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

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

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

Volen Vulkov Avatar
Volen Vulkov
8 minute read
Updated on 2020-09-10

Writing a Program Manager resume?

You’re the backbone behind program productivity. You’re directly responsible for leading a company's programs to success.

You’re an organizational wizard. You keep the flow of projects going, motivating others, and ensuring milestones are reached.

Now you’re on the hunt for your next role as a Program Manager where you can put your operational skills to work.

In order to land your dream job, you need to write a stand-out Program Manager resume that demonstrates your leadership skills, resource management abilities, and your proven track record of delivering real business results.

That may seem like a big task to tackle, but it’s all do-able with this resume guide.

We’ll take you through step-by-step how to write a program manager resume that will have your phone ringing with interview requests.

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 build your credibility with real data and metric
  • The best hard and soft skills to highlight in your resume
  • What qualifications are recommended to land a role as a program manager

Looking for Related Resumes?

Program Manager Resume Example

How to write a job-winning program manager resume

You’re the go-to person for leading and executing on projects, making sure everyone on the team has everything they need to succeed.

You set the timelines, allocate the resources, manage the budget, and assess all the risks for projects.

Essentially, you directly contribute to the success of a company through their individual projects.

With your expertise, you can boost revenue, save costs, grow the business into new markets, and provide a better experience for customers. That’s only naming a few...

Your one-two page resume needs to answer all of these questions for the hiring manager.

In addition to the hard skills that come with being a program manager, your resume needs to highlight your soft skills too.

As a program manager, you’ll no doubt be collaborating with a variety of people: other project team members, developers, clients, customers, the C-Suite, and stakeholders.

Companies want to hire program managers who can not only lead a program to success, but also do that while maintaining excellent working relationships with everyone involved.

Culture fit is a big deal as a program manager. The wrong personality will throw the whole project off course.

On another note, don’t send out the same resume for every job you apply to.

Personalize your resume, reflecting the same keywords and values that are listed in the job description.

All you need to do is duplicate your original resume and update the keywords throughout your summary, experience, and skills sections.

Program manager job descriptions are usually full of details about the key responsibilities of the role and the knowledge and skills you’ll need to make it through to the interview stage.

Read the description carefully, write down all of the key phrases you see, and then use those same words in your resume.

As for the resume layout?

Use a reverse-chronological format to highlight your work experience and accomplishments first. This layout also includes information about your education, certifications, and skills.

Write the resume in a legible font, use bullet points for easy scanning, and save it as a PDF before sending it off.

With those tips out of the way, you’re now ready to write your program manager resume! Just follow along with this guide, section-by-section.

Specific tips about what employers want to see

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)

What you should include in your program manager resume header

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 a LinkedIn profile URL to give the hiring manager an opportunity to find out more about you

Prove that you’re right for the job in the professional summary

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.

How to impress recruiters in the work experience section

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.
04/2010 - 10/2014
Ottawa, CA
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.

Let’s make some improvements to build more confidence.

Experience
Sr. Program ManagerWorkSmart Inc.
04/2010 - 10/2014
Ottawa, CA
Managed 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.
Implemented strategic objectives and monitored KPIs 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

Well done on finishing the work experience section. Now let’s move on to education...

What should you include in your program manager education section?

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.

Should you add certifications to your program manager resume?

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.

What skills to include in your program manager resume

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 the 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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

* Data reflects analysis made on over 1M resume profiles and examples over the last 2 years from Enhancv.com. Use this Program Manager resume sample as a base to create a unique resume for yourself.

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