When it comes to furthering your project management career, a well written professional CV is essential. If you are writing or re-writing your CV it can be confusing knowing which advice to follow and what to ignore. As a former recruiter I have learnt that there are five key things that employers and recruiters look for in project manager CVs.
1. Contact details
Your CV should contain the following details:
- Full name and address
- Email address
- Phone Number
- LinkedIn profile URL
I am always surprised how many candidates don’t include their LinkedIn profile URL on their CV. Employers and recruiters expect candidates to have a solid online presence, so it is essential to include your LinkedIn URL. It is highly likely that employers and recruiters will look you up online before short-listing candidates, so your LinkedIn Profile needs to look professional.
2. Professional summary
Employers and recruiters spend an average of seven seconds reading a CV, so you need to immediately capture their attention. A well written professional summary shall meet the following points:
- Be 4-6 lines in length
- Effectively convey to the reader your areas of expertise
- Highlight your key skills and how they will benefit your prospective employer
It is essential that you know what key skills employers seek so you can mention relevant qualities in your professional summary.
3. Career summary
As a CV writer, a common mistake I have noticed in my clients’ CVs is that they give an account of each and every responsibility they have undertaken for all of their jobs. But this isn’t necessary; instead, your CV should give highlights of your career.
Your career highlights section should follow the below recommendations:
- Give an overview of your role including who you reported to, how many people you managed (if applicable), details of the project and the value of the project.
- Explain your achievements for each role.
- Contain relevant keywords so that your CV will pass the ATS systems used by employers to search for candidates.
You need to ensure you include enough information about your duties to give employers a good understanding of what you do. It is important to include detail on the methodologies and tools you have used.
Examples of good achievements to mention include:
- Reducing costs
- Increasing revenue
- Increasing productivity
- Improving processes
- Promoting efficiencies
It is important that, as well as mentioning the achievements, you explain what you did. Mention any challenges or issues faced and how you overcame them.
You should note relevant achievements for each position you have held. This is because employers and recruiters want to see that you have a proven history of contributing to the bigger picture at every position you’ve had.
4. Professional development
Your professional development section is a relatively small part of your CV so don’t worry about going into too much detail here. Employers are more interested in your experience and so the focus should be on what you have done in your current and previous jobs.
Your professional development section should contain the following information:
- Degree (if applicable)
- Any recent further education undertaken
- Details of courses completed
- Any project management qualifications that add value to your CV e.g. PRINCE2, PMP, ITIL
It is important that you only mention recent and relevant education, qualifications and courses in the professional development section. There is no point in mentioning each and every course you have completed as employers are only interested in the ones relevant to the job they are recruiting for.
5. Personal development
Generally, most of my project manager clients’ CVs follow the same format. Employers want to see that you are invested in your career, so mentioning any of the below (if applicable) will help you stand out.
Forum contributions: If you contribute to a forum it shows that you have an understanding of industry matters. Be aware that if you mention the names of the forums you contribute to employers may look you up online so you want to be confident that the contributions you have made sell the image of you being a knowledgeable project manager.
Personal achievements: Employers want to see that you are a well-rounded person and have interests outside of work. Any impressive personal achievements that demonstrate key skills like teamwork, communication skills and management abilities are worth mentioning on your CV. Instead of just mentioning the achievement, try to explain how you achieved it.
Mentorship: If you are a mentor or protege it is worth mentioning this in your CV. From an employer’s perspective if you a mentor it shows that you have the expertise to share with colleagues – a valuable trait. If you are a protege, it shows that you are interested in developing professionally and this is also attractive to an employer.
Membership of societies: These can be project management related societies or personal societies. It is especially worth mentioning membership of societies if you are in a position of responsibility such as being a Treasurer.
Writing a CV that helps you stand out from the competition is difficult and it requires in-depth thinking about your areas of expertise and how you add value to organisations and teams. These five essential inclusions will show you possess the require skills and experience and put you in good stead to start getting call-backs for interviews.