As a project manager, you’re the swiss army knife of business roles. When it comes to getting hired, you’ve got to show that you can manage all the details while also having the vision to see the big picture. At the same time, you also need to make it clear that you can work well with others while also demonstrating independence.
If it sounds like you’re about to be stretched in all directions at once, don’t worry! There’s a science to balancing what makes an ideal project manager resume and we’ve got it all here for you. We’ll go through:
- How to write for ATS scanners
- How to get the attention of recruiters
- How your resume should be formatted
- What skills will help you stand out
- How to best emphasize your achievements
- Critical mistakes you need to avoid
- How to write an effective summary or objective
- Other details that will make your project manager resume stand above the competition
- How to target each job to boost your chance of getting hired
- And more!
Whether you’ve got decades of project management experience or are looking to start fresh with a new career, these tips will walk you through exactly what you need to do to stand out from the competition and land that project management role you deserve.
Project manager resume examples
Before we delve into all the details, these project manager resume examples can start getting some ideas going. Pay attention to what stands out and what gets left out. Then, try writing down the ideas they inspire for use in your own resume.
How to write the perfect project manager resume
The first lesson to learn is that your project manager resume has two different audiences. The first in most cases will be an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Then, once you’ve cleared that hurdle you’ll reach an HR person or recruiter. So, before we delve into resume formatting and content, let’s get into the heads (or algorithms) of these two audiences.
What ATS scanners will look for
For all but the smallest companies out there, an ATS tool is going to be the first way incoming resumes are reviewed. These systems generally use AI to scan your resume and determine whether a human should give it a look as well. Here’s what you need to know to clear that hurdle:
It’s all about the keywords
The main way ATS tools analyze your resume is by looking at keywords. Sure, they’ll also see how long you’ve worked at previous jobs and such but those are usually secondary. As a project manager, you need to show you have the right skills.
We’ll delve into those skills more later but for now, you need to know this technique. Start by looking at the job ad and making note of all the skills it lists. Now, your mission is to get as many of those skills as possible onto your resume (no lying though, that’s just going to come back and bite you).
Next, be sure you phrase these skills the same way they’re written in the job ad. An ATS scanner might not realize that “Experience working with docx files” and “Experience working with Microsoft Word” mean effectively the same thing.
Make sure your resume format is ATS friendly
While there’s no way to be 100% certain your resume will be read properly by an ATS tool just because there are dozens of different ones out there, you need to use a tool that’s designed to be ATS readable. That custom resume you made for yourself in Canva might look great, but if ATS tools can’t read it, it’s worse than useless for you.
If you’re curious you can read more about how ATS tools analyze your resume.
What recruiters will look for
Whether there’s an ATS scanner involved or not, your resume is going to have to impress a human reader at some point. The key is consciously putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’re the recruiter and look at your resume with fresh (and critical) eyes.
What recruiters want from a project manager
There are two things about project managers that can drive their supervisor’s crazy: not being reliable and requiring frequent help or intervention. A project manager resume needs to sell you as someone who’s going to make their life easier. You need to come across as someone who gets things done on their own.
We go into more detail on how you can show this in your project manager resume below, but begin by having this goal in mind.
How to format your project manager resume
The first choice you need to make is how to format your project manager resume. Fortunately, ResumeBuild already has templates that are ideal for project managers. But as you go through, there are still things to consider:
A reverse chronological resume is ideal for a project manager
Your most recent work experience is going to be the most relevant, so it should go first. Remember that we generally scan documents beginning at the top left before moving to the right and down the document. You need to put your most important (and impactful) information more to the top and left.
Should your project manager resume be one or two pages?
This is an endless debate in the hiring world. Some say that no resume should be more than a page while others say “the more the merrier!” The reality is that it depends. Recruiters are people and have their own opinions. That said, there are a few rules of thumb:
- Make sure you only include information that tells the recruiter something valuable. Anything you write that doesn’t add value is wasting the recruiter’s time (and few things will annoy them more!)
- Be sure to check whether there are any length requirements in the job ad.
- Generally speaking, if you have less than five years experience a single page should be enough. Otherwise, it’s wise to stick to no more than two pages.
What skills your project manager resume should include
The first thing to keep in mind here is that, as mentioned, your skills need to match what’s in the job ad as closely as possible. Your goal is for the person reviewing your resume to think “they seem perfect for this role.” That means customizing each resume so it matches the exact skills and wording in each job ad.
Top hard skills for a project manager resume
- Management systems like Scrum or Agile
- Management tools like Asana
- Strategic planning
- Business development
- Microsoft office suite experience
- Programming languages
Top soft skills for a project manager resume
- Public speaking
- Conflict resolution
- Attention to detail
- Problem solving
- Vendor negotiation
The best ways to include these skills on your project manager resume
Listing skills is essential but not enough to really stand out. You need to lay your skills out this way so ATS scanners can pick up on them. But to go above and beyond, you need to demonstrate your skills in concrete ways.
