Ultimate Skills Guide for Project Manager Resumes
Project management is a broad field and there are tons of skills that employers are looking for. Knowing which project manager jobs to apply to and what skills to emphasize can be more of an art than a science. Building the best project manager resume requires the right skills. The following is an ultimate guide to standing out as a project manager with the best project management resume:
Types of Project Managers
To identify the right skills for your project manager resume, you first need to be clear about the types of project managers. This article covers the skills for each of these types of project managers so you can find the right skills for your project manager resume.
Remember, that project managers are experts in the process of managing projects. So, many project managers will work across types of project managers. In this case, you may need to build multiple resumes to stand out as effectively as possible for the different types of project manager jobs that you will pursue.
Technical Project Manager
Technical project managers are project managers who manage projects in a technical field or technical projects. A technical project manager will manage technical projects focused on software, engineering, technology, and other technical products.
The technical project manager may have a technical background. This type of technical project manager will be a technical leader that can support the product development or engineering if needed. But, a technical project manager is a person that leads the technical people. So, a technical project manager does not have to come from a technical background.
A few example job titles for Technical Project Managers are: IT Project Manager, Technical Project Manager, Software Project Manager, Agile Project Manager, Scrum Project Manager
Construction Project Manager
A construction project manager will manage construction projects. These could be commercial or residential projects.
A project manager for construction projects may need to maintain the project schedule, monitor project costs versus budget, monitor project risks, and project issues, manage project resources (like schedules or budgets), manage project teams including project team performance, understand the customer's experience with the project, increase the visibility of project progress, update stakeholders on progress.
Construction project managers could work for general contractors, subcontractors, project-based companies, large corporations, or government agencies.
A few examples of job titles for construction project managers are: Construction Project Manager, Project Estimator, Construction Estimator, Construction Manager, Commercial Project Manager, Residential Construction Project Manager, Utility Project Manager
Customer Service Project Manager
A customer service project manager manages projects that are customer-facing or for customer operations. This means the person can manage the contact center or is the person that leads the relationship with the customer after the sale is completed. A project can be anything from a project to understand a customer's experience with a product to actual projects designed to improve the customer experience.
This type of project manager will manage project teams to solve project issues, increase customer satisfaction, and improve the project for the customer. This type of project manager is focused on delivering projects for the customer or improving the customer experience.
Common job titles for Customer Service Project Managers are: Customer Program Manager, Project Manager, Senior Project Manager, Customer Success Project Manager, Implementation Project Manager, Contact Center Project Manager, Customer Operations Project Manager
Business Project Manager
A business project manager manages projects or programs with a focus on saving or making money for an organization.
This type of project manager will work across departments to drive the business projects. This could be in partnership with IT, but the business project manager is focused on the picture of how the technology helps the business - not on the technology alone. Thus, the business project manager is focused on finding cost savings or ways to generate new revenues.
The business project manager is often not customer-facing or working on customer projects. Instead, the focus of the business project manager is often on internal initiatives.
Common titles for business project managers are: Operations Project Manager, Continuous Improvement Project Manager, Innovation Project Manager, Sales Operations Project Manager, Six Sigma Project Manager, Operational Excellence Project Manager, Senior Business Analyst
Marketing Project Manager
A marketing project manager manages projects focused on marketing. This project manager will often be in the marketing department or working with the marketing department.
The marketing project manager will be leading a variety of types of marketing projects. This person could be working in creative operations or leading creative operations.
The marketing project manager could work in a digital marketing agency or on the client-side. This person may work with brand teams or with IT. The person can be customer-facing or focused on the end-user of the products that are being promoted by the marketing and advertising campaigns.
Common job titles for marketing project managers are: Marketing Project Manager, Senior Marketing Project Manager, Integrated Marketing Project Manager, Event Project Manager, Brand Project Manager, Communications Project Manager, Account Executive.
Manager of Project Managers (Project Management Office)
The manager of project managers is often the leader of the project management office (PMO). This person will have managed projects on their own before and now they manage the people who are managing projects. The manager of project managers is ultimately responsible for the portfolio of projects managed by their team.
