Project Manager CV example with writing guide and CV template
As a project manager, writing your CV can be difficult.
With a job that involves the balancing of so many different responsibilities; how are you supposed to cram everything into the recommended 2-page allowance?
And what exactly are recruiters and hiring managers looking for in a good project manager CV?
This industry specific CV writing guide along with example project manager CV and CV template will provide you with everything you need to write an interview winning CV, whether you are an IT project manager or a construction programme manager.
The guide is broken down into the following sections:
- Pick your niche
- Do some solid research
- CV format and structuring
- Project Manager CV example
- Project Manager CV profile
- Writing your project management roles
- Education & technical skills
Firstly, pick your project management niche
For your CV to have maximum impact, you should give it a narrow focus to appeal solely to the employers you are trying to attract.
Too many candidates make the mistake of thinking that if they include a hugely broad range of skills in their CV, then they will attract everyone – this method is rarely successful.
If you make your CV too broad, you will not appear as an an expert in any particular field, which will weaken your CV’s effectiveness.
To give a non-work example of this: Say you were looking for really great steak for an evening meal and were presented with these two options:
- A steak house with only steaks on the menu
- A gastro-pub with a huge range of meals and 2 steaks on the menu
Which would you choose?
Probably the steak house because their offering focuses entirely on your main requirement. They do one thing and they do it well.
The same mindset is true of recruiters and hiring managers when they are looking to find a candidate. They will often have a very specific brief and they will want to hire somebody who matches it as closely as possible.
As a project manager, you may have worked across many different types of projects and multiple industries, so focusing your CV can sometimes be tricky – but try to give it as narrow focus as possible and remember that it’s OK to have multiple CVs that are targeted to different areas if need be.
For project managers, there are 2 levels of CV focus:
This is the actual type of projects that you lead which could be anything from IT infrastructure or construction, to business change or client onboarding.
If you’ve worked predominantly or exclusively within one industry then it would be wise to add this as a second level of focus to your CV – although it’s not compulsory as many project managers work cross-industry.
This way you can give yourself a dedicated focus and even a professional title to build your CV around.
- Banking systems implementation programme manager
- Pharma HR transformation project manager
- Retail digital marketing project manager
Once you’ve decided upon a focus for your CV, you can start doing your research.
Do some solid research
You wouldn’t start a project without fully understanding your client or stakeholders’ needs as it would likely lead to a disaster.
And you shouldn’t start writing your CV without understanding your target employers’ requirements for the same reason.
Many project managers write their CV based on what skills and experience they think are important. But this is a big mistake that will set you up to fail.
Before you start writing your CV, you need to know exactly what your target employers want from a candidate, so that you can fill your CV with compelling content and reduce or omit the less relevant details.
There are a number of ways to do this:
Hit the job boards
One of the easiest ways to find out which of your skills are most in demand is to browse through lots of relevant job adverts and make a list of the most frequently appearing requirements.
This will also give you an idea of the terminology expected by recruiters and which aspects of your work may not be so interesting to them.
A global people search for project managers on LinkedIn returns over 7 million results, so you should be able to find some inspiration there.
If you’re already on LinkedIn, (which you really should be as a project manager) then you will probably already have a solid network of project manager profiles to scan through. Focus on individuals who work in the types of role you want to work in and take note of the skills they include and how their profile is written.
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, then sign up and start connecting with colleagues.
Pick up the phone
It may seem a bit old fashioned, but speaking to recruiters is an excellent way to get a feel for which skills are in demand in the market.
So if you’ve got some recruitment contacts from previous job searches, give them a call, tell them you are on the market and ask what’s out there.
You might get some cold responses but if you can have a good chat with just one or two good recruiters, that’s all you need to get some insider knowledge on current market demands – and it’s also a great way to get yourself back on a few radars and build relationships.
Once you’ve done a decent amount of research, you will know exactly what skills and knowledge your target employers are looking for. Now you can start writing your project management CV with a huge head start over most other candidates on the market.
The infographic below shows some skills that are important for most project managers and should work as a good starting point – although your individual situation will have its own unique skills required.
7 essential project management CV skills
How to format and structure your Project manager CV
I will not go into much detail on each section here, but just provide an overview of each one – the detail will come in the profile, roles and education chapters.
Overall format and structure
The main point to bear in mind when writing your CV is that it is the very first impression you will make on a potential employer, so it needs to look slick. It’s like your marketing material for your services or your shop window, so any mistakes or flaws in presentation will hurt your chances of landing interviews
Secondly, recruiters and hiring managers are usually very short on time, so your formatting and structure must allow them to read your CV with ease and speed whilst highlighting the most important aspects.
This diagram gives a high level explanation of how to structure your CV
A note on CV length
I advise you to make your CV around 2 pages in length but that is not a set-in-stone rule – it’s just a guideline to help you hold readers’ attention. Your CV will not be automatically rejected if you stray on to the third page a little.
Project managers (especially in the contract market) can often have long and varied career histories so sometimes it’s impossible to squeeze it all on to 2 pages. Try not to go onto the 4th though as it’s unlikely employers will want to read that far.
Simplicity is key when formatting your CV – there’s no need to complicate it. Just use a clean simple font and break the text up as much as possible to ensure the CV is easily read and navigated.
Project manager CV example
Here is an example project manager CV to show you how the above structure diagram works in practice. Again, each CV will be different but this is a good base to work from.
