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Effective Use of Project Lists

Posted April 3, 2017 by
If you are an industry that is focused on projects and accomplishments then a project list can often be an excellent tool for not only demonstrating your accomplishments and experience over time but also as a way to show a diversity of engagement with varied types of endeavors. It is one of the most overlooked and often potentially useful devices you can have when developing a complete package of career materials and branding yourself.Just as you have a resume and cover letter, you should develop and consistently work to update and enhance your project list.

For more junior-level professionals the project list may be incorporated into the resume, but for a more senior-level individual, it makes the resume excessively long and more difficult to read. Therefore, a succinct resume with an attached project list will often be more effective. Along with insight, it also offers an additional conversation piece for continued engagement with a prospective employer.

There are two basic types of project lists: chronological and categorical. Deciding which one to use depends in part on the type of position you are seeking. A chronological project list is self-explanatory and should be listed from most recent to the past, much as your resume. A categorical should be grouped by varied breakout sections based on the type of project or the focus of the endeavor or effort. It might also be developed with a focus by type of clientele or regulatory body if you are working in the private sector.

Remember that the prospective employer is your “customer” and you want to give the customer what they want. What does the employer need? That is, are they seeking a diversified planner with experience in a wide array of projects, or are they seeking a planner with expertise in one or two key areas? Address their needs and you will likely answer the question. Of course, it might be prudent to develop both versions to keep on hand so you can readily pull from either one to include in your application package.

As a first step though, it is important to build a library of your successful efforts and projects. This should be constantly updated as you work through projects. You will likely find that you work on and turn out quite a bit of detailed documentation related to projects. Often times though, individuals who have done the work keep that information or maintain those records. You will be surprised at how quickly you will build a compelling project list if you simply begin to document and track your activities.

Just like your resume, your projects tell a story. So tell it compellingly. Include the name of the project, location, dates, your job title and role, a general description of the project (10,000 foot overview), what you specifically did, what the outcome was / the achievement, and how it contributed to the final result. Use tangible numbers and figures whenever possible. You could also include links if the project is listed online or embed/insert the link. Generally, don’t include photos as these are not easily absorbed or adapted into databases (those are more appropriate for your portfolio); perhaps as technology improves these will be in time.

In terms of categorical listings, you might list the variety of varied projects you worked on or even break those up by type of activity undertaken in each category. Likewise, you could do the same for nature of the work undertaken in each area; so on and so forth. Just as you might state in your resume, when describing the project and your role, explain clearly and succinctly what you did and what you accomplished; what resulted from your contribution. Use action verbs and adjectives to accentuate your efforts.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to build out detailed attributes for each project, you likely will find just listing them by category will initially be sufficient as both a tool to illuminate your accomplishments to a prospective employer, but also a conversation piece into your skill set and abilities.