How to Write a Project Manager CV / Project Management CV
On a Project Manager CV, you are faced with a number of challenges. It's not only the usual issues around the information you should or shouldn't include, but also the way in which you can present a career history that can consist of a series of short to mid-term contracts.
It's not surprising that project managers with even relatively short careers can find they've more information to include than can fit on two pages. Many resort to lists of contracts, which may seem to solve the problem, but tends to result in a project management CV full of relatively meaningless information.
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Project Manager CV Profile
On the Profile of a Project Manager CV, the employer is always asking themselves whether the candidates have experience in their industry and the ability to successfully steer a project to completion, on time and within budget. The profile section of your project management CV is the first place where you can address this question with 2 to 3 hard-hitting answers that truly get the message across.
At this point, it's important to state that you may need to change the profile, and indeed more of your CV, so that it's targeted at different positions with different employers. This is where you sum up your experience and skills in a statement that indicates clearly that you're the right person for the job you're applying for.
Your profile should therefore highlight your main area of work, your usual job title, your specialist areas and your key strengths. If you have an unusual or rarer area of specialist knowledge, then this should definitely be included - providing it's relevant to the position, of course.
As a professional CV service, we feel that transferable skills are vital and should appear high on your CV, in the profile or, if not there, in the following achievements section: budgeting, planning, communicating, problem solving, staff management, consulting and reporting.
Achievements on a Project Management CV
With the employer hopefully reassured that you have the right skills and general background, the achievements on a Project manager CV are there to convince an employer that you can bring about results.
While every successfully completed project is an achievement, listing 5 or 6 that are relevant to the vacancy will do much to reassure the employer that you could achieve similar results for them.
You should include 5 to 6 bullet points on your project management CV, outlining a 'Situation, Action and Result' (SAR). This means that you give a quick overview of the project element or challenge, describing the action that you took and then the outcome that you achieved.
The more specific you can be, the better, although you should avoid writing more than 3 lines per achievement. Again, you can change the composition or order you list these in, so that the most relevant to an employer are at the top.
Measurable results on a Project manager CV are always the most effective evidence, as they make an achievement concrete and give a sense of scale. Quantifying aspects of the project, such as budget, timescale, profit, savings (financial or time), units, distance, etc, will make the statements even more effective.
As well as providing measurable results, the achievements can include mentions of your strengths in terms of technical and transferable skills. This is because you are not only saying that you achieved a result, but you are stating which skills and knowledge you used to achieve that result.
Above all, you are displaying your project management skills in this section by showing how you can use them to make a difference. Project managers are not hired to make things stay the same, but to oversee a transition happening due to construction, changes in technology, etc.
The project manager must oversee every area of the process, including subcontractors, vendors and external regulating bodies as well as directly employed staff. Achievements on a project management CV need to provide a sense of this scope.
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Career History for a Project Manager CV
Your career history continues where the achievements section ended - in fact, you can use 'spare' achievements within this section instead of responsibilities. Your first decision, though, is how to present your experience.
In a 'regular' chronological CV, jobs are listed in reverse date order, with the most recent first. Only jobs from the last ten years are listed. If you're working on contracts, this presentation will vary according to how long your contracts were and whether they were similar in nature or not.
The whole point of your Project Manager CV is to present relevant information that will gain you an interview. For this reason, it's important to focus on the most relevant contracts:
- If you have a few longer term contracts to include, then you can present these in the same way as permanent jobs, with a separate entry for each one. This works well for contracts that are over a year long. In this case, list the job title, employer and inclusive dates of employment on one line, followed by 5 to 6 bullet points covering the responsibilities.
- If your contracts have usually been shorter, lasting less than a year, then listing them in full will do little more than create a dull list. In this case, it's better to group them into categories, such as industry or sector. If some are relevant and some not, then another option is to go into detail about those that are relevant, and to list the remaining contracts beneath, as one line entries with job title, employer and inclusive dates.
When providing more details about a contract, it's worth adding a line or two of description to provide an overview.
So, on the first line, list the job title, employer and inclusive dates, then the description of the nature, size and scope of the project.
Below this, you can enter your 5 to 6 bullet points covering achievements and responsibilities.
Although you're writing about contracts which may not relate to one another very well, it's important to show a line of progression through your work.
The best way to do this is to target your entire CV towards the vacancy or employer you're applying to. This does, of course, mean spending a lot longer on each individual application (you can compromise by having 3 or 4 different versions).
Once you target your project management CV towards an individual employer or a type of employer, you can prioritise particular responsibilities and achievements. This will provide consistency throughout your CV and will demonstrate how you have built up relevant experience. By describing relevant contracts without all the 'time filling' work between them, you will appear far more dynamic too.
The prospective employer or recruiter can now assess your application on more than one or two contracts that are buried within a long list. For this reason, you need to be constantly reviewing and tailoring your Project Manager CV to show that your experience is contemporary. This keeps your CV fresh and lively.
Education and Qualifications on a Project Manager CV
If your profession requires chartered membership of an association, place this at the top, along with your membership level.
Below the career history section on your Project Manager CV, you can list your qualifications.
If you have an outstanding, relevant degree or professional certification, you may already have mentioned this in your achievements or profile. It is acceptable to list it in full here, giving the title, your grade (if applicable), the awarding institution and the date of award.
Do not enter full details for every short training course you have ever done, but again, focus on those that are relevant.
Pages a Project Manager may wish to visit: