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The Ultimate Guide to Building the Best Project Manager Resume Ever

Marcie Wilmot

Certified Resume Writer, Career Coach, and Business Owner


Project managers are in demand. As existing project managers (or PMs, as it’s easier to write and say) retire, the need to hire more PMs keeps increasing. In fact, according to a report by the Project Management Institute, employers are going to need nearly 90 million people in PM roles by 2027. That’s definitely a lot of PMs, which is good news for you if you’re reading this article in the hopes of creating a project management resume that will help you score the perfect PM position.

This guide covers what project managers do, who hires them, the qualifications you’ll need to land this type of role, and what the typical PM career path looks like. In addition, you’ll learn how to display your achievements, skills, qualities, and experience in the best light possible on a well-structured, organized, and visually captivating project manager resume. We’ll include project manager resume examples and five easy steps to assist you in building a strong PM resume that will outshine all the other candidates.

What Do Project Managers Do?

A project management resume should reflect your ability to perform these general duties.
A PM’s general job

Well, the name really says it all! To put it in the simplest terms possible, project managers manage (or oversee) projects. That’s right. But really there’s a lot that goes into managing projects. So to give a better description of a PM and what they do, we might say that they plan, organize, and direct projects for organizations.

This includes making sure that the projects are completed on time, under budget, and within scope. Managing complex projects means that a PM plays an important role within an organization; they cut costs, maximize efficiencies, and even have the ability to increase revenue for their company. 

PMs are expected to know how to use the right software, technical tools, and methodologies to plan and report on the projects they oversee. They also need to be able to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders, communicating and collaborating with them effectively.

What Are Their Job Duties?

PMs are unique, because, unlike a lot of other jobs out there, almost all industries and organizations need them. This means that their job responsibilities can vary depending on the field they’re employed in; however, there are multiple PM duties that are consistent across most industries. See below for some common project management job responsibilities:

  • Initiate, plan, and develop project ideas
  • Set and manage stakeholder expectations
  • Collaborate with internal stakeholders and clients
  • Develop in-depth project plans
  • Define the scope of projects
  • Assemble and oversee teams
  • Assign tasks to and monitor each team member
  • Assess project performance
  • Guide, train, and motivate team members
  • Build meaningful team and stakeholder relationships
  • Track the progress of projects
  • Create accurate project timelines and deadlines
  • Anticipate and communicate project delays
  • Resolve issues that arise
  • Manage project budgets

Who Employs Project Managers?

You should ensure your project management resume is specific to your industry.
Project management can vary in different industries

PMs work in many different fields from construction to fintech, but the top five industries that hire them include:

One thing to keep in mind is that while you’ll need to possess certain skills that are necessary to be successful as a PM, you don’t usually need to be an expert in the field itself. PM skills are largely transferrable between industries. However, if you’re interested in going into IT, for example, you will want to create a specialized IT project management resume that features IT-related terminology, tools, and experience. (A Google search will quickly pull up an IT project manager resume sample for your reference.)

What Qualifications Do You Need?

While you won’t need a specific certification to become a PM, it helps to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in management, business management, or something similar. Some colleges offer a project management program. If you have a degree in this, even better!

If you plan to continue moving up the corporate ladder after spending some time in a project manager role, it can also be beneficial to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Outside of educational requirements, some other qualifications PMs tend to possess include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Decisiveness and other leadership skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Budgeting and reporting skills
  • Project management methodology knowledge
  • Planning and scheduling skills
  • Coaching and teambuilding skills

Although there are a multitude of other skills, qualities, and accomplishments that could be listed here, these are some of the top qualifications that HR and recruiters look for on a project management resume. When you go to write your resume, you’ll want to incorporate as many of these as possible.

What Is Their Career Path?

In truth, most project managers start out in non-managerial roles. After they gain some experience, then they are able to work their way up into a project manager position. For instance, someone might start out as a software developer and later become a software development project manager.

In between an entry-level position and project manager role, however, there are a bunch of different career options. For example, there are project coordinators, associate project managers, assistant project managers, and junior project managers. All of these roles will bolster your project management experience and are an asset on any project manager resume. 

After you’ve spent some time in a project manager role, several different opportunities will potentially open up to you. For instance, you could then move into a senior project manager, director of project management, VP of Operations, or even Chief Operating Officer (COO) position.

As an in-demand career path, it really pays to get your project management resume in order now by looking at a project manager sample resume or two so you can take advantage of all that project management has to offer your career.  


How to Write a Stellar Project Manager Resume

So we’ve finally arrived to the part of the guide where you find out how to craft an amazing resume (whether it be an entry level project manager resume, senior project manager resume, IT project manager resume, or any other kind). Now that you’re familiar with the responsibilities of a project manager and the qualifications you’ll need to succeed in this role, let’s consider a resume project manager example or two and get busy writing!

Step #1: Use Impactful & Tailored Language

One of the key things to remember as you create your project management skills resume is to use strong and action-oriented language that is tailored to your target job. How do you achieve this? A few ways. 