Writing your CV profile
Your CV profile is a short introductory paragraph that summarises your experience and the benefits of hiring you.
Sitting at the very top of your CV, the profile plays a very important role. It needs to grab readers’ attention and ensure they read the rest of your CV. If your profile doesn’t contain the information that relevant recruiters want to see, they may just shut your CV straight down and move onto the next one in their inbox.
You need to make your CV profile count.
The idea is to give readers a well-rounded summary of what you do and the benefits of employing you as a project manager. It needs to be short, sharp and punchy – delivering just enough information to entice the reader in and instantly make them think you could be the right candidate for the job.
As a project manager, your profile should ideally include some of the following details:
- Type of projects or programmes you lead
- Industries worked in
- Size and scale of projects (typical budgets, users affected, locations etc.)
- Impact of your projects
- Methodologies & tools
- Technology knowledge
- Specialisms within project management e.g. planning, leading workshops etc.
Here is an example of a typical project manager profile – try and keep yours around the same length and keep it very high level.
A core skills section is a very simple but effective section you can add to the bottom of your profile.
It’s essentially a bullet pointed list of attributes which ideally should relate directly to the requirements that your employers are looking for. Some good things to include would be methodologies, technical skills and specialisms.
Here is an example from a candidate applying for a digital project management role:
The effect is that each point jumps out of the page at the reader and shows them that you are a good fit for the role, just from glancing at your CV. This helps you to create that big instant impression that you need to get a response from your job applications.
You can also quickly switch these points around when applying for different roles in order to tailor your CV without spending too much time on each application.
Project manager CV role descriptions
Your role descriptions give you a great opportunity to showcase your skills and more importantly, describe the impact you make.
As a project manager, your CV needs to show employers the change that you have driven, and how you did it.
How you structure each role will depend on which of the following 2 categories it falls into
i) Multi-project roles: Managing a number of successive projects over a long period of time (usually permanent roles)
ii) Single project roles: Manging a single project for the duration of entire the role (usually contract roles)
i) Structuring Multi-project roles
If you’ve managed several projects across the duration of one role, then you should head the role up with an outline that describes who you work for, where you sit within the organisation, the type of projects you are responsible for and how your ongoing work benefits your employer.
Then use bullet points to detail your activities, showing both input and output where possible.
Then add a Key Projects and Achievements section to demonstrate the projects you have delivered during your role. Be selective about the projects you choose to include because adding too many projects may waste space and adding projects that are irrelevant to the jobs you are applying to will not be of any value.
If you are running short on space, only include the most relevant and impressive projects.
ii) Structuring Single project roles
If the role involved the delivery of just one project from start to finish (such as a contract role) then head the description up with an outline that describes the employer and high level overview of the project you were responsible for.
Then detail your responsibilities in short sharp bullet points and try to demonstrate the impact of your actions where possible.
Round the role off by including some major achievements made on the project.
The content of role descriptions will obviously vary depending on each candidate and role, but broadly speaking you need to show how your own personal actions have driven the project forward. Be careful not to talk about the overall movements of the project without making it clear what your contributions were.
So daily/weekly tasks such as planning, reporting, leading workshops etc. need to be described in a way that shows how you interact with colleagues and stakeholders whilst driving the project towards completion.
The importance of numbers
Metrics are very valuable in project management so they should feature heavily in your CV.
Throughout your CV and especially in your role descriptions, numbers are an extremely helpful tool for demonstrating how much impact you have made.
When a recruiter or hiring manager reads your CV, providing them with some solid facts and figures allows them to quantify your value and benchmark you against other candidates.
For example, you may want to include stats like:
- Size of budget managed
- Number of people/teams led
- Costs saved
- Revenue generated
- Number of locations (e.g. global rollout for 10 offices)
- Number of people affected by project
- Time saved
Businesses are very interested in these types of figures and including them shows employers exactly what sort of return on investment they can expect from employing you.
Education and technical skills
As a project manager you are likely to be an experienced candidate and as such, recruiters will mostly be interested in your recent roles rather than your education and qualifications.
So these types of details should really be listed at the bottom of your CV so that your valued experience is read first.
That’s not to say that you can’t mention some of the more important qualifications at the top of your CV.
e.g. For many project managers, it will be important to mention the fact that you are Prince2 qualified in your CV profile – but save the details (such as date of qualification) for the bottom of the CV.
If you are a technical project manager or work in a technical field such as IT then it would be wise to list some of the major technologies you are familiar with also.
Interest and hobbies
I’ve personally never seen a candidate’s interests and hobbies have any affect (positive or negative) on their application for a project manager role, so it’s entirely up to you as to whether you include them or not.
If you do choose to include them, keep it brief and focus on constructive or impressive achievements such as organising charity fund raisers or running marathons.
Writing you project manager CV – Conclusion
Hopefully, this guide and example CV has given you a good idea of how to write you own project management CV that will allow you to quickly communicate your value to recruiters.
Remember to always build context by describing your past employers and projects at a high level before delving into the details of your roles. Ensure that the CV looks professional, well formatted and all information is sufficiently broken up to allow easy reading.
By covering all the above points you should be able to create an effective CV that secures plenty of interviews in your chosen field.
If you feel that you could benefit from some professional help with your CV, take a look at our CV writing service to have your CV written by one of experienced CV writers.