There are a number of specific areas of expertise that will prove valuable to different employers. For example, certain employers may want project managers with experience using certain project management methodologies. This is why it is important to ensure that your CV is tailored specifically to the job you are applying for.
Which skills are important for project management CVs?
Skills that are often expected of project managers include change management, business transformation, risk management, stakeholder management, budget management, project planning, governance and proficiency working with project documentation.
If you have know-how in these key areas, ensure it comes across in the skills section of your CV.
Other areas of expertise that may be relevant include specific project management methodologies, such as Agile methodologies or Lean methodologies. Ensure your skills section demonstrates your knowledge of the different principles, frameworks and processes used to provide structure to project delivery.
While it is important to bring attention to your key skills, don’t make the mistake of adding too many skills. The skills section should not be exhaustive. Cramming your skills section with a huge number of skills results in the most important skills being difficult to locate. Ideally, you should select between 8 and 10 skills that are most important and relevant to the position you are applying for.
So how do you decide which skills to leave out?
The most effective way of identifying the key skills that employers are looking for is to locate and study the job description for the position you want to apply for. The job description will include a list of the skills that the company expects in candidates. Use this list of required skills to tailor your CV’s skills section to the position.
However, avoid copying the job description’s skills onto your CV word for word. Recruiters know the content of job descriptions and they will be aware that you have simply copied the content. This may lead them to question whether you actually possess these skills. Instead, draw attention to a number of the job description’s key skills in your skills section.
The key skills section is not the only part of your CV where you should show off your skills. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate further skills in your CV’s career section, where you will be able to provide tangible examples of times you have utilised the skills. For example, if you’re skilled in budget management, you can detail the value of the budgets you have managed during your time in project management.
Showcasing certain soft skills is equally important to ensure you make a powerful impression on hiring managers. For project managers, possessing these soft skills is vital in order to deliver projects to high standards, maintain efficiency and achieve project objectives.
As with the previously mentioned hard skills, don’t make the mistake of detailing every soft skill in your arsenal or every skill that is expected of project managers. If you do this, not only will your CV be excessively long and cluttered, but it will also look like a skills handbook from the Project Management Institute.
Instead, you want the skills in your CV to appear as if you have included them organically, rather than stuffing everything you can into two pages.
But which soft skills are most important for project management roles?
Here, we have detailed the most important soft skills for project managers.
Leadership is arguably the most important soft skills for project management jobs. Although, leadership is not necessarily just a soft skill. Leadership ties into the many skills that employers expect from projects managers; stakeholder management, business transformation, project planning – all of these skills require robust leadership capabilities.
As a project manager, leadership is all about inspiring project teams to come on-board with your visions and add value to the project by effectively playing their role. It’s about aligning project teams with project objectives.
As such, it’s vital that your CV demonstrates your leadership proficiency. But how can you demonstrate your leadership skills in your CV?
The first and easiest way to do this is to show results.
As the benefits of great leadership are great results, showing your achievements will demonstrate your ability to lead as a project manager.
Here is an example. If you state that you successfully delivered a project two-weeks ahead of schedule, despite challenges faced, this shows that you were able to pull your team together to overcome challenges and achieve your objective.
Remember, to ensure you come across as an effective leader, you don’t need to write huge paragraphs about leadership. You need to show how you have demonstrated your leadership qualities through results.
Alongside this, show that you performed daily tasks as a leader. For example, if you mentored and trained colleagues to improve their capabilities, ensure this comes across in your CV. If you led meetings with team members to identify improvement areas, ensure this comes across in your CV.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), 1 in 5 projects are unsuccessful as a result of poor communication. To ensure this doesn't happen, project leaders needs to be able to communicate clearly about expectations and goals, as well as responsibilities and performance. They also need to be able to articulate project visions to team members to ensure stakeholders are on board with project objectives.
To maintain efficiency and ensure projects run smoothly, strong communication skills are crucial. Poor communication will usually result in poor project performance. As such, it's very important to effectively convey your communication skills in your CV. A good project management CV should outline how you have shown your ability to articulate project visions and communicate goals to team members.
So how do you go about doing this?