Use Action Verbs

For one, don’t use weak words like handled, performed, and helped. Instead, start all of your project management resume bullets with powerful action verbs. Some examples include: 

  • Spearheaded
  • Facilitated
  • Orchestrated
  • Coordinated
  • Implemented
  • Generated
  • Oversaw
  • Developed
  • Designed
  • Executed
  • Optimized
  • Maximized
  • Expanded
  • Fostered
  • Collaborated

Identity Measurable Results

Then, you should make your bullets action- and results-oriented. Use numbers, statistics, and percentages to show how your actions directly benefited your employer. This will allow your potential future employer to envision how you might also be able to contribute to their organization. Don’t merely list your job duties; instead, convey how you make meaningful contributions to your company.

Mimic the Job Description

Pull up the job ad for the position you want to land and mimic the language you see repeated on there. (If you don’t yet have a target job ad to refer to, find some samples of ones that pique your interest to use in the meantime.) Mirroring the keywords and phrases you see in the job description will help your resume overcome applicant tracking system (ATS) barriers and make it more appealing to recruiters and HR folks.

Proofread

You might groan when you hear this statement, but lastly, don’t forget to proofread your resume before you submit it anywhere. It’s imperative that you ensure that all of your language is typo-free and grammatically correct. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your resume won’t ever see the light of day with an interviewer because you’ll be tossed out due to lack of detail and professionalism. Think of your resume like a marketing document; keep it error-free so that it portrays your personal brand in the most positive manner possible.  

Step #2: Choose the Right Format

You’ve probably heard it all before, but one of the first tasks you need to check off when you’re writing a project manager resume is selecting the right format. This is important because it affects the organization and structure of your resume, which naturally impacts how it looks.

There are three standard formats for resumes. If you pick a project manager resume template (from Word or online), be sure to pick one with a format that works well for your experience level and situation. Here are the three typical formats:

  • Chronological – This commonly used format lists professional experience from newest to oldest.
  • Functional – This format focuses on the skills you have that match the job ad and downplays less relevant experience.
  • Hybrid – A combination of both formats, the hybrid is sometimes used when someone has work gaps or has changed industries.

Most people use the chronological format, but if you lack direct project manager experience and want to highlight transferrable and related skills, functional might be a better choice for you. Look online at a project management resume example or two to see what other people do. This might make it easier for you to determine what will work best for you.

Step #3: Write a Powerful Summary

Also referred to as a career profile or objective, a resume summary is a brief (yet informative and impactful) statement at the top of your resume that quickly highlights relevant experience, skills, and accomplishments for the recruiter or HR person.

Here are some tips for writing a summary that will help you get your foot in the door with an employer:

  • Keep it short. (Optimally, two to five sentences in length.)
  • Include a summary heading like “Career Highlights” or “Summary of Qualifications.”
  • Put your summary at the top of your resume.
  • Feature skills, qualities, accomplishments, and background information that are relevant to your target jobs.

If you prefer not to write a summary, you could opt to include a title at the top of your entry level project management resume (or senior level resume, depending on where you currently are in your career) instead. If you do this, strive to encapsulate who you are, what you have to offer, who you aspire to be within five to eight words. It sounds challenging but can be easier than writing a summary.

Here is one resume project manager example title so you get the idea:

Personable & Highly Organized Project Coordinator

If you incorporate a title like this one into your resume’s top section along with some relevant achievements and bulleted skills/qualities, this can make for an impressive-looking header on a resume. 

Step #4: Highlight Your Professional Experience

A large portion of most project manager resume templates is designated for listing and explaining your work history since this is where you can most easily showcase your relevant experience and expertise. It’s important to note that project managers in different industries won’t have identical professional backgrounds. Pay attention to the type of qualities, skills, and experience your target job ad mentions repetitively and hone in on these. 

Also, since your resume is for a project manager position, consider including some successful projects that you’ve been a part of or have coordinated in the past. If you’ve managed a project before, a recruiter or HR person will understand that you’re capable of doing it again and this is what they want to see. 

Step #5: Showcase Your Relevant Skills

Finally, while you don’t want to overstuff your resume with skills, it’s important to include 10+ or so of them that are high quality and relevant to project management. You can choose to display these either at the top of your resume near your title/summary or in their very own Skills section. Here are some hard and soft skills that you might incorporate into your resume:

  • Planning and strategizing
  • Budgeting
  • Defining and managing scope
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Project management software/tools
  • Resource allocation
  • Teambuilding
  • Stress management
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability
  • Communication Skills
  • Coaching and motivating

So there you have it! All the information you could want about what a project manager role entails and how to build a corresponding resume that will garner interest and interviews. Even if you prefer to work off of one of the project management resume templates you find online (no shame in that!), the five steps above will help you make it your own and a resume that captures the interest of HR folks and recruiters. You’re well on your way to becoming an exceptional project manager; congratulations and best of luck in applying to new project management roles!

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