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Program Manager Resume Guide: Expert Tips & Examples to Land Your Dream Job

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Volen Vulkov Avatar
Volen Vulkov
8 minute read
Updated on 2021-03-26

Do you find yourself playing the lottery every time you submit your Program Manager resume?

We know exactly how that feels.

The job requirements for a Program Manager can be interpreted in so many ways that you just don’t know what recruiters will be looking for, and what they will completely pass over.

To resolve this problem, we developed a framework that has already helped hundreds of our Program Manager clients to consistently land jobs they applied for.

What you will learn from this program manager resume guide:

  • How to personalize your resume the right way for every job you apply to
  • How to frame your work experience for maximum traction with both recruiters and employers
  • The winning combination of hard and soft skills to highlight in your Program Manager resume
  • How to properly format your resume and guide recruiter’s attention where needed
  • Specific resume examples and tips for Technical, Senior, and IT Program Managers

Looking for Related Resumes?

Program Manager Resume Example

How to write a job-winning program manager resume

It is difficult to write a resume for a program manager since you never know exactly what recruiters are looking for.

But after years of helping program managers to improve their resumes we identified three key areas you should focus on for maximizing your success rate.

Tip #1. Tailor your Program Manager resume to the job.

Targeted resume is a highly effective technique on its own, but for Program Managers (PgM),targeting your resume is essential to securing the interview. Why? Because every company has their own definition of what PgM does, a fixed list of deal breakers, and a strong preference towards candidates with specific experience. Follow these tips to maximise your chances of getting a Program Manager job:

  • Study job requirements. There is no standard definition of a program manager for every organization, so the responsibilities will vary greatly from job to job. Learn what components of your experience you need to emphasize to make yourself seem like a more suitable candidate for the job. Alsoidentify resume keywords and weave them into your resume to pass ATS scanning systems.
  • Identity company deal breakers. Almost all PgM jobs almost always have deal-breakers, or some core qualities that a target candidate absolutely must have. Usually these pop up first in the job description or buried in the job pretext. Examples of deal breakers include: experience within a certain niche, an experience working with a team of a certain size or using a specific PM methodology. Identify dealbreakers ASAP and make sure to refer to them in key areas of your resume.
  • Research target company in-depth. Some useful information can be obtained by studying target company blogs, interviews, or employee LinkedIn profiles. What PM methodology are they using? How big are their teams? Are they in crisis?Using this information, you can change the order of your certificates, emphasize relevant achievements, or highlight unique skills.

Tip #2. The way you format your PgM resume DOES matter

  • Make your resume easy to read and easy to scan. Recruiters get 100+ resumes per job posting. They will more likely spend more time reading a well-formatted, easily scannable resume of a less experienced applicant than waste too much time trying to decipher walls of text of a more experienced candidate. Oh, the irony. Usecolor, white space,legible fonts, and headers to create an enjoyable reading experience for recruiters, and they’ll spend more time reading about you. Use bullet points and bold text to guide the recruiter's attention to your best results and unique traits to secure positive perception.Avoid excessive jargonism.
  • Choose a properresume layout. In most cases, a standardreverse chronological resume format will do just fine. But we recommend using ahybrid resume format with a custom section to put forward your unique qualities and stand out from competition.

Note: Hybrid resume format is also useful when you’re switching careers or have inconsistent work history. Emphasize your unique qualifications or most notable projects before recruiters form an impression based on your work history inconsistencies.

Tip #3. Write a PgM resume that focuses on long-term business objectives.

The core principle of program management is benefiting from several projects that work together.

It’s great if you can execute individual projects from start to finish, but that alone won’t be enough to hire you as a Program Manager.

Here’s how you write PgM resume for maximum strategic value:

  • Showcase experience and skills in supervising several projects at once. When describing experience and accomplishments, your focus should be not on completing a single project, but a series of interconnected projects, a strategic effort, and a company-wide business outcome.  
  • Demonstrate that you worked with cross functional teams and stakeholders. This one is crucial. Programs are always happening at the intersection of several departments and projects, and the success of a program depends on your ability to make them work together. Describe yourself as a leader of matrixed cross-functional teams that included internal and external subject matter experts, along with customers, suppliers, and partners; or how you were responsible for overseeing third-party program administrators.

Now that you have studied these tips, you can now write your program manager resume! Let’s go through each section of your job-winning Program Manager resume in detail.

Recommended resume sections

  • Resume header with contact info and relevant links
  • A professional summary that highlights career accomplishments
  • Work experience
  • Overview of education and certifications
  • A mix of hard and soft skills
>

What hiring managers want to see

  • Experience relevant to the job you’re applying for
  • The right skills for the job (based on the posting)
  • Quantifiable achievements (Mitigated risks by identifying, escalating and resolving issues)
  • Examples of what makes you unique (Your usual day or your favorite books)
  • What you’re most proud of (displayed creatively)
>

Program Manager Resume Header: When First Impressions Matter

Let’s start at the very top of your resume with the header.

