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You might be surprised, or not, to learn that employers or recruiters take, on average, six to seven seconds to scan resumes, according to Indeed. You got it, just six to seven seconds, much less than the time you took to write it. 

What can you do to garner more interest in your project management resume? As a Project Management Professional (PMP) who’s hired project managers, I've got some resume tips to help you craft a winning one, stand out, and get hired faster. 

5 Project Management Resume Tips

With so little time and many resumes, recruiters or hiring managers will look for some critical aspects.

Aside from making sure you have your contact information, including your LinkedIn profile link, it’s a good idea to ensure these sections and details appear.

  • Skills section
  • Professional project management work experience section 
  • Your job title
  • Years of experience that highlights how you lead project team members and meet stakeholder needs 

Also ensure you know what matters to recruiters and that your project management resume hits the mark on these key items.

1. Plan and Select the Right Resume Layout

Your resume is the first place a recruiter can gauge your effectiveness in planning and organization. A disorganized resume will definitely give the impression of a disorganized project manager. 

But before your resume gets in front of a real, live human for that six-second scan, it has to get past a computer.

Believe it or not, 98% of employers, especially Fortune 500 companies, use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to read and understand your resume. An ATS is software that organizes job seeker information throughout the application and hiring process. It uses algorithms to help employers search jobseeker data to determine which applicants might be the best suited for roles.

More importantly, an ATS weeds out applicants based on factors set by the employer. 

Your resume needs to be well laid out and use the relevant keywords a recruiter is looking for, or an ATS could automatically bypass your resume. Weigh the pros and cons of each of these common resume layouts in relation to your objectives.

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Common Resume Layouts

  • Chronological resumes list your work history from the most recent to the least. This is suited for more general roles where a hiring manager may be looking to see continuity in work experience and longevity, as well as the progression of role responsibilities.  
  • Functional resumes focus on your skill sets and accomplishments. This type of resume helps hiring managers quickly identify specific types of skills needed to match roles. A functional resume cuts to the chase by ensuring an ATS can rapidly identify the keywords related to the project management skills, training, and capabilities required for the role. 
  • Hybrid resumes list your skill sets, capabilities, and achievements before your work history. Hybrid resumes can provide the perfect balance of the chronological and functional resume by first honing in on specific skills and competencies near the top, while still showing the career timeline and progression of a candidate below.

There are many resume builders out there that can help you create some fantastic resumes.

Hint:

Hint:

Recruiters are likely interested in your leadership capabilities, project management skill sets, and achievements.

2. Focus On The Top Third Of the Page

Did you know that recruiters spend the vast majority of their time scanning the top third of your resume? 

In a sea of applicants, recruiters want to quickly see what makes you unique to their specific project manager position and company. Highlight exactly what you can and will do using a summary statement, skills section, or combination of both. 

Think of your project manager resume summary statement as your elevator pitch to a recruiter about what you can do for them. 

Summary statement example

Strategic and effective construction project manager with 10+ years leading commercial projects. Exceptional planning, communication skills, organizational, and problem-solving skills. 

Completed over 30 projects on time and on budget and improved ROI for investors for five years running.  

Skills section example

A skills section is exactly what it sounds like: a simple, scannable section that makes it easy for the ATS and recruiters to see if your skills match what they’re looking for. Tip: It’s wise to invest the time to customize this section for every application you send out. Make sure you’re using the same terminology that appears in the project manager job ad.

This section should be a simple list of keywords. HR experts caution against using any special formatting beyond bullet points, as tables and columns may trip up the ATS.

Here’s an example:

Skills

  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Product management
  • Risk management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Project management software evaluation
  • Strategic project planning
  • Key performance indicators (KPI) formulation
  • Resource management
  • Time management
Hint:

Hint:

If recruiters can easily see what matters to them, you’ll make it easier for them to consider your application.

3. Tie your soft skills to outcomes

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it, right? Not quite.

