Tips for Writing a Project Management Resume

John F. Gravel

The market’s hot. PMI estimates that by 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2018 there were 471,800 construction management roles in the United States. The stats are indicative that it is an opportune time to skill up before looking for new opportunities or more senior roles. Before commencing the search or taking interviews, it’s good practice to ensure all documentation is in order, starting with an up to date resume.

Updating your resume should be more than just reviewing contact info and one’s latest roles and duties. I’ve read far too many poorly drafted resumes.


Past roles should be written in past tense. Only current roles should be written in present tense.  Font choice or design layout shouldn’t be used to stand out. Recruiters suggest keeping the format clean and easy to read and the words concise and relevant.

It’s 2020, and Internet job searches are the most common way to peruse career opportunities. Swap out the address field for a LinkedIn profile and the objective for a well-worded summary that includes a value proposition. Including hyperlinks helps save time and demonstrates that “you get it”.  Value proposition is most referred to as an “elevator pitch,” meaning if a person had a single elevator ride to explain who they are, where they’re going, and why they bring value, that is their value proposition.

This is no time for modesty. Make the most relevant information the most visible.

Acceptable resume length is an extensive topic in itself. The key is ensuring all critical information is included, and the wording is clear and concise. Hiring teams are generally looking for quality over quantity. A lengthy resume does not reflect an impressive career, but a lack of editing, and respect for peoples’ time. If the resume is going to be long, it better be good.

Focus on Experience

Too many resumes focus on common tasks, capex spend (incredibly unimpressive), number of people reporting to the role and responsibilities instead of results. Highlight successful projects and be quantitative about showing results in changing from x to y. How did you move the needle and add value? But remember, everything is relative, so provide context. Which stakeholders were involved? Was there management of contractors and sub-contractors? Is there a way to include success factors such as delivering under budget and on time? If so, it is good practice to focus on these areas. Keep in mind, most recruiters and hiring teams will be aware of the regular duties associated with a role, so mentioning those can be redundant. Using that space to highlight statistics and accomplishments that include hard evidence, instead of tasks, is likely to set a resume apart.

Using the phrase “references available on request” shows us that you haven’t done your homework or are not confident in your references.  Provide references right away so we don’t have to ask for them.  One of my favorite interview questions is from the book Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. “If I were to call your boss from this project, assuming you are providing him as a reference, what would he say about your performance?”  Although I trust what an applicant says about their role and performance in that role, I always verify by asking to speak with that person.

The quality of your references will make or break your success as a candidate.  We vet contractors and subcontractors on behalf of our clients.  One of the worst references a candidate can provide are from contemporaries or subordinates from previous projects. If they aren’t providing information from their previous boss, the call is typically not worth the time.  I often cut reference checks short as soon as the references says, “He’s just a really great guy”.  Who isn’t?

Last, a big part of the interviewing process is digital. LinkedIn is now considered as a digital resume, and it has a lot of value in today’s job markets. While it may seem superficial to judge a professional headshot, standing against a wall in a Kiss T-Shirt indicates the applicant isn’t a serious professional. This is a quick filter used by many hiring teams.  A resume that doesn’t match a LinkedIn profile is also a clear sign regarding the applicant’s attention to detail. An updated and active LinkedIn profile is an excellent resource, reinforces a positive message to prospective employers, and avoids getting filtered out.

Investing in yourself by investing the time required to update the details in supporting documents may seem like an excessive time-consuming task, but with the abundance of opportunity in project management and construction, being ready to go is advantageous. It is the first step to securing an interview for the role you want, and preparation or the lack thereof, comes across to the hiring teams in many ways.