I’m proud to announce the launch of Career Corner, a monthly series dedicated to sharing interviewing and resume writing tips and advice.
To help kick off this series, we have Resume Writer expert J.M. Auron, CPRW.
In addition to being a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), J.M. is the President and Senior Technical Resume Writer at QuantumTechResumes.com.
J.M. brings a unique breath of experience to the resume writing process and we look forward to his monthly contributions.
Project- and Program-Management Resumes present a unique set of challenges. In this article, I’d like to address three of the most common PM resume challenges, and suggest strategies to make the process more painless. As an example, I’m using a PM career with a consulting organization – but the same concepts can be applied to internal PM careers and independent consulting.
The three primary project based resume challenges that I see most often in my technical resume writing service are:
Potential repetitiveness, and
Lack of quantifiable achievements.
Happily, the same strategies are useful to address all three of these issues.
The primary question is what to include – and the often more difficult question of what to omit.
Before I begin, I don’t want to give the impression that your resume has to shortened beyond recognition; as I’ve discussed in my blog post on technical resume length the one-page rule makes absolutely no sense for many technical professionals, especially for seasoned PMs. Even two pages may be tight – so don’t worry about going to three pages if necessary. But you don’t want the document to become so unwieldy that the hiring authority’s eyes glaze over. I’ve had PM resumes cross my desk that clock in at six or eight pages. That’s never good.
If you’ve been working on multiple, relatively short projects – from a few weeks to several months, you’ll need to find a way to streamline your resume to keep the document readable. Here a few thoughts.
If the projects are similar, and within the same overall job title and company, you don’t need to include every one. I realize that PMs, by their nature, and very thorough people. But including a list of 10, 15 – or more – projects doesn’t strengthen your value proposition – and it may (unconsciously) try the reader’s patience.
Look objectively at the projects you’ve delivered. Which projects had the most impact for both the client and your company? Which led to dramatic improvements? Streamlined operations? Saved money? Brought in new consulting gigs?
Another important criterion for determining which projects to include and which to omit is what you’ve done in each project. In addition to finding projects with strong results for the client, you should also pick the projects that best demonstrate your range of skills and abilities.
Once you’ve determined the strongest projects to include, you need to determine the best strategy to present those projects.
Make sure the projects are visually different from surrounding job descriptions. Without this visual differentiation, it can appear that you’ve been job hopping. One simple – but effective – strategy to accomplish this is simply indenting the projects; that makes it immediately clear to the reader that all the projects are under the same category.
Keep a consistent format for each project. Give some background on the client company, and then describe then think CAR – Challenge Action Results. As I’ve mentioned in my blog on the CAR approach, this is excellent way to stay on track and demonstrate achievements.
Focus on those achievements! As in every resume, be certain to focus on strong, quantifiable achievements. Generally, to keep formatting clean, I only bullet those achievements that are strong and quantifiable.