The first, and most important, thing to keep in mind when writing a resume is that it must be tailored for your specific industry and target the position that you are seeking. This means that a resume for a project manager should be different from an inspector, an estimator, or a general laborer. It can seem to be a daunting task if you have not had to write a resume for a number of years, and even the best communicators can sometimes struggle to write about themselves. Once you know the key elements of a successful resume, however, there is no reason to be intimidated or overwhelmed.
Before we begin reviewing the specific parts of a resume, we must first cover the three main strategies for resume writing: chronological, functional, and hybrid.
When discussing the different types of resume strategies, it’s important to note that the particular format you choose to employ depends entirely upon your unique situation. The more traditional chronological format is the best option for the majority of job seekers; however, if you are changing careers, have significant gaps in your employment history, performed many of the same duties in each of your prior roles, or have held a number of short-term positions throughout your career, you may want to use the functional or hybrid strategy. No matter what format you decide to utilize, your resume needs to contain the following sections:
Title, Summary & Core Competencies Sections:
Simply put, the purpose of the title, summary, and core competencies sections is to grab the reader’s attention right away and motivate them to read the rest of the resume. This area of the document is “prime real estate,” and must be used to your advantage. Include your career target as the resume’s title (for instance: “Project Manager”), immediately after your name and contact information. Next, you should create a hard-hitting and concise 3–5 sentence summary paragraph labeled “Summary.” This area must tout your skills and highlight your areas of expertise as well as the amount of experience you have to offer a potential employer. For example:
Summary: Top-performing senior leader with extensive experience procuring and directing multimillion-dollar construction projects and expertise in bidding and estimation, material planning, budget management, and technical problem solving. Effective business administrator with exceptional financial acumen and broad background in feasibility analysis and contract negotiation. Outstanding communication and relationship building skills with capacity to interface with clients, owners, government officials, subcontractors, suppliers, and other team members.
The summary paragraph must be paired with a strong keyword, or core competencies, section. This is a critical area on any resume because it serves multiple purposes. First, it allows you to expand upon the skills mentioned in the summary paragraph and provides the reader with a snapshot of your areas of expertise. Second, it will help your resume get past the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that many employers and recruiters use nowadays.
Make sure you do not overload this area. Pick 10–15 key capabilities and use formatting that allows the person examining your resume to review them quickly. If you include too many skills or organize them in a way that is unattractive, this section may satisfy the ATS but it will not impress the human reader. For instance, you could present your keyword list as follows:
Value Engineering ■ Change Order Management ■ Leadership & Teambuilding ■ Scheduling
Strategic Planning ■ Resource Allocation ■ Business Development ■ Client Relations
Project Management ■ Quality Control / Assurance ■ Regulatory Compliance
The professional experience section is the most important part of the resume and it can mean the difference between being called in for an interview or receiving no response at all. You need to do your best to highlight the “greatest hits” from throughout your career and provide supporting evidence for all of those skills and abilities mentioned in the summary paragraph and core competencies section. However, it’s essential that you keep the reader in mind and make this part of the resume short and sweet (just like the other sections). You do not need to tell the entire story – just the highlights. The best way to organize each of your positions is as follows: 1) employer name and location, 2) job title (on a separate line), 3) dates of employment, 4) short paragraph discussing job duties and responsibilities, and 5) list of bulleted achievements. To give you a better idea of how this looks on the page:
ABC Company | City, State 2000–2014
Provided project management expertise and leadership abilities for well-respected national general contractor with approximately 500 personnel and annual revenue of $160M+. Functioned as extension of Operations Manager/General Superintendent and presided over work crews in State totaling as many as 50 employees. Directed up to 6 concurrent projects across the US ranging in size from $250K to $49M. Hired, trained, and motivated team members, tracking productivity and enforcing safe work practices. Handled site logistics, budget administration, P&L reporting, RFIs and RFPs, scope and contract review/submission, and change order requests.
As mentioned above, there are three different strategies for organizing a resume. The example shows the chronological format, so the structure would be different for a functional or hybrid resume. Please feel free to view more sample resumes for construction professionals on iHireConstruction.com.
One thing that separates resume writing for the construction industry from other fields is the need to highlight specific projects. As a project manager or superintendent, the projects you have directed give the most insight into your skills. In many ways, these are your achievements, and it is important to supply the reader with key details regarding the size and scope of these initiatives. A well-written project list may include specifics for each job such as type of construction, timeline, and budget as well as any other facts that could be of interest like a building’s unique elements or challenges posed by the location, season, or materials used. Here’s an example of a project list from a professionally written resume:
Education, Certifications & Training:
All resumes need a section that highlights an individual’s educational background along with other applicable information such as certifications, additional training, computer skills, affiliations, and/or community involvement (if relevant). Industry-specific certifications have become more prevalent in recent years, making this area of the resume even more vital. Organize this section to present this uncomplicated (but critical) information in a straightforward manner:
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
BS in Construction Management ■ State University, City, State
American Concrete Institute (ACI) Concrete Field Testing Technician – Grade I Certification
OSHA 10-hour Certification
Computer Skills: Prolog Manager, Primavera, Timberline, AutoCAD, MS Office Suite (Excel, Outlook, Word)