If you take pride in bringing order to chaos, love seeing things through from start to finish, and are wildly organized, project management could be the perfect job for you. Even better, you’ll find opportunities across a variety of industries, like construction, IT, engineering, retail, e-commerce, and finance. That means with the right project management resume, you can pursue a job in virtually any space you’d like!
Project managers are tasked with driving initiatives, like product rollouts or program implementations. They meet with stakeholders to clarify their goals and define the scope of a new project, create budgets and timelines, identify key milestones, obtain and delegate resources, monitor progress, and do their best to deliver a completed task on time and within budget. No small feat!
Because project management roles have so many moving parts, PMs are revered for being exceptionally well-organized, patient, methodical, and flexible. You’re basically an organizational savant, seamlessly tending to the countless tabs that are open in your brain—or on your screen!—at any given time. Managing large-scale initiatives through every phase of a project lifecycle is a huge responsibility, so project managers tend to be skilled communicators and multitaskers, with a knack for managing big picture concerns and minute details.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could feature all of these wonderful traits on a resume? You can! Here’s how.
How to Create a Project Manager Resume That Screams “Hire Me!”
Project managers play a crucial role in an organization’s success, so their skills are highly valued. Recruiters will be especially interested to read about the specific projects you’ve managed, your methodology, your training and certifications, and your technical skills. They’ll be keeping an eye out for certain keywords and specific metrics (like budgets, cost savings, and deliverables), too. Here’s how to write a resume that’ll capture the essence of your qualifications.
1. Tailor Your Resume With the Right Keywords
When you submit an online application or resume for a project manager opportunity, it’s usually directed to an applicant tracking system (or ATS). This program will scan your resume to determine whether your skills are a match for the job you’ve applied to by searching for certain keywords that indicate your relevant project management experience, like “scope” or “budget.” If your application has enough of the right terms, the ATS will forward it to a recruiter for a closer look.
The best way to identify the keywords you should include on your resume is to carefully read through each job posting before you apply. Because every role, company, and industry is unique, relevant keywords will vary from one application to the next, but here are some commonly used project management keywords and terms to get you started:
- Business Case
- Change Management
- Client Communication
- Data Analysis
- Data Modeling
- Deployment Management
- Development & Testing
- Due Diligence
- Financial Analysis
- Impact Assessment
- Process Development
- Process Improvement
- Project Life Cycle
- Quality Control
- Resource Allocation
- Risk Management
- Scheduling & Planning
- Scope Management
- Stakeholder Management
You can find a detailed guide to walk you through tailoring your resume here. But the quick and easy trick is this: If a particular skill or proficiency is mentioned in a job description and you have that skill or proficiency, then it should appear on your resume. Conversely, you may have to exclude certain elements of your experience if they’re not relevant to a particular job posting.
2. Spotlight Your Metrics and Achievements
Project managers typically have several quantifiable responsibilities (like timelines, key milestones, and budgets), and as a PM, you’re probably already pretty comfortable measuring outcomes. This will come in handy as you’re writing your resume!
As you’re drafting your resume bullet points, try to assign a metric or outcome to each of your job duties, wherever possible. Some questions to ask yourself as you’re writing might include: What was the outcome of this project? Was the project completed on time? Did I stay within budget? How many people did I manage?
So instead of writing a bullet point that simply says “managed project budgets,” you might say, “Directed $2M corporate headquarters relocation project, delivering target outcomes on time and under budget.” If you’re feeling stuck, try using this simple bullet point formula:
- Compelling verb + job duty + outcome or accomplishment
Here’s how it might look in practice:
- Designed accelerated program roadmap, saving 20% on expenditures and delivering completed implementation three months ahead of schedule
If you’ve managed multiple projects for a single employer, you might find it hard to quantify each individual bullet point, as your metrics will be different for every initiative. That’s where a “Key Achievements” section can save the day. You can still write interesting bullet points (compelling verb + job duty) in your main job description, but save the outcomes for these subsections, where you can call out each specific accomplishment and load it up with metrics. You’ll see this in action in the example resume below, but here’s what it might look like:
- Executed customer program implementation, spanning 5 departments and 130 users; achieved 100% adoption rate within three months
3. Choose the Right Layout
For most, a traditional chronological resume layout is the way to go. The clearly defined sections and orderly work history (typically displayed in reverse chronological order starting with your current or most recent job) are easy to follow and can serve as a signal to recruiters that you don’t have any questionable gaps in your work history or irrelevant experience to hide.
