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How to Create a Project Management Resume with No PM experience

A major frustration for people new to the project management profession is trying to find that first project management job when many employers are asking for 3-5 years of experience. How can a project management candidate apply for their first project management job if everyone is asking for years of experience? This question is especially true for college students without any experience at all.


In this article, strategies will be discussed to structure your past college or professional experience into projects. From there, you will learn to map this experience to the job description. Ultimately, a resume can be built and ready for submission to these jobs asking for project management experience.


How can a College Student get Project Management experience?


The students can take experience from organizations they have joined or from projects they worked on with other students in courses.


Firstly, take a look at the job description. Depending on the job requirement, the student will retrofit their previous experience into that job description.


For example, a job description has the following requirements: Coordinate internal and external resources to ensure that projects adhere to scope, schedule, and budget. The student can take experience from the organization where an event was held. Did the student assign tasks to others and make sure that they stayed accountable for those tasks? Were there any purchases involved for this event that the student had to help coordinate (food, entertainment, decorations, etc.)? How did the student track task completion (i.e. spreadsheet)?


In the classroom, did the student coordinate who would work on which part of the project? How did the student know if the assignment was still on track and if an escalation to the instructor was necessary?


Clear communication and the ability to hold people accountable for assigned tasks are two major components of Project Management. The student will think about situations in their past when they had to do this and add this to the resume in the context of the job description.


Another item I wanted to cover is that the student should learn a project management scheduling app such as MS Project or JIRA. These apps have a free version online or a trial version for 30 days. The student should be sure that they'll have enough time to learn in the next 30 days before registering. Also, there are many free teaching resources on YouTube where a student can learn a project management app.


How can an Experienced Professional attain Project Management experience?


Experienced professionals can take experience from work they've done in the past where they led a team or worked with a team. The experience to be leveraged should fit into the context of the requirement in the job description.


For example, a job description has the previous requirements: Coordinate internal and external resources to ensure that projects adhere to scope, schedule, and budget. The experienced professional can take experience from a project they led on the job. Did the professional assign tasks to others and make sure that they stayed accountable for those tasks? Were there any costs involved in managing this effort to completion (food, transportation, hoteling, etc.)? How did the professional track task completion (i.e. spreadsheet)?


Did the professional coordinate who would work on which part of the project? How did the professional know if the assignment was still on track and if an escalation to management was necessary?


Again, clear communication and the ability to hold people accountable for assigned tasks are two major components of Project Management. The professional will think about situations in their past when they had to do this and add this to the resume in the context of the job description.


Similarly to students, experienced professionals should learn a project management scheduling app such as MS Project or JIRA. These apps have a free version online or a trial version for 30 days. Again, the professional should be sure that they'll have enough time to learn in the next 30 days before registering. Also, there are many free teaching resources on YouTube where the professional can learn a project management app.


A Resume is not "one size fits all"


There are two copies of your resume that should be created. One is a "base" resume that can be posted on job boards so that employers can find you. Another is a "flexible" resume that can be changed to fit the exact requirements of a job description you're trying to apply for.


It is key that a job searcher is not lazy and just continues to submit the "base" resume to all employers as this will not cover all the specific requirements that the employer is looking for.


For each job requirement listed, make sure the resume reflects the associated experience you've done in the past. It's fine not to match every requirement if you've never done what that specific requirement is asking for. DO NOT lie and manufacture experience as the employer may realize this when asking you specific questions during the interview.




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