This is the first place hiring managers will look.

Nail it, and you’ll be off to a good start.

Let’s explore two examples of a program manager resume header to see the dos and don’ts.

Jason Smith
Program Manager

+359 88 888 8888

help@enhancv.com

Boston, MA
WRONG

This header doesn’t check all the boxes.

While the contact information is there, it’s missing a few things to make a real impact.

Jason Smith
Sr. IT Program Manager

+359 88 888 8888

help@enhancv.com

linkedin.com/in/jasonsmith

Boston, MA
RIGHT

Much better!

Here’s why:

  • The job title is more descriptive, with the seniority level and the specialization
  • Includes all relevant contact information (email and phone number)
  • There’s aLinkedIn profile URL to give the hiring manager an opportunity to find out more about you

Program Manager Resume Summary: Two Sentences to Get Ahead of Competition

Your expertise as a program manager is determined by how well you can improve on projects and translate them into overall business success.

And your professional summary is the section of your resume that will show the hiring manager how you can and have done just that.

It’s also the first section where you can begin personalizing your resume for the job you’re applying for.

Let’s say the job description describes their ideal candidate as someone who has experience managing projects in the real estate industry, interpreting construction plans and blueprints.

If you know your way backward and forwards around a construction blueprint, call out that skill directly in your summary since it’s a high priority for the company.

Here are the three components that your professional summary must have:

  • A detailed description of your seniority level and specialty (if any)
  • Examples of real business success that you’ve contributed to
  • Tailored keywords that are found in the job description

Let’s take a look at two examples of program manager summaries.

Summary
Program manager with 5 years of experience leading projects and programs at multiple companies. Seeking my next full-time opportunity.
WRONG

This summary is too vague. “Leading projects and programs at multiple companies,” says nothing about either the types of projects you led or how successful they actually were.

For all the hiring manager knows, they were a complete failure.

Here’s an improved example.

Summary
Technical program manager with 5+ years of experience leading operations for various projects in the SaaS industry. Certified Scrum Master with proficiency in project management techniques (Waterfall, Automated Testing, Kanban). Increased activation rate by 20% after leading user onboarding improvement project. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner.
RIGHT

Now this covers all three bases we talked about before.

  • “Technical program manager with 5+ years of experience leading operations for various projects in the SaaS industry.” That is super descriptive of the level of experience and the industry specialty.
  • It’s personalized to the hypothetical job description, shouting out high priority keywords, like specific management techniques.
  • Uses data showing real business success to boost credibility

Now that you have a stand-out professional summary written, let’s write about your work experience.

Program Manager Experience Section: How to Stand Out From Other Candidates

Being a program manager is a high stakes position.

Hiring managers want to know that they’re picking the right person.

They’ll mostly be looking at your work experience section to answer this question.

Program managers are in charge of budget, scope, meeting deliverables and ensuring an overall high performance for their team.

That’s no small feat.

Your work experience descriptions should answer this one question:

Have you made a real business impact on your projects?

Use data and metrics to show how. Here are some examples:

  • Managed a project team of 10+ people
  • Saved the company x$ after improving processes
  • Achieved an on-time project delivery performance score of 99%

There’s no better way to boost your credibility on a resume than by backing up your claims with data and metrics.

Every company has different needs from a program manager.

Sending out the same version of your resume will not make an impact.

You need to call out directly to their specific needs in order to land an interview.

Refer back to the job description and see what qualities they value most in their prospective candidate.

Take a look at the responsibilities of the role to see if you’ve done something similar in your former jobs.

Then using that information, prioritize the work experience section of your resume based on the needs of the role you want.

For example, does the job description mention that the role involves recruiting faculty members or organizing educational activities?

If you’ve done either of those tasks successfully in your past roles, prioritize talking about them in your work experience section.

Here are two examples of a program manager work experience description to inspire you.

Experience
Program ManagerWorkSmart Inc.
Managed budgets and costs for projects
Recruited project faculty and managed them
Assigned and monitored KPIs
Identified funding opportunities
WRONG

This resume is too generic.

The hiring manager reading will assume that you weren’t good at your job, since you can’t give any specific examples of success.

Pro Tip: Useaction verbs to make your resume sound more authoritative and impactful.

Let’s make some improvements to build more confidence.