Common job titles for managers of project managers are: Project Management Director, PMO Director, Center of Excellence Manager, Senior Project Manager, Program Manager
Types of Project Management Jobs
After identifying which type of project manager you want to build the resume for, you need to be clear on the type of project manager job that you are applying to. The type of job can matter a lot to identifying the right types of skills for your project manager resume. The following are the most common types of jobs for all types of project managers.
Temporary Project Manager
A project manager job that is temporary means that the company has a particular project that they need to be done. In that case, the company wants a project manager that can lead the project and that has experience leading this type of project before. The need for this type of job is limited to the particular project and is often urgent. This means that you will have to be fast to apply because the company or recruiting firm will move quickly to fill the need.
Consulting Project Manager
A consulting company will often hire project managers to lead their projects. A consulting company will often have project managers working across client projects or the project manager could be placed on-site to work with a single client.
The consulting project manager can also be an internal consultant. This means that the project manager is working across the organization to identify and implement solutions to business or client needs. This type of project manager is a W2 in the organization and a part of the organization for the long term. But, they move around in the organization based on particular projects.
Temp to Hire Project Manager
A project manager that is temporary to hire is someone that is brought on for a specific project and that may convert to a long-term team member.
There are many reasons why a project manager may work as a temp to hire. For example, the company may not be able to get budget authority for the long-term because of their budget cycle. So, they will start the candidate as temporary and then convert the person to long-term once the fiscal year is over.
Or, it may not be clear as to the full scope of the project and the company wants the person to define that need in order to create that long-term role.
Direct Hire / Full-Time Project Manager
A project manager that is brought on right away as a permanent or direct hire employee is also common. This person is a part of the organization for the long-term. This person may be hired into the PMO or they may work in a particular department to manage their projects.
This project manager will work on multiple projects at a time. The project manager may work on projects across the organization and work across types of projects. This person will need to establish their fit for the company culture and their skills will need to meet the specific job requirements.
Project Management Resume Skills
We can now dive into the skills for your project manager resume now that you are clear on the type of project manager that you will build the resume for and the type of job.
The following sections cover all of the skills for project manager resumes. These are organized into hard skills, specialty skills, and soft skills. Make sure to build your project manager resume using all of these types of skills.
Hard Skills for Project Managers
The first category to include in the skills section of your project manager resume are hard skills. Hard skills are those required to do the job. The following are the categories to think about when building the skills section of your resume:
Project Management Methodologies
Many project managers will work across methodologies in their experience. This project management skill is all about the different project management methodologies that are out there.
You will need to include which project management methodologies you have worked with, your credentials in such methodologies, and your experience in leading the transformation from one model to the next.
The project manager will need to be able to speak in-depth about both of these project management approaches. For example, project managers will need to be able to discuss the project management tools that project managers use for each of these project management approaches.
Project managers that work in a waterfall approach will also want to speak about the project planning tool such as MS Project and WBS (Work Breakdown Structure).
Waterfall project managers will also want to be able to discuss project closure and project control.
Project managers that work in an agile project management approach will speak about the project planning tool such as Agile Planning Tool and Scrum Board. These project managers will also want to speak about project velocity and story points.
There are organizations that use an adaptive Agile model or that apply Agile to part of projects but will not apply that methodology to all of the project. Make sure you are clear on your resume about the level of your Agile experience and how you have used it as a project manager.
Project managers that are experienced in Six Sigma will need to explain that experience and their credentials on their resume. You can be experienced in Six Sigma, but not be an expert in it. In that case, you want to be clear about your Six Sigma experience so you do not overstate the experience.
Project Management Governance
The governance of project management can matter as much as the methodologies used. Your experience as a project manager in developing or improving the project governance should be on your resume.
You can do this by providing examples of times that you improved the governance of the projects or created the playbooks. Your experience as a project manager in creating or applying governance requirements can be key to landing the interview for some companies.
For many project manager jobs, you will need to include all of the relevant certifications that you have to meet the requirements for the job description.
There are several types of certifications that can matter for project manager resumes. The most recognized certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute. Obtaining your Project Management Professional credential can be critical to advancing your career.
There are other types of credentials that matter for project management resumes. These include Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Agile, Scrum Master, and Product Owner. You will want to include these additional credentials or certifications on your resume to show that you have a breadth of skills relevant to the jobs you are pursuing.
