Being a project manager and writing a CV is difficult, you need to get your experience over to potential clients and it is very easy just top create a project list, whilst failing to tell the reader what you were actually doing. A great CV will open doors that you never thought possible and will give you many more career options. Likewise a poor CV will get you nowhere. In today’s competitive project management market you need to be a cut above the rest and hopefully my 8 tips will help your CV to the top of the pile.

  1. Write it yourself – The task of creating your CV is never the most thrilling prospect, so the temptation can be to get a professional CV writing company to build it for you. This never (or hardly ever) works, a CV is a personal document and you are the best placed person to build it, so bite the bullet and get started.
  2. Write a first class profile - This is a paragraph (5 – 6 lines) that tells us what you are doing now and very briefly how you came to do it. Include biggest budgets, largest teams, methodologies, sectors worked in and state that you are delivering full life cycle projects (if you are).
  3. Think about it – Imagine that you are looking for a project manager yourself, what do you want to know about that person you are hoping to hire? You’ll want to know; what they have delivered, how they have delivered it, the scale of project (value / time) and the number of people working on it (matrix management, 3rd party suppliers), who their stakeholders were. Now make sure your CV answers those questions.
  4. Keep it brief – Research has shown than when CV are being sifted the reader will spend one minute reading your first page, 45 seconds the second and 15 seconds the third. They often will not read anything after this. Long CV’s show poor communication skills and the majority of candidates are rejected purely on this bases, by recruiters, managers and HR teams. You don’t need to tell the reader about every project you have worked on, nor every technology used on every project. My advice is to write about your role generally and tell us about the interesting projects in bullet points, you can change these projects depending on the role you applying to. The perfect CV is two pages, three pages is still good.
  5. Huge budgets? - Let’s get real no one single person can manage a £100 million pound project, or a team of 100 people, so don’t make claims like this. The truth is you might have 100 people working on your project but you will not be managing all of them, so tell the reader how that breaks down. Likewise with the budgets, we are only interested in what you have managed, not what the overall programme budget was.
  6. Technical Skills – I really don’t like skills matrix’s on CV’s but if you skills in niche technologies or want to get picked up in a word search then please put the skills matrix at the end of your CV.
  7. Be flexible – You will find that each application you make will be asking for different skills be prepared to change your CV for each position, make sure you ask your agent what needs to be changed. This will increase your hit rate massively
  8. How do I do this – When candidates edit a long CV it is always obvious, the CV never flows and the language just does not hang together, if you are sat with a 5 + page document you have to write it again from scratch. You will miss / forget the stuff that is not important and your CV will be relevant and fresh.

    Stephen Hellier is a director at Inii8 Recruitment and have been recruiting project managers since 1999, Initi8 are technical and data specialists and cover perm and contract roles in the UK and Europe, if you need help to find a new role or if you are searching for exceptional candidates that I would love to hear from you.