Applying for jobs as a Project Manager can be extremely frustrating. Especially when it comes to writing the perfect CV for the job you want. It might be appealing to just submit the same generic CV to as many employers as possible and hope that one of them bites. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to tailor your CV to the job you want.
That’s why in this post, we’re going to break down how to write the perfect Project Manager CV. Starting with things you need to do before putting pen to paper, such as what to look for in the job description and how to research the company (and why you would want to). After that, we will get into the CV itself, how to write a personal statement, what to include in your employment and education history sections, and finally, we will briefly discuss what you DON’T want to do when writing your CV.
Read the job description / advert
The first step is, of course, to read the job description. We need to know what the firm is looking for so that we can properly highlight these characteristics in our CV. So read back over the job description and try to pinpoint the important points. A lot of times a firm will call things “required”; if you see this, you need to make sure you include that in your CV. Similarly, if certain things are repeated throughout the advert, this indicates they are of high importance, so we will want to make sure our CV shows that as well.
When performing this analysis, take care to copy the ‘exact’ words and phrases that are being used by the hiring manager. We will want to pepper these into our CV later.
Job Description Example
A leading software development company is looking for an experienced Project Manager to work on various projects, assisting with the delivery of cutting-edge technology solutions.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for driving project execution and ensuring successful delivery within the agreed timeframes and budgets.
You’ll be working closely with cross-functional teams, including developers, designers, and stakeholders, to achieve the desired outcomes for the organization.
As a Project Manager, your primary responsibilities will include:
- Developing project plans, including scope, timelines, and resource requirements
- Managing project risks and issues, ensuring timely resolution
- Leading and motivating project teams to deliver high-quality solutions
- Ensuring clear communication and collaboration between all stakeholders
- Monitoring and reporting on project progress, making adjustments as needed
- Ensuring project deliverables are completed on time and within budget
- Continuously improving project management processes and methodologies
- Proven experience as a Project Manager in software development or related field
- Strong understanding of Agile methodologies and experience working in Agile environments
- Excellent communication, leadership, and organizational skills
- Ability to manage multiple projects concurrently
- Strong problem-solving and decision-making abilities
- Proficiency with project management tools, such as Microsoft Project, Trello, or Asana
Nice to have
- Project Management Professional (PMP) or PRINCE2 certification
- Experience in managing remote or distributed teams
- Familiarity with software development languages and frameworks
Research The Company
Time to put on your detective hat and do some research on your target company. Look at their website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. You are looking for any piece of intel that will give you the leg up.
- Find out about recent work/projects they have undertaken or will be embarking on (highlight your experience in these areas on your CV)
- Find out what software/processes they use and make sure you include your proficiency in them in your CV
See if you know anyone who works there and/or connect (LinkedIn) with people ahead of the interview. A little nepotism could never hurt, and you might be able to glean more information about the role/hiring process in the meantime.
Write A Few Sentence “Personal Statement”, and call it a “Professional Summary”
Using the information discovered above, tailor your professional summary to the job.
Project Manager Professional Summary Example
- Delivered 6-figure software projects on time and within budget, achieving a 95% success rate while managing local and remote teams.
- Expert in Agile methodologies, leading cross-functional teams, and maintaining strong stakeholder relationships.
- Proficient in Microsoft Project, Trello, and Asana, streamlining project management processes for optimal efficiency.
Detail your employment history
Your potential employer will definitely want to know where you have worked in the past. Therefore, list your employment history starting from the most recent and going down in reverse chronological order.
Employers value recent experience over all else. You do not want to go over 2 pages (as no one will read them), so as you go further back in time, reduce the level of detail accordingly.
Finally, do not just list off all of the responsibilities of your role. Use your responsibilities as context to showcase your achievements, so instead of saying “Responsible for project management”, say something like “Successfully managed and delivered 15 software development projects with a combined budget of $5,000,000, achieving a 95% on-time and within budget rate”. See how the second example shows the employer that you oversaw the project management but also highlights that you have experience in multi-million-dollar budget projects with a history of successful deployment. Much better.
