How can a candidate write a project manager cover letter that grabs attention and secures an interview?
Consider this perspective from someone who has hired many project managers over the years:
“When it comes to project management positions, I want to see highlights and hard facts. I don’t want to see a replication of content from within the resume or standard, generic statements like ‘highly motivated team player.’ I want to know three things.
“Why do you want this role, how can I be sure you can perform this role, and what can you tell me about your prior experience in a similar project manager role,” says Polly Kay, senior marketing manager at English Blinds.
Building on this advice, as well as input from other employers, here’s a look at how to write a project manager cover letter, followed by a project manager cover letter sample.
How to Write a Project Manager Cover Letter
Aim for short but powerful.
Resist the urge to say anything and everything in the hope that something will strike a chord. “Relevant” and “succinct” are the two words hiring managers repeat again and again when describing their ideal project manager cover letter.
Keeping length down demands making everything count. Use keywords from the job posting to help the reader make connections between your experience and company needs. Likewise, select powerful words that convey action.
“Demonstrate evidence that you know and understand the work of a project manager,” says Terrell Strayhorn, vice president of academic and student affairs at LeMoyne-Owen College and owner of Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC. “Words like facilitate, coordinate, interface, and catalyze reflect the duties of one who’s been effective in this role.”
Good things happen when a hiring manager can envision an applicant in the open role, so clearly present what you bring to the table in your project manager cover letter. For project management careers, this often includes:
Evidence of project management expertise.
“Like most HR folks, I look for the keywords that demonstrate experience in the project management space. For example, in addition to PMP certification, I’d look for experience with Agile and Scrum. I’d also look for tools expertise such as Basecamp, Microsoft Project, Visio, or other software common to the project management field. It’s helpful to see that the PM job seeker has kept up on their education as the project management field is full of new tools and approaches,” says Laura Handrick, careers and workplace analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com.
Knowledge of the specific industry.
“Does the applicant have experience in our market? We are a healthcare startup—very fast-paced with lots of direction changes. Being able to hit the ground running is critical to an applicant’s and our success. While it is always possible for experience to cross over from one market to another, it’s always much better to find someone with a background in healthcare. They know the lingo, the general landscape, and some of the players (or at least can find parallels). Explain this in a cover letter so I don’t have to dig in your resume to guess that you have it,” says Richard Williamson, vice president of marketing at HealthLynked.
“I like to see something concrete with measurement. Any time there is an example of a project that the candidate led, with details on how the candidate was able to solve problems and make measurable bottom-line impact, that catches my eye (especially in a sea of other vague, jargon-y cover letters),” says Danielle Boone, director of project management for Go Fish Digital.
Awareness of stakeholder importance.
“Whether it’s working with clients at another agency or working with internal stakeholders, I love to see real examples of a candidate’s ability to successfully communicate and build trusted relationships with C-level stakeholders,” Boone says.
Demonstration of soft skills.
“While technical skills and proficiency are useful, I comb through the cover letter looking for evidence of high-level, broad skills such as business acumen (e.g., good customer service) or the ability to juggle multiple deadlines; it’s even better if the applicant includes a written example of a time when they did so in a previous position,” Strayhorn says.
Sample Project Manager Cover Letter
Individual cover letters undoubtedly vary by factors such as industry and experience, but the following project manager cover letter sample is a good place to begin to see how to craft an attention-getting document. Be sure to address the cover letter to the appropriate person (no generic “To Whom It May Concern”), and double-check spelling and grammar before sending.
James A. Candidate, PMP | (345) 879-0998 | Jamesacandidate@email.com
August 1, 2019
Dear Mr. Smith,
As someone with 10 years of project management experience in the healthcare industry, I am excited by your recent posting for a seasoned professional to oversee the development of the new wing at Our City Hospital. With a keen understanding of the various components required to coordinate such a project, I bring to the table the expertise necessary to deliver results on time and within budget.
In my previous role at Large Medical Center, I facilitated renovations of the children’s floor. This exciting, yet challenging, $10 million project involved input from and communication with a variety of stakeholders, including administrators eager to secure advanced medical equipment for their individual departments, board members meticulously monitoring costs, and donors with specifications on how their gifts could be used. Through careful organization using Scrum and my team’s dedication to creative problem-solving, I am happy to report that the project came in $5,000 under budget. Best of all, this modernization helped Large Medical Center expand its offerings to the community—resulting in healthier kids and excellent press coverage that boosted monthly donations by 8%.
I am eager to talk more about this success story and similar projects in which I’ve been involved. Please contact me at your earliest convenience so that I can learn more about Our City Hospital’s goals and how I can assist in reaching them.
James A. Candidate, PMP
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