How To

Create An Interview-Winning Project Management CV

CV job interview

Employers and recruiters are inundated with applications for Project Manager positions. You have seconds seconds to catch and retain their attention when they read your CV. Every word on your CV should attract, engage and interest the reader.

Get it wrong and your CV will be passed over and you’ll miss out on interviews. Follow the below advice to improve your CV and you might find yourself getting positive results.

Contact Details

Your CV should include your contact details at the top of the first page. The following contact details should be included – your name, address, mobile number, email address and a link to your LinkedIn Profile. You are 40% more likely to get a call back for interviews if your CV includes a link to your LinkedIn Profile than if it doesn’t assuming it is professional and sells your experience well.

Professional Profile

The contents of your professional profile will determine whether the employer or recruiter will read the rest of your CV. The purpose of the professional profile is simple: the reader should be able to tell within a matter of seconds who you are, what your areas of expertise are and how you add value to teams and organisations. So don’t make them guess what you do – tell them!

Your professional profile should follow the below rules:

  • Be between 4-6 lines long
  • Contain keywords relevant to the jobs you are interested in (we will talk about this later on)
  • Highlight the parts of your experience and skills which are of most value to employers

Key Skills

One trend I have noticed from reading the CVs of my Project Manager clients is that most don’t contain a key skills section. It is vital that your CV contains a key skills section for two reasons:

1) your key skill section will contain a number of the keywords which will get you pass ATS systems used by recruiters.

2) a well written key skills section adds credibility to your CV as it enables you to give concrete examples of how you possess the skills required by employers.

For those of you that don’t know, ATS systems are used by recruiters to source and screen candidates. Recruiters source candidates by entering keywords onto the ATS System and this will display the relevant candidates.

For a Project Manager some of the relevant keywords would be ‘Project Management, Project Life-Cycle and Stakeholder Management’ etc. Put simply if your CV doesn’t contain the relevant keywords it won’t be seen by the recruiter when they are sourcing candidates.

However, it is not as simple as stuffing your CV with the keywords. You should be doing the following:

  • Reading job adverts for the positions you are interested in and making a note of the keywords mentioned
  • Thinking of concrete examples of your experience and using them to back up each of your key skills
  • Ensuring that the language used to explain each key skills is active and keeps the reader engaged (the last thing you want to be doing is writing a massive paragraph for each key skill)

Career History

As a Project Manager you will often find that your duties in your current/most recent and previous jobs overlap. A common mistake which I see in my clients CVs is to repeat the same duties for all of their jobs. There is no point in doing this as it doesn’t add any value to your CV.

For each of your positions you should give a brief overview of the value of the project, number of individuals involved and any other noteworthy points so the reader understands the context in which you  work/have worked.

You should pull out the most important parts of your experience so the reader has a good idea of what you have done. It is crucial that you go into sufficient detail when mentioning your duties. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a Project Managers CV and felt that it was lacking detail.

Another common mistake made by Project Managers in their CVs is to allocate the same amount of space on their CV for each of their jobs. The jobs you have held are not all of equal importance. You should be distinguishing which jobs are the most important based on which ones match what prospective employers are looking for in terms of experience and skills.

Achievements

Employers and recruiters love achievements because they show how you contribute to the bigger picture. As a Project Manager there are so many achievements which may be relevant to the roles you have held. Examples of good achievements to mention include:

  • Reducing costs incurred in a project
  • Improving processes to increase efficiencies or productivity
  • Resolving specific problems faced in the course of working on a project
  • Delivering challenging projects to schedule and within budget

When mentioning achievements always make sure to explain in detail how you achieved them. Also where possible try to mention numbers so your achievements are quantifiable to recruiters and employers.

Professional Development 

You should only be mentioning the parts of your education or training which are recent and relevant. As a Project Manager frequent training comes with the job and so you may have plenty of courses to mention. The key is to think carefully about which courses are relevant to the particular job(s) you are applying for. Be ruthless when looking at the courses you have undertaken and delete the ones which don’t add value to your CV.

References

You shouldn’t mention your references in your CV as they are not required when initially applying for a job. Instead you should state ‘References Available Upon Request’.

Improving your CV can be a time consuming and tedious task. It requires thinking in-depth about what how you add value to organisations and best conveying this on paper. If you follow the above advice you will be well on your way to success with the job hunt. 

Shilpa Nayyar is an ex-recruiter turned CV writer. She writes engaging CVs and LinkedIn Profiles for Project Managers across all sectors. She is currently offering free CV reviews. Connect with Shilpa on LinkedIn or email her at snayya307@hotmail.com.

Shilpa Nayya
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