We recently added this sample project manager resume to our collection of free resume samples and I want to take you through the resume so you can see how and why it was written this way. If you have to write a resume for a project manager position, this should be a big help. But even if you are applying for a different type of job, many of these same principles apply.
The resume introduction
Your resume introduction is one of the most important parts of the resume because you have a very brief time (research shows between 6 and 15 seconds) to make an impression with your resume. That means the introduction must clearly address employers’ needs, quickly illustrating why you are perfect for the vacant position.
The resume headline
Always begin the resume introduction with a headline that states the position you are seeking. This is important because the same HR department that advertised the project manager job has also advertised for many other positions and the resumes are coming in for all of them. Make it easy for the recruiter or manager to categorize your resume.
Then write a one or two-line sub-header that communicates key points. In this case, the sub-header communicates that my client is already employed as a project manager for a well-respected company (although I have removed the company name for confidentiality reasons). This removes any doubt about his qualifications. It then goes on to communicate that his technology work advances business goals, which is key, and closes by emphasizing his strong project management knowledge.
The resume profile
Next there is a short paragraph summarizing his key selling points (e.g. that he completes projects on time and on budget) and including important facts about the size of staff and budget that he has managed.
This is an optional extra. In this case, my client had provided some positive performance reviews and I wanted to include some of them to stress strengths that hadn’t already been mentioned in the introduction. Quotes are a great way to ‘boast’ about yourself without feeling like you are boasting. And they have added credibility because someone else said those things, not you.
A skills summary is also optional but it’s a great way to make sure that important keywords are included in your resume. Most companies and recruiters use automated systems that search for keywords and identify only those resumes which contain them. I created this listing for my client but I also suggested that she edit it each time she applied for a specific position. That way she could always go through the job posting and make sure that all the important qualifications were included as keywords.
The main body of the resume
Here is where you describe your work experience in chronological order (most recent first).
So many people get this part of the resume wrong. Don’t be one of them!
For every position a client has held, I write a job description in paragraph format and a bulleted list of accomplishments.
The Job Description
Notice how straightforward, concise and factual the job description is. From this brief description, employers get a real sense of the scope of my client’s responsibilities. They know that he managed 15 people, that he had responsibility for the full project lifecycle (very important for a project manager), and that he managed multiple concurrent projects (this will be important to employers in larger companies who want someone who can juggle a lot of different roles). They also know that his area of focus was business intelligence.
Besides the introduction, the accomplishments are the most important part of the resume. This is where you tell employers exactly what your impact was. Most people make a mess of this part of their resume, focusing too much on what they were responsible for and not enough on what they achieved. Telling an employer what you were asked to do is only one part of your story – what they really need to know is what difference you made. How was your employer better off because they hired you?
If possible these accomplishments should be quantifiable, but you might not always be able to do that. If not, just focus on describing the impact (a nurse might improve patient care, for example).
In this case, our project manager client had lots of numbers to emphasize her success and I used bolding to highlight them. This ensures that a quick read through gives a powerful impression of success, even before the reader has focused on the details.
The great strength of this project manager resume is that it was written with employers in mind. We don’t focus on what the candidate wants, we focus on what the employer needs. And we use every word to emphasize that our project manager has exactly what they are looking for.