But in certain instances, an alternative format might be a better option—especially if you hop from one contract to the next (no judgement—I do it too!). Freelance project managers might prefer to use a combination resume or a functional resume, so that they can feature their most relevant projects more prominently, without having to eat up valuable space with less applicable, but more recent experience. You can read up on the merits of each layout (and see examples!) here.
Looking for project manager jobs? Search on The Muse.
4. Feature Technical Skills and Methodologies Prominently
As a project manager, you’ve surely encountered a number of project management methodologies—like Agile, Kanban, Scrum, or Waterfall—and are well aware that that they’re essential to your job. Recruiters know that too, which is why they’ll be paying close attention to the “Technical Skills” section of your resume. They’ll also want to know what your level of expertise or familiarity with each is, so you may want to consider using bullet points for additional detail (you’ll see this in action in the example resume below)!
Project managers typically rely on programs such as Microsoft Project, Asana, Jira, SharePoint, or Trello (among many, many others) to successfully track and complete their work. Remember, if a job posting calls for a specific technology, and you have experience with that program, be sure to include it!
If you’ve completed any specialized trainings or seminars or if you’ve earned a certification like PMP (Project Management Professional) or Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP), be sure to prominently feature it on your resume. Continuing education is highly valued (often required!) in the project management space.
5. Don’t Forget the Basics
One of the wonderful things about resumes is that they’re pretty universal. While the content will, of course, vary from one person to the next, there are a few golden rules that’ll (almost) always apply.
- Keep your resume to a single page. Some recruiters review hundreds of applications a day, so they’ll appreciate you keeping your resume clear and concise. Tailoring your content for every job you apply to and cutting less recent experience (anything more than a decade old can usually go) will help you keep the length down.
- Consider a summary. Resume summaries aren’t a must, but they can be helpful if you’re looking to transition into a new industry or manage a different type of project in the future. Writing a brief introduction (two or three lines) can help you tie your past experience together with your future goals. It might look something like this: Process-driven project manager with 10 years of experience leading customer-facing initiatives, looking to transition into an internal role in the tech space. Eager to leverage extensive budgeting, tracking, and roadmapping experience to seamlessly drive program initiatives from ideation to completion.
- Make it easy to scan with section headings. Using section headings to break up your resume into clear sections (such as experience, education, and technical skills) will make it more visually appealing and easier for recruiters to read. You can achieve this by centering, underlining, or bolding each heading.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread! When you’ve been staring at your resume for hours, days, or weeks on end, it gets harder to catch little errors, like a misplaced comma or a missing date. Set it aside for an hour or a day, then proofread your work one last time before you submit an application. Better yet, ask a trusted friend or colleague to look it over for you, too.
If This is Your First Project Manager Job
If you’re an entry-level employee on the hunt for your first job or an experienced professional looking to make a career pivot into project management, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Tell your story in the summary. Resume summaries can bridge the gap between your existing experience and what you’d like to do next, so it’s well worth taking a couple of lines (no more than three!) to explain who you are and where you’re going next. You might say something like: Organized, methodical, and process-oriented recent graduate with experience managing projects, including a campus-wide election, from ideation to completion. Looking to blend hands-on experience and familiarity with project management methodologies in a coordinator-level role.
- Consider leading with your technical skills. If you don’t have loads of directly transferable experience to speak of, but you do have a relevant certification (like PMI, Scrum, Six Sigma, or Agile certifications) or familiarity with project management software or methodologies, feature your technical know-how at the top of your resume—before your experience. This can help you get off on the right foot with hiring managers.
- Spotlight the projects you have managed—even if you weren’t technically a project manager. Did you help to roll out a new expense processing software? Coordinate an office move? Collaborate on a new product launch? Highlight that in your experience section! And be specific. Did you manage budgets? Create timelines? Interact with vendors? Make sure you include those details.
Now for an Example!
Every project manager’s resume will naturally look a little different because no two project managers have exactly the same experience. Some may include summaries. Others won’t highlight their key achievements in a dedicated subsection. Still others may choose a different layout entirely. But regardless of the layout and content, every project manager’s resume should include compelling bullet points, quantifiable metrics, specific achievements, and easy-to-scan section headings.
Here’s one example of what a great project manager resume might look like:
As a project manager, you bring a diverse and valuable set of skills to the table. And that’s something to be very proud of! Ideally, your resume will tell a compelling story about your abilities and achievements—and help you to nab a hiring manager’s attention. Follow these tried-and-true guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to doing just that.