’s perspective. Who you are and what you did are important, but employers also want to know how you can help the company. For example, “managed a project” shows what you did, but “cut costs” shows how you helped the company.
- Every experience can be relevant to project managers. Many PMs have had previous other jobs in engineering, marketing, finance or design. Those experiences better prepared them for a role like project manager. If you’re able to explain how your past experiences enhanced your PM skills or domain knowledge, feel free to keep them in your resume.