If you’re wondering how to convince a hiring manager that you’ve got what it takes to deliver for their team, consider compiling a project manager portfolio to tell the story of your professional accomplishments.
While surviving the gauntlet of getting your CV or resume past the recruiter is no small feat, the hiring manager review is an even bigger challenge. What’s the best way to stand out from the crowd?
Create a professional portfolio that showcases your unique program management experience—how you’ve steered a portfolio of projects, exercised sound decision-making, performed risk management, and relentlessly solved problems to maximize business objectives.
What Is A Project Manager Portfolio?
Not to be mistaken with project portfolio management (PPM)—which is about managing a mix of interrelated, dependent, and connected projects—what I’m talking about here is how to frame up the corpus of your project management experience to optimize your credentials as a digital project manager.
- Trying to land a new project or join a project management office (PMO).
- Searching for a mentor or a mentee.
- Advocating for a raise or promotion.
- Explaining your credentials to a new client or project sponsor.
- Applying for the PMP.
- Reflecting on your own awesomeness.
When done right, a project manager portfolio can be a knock-out first impression and fuel for a deeper conversation that will get you to where you want to go faster. When done wrong, it can be lackluster at best or cast doubt about your honesty at worst.
What are some examples of solid project manager portfolios?
Project Manager Portfolio Examples
Before I go over the ingredients that comprise a successful project manager portfolio, let’s review some examples. You could:
- Create a project manager portfolio in slide format (one slide per project). MPUG has a project manager portfolio template that I’ve borrowed here to summarize one of the projects I’ve managed.
- Pros: ability to include dashboards or other visual representations of deliverables; can customize which slides to include based on the desired role
- Cons: static delivery format; hiring manager may ignore file attachments
- Set up a website that doubles as a project management portfolio
- Pros: looks professional; dynamic delivery format; hiring manager may be more likely to review a website than a file attachment
- Cons: costly to develop and maintain
Project Manager Portfolio Template
If you’re looking for a project manager portfolio template that you can customize, check out this version I created using Canva. To edit this template, select File -> Make a copy.
I based this version on Canva’s “Fashion Designer” template, so if the bright colors aren’t your cup of tea, you can create your own version (Canva has hundreds of thousands of presentation templates available.)
Why Is Having A Project Management Portfolio Important?
After reviewing the above templates and examples, you may be thinking that portfolios are for creatives like designers, architects, and the like—not for project managers. Right? Wrong.
Hiring a digital project manager is no different than hiring for another role–a hiring manager must assess what skills DPMs bring to the table. Our role isn’t simply to create beautiful project plans and Gantt charts.
Our role is to deliver outcomes that advance business goals and further strategic objectives. We do this by considering business strategy, planning with the big picture in mind, problem-solving, communicating, and leading project teams and stakeholders throughout the project life cycle.
When a hiring manager is evaluating project managers, they want to know that the person they hire is capable and adaptable based on their experience managing related projects. Any candidate can say that they possess these skills—the superior candidate proves it.
And, even if you’re an incredible storyteller when you get in the room, you might need to tell that story *before* you get in the room. That’s what a portfolio will do for you. It will supplement your CV with real-world stories that capture the hearts and imaginations of its readers.
What To Include In Your Portfolio
As digital project managers, we know that we need to work within constraints. As much as you’d like to outfit your portfolio with as many bells and whistles as possible, you know that’s probably not the best option. Instead, do what you do best: understand your audience and focus on prioritizing the right projects to showcase.
A great portfolio includes the following, without compromising any sensitive information:
- Relevant context: tells your story based on how it benefits your target audience. Does that mean you customize your portfolio every time? Not necessarily. The trick is framing the value in a way that is universally understood and broadly compelling.
- Details: what additional information will help your audience better understand your role? How big was the team? What was the budget? What was the timeline? What were the milestones and dependencies? What were the strategic goals? What other teams were involved? What project management tools and methodologies did you employ?
- Your contribution: what unique value did you add? Use quantitative data and metrics as much as possible (e.g., dollars or hours saved based on workflows you implemented, resource allocation and resource management decisions you made, or a team member you retained.)
- Challenges: what were some of the key challenges you faced along the way? How did your management system and/or change management skills overcome them?
- Outcomes: what was the business impact of these initiatives? Don’t tell them that you delivered on time and on budget without articulating what this group of projects enabled the business to accomplish. How did the individual projects create or unlock value? What was the project’s return on investment with you at the helm?
How To Create A Project Manager Portfolio
Find detailed instructions on how to create a project manager portfolio here. Follow them using my free template above—you'll see I've done quite a bit of the heavy lifting for you.
Looking For More?
Want another set of eyes on your newly minted project manager portfolio? Get practical insights and real-time community advice by becoming a DPM member. Join the collective. Find your people.
Find out more about using your new project management portfolio to nab a new job here.