What to put in your project management CV
It’s the old story, after days of searching you find the ideal project manager vacancy, quickly put together a CV for it, email it across and then hear nothing back. You’ve done everything you think you can, so what went wrong?
Well, there’s a chance your CV didn’t stand out, wasn’t noticed or simply hit an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and was binned before a hiring manager even saw it. Whatever the reason, it may be that your CV isn’t working as it should and needs to be changed. That’s the bad news, the good news is that putting together an interview winning one is not as difficult as you may think.
In this blog I will explain how to build an attention-grabbing project manager CV template which you can cater to various roles and is search friendly.
Write your CV for two audiences: the ATS and the recruiter
To maximise your chances of success don’t just focus on writing it for a hiring manager, tailor it for the employer’s electronic guard dog, the dreaded Applicant Tracking System.
This is the most crucial factor to appear higher in search results. Having the correct keywords in the right places shows both the ATS and the employer that you have what it takes to be considered for the vacancy. Try to find what the recruiter wants then give it to them.
Where to place these keywords
Sprinkle these terms around your CV; ideally they should be in the ‘Work experience’, ‘Skills’ and ‘Areas of expertise’ sections. To the ATS this magnifies the amount of experience you have. Also make sure you surround these phrases with a descriptive language that includes industry related jargon.
Where to find the keywords
The best place to find these keywords is in the job advert. If for instance in the job advert, they ask for ‘two years of experience managing cross functional teams’ then make sure you insert these exact words in your CV. However, if you can’t find enough examples there, then get more by looking at similar job postings on major job sites, visiting the company’s website and reading sector specific news articles.
But remember, a human being is reading it too, so keep it clear.
Aim it for the project management profession
It’s vital you show your ability to turn proposals into reality by planning, organising, monitoring and controlling project processes, so remember to emphasise your ability to
- negotiate difficult decisions with colleagues, senior manager and other third parties
- deliver results on time, within budget and to the highest specification
- develop accurate and achievable project plans.
Give examples of successful projects you have completed. If during your career you have managed to save your employers money or made the organisations competitive and profitable, then don’t be shy about highlighting this. If you have any qualifications specific to project management, like the Project Fundamentals Qualification offered by APM make sure to mention those in your CV to help you stand out from the crowd.
Management and leadership skills
Emphasise that you can get everyone pushing and pulling in the same direction to reach a common goal. It’s vital that you demonstrate you can manage multi-disciplined teams and resolve any conflicting priorities.
Hard and soft skills
Include your hard skills in the CV but leave the soft skills for your cover letter.
Make sure your email, address and phone number are correct. As email is often the most convenient way for an employer to contact you, remember to have a professional email address. Do not create an impression of immaturity by having one like email@example.com, instead it should be firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must use fonts that are readable by any character reading software and human being. So avoid fancy ones and stick to web-safe fonts like Arial, Georgia, Courier, Lucinda or Tahoma.
These are a great way to break up a long CV and make it easier to read but only use the standard shaped bullet points to highlight key skills, duties and accomplishments. You can emphasise key points, and organise and clearly lay out short sentences. All of this makes it easier and quicker for your strengths to be identified.
Avoid using these and instead always give a brand, company or association’s full name because an ATS may not know the difference between an abbreviation and the original full title and may subsequently ignore it.
Use this traditional layout where the most recent qualifications and experiences are listed first.
Use standard CV headings that help with navigation such as ‘Personal summary’, ‘Work experience’, ‘Skills’ and ‘Education’. Avoid unconventional ones such as 'About me' and 'Competencies' etc. Having an ‘Area of expertise’ section is another good place to list some of those important keywords.
Spelling and grammar
Double check your writing to make sure there are no lazy mistakes in there. Although this point is essential for all CVs, it’s particularly serious in this case. A little proofreading can go a long way, so it’s definitely worth going over things.
In a CV it’s vital that you make every word count and write it for the job you are applying for. Having a CV template will help you rewrite and target for specific roles, which may sound like hard work but it will vastly increase your chances of getting the job you want and deserve. So there you have it, everything you need to know about writing a professional, high impact CV that not only gets you immediately noticed but also encourages the recruiter to continue reading.