The next set of hard skills for project manager resumes are those of software. You do not have to be a technical project manager to need to use your software skills.
There are project management apps that project managers use to plan, assign, track project tasks. Make sure you include the project planning tools that you have used in your project manager resume. You can also list this software on project manager resumes if they are relevant to the job opening. In fact, the name of the particular software tools you have used can be important keywords to get through the applicant tracking system (ATS).
For example, project managers may need project management software for project planning and project timelines. Common project management software includes Microsoft Project, Trello, Monday.com, Asana, Basecamp, Smartsheet, Wrike.
Another type of project management software is project collaboration tools. These project management skills are project management software that project managers will need to use during project planning and project execution.
The next set of hard skills for project management resumes are technical skills. These technical skills will be unique to the type of project manager jobs that you are pursuing. For example, a software project manager may need to include their software development skills on their resume. However, a construction project manager will want to focus on their skills in the development or estimation.
Thus, the key to finding the right type of technical skills for your project manager's resume is to make sure that you are articulating all of the technical skills you have on the resume. You may no longer be the one that is developing the software or building things, but your experience in that area will matter to the potential employer. So, don't underestimate the importance of those skills on your project manager resume.
Project managers that work in highly regulated fields or areas subject to considerable regulation will have to include their knowledge and experience with such regulations on their resumes. These hard skills are key to showing the potential employer that you can do the job that you are applying to.
The regulations or frameworks that are relevant to the particular job or your field will vary depending on your search. For example, if you are a medical device engineering project manager, then the regulations that matter for your resume will be FDA, ISO, GMP, and countless other regulations. Alternatively, a FinTech project manager will want to focus on their knowledge of PCI and CFPB regulations.
To make sure that you have all of the relevant regulatory skills on your project manager resume think about the following:
- Standards. Are there company-specific standards? Or, are they industry-wide?
- Audits & Investigations. Do you have experience in preparing for audits? Or, have you been the person that led those audits?
- Risk Management. The ability to manage risks under the applicable regulations takes business strategy. You may also need the essential skills of training others in the risk management practices.
- Documentation. What was your role in compiling or analyzing the documentation of the projects or deliverables? What did your team do with that documentation?
- Global Variations. Have you led projects that included global variations? Or, were their counterparts to regulations in different countries?
- Regulatory Frameworks. Do you lead teams that work under different regulatory authorities? Or, are there overlaps between these non-government standards?
- Security Frameworks. What have your teams done to maintain or apply the different security frameworks? What was your role in making sure the deliverables were compliant?
- Industry Accreditations. Are there non-profits or industry boards that provide accreditation for projects or organizations? If so, have you been involved in projects that obtained such accreditation? Or, were you leading the renewals?
Specialty Skills for Project Managers
The next set of skills for your project manager resume are specialty skills. The particular specialty for your resume can depend on the specific job that you are applying to. Or, the project manager jobs that you are targeting. Common types of specialty skills generally fall into the following categories.
The first type of specialty skill for your resume would be those related to the industry that you are applying to. This means pulling out all of the keywords that only someone in your industry would know.
A project manager is an expert in the project management process, but your experience in a particular industry can be key to showing the potential employer that you are the best fit for the open job.
To make sure that you are focusing on the right types of industry-wide experiences or keywords, think about the following:
- Tools Used. What were the tools that your teams used to execute the projects in the industry? What is your knowledge of these tools?
- Vendors. Who were the vendors that work in the industry? What was your experience interfacing with the vendors?
- Regulators. Which organizations regulate or govern the industry? Do you know their rules? Have you interacted with these organizations?
- Stakeholders. What are the unique types of stakeholders in the industry? Do you apply different tactics to interact with each of them? How did you maintain buy-in?
- Processes. What were the processes that were required for the particular industry?
- Constraints. Are there unique constraints or limits to the industry? Do you know how to adapt them to different industries?
- Team Members. What are the types of people that are typically involved in delivering projects in this industry?
The next set of specialty skills is those relating to the client. As the project manager, you may have interacted with particular clients or types of clients that are uniquely relevant to the specific job that you want to pursue.
You will want to include this information on your project manager resume to make sure that you show you have the right project management competencies for the particular job.