Detail your education history
Remember that we need to keep the CV to 2 pages or no one will read it. The education history section is a place that takes up far too much space in most CVs. If you have a degree, employers are not going to care about your A levels; if you have A levels, employers are not going to care about your GCSEs. (For my American readers, if you have a Bachelor’s degree, no one is going to care about your GPA)
People who list every single one of their GCSE and A-Level results are just clogging up their CV with details that most, if not all, employers will simply disregard immediately (if they even read it at all).
The only exception would be if one of your older education achievements is highly relevant, and you want to highlight that experience. For example, if you are applying to be a Project Manager for a construction firm and you have zero experience in that industry, then you might want to include your A-level in engineering.
Other than that niche example, you will want to stick with Bachelor Degrees and Post-Grad / Professional Qualifications only. When your CV shows that you have a Master’s degree, the employer is going to know full well that you made it through high school.
Tactically structure your CV to the ‘most wanted’ attributes of the job description. For example, if the job description values “qualified”, then place your qualifications first; if they want someone with RECENT experience, put your last job up top. If they want multiple years of experience, highlight your tenure.
We always recommend that you have a Professional Summary up top (after your name/contact info), as it will be the first thing that anyone reads. As discussed earlier, this should be tailored towards the job advert and showcase your experience and skills in what the employer is looking for.
A fairly typical structure would go:
- Name and contact info
- Professional Summary
- Current (or most recent employment)
- Education & Professional Qualifications
- Employment History
WHAT NOT TO DO
Now that we’ve discussed what you should be including in your CV, let’s look at some things that you should avoid doing.
- Do not include personal history or likes. Employers are not going to care about your hobbies, so unless you have some inside information that the hiring manager only hires people who play a particular sport, for example, then leave your extracurricular activities off your CV. This does not extend to things like volunteer or charity work. Definitely include that if you have the space.
- Do not list your skillset and the tools/applications you have experience with. It takes up valuable space and is often obvious (Skilled in Excel…?). Instead, include these in your achievements section (Example: “Used Asana to manage and coordinate tasks for a remote team of 25 members”).
- Do not include references or “references available on request”. If employers want a reference, they will ask you for them; otherwise, this is just wasted space on your CV.
- Do not include a photo of yourself unless specifically asked. In many countries, including the UK and US, you should not include a photo of yourself on your CV/resume. Companies don’t want you to do it, as it opens them up to liability, and there is absolutely nothing for you to gain by doing so – plus, you are making it easier for firms to discriminate against you, either implicitly or explicitly.
- Do not use any fancy graphic or artistic CV format, unless your Project Manager position also has some element of graphic design in the job description. Most CVs come in a standard format, allowing Application Tracking Software, recruiters and hiring managers to easily pick out the key pieces of information they need quickly based on their experience. If you throw them a CV in an artistic format, they are more likely to get annoyed and throw your application away. This is not a situation where standing out is good. You want your skills/experience to be noted, not your CV format.
- Do not include your previous salaries. This will severely impact your negotiation abilities down the line.
General Project Manager CV Tips
- Stick to 2 pages only.
- Use the words as written in the job description.
- Use action words rather than passive words.
- Use numbers when showcasing your achievements.
- Have someone review your CV/resume for typos and to see how it reads to fresh eyes. Preferably have someone with hiring experience do this.
- Get a professionally reviewed CV if you’re unsure of your ability to create a strong CV yourself.
Project Manager CV Example
To give you a better idea of how to put together your own Project Manager CV, here’s an example to follow:
Q: How should I prioritize my skills and experiences when tailoring my CV to a specific Project Manager job posting?
A: Review the job description carefully and identify the most important skills, experiences, and qualifications that the employer is looking for. Prioritize these elements in your CV, highlighting them in your professional summary and employment history sections.
Q: Is it important to include industry-specific experience in my Project Manager CV?
A: Yes, including industry-specific experience can be beneficial, especially if the job posting emphasizes the need for such expertise. If you have relevant experience in the industry, make sure to showcase it in your CV.
Q: Can I include volunteer or charity work in my Project Manager CV?
A: Yes, you can include volunteer or charity work in your CV, particularly if it is relevant to the job you are applying for or demonstrates your project management skills. You can mention this experience in a separate section or incorporate it within your employment history.