This could be with a certification or by mentioning a situation where you demonstrated that skill in your work experience or even in your personal life. Specifics will leave a far greater impact on a reader, telling them that you can back up what’s in your resume.
What achievements to mention and how to do it correctly
Recruiters don’t want to hire project managers that will just do the minimum and call it a day. Being a great project manager requires demonstrating that you’re proactive and get ahead of problems. Your resume can show that you’ve got this crucial quality with your achievements.
Focus on mentioning things that demonstrate relative qualities, whether they’re directly related to working as a project manager or not. For example, if you’ve ever managed a club, team, or any kind of event, that’s worth mentioning. Demonstrating you have the skills to excel as a project manager is nearly as important as having actual project management experience.
When you mention achievements from work or non-work experience, always be as specific as possible. “Managed an 8 person team to deliver a new product 2 weeks ahead of schedule” sounds far more impressive than “Managed a team to deliver a new product ahead of schedule.” With these rules in mind, here are some examples of achievements worth mentioning:
- Incorporated Google Data Studio into monthly project metrics reporting, saving 10 hours per month
- Took over a project that was 24% over budget and got it within budget after 3 weeks
- Created a database of 87 FAQs for internal use, reducing the need for emails to answer basic questions
Examples like these show what you’ve achieved, but more than that they show attention to detail. A recruiter who reads these achievements can imagine what you’re like as a project manager and that’s exactly what you want them to imagine.
What to avoid mentioning in your achievements
The rule of thumb here is the same as for your resume as a whole: if it doesn’t add value then it shouldn’t be there. That said, consider what might leave an impression on the person reading your resume. For example, being state champion in pole vaulting might not be directly related to project management. But, it shows you can achieve great things and might make the person reading your resume pause for a moment and say “wow.”
The worst things you can include are achievements that make no impression whatsoever. Here are some examples:
- Improved team efficiency
- Effectively managed multiple projects
- Member of my university’s gardening club
These are either irrelevant or so vague that they’re basically meaningless. A recruiter who reads achievements like this on your project management resume will feel you’ve wasted their valuable time. That is not an impression you want to leave.
How to write a project manager resume objective
Your objective will set the stage for the rest of your resume. This is extra important as a project manager because you’ll be expected to communicate clear and specific objectives in your day-to-day work. That’s why this is a crucial place to make a strong first impression.
A great project manager resume objective example
“Certified PMP professional with 4 years experience in Saas software development projects looking to apply experience in the Fintech sector.”
This objective is simple, straightforward, and packed with information. It tells a story and makes recruiters curious to read more.
A poor project manager resume objective example
“Project manager looking to move to a new industry”
This objective raises more questions than it answers. Which industry are they looking to move to? Which industry are they coming from? A recruiter who reads this is more likely to shrug than to be excited to read more of your resume.
How to write a project manager resume summary
A summary follows many of the same rules as a resume objective. It should be concise and only give relevant information. However, here you’ll want to tell a bit more of a story and go into slightly more detail than if you were using an objective (your resume should have one or the other, not both).
A great project manager resume summary example
“Marketer looking to apply experience managing complex content campaigns and teams of writers to a new career in project management. Currently obtaining relevant certifications and skills through online learning to minimize the transition needed for this change.”
This summary does what the rest of the resume can’t, which is what makes it effective. Your resume can show that you’ve previously worked as a marketer, but it’s not going to tell the recruiter why you’re making the change. This summary concisely tells them exactly why you’re applying for this job. That context makes all of the other information on your resume more informative.
A poor project manager resume summary example
“Marketer looking to become a project manager. Experienced in organization, meeting deadlines, and handling day-to-day complexity. Confident in the ability to make an effective career transition and looking forward to the opportunity to prove abilities.”
This summary doesn’t tell the recruiter a single thing that they can’t learn elsewhere in your resume. In other words, it completely wastes their time. To make it worse, it’s padded with meaningless fluff that a recruiter will see straight through.
How to list additional details, like certifications, hobbies, interests, and volunteer experience
Relevant certifications are obviously an excellent addition to a project manager resume, but what about hobbies, interests, or volunteer work?
The best way to answer that question is to learn everything you can about the company where you’re applying. Does their company Instagram or LinkedIn have photos of employees volunteering? Be sure to mention your volunteering experience. Does the company give off a more relaxed or more formal vibe? Try making your resume a bit more relaxed or formal.
Once you’ve got a sense of the company, decide what hobbies and interests might resonate with them. For example, if you learn the head of HR is a golfer, maybe add that you’re an avid golfer yourself. Absent this kind of information, put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes and consider how a hobby or interest will come across.
These small details should inform what else you include on your resume. You can even take things to the next level by incorporating company colors, fonts, or other aesthetic elements into your resume to make it look like you really belong there. Recruiters are human and making them like you as a person will make it more likely that they say “yes” and hire you.
