Your resume is an extension of you professionally, and to some extent personally, and because you only have one chance to create that best first impression on paper, make sure it counts in a big way. Before you actually get an interview, an employer has to value your resume enough to want to pick up the phone. Here are a few secrets to the making of an eye-catching project management resume that will get employers calling.
1: First pass the visual test
First impressions start with a resume that is visually clean and easy on the eyes. Use space to your advantage by grouping job specific information together and removing old irrelevant jobs and education. A cluttered resume leads an employer to believe you're physically and mentally disorganized, and when it comes to project management this doesn't bode well. Start with a template that may be project management specific. Use formatting to highlight your most valuable skills and make it easy for employers to quickly find the most relevant information they care about. It's a great idea to seek the opinion of family and friends on first visual impressions of your resume.
Don't forget spelling people. Remember to use grammar and spell check tools to make it as professional as possible. If you're creating your resume using Google Docs, there are many free add-ons that can help with this.
2: Customize your resume for each specific job or project
Many people might groan at the thought of customization when it comes to resumes, but it's important to remember what may seem like extra work up front can make all the difference between getting a call or not. Employers are likely to value the time and additional effort you put in because it demonstrates how serious you are about the job they are seeking a project manager for.
[ Related story: 6 ways to be a better project manager ]
Job requirements are similar to project requirements; an employer wants the candidate to demonstrate they understand and can meet specific detailed requirements. General resumes will likely end up in a filing cabinet. Take the time to read the requirements and tailor your resume to show you understand how you can fit into the company's plan. And remember to be explicit.
3: Clearly articulate the specific leadership traits you bring to the table
Don't get bogged down with too much of the technical, project management is a leadership role, spend your time focusing on leadership traits and activities that show how well you can lead projects, mentor, and guide teams, and work with teams and stakeholders to execute on project initiatives. Your resume should highlight your experience with leadership, facilitation, communication, and relevant best practices.
Carefully read each employer's project manager job description and craft your resume to show exactly how you can help an employer accomplish the unique goals they have set out. You should also take the time to do additional research on each company, the leadership, and their vision. This can offer additional insight that can make all the difference in setting your resume apart from others.
Ask others to read your resume to see if they understand what you're saying, and if they can tie it back to each requirement in the job description. If they know you, yet can't make the link, it's unlikely a stranger will be able to.
4: Brand who you are, play to your own strengths
Think of your resume as your best professional friend who speaks for you when you're not around. Your resume is your traveling PR piece. There's only one you, with the unique experience you hold; cloning someone else's resume is more likely to land yours in the same filing drawer as the rest. It's OK to check out other resumes and see what you like and don't like about them but make sure to write your resume in a way that showcases the best professional you. This helps employers to not only see your skills and education, but also get a glimpse into who you are as a leader and an individual. Focus on playing to your best strengths.
[ Related story: 9 things great project leaders do every day ]
5: Show some enthusiasm and let your project wins shine through
In your resume, don't just cover the job duties and matched job requirements, include your project accomplishments and wins that you're most proud of. These help you stand out from other candidates and also helps employers to see that they're getting much more when they hire you. This isn't the time to be modest, you're only getting one chance to be enthusiastic about your best accomplishments, and employers are more likely to love it then hate it. Be truthful at all times, never embellish and avoid coming across as arrogant. If you've done great things within the projects you've lead then you earned the right to brag a bit.
Be creative, be original and always be enthusiastic. Employers want to know about these wins, so make sure they are on your resume near the top. Without highlighting your PM accomplishments, it's hard for employers to get excited about your resume and want to proceed to the next step.