Think about that the times that you have used your communication skills to influence or liaise with those involved in projects, from the outset to completion. How did you engage with your colleagues and stakeholders? It's impossible to go through the full project lifecycle without communicating with a wide range of professionals, so identify your most significant moments of communication during your projects and draw attention to these on your CV. This could be as simply as communicating project timelines and milestones to team members.
Here is an example of how we demonstrated this individual’s communication skills as a project manager:
“Developed transparency by introducing weekly meetings with key stakeholders to confer on roadblocks and outline the necessary solutions that were to be implemented”
To draw out your communication skills in your project management CV, try to identify your achievements that have been brought about by your communication skills. For example, did your influencing of key stakeholders enable you to adjust certain project priorities in order to meet deadlines? Highlighting this achievement would indicate that your communication skills are strong enough to add value to projects.
Another aspect of communication that is highly valuable for project managers is active listening. Project management isn’t just about telling people what to do. Some of the most successful project managers are great active listeners, who listen to their team members and stakeholders to develop a stronger knowledge of requirements and problems.
How can you demonstrate your active listening skills on your CV?
Write about the times you have engaged with team members, whether through meetings or otherwise. Then show how you listened to their input and acted on it. Showing how you acted on input from your team members is a very effective way of drawing attention to your active listening skills.
Here is an example:
“Implemented daily virtual meetings between various teams after obtaining feedback from colleagues on the weak channels of communication between global teams”
In the example above, the individual shows that he/she listened to the issues that team members presented, before acting on it by introducing a new process to improve performance.
Communication is a broad skill, encompassing collaboration, an ability to provide feedback and non-verbal communication. Of course, you can’t list all of these or provide tangible examples of times you have demonstrated every aspect of the communication skill set. But try to identify times that you have utilised your communication skills to improve project performance, then bring this across in your CV.
An important thing to remember when detailing your soft skills is to show, rather than tell. Rather than telling the reader that you possess communication skills, show how you have utilised your communication skills.
Project managers are required to negotiate on a regular basis, whether it be negotiating contracts or negotiating the resolution of conflicts. They will also be required to negotiate with stakeholders to establish scope requirements, time parameters and costs.
Effective, efficient negotiation benefits projects by mitigating risk, safeguarding project goals, developing trust, resolving conflict and providing a greater platform for the overall success of projects.
Showcasing your ability to negotiate on your CV will improve its effectiveness and show hiring managers that you’re an even more capable project manager. But before we discuss how to demonstrate your negotiation skills in your CV, it’s important to understand what makes a good negotiator. What are the key concepts of negotiation in project management?
Emotional control, communication, active listening, planning and research are all key for successful negotiators.
These are the key qualities that you can draw out while highlighting your negotiation experiences.
How do you show your negotiation skills on your CV?
The best way to show your ability to negotiate is to describe your successful negotiations, breaking the negotiation process up into three parts: conflict, engagement, result.
Identify your negotiation achievements and start writing about them. For example, let’s assume you were project managing a relocation of your employer’s premises to a different site. You might have encountered a problem with the unrealistic timescales that had been suggested. This is the first aspect of the negotiation process, the conflict.
Let’s say you then brought teams together to identify the required timescales, before presenting the results of your finding to the key stakeholders. This is the engagement aspect of the process, where you show how you communicated with the necessary individuals involved to work towards a beneficial conclusion.
Then, let’s assume that you convinced the key stakeholders to alter the timescales, by presenting researched information regarding project expectations. As a result, you were successful in your negotiation. This is the result of the process.
Use this three-step process – conflict, engagement, result – to ensure you effectively articulate your negotiation achievements in your CV.
However, it’s more effective to write about these three steps in reverse – result, engagement, conflict. This way you’re writing in the style of an achiever, focusing first on your achievement.
So how would this look on your CV?
Here is an example of how we used the conflict, engagement, result process on a project manager’s CV.
“Prompted key stakeholders to extend project timescales after identifying excessive costs involved in adhering to existing timescales, despite stakeholder’s initial reluctance to alter timescales”.
According to a paper published by the Project Management Institute, there are two key forms of negotiation: win-lose and win-win.
Win-lose is the type of negotiation where one party achieves their desired outcome and the other doesn’t. Win-win is the type of negotiation that involves more of a collaborative approach to reach positive outcomes than cannot be improved further.