How to write a project manager resume when you have limited or no experience
If you’re worried you don’t have the experience to get hired as a project manager, we have a few key tips to help:
- Use your resume summary to explain why you’d like to become a project manager. This will add context to your limited experience.
- Include experience and achievements which demonstrate you have skills relevant to project management. These could be things like running a club or organization, organizing an event, or even using common project management tools like Asana.
- Try and use free online learning to develop some project management skills. This will go a long way to showing a recruiter that you’re serious and self-motivated.
Ultimately, most companies are more interested in finding a project manager with the right attitude and mindset. Specific skills can be taught, but things like motivation and attention to detail are much harder to develop. If you can show you have these hard to find intangible qualities, you might even beat out a more experienced candidate.
How to target your resume for each application
As should be clear by now, tailoring your resume for each application is crucial. Recruiters can spot a generic cookie-cutter resume from a mile away. On the other hand, a resume that shows that you did your research and spent the time to carefully tailor your resume for this exact company and job will both make a good impression and show that you have what it takes to be an excellent project manager.
The process of tailoring your resume this way begins with a careful reading of the job ad. As mentioned, you want your resume to reflect precisely what’s asked for in the job ad as much as possible, right down to how things are worded. This will both help you get past ATS scanners as well as make it easy for a recruiter to check that you meet the relevant criteria.
Beyond that, doing more thorough research of a company to learn about its culture, values, and even what its needs are will make a big difference. For example, if you find an interview with the CEO in which she mentions that the company is looking to change or expand in some way, you can find a way to mention that in your objective. A recruiter that reads that will think “excellent, the boss will love this candidate.”
Doing this kind of research and making these customizations takes time. But remember, the upside of getting a better job has huge benefits for your day-to-day life. In other words, it’s worth the effort!
How to make your resume stand out
If you’ve got amazing experience, achievements, recommendations, etc. then your resume is already going to stand out. But for most of us, there are other ways we need to find to stand above all that competition.
For project managers, the design of your resume should not “stand out” per say. You’re not applying for a position as an artist or designer, so flashy design that jumps out will just be a distraction. Instead, your design should be clean, modern, and allow the focus to be on the content of your resume.
Details that show you did your homework
Sometimes it’s the subtle things that really stand out. For example, when a recruiter notices that you’ve clearly tailored your resume to this job. This is the kind of “standing out” that you want from your resume. After all, you want to show that you think ahead, pay attention to details, and are supremely organized. Demonstrating those qualities is what will really get your resume to stand out.
Final things to note
Be sure to check the rules for the company you’re applying to and the country or state in which you’re applying has about resumes. In some cases, photos or other personal identifying information might be banned. Failing to comply with these rules could automatically disqualify you, or at best show that you didn’t do your research. Both are not messages you want to send as a project manager.
How Resumebuild.com’s resume builder tool can be utilized for an easy resume setup
So many steps in creating the perfect resume take time. Carefully reading the job ad, researching the company, deciding what to include, getting the wording just right, etc. What shouldn’t take time is getting the results to look great. Resumebuild.com’s resume tool takes care of that for you with stunning templates and designs that send all the right messages.
- Managed 3 key on-going projects, handling internal inter-department coordination and external partner communication
- Initiated and continued negotiations with dozens of prospective partners, suppliers, and clients
- Integrated new auditing procedures, thus increasing reliability
- Presented the company at the 2017 CPhI industry event
project manager (biodiversity information and policy)
- Supervise and provide technical guidance, training, or assistance to employees working in the field to restore habitats.
- Review existing environmental remediation designs.
- Managing BI global KMED (Knowledge management platform) for uploading control documents, knowledge management assets, SOP documents and etc.
- Providing support to the global team in preparing communication and change plans.
- Managed the project of implementing the business e-banking for BKT Kosova.
- Achieved to successfully implement e-banking service for business clients and train 80 people in 27 BKT branches all around Kosovo.
- Conducted all the testing in the FlexCube System and e-banking platform
- Prepared all the manuals, policies and procedures.
- Monitored the product’s and staff performance for two years after implementation.
- The project was implemented within the set time-frame and was closed with less budget that was initially planned.
- Develop and manage work breakdown structure (WBS) of information technology projects.
- Lead project manager responsible for the IBM WebSphere Commerce and CoreMedia implementation across five sites for both B2B and B2C. Project completed 6.9% under budgeted amount and fell within six weeks of original timeline. Project included 18 locales and 12 languages.
- Successfully upgraded Oracle instance to release 12.2.4 within project deadlines and under budgeted amount. This project was a global scale involving all business units under the Commercial and Residential platform on largest instance of Oracle within the group
- Other projects included: Oracle Hyperion Implementation, Oracle Release Planning Implementation, and Perfect Execution internal implementation
- Cost Management
- Schedule Management
- Resource Management
- Project Planning