Being able to quantify all of your achievements is a huge win, but not everything is linked to a performance metric—especially regarding soft skills and competencies. Here are a few examples of how to connect your soft skills to project successes:

  • Quickly became the go-to agile and project planning expert by successfully setting and consistently delivering on team goals.
  • Effectively facilitated cross-functional collaboration by utilizing project software to enable ongoing communication with stakeholders across all departments.
  • Successfully resolved conflict to ensure smooth and timely project deliverables by actively listening to concerns and acting as a mediator.
  • Effectively led complex projects in large multi-entity organizations by leveraging a wide range of skills and capabilities for a more strategic view.
  • Successfully executed projects by utilizing various methodologies like waterfall and Scrum where applicable.

Most importantly, let the ‘real you' shine through when you share your strengths and achievements. Remember to list your responsibilities and your achievements. Recruiters want to understand you and what they can expect if they hire you. Don't sell yourself short by focusing on only measurable achievements, but remember to be creative, humble, and always accurate.

Hint:

Hint:

You are your best cheering squad. Employers can only be confident about your resume if you’re confident.

4. Showcase your PMP Certification and Training

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action

Herbert Spencer.

Project managers can gain know-how through the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Emphasizing your project management education demonstrates to employers that you care about continuous learning and best practices for leading their projects. 

Yes, many uncertified, experienced project managers have had highly successful projects, but becoming certified in this essential field tells employers you value taking your project management career to the next level for improved project outcomes. 

What else is in it for you? PMP certification holders make an average of 16% more than those without the PMP. 

If you've gone through the rigorous PMP certification process, you already know it's a widely respected credential that boosts a project manager's credibility and resume. Many employers appreciate and value the PMP certification—and look specifically for it or any other PMI certification.

How To List a PMP Certification on Your Resume

Create a section dedicated to your certifications and ensure your PMP certification is front and center. While you may have other project management certifications, if you're looking for a project manager role, let recruiters see relevant certifications at the top of the education section. There’s a correct way to list your PMP certification. 

If you have project management certifications:

Project Management Professional – PMP

Project Management Institute – [Month, Year].

If your certification is in progress:

Project Management Professional – PMP

Project Management Institute – Expected: [Month, Year].

Hint:

Hint:

Display your ‘PMP’ initials behind your name and make it easy for recruiters to quickly see that you have your PMP and other relevant certifications.

5. Check, Check, and Double-Check

Put your best foot forward; send an error-free project management resume that inspires confidence.

Project managers are often held to a high standard due to the nature of their role and should have exceptional attention to detail. Whether it’s resume errors like typos, formatting, or poor wording, these can cost you a job interview and your dream role as a project manager. 

Remember, if recruiters only spend a few seconds scanning your resume, they may see your resume errors as having a lack of attention to detail. This will make it easy for your resume to land in the 'not a suitable candidate' pile.  

Once your resume is complete, set aside time to review it very carefully. Run your resume through tools like Grammarly. You can also engage with a professional resume writing service to proofread it and give you feedback about these common mistakes:

  • Typos, grammatical, or punctuation errors
  • Inconsistent fonts or formatting
  • A generic resume, not specific to a project management role
  • Responsibilities listed instead of achievements
  • An incomplete, too-short or too-long resume
  • Hard to read, cluttered, or busy resume
Hint:

Hint:

If you’re not getting calls, this may be one of the reasons.

You Are Your Most Important Project

Think of your resume as the first project employers will see.

Before managing a company's projects, you must successfully manage your most important project; your brand and professional resume—and measure its performance. Allow recruiters to learn about your value proposition by following the five tips for a winning resume. 

Remember to find a Microsoft Word resume template that allows you to emphasize your project management experience and your soft and technical project management skills. Prioritize what’s important, use headings and bullet points to keep it concise, and let your resume shine.

Want to find out how to craft the perfect cover letter to accompany your new, improved resume? Find out how to get your project manager cover letter right here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter for more career advice and expert tips. 

Moira Alexander
By Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is a recognized thought leader and the founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, a digital content marketing agency where she helps companies create, market, and lead with engaging digital content. With over 25 years of business, information technology, and project management experience, she's been named one of the top global female thought leaders and influencers on project management, SaaS, and the future of work.