A project list is your resume’s “missing link”

Computer and construction hard hat

You’ve probably heard everything there is to hear about what makes a good resume. Concise explanations of your experience, your goals, a theme of possibility; all of that is very important when going on the hunt for the next step in your career. A good resume isn’t always going to be enough for an employer to add you to the team, however. 

That’s where a construction project list comes in. It’s a highly valuable, and in some ways, personally reflective document that will both give you an edge when searching for a job, and increase the likelihood you end up in a position where you’ll excel and enjoy yourself! 

What exactly is a project list? Why is it so important? And how do you write one that will stand out?

What is a project list?

Describes your project experience in relevant detail

In general, a construction resume gives employers a big-picture idea of your experience and skills in the industry. A hiring manager looks over job titles, what you did there, and any accomplishments you had while holding that position. That’s good enough to get a basic understanding of an applicant, but a construction project list takes it one step further by showing exactly what kind of construction work you’ve done.

The successes you merely listed on a resume as they apply to a certain project are what goes on a project list, in much greater detail. On your construction project list, you describe exactly what construction work you did (i.e. project name, location, type of project, size of project, and the project budget). It’s a great way to convincingly show you align and have developed your skills by giving examples of specific projects. A project list can eliminate the clutter of other work experience you may have in different fields, which a company might not be interested in, and show them you have worked on similar projects in the past.

Why a project list is essential

Employers want to know specifics

For high-level positions, a candidate with experience in the same or related fields might not be the right fit because of how specialized or dissimilar their project background might be. This is especially true in construction, where different projects can be wildly different between companies; a warehouse is a different animal than a mid-rise apartment. Knowing that a candidate has done something similar in the past isn’t enough; employers want to know how many similar projects you worked on in previous positions, and if the skill set you developed there translates well to the position you’re applying for. Since a job title can mean something entirely different at another organization, an employee with experience in the same field might have been doing something entirely different than what an employer is looking for.

Well-aligned experience makes you a desirable candidate

Including a project list in your application yields a twofold benefit: Employers know you can do the job they’re hiring for, and you’re more likely to get hired for a job you know how to do and have experience successfully completing in the past. It’s a win-win situation for everybody involved, as employers gain a better understanding of whether or not you fit in with their project specialization, reducing the likelihood that you end up taking on a job you aren’t equipped for and the company may have to look for somebody else.

How to write an exceptional project list

Make it exhaustive, but not exhausting

The defining feature of a project list is its all-encompassing nature. Every project at every position you’ve held is usually appropriate to include on the list, since it gives employers a crystal-clear look at how your experience has shaped you, and how you’ve changed the organizations you worked at. That being said, the size of your list should be correlated to the number of projects you’ve completed and their scope, not your ability to expound on one project and its intricacies ad infinitum. Wordy or unnecessarily lengthy lists are not impressive to an employer. 

Rather, write your project list with an emphasis on describing the project, and let the length of the list be indicative of how much you’ve done. Avoid including details about a project that are not immediately pertinent to your involvement with it, such as work other team members did, or how the project relates to your former employer’s goals at large. There’s no need to keep it to one page, either; more and more projects understandably require more space to talk about.

Outpost outlines some vital, and some suggested components of a project list entry, which usually include (but may not always require, or are not limited to) descriptions of the following:

  • The name of the project
  • Where the project occured
  • The duration of the project
  • The project’s scope; what was done (i.e. T.I., Ground Up, Expansion, etc..)
  • The project’s value
  • Accomplishments you were responsible for, or contributed to
  • Any unique attributes of the project or your role

Format and style it appropriately and pleasantly

Once the “meat” of your project list is written out, it’s important to present all of this information in a document that is professional, readable, and digestible. Consistency in formatting is one of the easiest ways to do this: Each entry on the list should be easily identified as its own project, while maintaining the same structure and tone as other entries. It’s usually a good idea to list projects in chronological order. Break projects up with conspicuous headings by using different point sizes, fonts, or colors –  and make sure that each universally-applicable detail about a project (such as the name, time frame, and place) is mentioned in the same place and in the same typeface. 

Once your project list is completed, give it a once-over for errors, discontinuity, or formatting blunders that your word processor might create when exporting the document. If everything looks right, keep it in the same folder, or even the same document as your resume to ensure it’s easy to find when employers request it, or so you can include it along with your resume when applying in the first place. 

Then, sit back, and wait for the company to call and say: You’re hired!