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Project Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What are project management skills?Examples of project management skillsHow to improve project management skillsProject management skills in the workplaceHow to highlight project management skills

Guide Overview

A closer look at project management skills

Project management skills are the competencies and traits a person needs in order to effectively coordinate a project from start to finish. A project manager leads a projects team using good communication, interpersonal skills, motivational skills, and organization. Project management is a simple term but it encompasses a wide range of skills and responsibilities. Project management includes planning projects, mapping out timelines, and executing each phase of the project.

What are project management skills?

Project management skills are a group of skills needed to initiate, plan, and execute a project. Project managers often have a team of people working on the project and everyone needs to work together to achieve a specific goal. Project management skills encompass a wide variety of hard skills, soft skills, and personality traits.

Examples of project management skills

A project manager is responsible for initiating and executing a project. They are also responsible for managing and motivating a team, managing the expectations of the stakeholders, and communicating with company executives and the stakeholders about the status of the project. Project management skills include:

Leadership

Strong leadership skills are essential for project management. They provide the manager with the ability to coordinate, motivate, and create an atmosphere where a team can successfully exchange ideas, come up with a plan, and complete the project.

Communication

Communication skills are critical for any leader, including a project manager. They need to communicate with various groups of people throughout the projects, from clients to vendors, team members, and other managers inside and outside of their company. Communication skills are also essential for project managers to share their ideas and work through issues that come up during the project.

Time management

Every project has a deadline, and each task within the project also has a deadline. The project manager needs to have excellent time management in order to keep the project running smoothly and on time. It is often up to the project manager to create a timeline and make sure the whole team is working to meet deadlines throughout the entire process.

Problem solving

No matter how much planning a project manager does or how good their team is, problems come up. Problem-solving is an essential project management skill that helps to work through these. The manager will gather information and come up with a solution that works for all parties involved. It’s important to have a structured method for problem-solving to make quick work of the solution.

Risk management

Any big project can be a risk. A good project manager will willing to take on the risk and see the big picture to find issues before they become a problem.  Risk management starts during the planning process to identify possible issues that could arise throughout the process, and a good project manager will have the ability to assess and manage the risks.

Negotiation skills

Negotiation skills are necessary throughout an entire project. You might have to negotiate a price from a vendor or negotiate with stakeholders over their expectations vs. what the team can actually accomplish. Diplomacy is an important part of negotiating since it gives you the ability to politely push back when needed but give all the parties involved the feeling that they are getting what they want.

Technical skills

Every project uses software or project management tools, and you need to know about them. Technology is constantly changing and evolving, so even as you get familiar with one tool, another one is right around the corner. Being tech-savvy will make it easier to adjust and adapt to new systems. It would help if you also kept up with the latest communication platforms. Online messaging systems such as Slack are used more often than email and make it easier for the entire group to communicate in real-time.

How to improve project management skills

Project management takes both hard and soft skills. You can learn hard skills and practice to make them perfect, while soft skills such as organization and time management improve as you gain experience.

  1. Task Management Skills. Task management skills include making lists, building spreadsheets, and team building. You can develop and improve these by having a willingness to change and redirect team members to a better solution.
  2. Risk Management Skills. One of the best ways to improve risk management skills is to look at other managers experiences, and learn from their mistakes. Look at how a successful project manager completed a project and use their best practices.
  3. Organization Skills. Keep your workspace organized and the actual work organized. Use spreadsheets to keep a list of tasks, and deadlines for you, the project, and your team, and make it a habit to update it as the work gets accomplished.
  4. Teamwork Skills. You can improve your teamwork skills by organizing team activities to build trust and understanding.
  5. Leadership Skills. Improve your leadership skills by practicing discipline and leading by example. Meet established deadlines for the project, be on time for meetings, and keep your appointments. A good leader inspires others.
  6. Join an organization. There are many professional organizations for project management. They provide resources, tools, and put you in touch with a network of other professionals.
  7. Learn project management software. The majority of project need some kind of project management software. Knowing how these work and being familiar with them will help you improve your skills in project management.

Project management skills in the workplace

In addition to being a good leader and motivator, a project manager has to have skills to get the job done. These include:

  • Budget Management – Every project has a budget, and it’s the project manager’s job to develop the budget and make sure it’s followed and adhered to by the entire team. Coming in at or under budget is a significant measure of a project’s success.
  • Process Management – Process management includes all the company processes needed to complete the project. It can be invoicing, employee reviews, reporting, and evaluations.
  • Mapping timelines – A project management timeline provides a visual of the project.
  • Technical Writing – The project manager is responsible for drafting a plan, providing project deliverables, and communicating the scope of the project in a clear and concise manner.
  • Strategic Planning – Strategic planning is an advanced form of planning that determines where a project’s resources will come from, how it will be funded, and takes into consideration other organizational challenges.

How to highlight project management skills

Project management encompasses a wide range of skill sets.  When applying for a position, it is important to include both hard skills and soft skills on your resume, and highlight them in a way the makes you stand out.

Project Management Skills for Resume

In order to highlight your relevant skills, you should include examples in your summary. Provide a short explanation of a project where you reached or exceeded the goal. In the experience section of your resume, don’t just list your previous jobs, include some examples of how you used your skills. It can be how you used a specific software system to create a successful timeline, or how you motivated your team to finish a project under budget.

Project management skills for cover letter

Your cover letter should highlight and demonstrate your experience as a project manager. Use quantitative evidence of your success with details. For example,

  • I executed a number of profitable projects with budgets over $300,000.
  • Successfully  lead a team that redesigned a CRM system and executed the company launch.
  • I facilitated a $10 million renovation project involving input from several stakeholders and administrators. Using Scum, I was able to keep all requests and communications organized, and finish the project on time and $7,000 under budget.

Project management skills for the job interview

A successful project management interview takes some planning. Before the interview, think about your past experience, and have some specific talking points prepared. If you haven’t worked as a project manager, prepare points about transferrable skills from other jobs and experiences.  Highlight your leadership skills, your organizational abilities, and your ability to see the big picture. Discuss specific situations where you were able to work with people such as your team, other management personnel, and stakeholders outside of your company if applicable. Prepare to answer questions about projects you’ve worked on and tailor them to the role you are interviewing for.

Project management skills encompass a wide variety of skills and personality traits. It takes confidence to lead a project, and the ability to gather a good team and lead them.

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