Experience
Sr. Program ManagerWorkSmart Inc.
Coordinated project budgets of up to $2million and reduced operations costs by 30% by applying new controls.
Recruited and managed a team of 10 people, including interviewing, onboarding, training and monitoring progress.
Oversaw strategic objectives and KPI targets for all project teams, resulting in a KPI success rate of 99%.
RIGHT

This is a much better version of the first example.

  • It’s tailored to the hypothetical job description by focusing on their biggest requirements (eg. managing budgets, leading the staff and ensuring milestones completion and success)
  • They back up their claims with real numbers, showing how they’ve achieved overall business success

Check out ourHow to Cover Work Experience On Your Resume guide for more tips on building a job-winning experience section.  Well done on finishing the work experience section. Now let’s move on to education...

Program Manager Education Section: What to Include

A Bachelor’s degree is almost always a prerequisite for landing a program manager position.

The most common major is Business Administration or Management.

More senior positions might require an MBA.

For program manager positions in specific industries, degrees related to that specialty might be required as well. For example, to land a job as a program manager at a hospital, you’ll need a Health Science degree on top of the Business Administration degree.

To showcase your educational background on your resume, include the school name, degree type, the major you studied in, and the years you studied.

You can also add in relevant university projects you worked on or a short description of your thesis.

Program manager resume Certifications: Do You Need Them?

100% yes!

Almost all program manager positions will request that you’rePMP certified. 

You can also go above and beyond with additional certifications like:

List your certification in bullet points on your resume, with the year completed beside it.

Program Manager Skills: The Right Combination For Maximum Impact

Program management is a highly skilled job.

You’re in charge of everything from strategy to budgeting, from reporting to presenting, and everything in between.

Hiring managers are looking for program managers whose skills reach far and wide.

That being said, strong organizational and leadership skills are two of the most important to emphasize. Having both of those key skills will translate to success with all of your other required skills.

The skills section of your resume is one of the best places to personalize for the job you want.

Again, refer back to the job description to see what skills they value most from their ideal candidate.

For example, will procuring and managing vendors be a big part of the role?

Or do they need a technical program manager who can build and maintain the KPI dashboard?

Or someone who has excellent communication skills to present strategy, risk assessment, and recommendations to key stakeholders.

The job description practically feeds you the keywords that you should be including in your skills section.

Just make sure that you’re honest about what you’re including. For example, if you’re not actually skilled in IT security principles, don’t mention it in your resume. Focus on the items that you are proficient with.

And finally, include a balanced mix of soft and hard skills on your resume.

The role of a program manager requires both equally to succeed.

Here’s a big list of hard and soft skills you can include on your resume.

Thinking your Skills section needs a power up? Check outHow to Create A Resume Skills Section To Impress Recruiters (+10 Examples You Need to See)

Let’s talk about specific Program Manager jobs and tips on how to make your niche PgM resume more appealing.

Technical Program Manager Resume Tips and Examples

  • Prioritise your technical experience. Usecustom sections andhybrid format resumes to put forward your technical projects experience. There are many managers out there who led projects and worked with people, but for technical jobs people with technical experience are like unicorns.
  • Double down onresume keywords. Technical Program Manager jobs typically require highly specific experience within a particular niche. If you see requirements such as “bottom line project management experience” and “Strong knowledge of GD&T principles” make sure to provide relevant workflows from your past.

IT Program Manager Resume Tips And Examples

  • Study the company's tech stack. Analyze current and past employee LinkedIn profiles to learn your target company environment: programming languages, infrastructure, vendors.If you have experience working with some of these technologies, mention that in your Experience and Skills sections to  earn some bonus points with technical recruiters.
  • Study company’s PM methodology. In your target the company uses Agile methodology, provide relevant certificates (e.g. Scrum Master certification) and successful experience working within Agile framework (e.g. Continuous Improvement approach in action,change management, etc.)If your target company follows the waterfall approach, focus more on traditional waterfall deliverables: plans, system design, deadlines estimation, and relevant KPIs.

Senior Program Manager Resume Tips and Examples

  • Focus on growth and scale experiences. When describing your previous experience, show that you’re not just a supervisor, but a strategist. Put forward your most strategic projects, complex multi-project developments, and experience of scaling working strategies on a company-wide level.
  • Focus on business outcomes. The higher your management position, the close you vision should correlate with business visions. Highlight your business acumen and the ability to provide business outcomes in every relevant section of your resume.

Key Takeaways: Program Manager Resume

  • Since program manager positions vary so much across industries, it’s important that you tailor each resume for the job you want, mirroring the same keywords used in the job description.
  • The #1 question hiring managers want answered from your resume is: do you have a proven track record of achieving real business success? The best way to answer that question is by using real data and metrics to support your points.
  • Education and certifications are important prerequisites for program manager roles. List all of your degrees and certifications in bullet point format under their own subheadings.

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