For some types of project managers, it will make sense to include the specific names of the particular clients that you served. For others, you will be better served to include only the types of clients instead of the specific name of the client.
To decide which way is right for you, make sure to read the job description to understand if the specific name matters to the position that you are pursuing. If the name isn't included in the job description or isn't relevant to the statement you are making, then leave that client name off and use the type of client instead.
Soft Skills for Project Managers
The next set of skills for your project manager resume is the soft skills that make you great as the leader of the project. Soft skills are key to being a great project manager. So, you will want to make sure to incorporate these relevant skills on your project manager resume.
1. Communication Skills
As a project manager, you must communicate important project deadlines and objectives to your team members. Your communication needs to be clear, concise, and consistent to be an effective project manager.
2. Organization Skills
As a project manager, you will need to organize your project members' tasks and project deadlines. A new project manager may find this aspect of his or her work stressful at first, but these organizational skills are essential to project managers.
Project managers must be detailed to monitor and lead the projects. This means that you will need to include examples of how you have been detailed on your resume.
4. Leadership Skills
Good project leaders also project team management and motivation. Explain your leadership style through examples on your project manager resume. This means including information about who you led as much as how. You can also include indirect leadership experience on your project manager resume.
5. Interpersonal Skills
Projects are usually team-based, requiring the strong interpersonal skills of project managers. Provide examples of how you applied these interpersonal skills to motivate and engage project team members. This can also mean including information about working with globally or geographically dispersed teams or stakeholders.
6. Problem-Solving Skills
Projects often involve issues with team project members, deadlines, and outside parties. The best project managers know how to solve problems. This means including examples of what problems you have solved and how you have worked through those challenges.
7. A Strategic Mindset
Project managers must be strategic to create the project plan and to keep people engaged through the delivery. Project managers will also have to be strategic in how they engage stakeholders through the project management lifecycle.
8. Tactical Abilities
Project management requires the project manager to be tactical in their daily leadership. You will have to include examples on your resume about how you operationalized and led your project teams through the delivery of the projects.
9. A Balanced Approach
Project managers are the people that ensure the delivery of the milestones for the projects. This is true for high-profile and high-volume projects. Make sure to include information about how you stay balanced and focused through the project lifecycle.
10. Conflict Resolution
Project managers are the people who must resolve the conflicts to ensure that the deliverables can be completed on time. Include a description of conflicts that you have resolved on your project manager resume. This could be conflicts with vendors, clients, or internal stakeholders.
11. Time Management
Time management is key to being a successful project manager. This means the project scheduling, the manager skills it takes to maintain the time management of your team, and the problem solving skills to maintain the project timeline. Include your skills in time management in the skills section and throughout the resume.
The final step to making sure that you have the best project manager resume is to include a list of projects on your resume. Doing this is a smart way to incorporate all of the relevant skills into the achievements that you have obtained.
Hiring managers want to know that you have managed projects that are similar to the ones that need to be done. In fact, manage hiring managers expect that the project manager resume format will include this project list.
To build an effective project list on your resume, consider the following details:
- Team Size. Include specifics about the size of the team that you led. This could be a range of people or a set number that you managed through the full project.
- Lean Training Project. Was the project done to obtain your Lean Six Sigma Black Belt? Or, for some other credential?
- How Many Projects. You can include details about a number of similar projects together by grouping them or by calling out specific projects. Make the strategic call about how many projects to include based on your experience.
- Stakeholders. Include the job titles and/or a number of stakeholders involved to provide context on the complexity of the projects and deliverables.
- Deliverables. Explain enough detail about the deliverables so that anyone can understand the point of the project. These deliverables should relate back to the business or its primary objectives in the context of the project that you led.
- Budget. Include the details about the budget and information about your authority over the budget if applicable.
- Locations. Was your team dispersed? Globally dispersed team? Or, were the stakeholders? Location of the deliverables or the implementation can also matter.
- Clients. Who were the clients involved in the project? Were you client-facing as the project manager?
Including all of the right types of skills for your project manager resume will make sure that you stand out. Make sure to include all of the hard, specialty, and soft skills on your resume to show that you are the best candidate for the job. Doing so will ensure that you get through the applicant tracking systems and stand out to the hiring managers in the interviewing process.
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