Tag Archives: professional CV writing

What Makes Project Management Interesting – PM CV Tips

Project Management is all about variety and achievement – however it isn’t as simple as getting from A to B, anyone who has managed a project which has run smoothly will appreciate the hassle free approach but in reality this is a rarity. It is the challenges and blockers which really make for an interesting project and can really add value to your CV. These challenges can range from cultural issues, resistance to change and suppliers going under. Not to mention disparate teams and no buy-in from the senior management team – every PM professional I have spoken to has a portfolio of stories to share but it is rare to see any evidence of this on their CVs. Employers are usually aware of the major issues faced within the organisation when looking to bring in fresh talent and sharing these war stories can really add a new dimension to your application and set you apart from your peers. It isn’t about whinging, trust me, a lot of PM professionals feel sharing such detail would come across like this however written in a positive light on how you overcome significant challenges you are addressing some core areas such as management style, problem solving and organisation. Although the other perception is that it is all part of the job, to a point yes it is but it takes real skill to turn around a failing or troubled piece of work and as such why are you not singing your own praises? Focussing on particular aspects of PM such as the people element or process are key skills sought after by employers. Quantifying your skill set with some key achievements is a great way to showcase yourself in your CV and let’s face it; the job market is flooded so it is imperative you are marketing yourself in the document. Choosing a few achievements with some variety and also targeting specific examples for the roles you are applying for will certainly highlight you for the right reasons with employers and the all important gate keepers (recruiters/HR).


When noting your achievements you should look to set the scene with enough detail to be clear on the challenge then talk through what you did to rectify the issues, followed by the result / benefits. Keep to a short statement (the CV needs to be concise) and don’t be tempted to share more information than is necessary – it always gives the impression you struggle to get to the point with long winded statements; this is not a good impression to make as hiring managers will assume an hour long interview is likely to go on for 3 hours and project meetings will unnecessarily overrun. Remember it is not just the content that is being assessed, are you being clear, concise and demonstrating an understanding of what it is you do.

Writing a strong Project Manager CV – PM CV Tips

The title “Project Manager” covers a multitude of roles under its umbrella therefore it is important to paint a clear picture of what your role actually involves. Remember that project management is all about delivery, the reviewer needs to see what projects and programmes you were engaged on, were these multiple concurrent? Were they interdependent?

All PMs work differently and organisations work differently. Some organisations are matrix managed and others have dedicated PM teams. This can make a huge difference to how you get things done.

Programmes are more strategic by nature so giving the reviewer an idea of how involved you are strategically is paramount as is team and line management exposure.

Make Notes

A great deal of PMs fall into the trap of writing a long paragraph about the company – think about it, the CV isn’t a marketing document for them, it is a marketing document about you. Don’t waste valuable space, a short statement (a few words) can easily encapsulate the business and then you can use the space to talk through what you were engaged to do, including some detail about the project. This statement should be clear in that is states the type of business and what you are/were doing there. Then run through core competencies in the bullets underneath, do not cut and paste the job description – apart from it being so very obvious to reviewers it reads as lazy and we all know that the job description isn’t necessarily the reality of the role. We need to have some context which is where these questions come into play:

  • How big are the teams you are leading / working within?
  • Who do you report to?
  • Are you hands on or do you manage teams to deliver?
  • Who are your stakeholders?
  • Where are your stakeholders based and how do you communicate with them?
  • How structured an environment is it you work in?
  • What structures / methods are adopted?
  • Have you Introduced and embedded new processes / structure to projects and programmes?
  • Do you have full budgetary responsibility?

In addition to this, make sure you highlight out some key achievements, talking through the challenges you have come up against. Project management is rarely straight forward, it is this additional piece of information which will make you stand out from the crowd and bring some personality and management style to the document.

Be objective – PM CV Tips

A lot of people come to me for advice and help about their CVs, not because they cannot write their own CV but because they want to understand how others view it and if they are being clear. It is common for those who create a document to assume others will know what it is they are trying to say. As you are doing the job it makes sense to you but it may be baffling to others – striking a balance between clearly defining your role and projects whilst engaging a number of levels of understanding can be tricky. The reviewer of the CV could be a non-specialist recruiter, HR administrator and equally a line manager who hasn’t got the PM experience (hence wanting to bring a subject matter expert into the team). Therefore it is important to ensure you have others look over the CV for you to gauge how clear the information is and if it is hitting the mark in regards to including the relevant detail. Those who assist others with writing CVs will know only too well how easy it is to reshape the document to say the right things even if not entirely au fait with what recruiters need to see in an evolving market place.

An apple is an apple??

I would recommend having a number of people review your CV – from those who have no understanding of PM to those who are seasoned PM professionals, remember you are asking for feedback so take all comments and criticism on the chin. All feedback is good feedback, take on board what is being said and see how you can address the CV to ensure it makes sense to a wide audience.

Remember project management is all about communication, often we need to address a variety of technical and non-technical stakeholders. As your job application is being judged from the moment of contact you need to ensure you are displaying all the right qualities, engagement being very important you should be treating every step of the application process with this in mind. Instead of stating you are a clear communicator – demonstrate it with your CV and the all important email. Don’t tell us you understand PM methods, tools and strategy – demonstrate it, it is very obvious who truly understands their role (and trust me, a lot don’t) by how they communicate the what, how, when, who and where’s of an assignment. Employers want to know what the benefits are to the work you have delivered, do you know what they are… I would hope so, have you communicated this in your CV?? Probably not!

Put yourself in the shoes of those recruiting; don’t assume they will know you have had exposure to a structured approach to PM just because you have the PM badges. Demonstrate your knowledge and use of structures as these are the core criteria being assessed on your CV when you apply for a role.

Rainy days in projects – Project Manager CV Tips

Inspired by the never ending rain at the moment I have decided to share a really interesting piece of work a client has worked on and it ties nicely into PM CV tips, as it is a great example to talk about on the CV. I have spoken about how important it is to include project war stories in the CV as it adds another dimension to the document and really helps to demonstrate your management style. War stories are the bits about the projects which are often left out of the CV but they are important in demonstrating how you overcome major issues when delivering projects.

The story….

Sarah* is an Interim Project Manager who was tasked with implementing a data centre and quick reference application on all products for a large organisation. On arrival to the new assignment she found that the stakeholders were less than receptive to the change and being particularly difficult when it came to sharing information which they “held close to their hearts”.  It was these stakeholders who were the key to all the product information and as they had always held their own information in pocket books, they felt the information belonged to them and not the business. Sarah worked very closely with the stakeholders to gain buy-in through a number of means, such as one to one meetings and group workshops. She had to sell the change in a way which didn’t threaten the team but demonstrated just how useful it would be moving forward. Forming individual relationships and finding out personal “likes” etc Sarah managed to crack the core issue and was able to deliver a robust application which all the stakeholders finally agreed would be an asset and essential tool to cataloguing products.

You like coffee, yes

Now it would be easy to state in the CV that Sarah delivered on time and to budget blah blah blah, but knowing the issues she came up against and how she overcame them says a great deal to the reviewer of the CV. Therefore some subtle changes to the remit talking through difficult stakeholders and gaining buy-in, coupled with a strong, concise key achievement highlighted at the top of the CV, really brings so much more to the document.

As a former project manager, I know only too well that delivering projects isn’t always straight forward and it is the people skills and management style which can make the difference between a successful project and another statistic for a failure. When you are putting together your CV, always pause to think about the extra mile you go to achieve success.


*name changed for the purpose of the blog