5 Resume Writing Secrets for Project Managers

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A study conducted by The Ladders had an interesting goal: to discover how recruiters reviewed candidates’ resumes. The researchers used eye-tracking technology, which analyzed how long and where recruiters focused when reviewing a resume. The results were surprising: on an average, recruiters spent about six seconds before forming impressions about the candidate.

When you’re completing a resume, you need to have that fact in mind: those six seconds are crucial, so you have to deliver a powerful document that makes a strong impact. Liliana Roberts, a recruiter working for CareersBooster, explains that the introduction is not the only part you should focus on.

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“Yes, the intro is important. But, you shouldn’t be convinced that the recruiter will spend those 6 seconds reading as much of the introduction as they possibly can. Personally, I tend to scan the entire document, and I pay attention to the accentuated aspects, such as bolds and bullets. I want to see the structure, and I need to get an immediate impression of the candidate’s qualifications. If the resume is too busy and messy, I won’t bother with it.”

So how are you going to prove you’re the right project manager for the job? We have some tips that will help you craft the perfect project manager resume.

1. Write an Appropriate Title

Who are you, exactly? That’s what the recruiter is trying to find out when looking at your resume. You have an opportunity to present yourself in the resume title – a brief phrase at the top of the document, which shows how valuable you are as a candidate.

Think of it this way: if you were at an interview and the HR person told you had one sentence to describe why you’re the right person for the job, what would you say?

  • Include information about similar projects you’ve worked on. If you were the project manager, make sure to include how many people you managed.
  • Remember: this is a title, so keep it brief and concise.
  • Use keywords that are relevant to the job description. If, for example, you’re applying for a project management position overseeing an engineering project, those are the exact keywords to mention in the title.

Here are few examples of successful titles:

  • Goal-Oriented Senior Project Manager with Two Years of Experience
  • Detailed-Oriented Project Manager with Three Years Experience in Marketing
  • Successful Manager of Projects with Over 20 Team Members

2. Use Numbers

  • Several years of experience in project management.
  • Five years of experience as a project manager and 10 years of experience in team work.

Which one of those sentences sounded better? You need to show your experience and accomplishment through numbers. Numbers stand out in a resume and they give precise information. What budget did your previous project have? Did you implement a project management software that saved the company money and time? Mention the numbers!

  • “Managed $18,000 budget to plan events for 200 employees” sounds way better than “Managed a large budget to plan events for hundreds of employees.”

If you worked on a promotional video for your last project, mention the number of views it got within a month. If you were writing promotional articles and online press releases, mention the number of page views they got within the first week.

3. Mention Big Brands

When your resume mentions trusted institutions, it will gain instant credibility. Brands like Best Buy, Coca-Cola, and big names in your niche would definitely grab the eye of a recruiter in less than six seconds. Have you worked on a startup that achieved great success? Have you been featured in major publications? Mention these details in the resume.

Here is a successful example:

  • Collaborated on projects related to marketing with three strategic partners: Emirates airline, Coca-Cola, and the University of Pennsylvania.

4. You Have a Gap in Work Experience? Explain It!

You decided to quit a previous job, but that in-between-jobs period was extended for over a year? It’s necessary to explain why that happened and what you were doing during that period of time. Were you taking online courses for writing? Were you working on your blog? Were you traveling?

If the recruiter notices a gap, they will want to see how you used that time. Don’t wait till the interview to explain what happened. If the resume doesn’t clarify that point, an interview won’t be happening.

5. Skip Unnecessary Information

Remember those six seconds? The last thing you want to do is waste a recruiter’s time with unnecessary details, such as where you went to middle school. The recruiter needs the most important information about your education, so include only the last steps of your educational journey.

Remove the objective from your resume. Sentences like “An experienced project manager looking for opportunities that allow me to climb the career ladder” seem generic and lifeless. Focus on the things you can do for this company and be very precise, while you’re at it.

There’s no need to mention your nationality, marital status, or religious beliefs in a resume. Some people get so carried away with the personal details that they even include their social security number. The recruiter doesn’t need your salary history, personal social media profiles, or multiple phone numbers. Stick with the basics and ask yourself a question before adding a new bullet point to the resume: do they need to know this?

Hobbies are okay, but they have to contribute to the whole picture. If you’re doing yoga, for example, explain how it helps you be more present and manage each situation properly.

Summary

Project management is a serious position to hire for. Recruiters will definitely spend more than six seconds reviewing a resume for such an important job, but only if it gets their interest. If not, the resume will end up in the pile of applications they glanced through. Your resume has the potential to get you in the spotlight, so you have to make it as perfect as it can be. Hopefully, the tips above will help you write a resume that makes an impact.

If you don’t get there with your first attempt, keep revising the resume. Remember what Matthew T. Cross said: “No one creates a perfect resume on their first try. Writing a perfect resume is a messy process, but the easiest way to start is by simply getting in the right mindset and putting pen to paper.”

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Eva Wislow

Eva Wislow is a career coach and writer from Pittsburgh. She writes for several well-known recruiting and career advice resources. Eva has a degree in Psychology and she is focusing on helping people discover their true calling and achieve their most ambitious career goals. Connect with Eva on Twitter.

Comments

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Thanks! I definitely agree that sentences with numbers sound a lot better! I’ve edited my resume a little bit with this tip and it looks more reliable and professional.
I’ve also read here about buzzwords: http://www.resumekeywords.biz/useful-resume-keywords-list-by-industry/
Do you know how do these buzzwords tracking systems work?

Avatar

Dear Eva,

I am a 4mer Project Manager @ Minnesota Department of Transportation – Office of Freight, Railraods & Waterways 4 | 4 years. Have worked on Twin-Cities Commuter Rail Implementation phase, selection of vendors for the latter. Contract Administerator 4 having Ex-Congressman Honorable Tim Penny as a chair 4 Minnesota Freight Advisory Commitee (MFAC), creating a Freight Facilites Dbase – PO71. Have excellent PM experience under my belt.
Having said so, I have so far written more than 1,300 resume’s in a span of more than 5 years and had recently posted 8 IT RESUME’S 4 Project Management position and|or Customer Service Manager position.
Did my Bachelor of Science Degree in honors Summa Cum Laude (3.8) Life Time PHI KAPPA PHI member, National Dean’s List, 10 times 4.0 GPA in a row.
Am I over qualified? What’s the reason that I am still without a full time permenant job?
Sometimes I tend to give up but then the Postive Side of me says KEEP MOVING FORWARD …. Please advise kindly
Sincerely,
Saeed Khan
Freelance Interpreter|Detective
http://www.Linguistic-Services.com
(651)366-0748 Mobile

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