When I brainstormed a list of project management skills to put on my resume (which over here in the UK we call a CV), it was a long list.
If you’re putting together an application for a job, you’ve probably found the same. How do you list the project management skills required without it turning into a giant list of buzzwords?
How to include project management skills on your CV
Let’s just go with the fact that CV and resume are interchangeable terms for the purposes of this article.
On my CV, I have a section that covers skills. While I try to make it obvious in the job descriptions and project descriptions, it’s worth calling out what you can do by adding a ‘Skills’ heading.
Mine is called ‘Skills Profile’. Underneath, I list skills grouped together by:
- Interpersonal skills
Each of those headings has a list of bullet points underneath that give examples of how I have demonstrated those skills.
I don’t specifically call out project management skills on my resume here: it’s implied in the list of projects I have led in the work experience section underneath.
However, if you don’t have work-related projects , you can add project management skills as one of those headings. That’s the bullet point where you’d talk about your ability to do the technical parts of project management.
What skills to choose?
We aim for a CV to be a couple of pages. I’ve had to read resumes that were over 5 pages and frankly I lost the will to live. It’s too much, and too much detail. And there was a lot of jargon that meant nothing to me.
As you want to keep your application concise and to the point, you’ll need to be a little choosy about the project management skills that make it onto your resume.
The good news is that you don’t have to make that call yourself.
Use the job listing, job description, or personal profile to help you uncover what skills the hiring manager is looking for.
Many employers use sifting tools that look for keywords. They will program in keywords from the advert so those are definitely the ones to focus on.
Below, we’ll look at some examples of common project management skills for your resume.
Soft skills (a.k.a. Power skills)
Soft skills are actually the hard part of project management! But we call them ‘soft’ because they are difficult to quantify and are more to do with interpersonal activities and emotional intelligence.
There’s now a trend towards calling them ‘power skills’ (started, I believe, by PMI) because calling them ‘soft’ makes them seem easy. And you don’t have to work as a project manager for very long before you realize they are truly not easy.
Power skills include:
- Communication (written and verbal)
- Stakeholder engagement
- Conflict management
- Team building
- Change management.
Ethics, diversity and inclusion and managing workplace stress all fall into this category as well.
Hard skills are technical project management skills: things you need to do to tick the box to prove you can lead a project. They aren’t necessarily ‘hard’ in the sense that they are difficult. They are ‘hard’ compared to ‘soft’, so if we’re moving to the power skills terminology, we should probably ditch hard skills as well.
On your resume, don’t describe them as ‘hard skills’, stick to terms like technical abilities, core competencies, technical skills, project management techniques or something similar.
This group of skills includes:
- Time management
- Resource management
- Project budget management
- Scope management
- Governance and project assurance
- Risk management
- Quality management
- Procurement, and supplier/contract management
- Issue management
- Configuration management.
Either list out the skills with an example that shows you can demonstrate each, or work these words and explanations into your job history section. As I said above, that’s what I do: the fact I can manage projects is woven all the way through my job history.
I don’t repeat that I do risk management for every project, and you don’t have to either. Think about showcasing one or two skills per job (or project) so overall your CV demonstrates that you can do them all. It would get boring to read about how you engaged stakeholders on every project — employers simply need to see a mention of it.
Tip: Check what project methodology your prospective employer uses. Then you can tailor your application to mention agile approaches, predictive or hybrid ways of working.
Describe your project management skills
It’s not enough to simply give a list. Anyone can copy a list of skills from any website or job description. You also need to give an example of what that skill looks like, for you, based on your personal experience.
Here’s a real example of one of the bullet points from my CV that falls into the interpersonal skills section.
- Excellent communication and presentation skills gained from speaking at conferences, delivering online and face-to-face training, and facilitating workshops in a professional setting.
You can see that I name the skill and then describe how I demonstrate it. That gives an employer something to ask about at an interview: “Tell me about a time when you have had to facilitate a workshop.”
It also helps employers understand the scale and scope of your skills. For example, have you run workshops for 5 people or 500? There is no correct answer, but providing some numbers and context helps recruiters understand what you are capable of.
You don’t want to write too much, but you do want to let hiring managers know that you can actually do the skill, and haven’t just copied and pasted it off a list on the internet.
Your next steps
The skills needed for project management jobs vary, so check out what is mentioned in the job posting and think hard about how you can evidence those. Then tailor your resume to highlight the skills that the employer feels are important.
Here are some things to do next.
- Make sure you understand the project management job description so you can check you are listing the most appropriate skills.
- Brainstorm your past experience and consider how to include your work projects in your resume.
- Take a look at the different project management job titles so you know what jobs to apply for.
- Invest some time in updating your resume with project management skills and experience so your application shines.
What skills are needed for project management?
Project management needs a mixture of technical and interpersonal skills including scheduling, team leadership, emotional intelligence, organizational ability, and communication.
This article first appeared at Rebel’s Guide to Project Management