When you’re writing about your negotiation experiences in your CV, think about whether you employed the win-win or the win-lose approach. Try to showcase your experience using at least one approach. If you can demonstrate your experiences using both approaches, even better.
While project managers oversea the key aspects of projects, such as project execution and project closure, they also need to be able to strike a balance between focusing on overall project goals and the smaller details. These small details may be minor in relation to other aspects of project processes, but they are they kind of details great project managers deal with efficiently on a daily basis.
Effective project managers don’t miss the wood for the trees.
They focus on achieving overall project objectives, but they also possess the attention-to-detail to identify potential risks and provide resolutions to minor issues that could potentially cause projects to derail.
So, now that you know that attention-to-detail is an important project management skill, how do you go about showing it on your CV?
The best way to demonstrate your attention-to-detail skills doesn’t require you to even mention attention-to-detail. You can show your attention-to-detail by presenting the hiring manager with a professionally-written, polished CV that doesn’t contain any mistakes, spelling errors or grammatical issues.
As the CV is often the first impression recruiters will get of you, a professional, polished CV can create an instant image of an organised individual with great attention-to-detail.
If you submit a cluttered CV with mistakes, looking sloppy and unattractive, you might create a poor first impression, an impression of someone who doesn’t pay attention to the small details. This is not the way you want to go, so ensure your CV is professional, well-presented and void of mistakes.
Another way of showing your attention-to-detail on your CV is to list your achievements related to precision.
For example, someone with excellent attention-to-detail might write about how they achieved high levels of accuracy while estimating the necessary resources required for projects. Or maybe they would show off a high success rate related to audits.
When showcasing such achievements, it’s always beneficial to use specific numbers and statistics if possible.
Another simple way of showing your attention-to-detail is to write about tasks that require concentration. As an example, you could write about analysing invoices to identify errors.
Use these tips to show off your attention-to-detail on your CV and it will ensure you come across as a conscientious, diligent individual who cares about the minor details.
As a project leader, you need to make correct, swift decisions for the benefit of the project and the project team. The majority of great leaders, whether operating in project management or other professions, have one thing in common: they are all excellent decision-makers. Poor decision-making results in poor performance.
Project management CVs should show that you are an effective decision-maker.
When you’re preparing to describe your decision-making qualities in your new CV, it’s a good idea to remember that decision-making is made up of various other skills. Skills that good decision-makers often possess include analytical acumen, active listening and problem analysis. Rather than explaining that you are a good decision-maker in your CV, it would be much more effective to show that have demonstrated the qualities of good decision-makers.
For example, if you described a time that you identified a problem, acted on it and implemented new changes that delivered a positive outcome, this would demonstrate your decision-making capabilities.
As a project manager, you likely utilise your decision-making skills on a daily basis. You will probably have a good idea of the best achievements to use in relation to your decision-making skills. But if you’re struggling to describe your decision-making skills, follow our three-step template: identifying problems, generating solutions and implementing corrective actions.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re describing your achievements it’s more effective to follow this three-step process in reverse. Start by describing the corrective action you implemented, followed by the solution you identified and the problem you faced.
Here is an example:
“Overhauled the internal reporting system with a new, streamlined version, which reduced annual costs by $100k, after identifying the inefficiencies with the information management aspect of the system”
Note that this achievement doesn’t directly mention decision-making. This isn't a problem. Hiring managers are experienced at identifying skills through achievements.
Another way to draw attention to your decision-making skills is to describe accomplishments that were achieved within deadlines. Achieving objectives despite the demands of strict time limits requires good decision-making. So, describing such achievements in your CV will show hiring managers that you’re a sound decision-maker.
Here is an example:
“Achieved the objective of generating a cost saving of £20k within 2 months by making the decision to negotiate a new, more cost-effective supplier contract”
In the example above, the time factor plays a big role in highlighting the individual’s decision-making skills. It shows that the person was able to reach beneficial decisions under pressure. It also shows that his/her decision-making is good enough to add significant value.
Identify times that you have achieved goals within timescales, and use these examples to make a more powerful impact and exhibit your decision-making qualities.