A program manager should have just as enticing a resume as everyone else, if not even more impressive given their managerial experience. But what exactly should your resume look like as a program manager — what components and skills are necessary?
Here's everything you need to know to write a program manager resume (and cover letter) that'll actually get read (and might even get you hired!) — as well as examples off of which to base your own program manager resume template.
What is a program manager?
A program manager serves, essentially, as a coordinator between various projects that a business or organization take on. The program manager is responsible for ensuring that these projects are benefiting each other, working well together and aligning with overall business objectives.
Contrary to popular belief, a program manager is different from a project manager, however. They are different from project managers in the sense that they do not directly oversee see individual projects, as project managers do. Instead, program managers manage how all of those individual projects fit together under one umbrella program.
"One of the fundamental differences between program management and project management lies in the management and realization of the benefits," according to the Project Management Institute. "That is, the clear and measurable added value brought about by the integration and utilization of the newly delivered capability. Whereas project management deals with outputs (products or deliverables), program management deals with outcomes, the final result brought about through the utilization of such outputs."
The program manager can be thought of as a "super" project manager, according to the Project Management Institute.
"His or her role is mainly operational since this person is responsible for planning and governance and for overseeing the successful delivery of the program’s output/product," the institution explains. "That is, the new capability. Although knowledge of the business is important, there is more stress on his or her program management skills. The program manager must have practical experience of having been a project manager for large and complex initiatives."
In short, every program is made up of multiple projects. And, as such, certain project management roles and, therefore, program management roles, must be present within every program.
"A program, regardless of its structure, purpose or outcome, will entail a project or a number of projects (or a mix of projects and other programs)," according to the Project Management Institute. "That is to say, projects by default are present in every program."
What should a program manager resume look like?
A program manager's resume should reflect their experience and skills in a way that sets them apart from their competition. To stand out, a program manager can use the unique programs on which they worked, as well as the tangible numbers and statistics that suggest the successes of those programs.
Here's how a program manager's resumes should look.
Here are 3 components to include on a program manager resume.
Most resumes have the same basic components — the education section, the work section and the skills section. Every program manager should have all of those sections, with added specifics on their program experience. These three components should absolutely be on your program manager resume:
- Work Experience
A program manager, like everyone else, will want to be sure to include their education credentials, as well as their former work experiences. Beyond that, however, a program manager should write more specifically about programs on which they worked — especially if these programs are comparable to programs at the companies for which they're applying.
If a program manager is applying for a job with a company that is trying to increase and improve its diversity efforts, for example, a program manager might write about a diversity program they oversaw at their last company, and how the multiple projects under that program actually saw serious successes. They will definitely want to include any numbers and statistics to back up those successes, as well, such as seeing an 50 percent increase in female leadership, for example.
Here are the 15 best skills for program managers to include on their resumes.
Program managers possess a number of skills that allow them to oversee multiple projects at once, look at the bigger picture and think ahead about the company's results. Here are 15 of the best skills that help them do just that.
- Strong leadership skills
- Management skills to oversee project managers and the teams working under them, as well
- Teamwork skills that can transfer from team to team
- Resilience when things don't run as smoothly as intended or hoped
- Motivational skills to keep the ball rolling on several projects at once
- The ability to think critically when projects don't seem to work or align with one another
- The ability to solve problems in innovative ways if plans don't come to fruition
- The ability to communicate well with a wide range of individuals (especially different project managers) on different projects
- Good knowledge and understanding of program management methodology and techniques
- Good understanding of the bigger picture, or the wider objectives, of the program
- Good understanding of the bigger picture, or the wider objectives, of the company
- A grasp of the budget and any other resource allocation procedures specific to the program
- The ability to work under pressure on multiple deadlines at once
- The ability to remain flexible and adaptable if projects need to change direction
- The ability to make sometimes difficult decisions
What are examples of program manager resumes?
Your program manager resume should, of course, be unique to you. But, sometimes, it's helpful to see examples to know how other people in your shoes are formatting their resumes.
While the content will be widely different depending on your experience and skills, here are two examples of program manager resumes to use as templates to inspire your own.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.