When considering a project management career, there are some basic project management skills you need to know about.
If you think a project management career is right for you, you possibly already have some great skills you need for the role.
There may be skills you already have that can be perfect for helping you move into project management. After all, it is the perfect career.
As you go over the list, you may not be surprised to see that project management skills are a mix of soft skills and management skills. Because you’re working with a mix of people and business goals, this mix of skills is important.
I’ve compiled a list of top skills that project managers need – to help you assess where you already have experience. This can help build your confidence – and your resume – to help you make the move.
10 Essential Project Management Skills You May Already Have
Look over this list and see which you can leverage, and which you may need to strengthen.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have them all yet. You can still move into a project management role while you’re developing these skills.
1. Communication skills
Communication is a major part of a project manager’s job. This is both written and verbal, and it’s much more than simply talking to a peer.
Project management communication is about gathering information, sharing information, and knowing how to do both of those things. Project managers communicate to different audiences in different ways.
In previous jobs, you may have had to give updates, information, or inquire about the status of a project. If so, you’ve already got on-the-job experience.
If you’ve got the ability to communicate well, this key skill will get you off to a great start.
2. Project Scheduling
This is basically the act of working with a team to identify the work that needs to be done in order to meet a goal.
Taking it a step further, it’s breaking that work down into tasks, identifying who needs to do those tasks, and when they need to be done.
This is the basis of your project schedule.
This includes clearly identifying what’s included in the project, and what’s not. And making sure everyone knows and is in agreement on this. Otherwise, you’re project could drag on and on as more work is added to it.
You’ve likely got some form of planning experience. If nothing comes to mind, spend some time on it, or find a way to do it in your current job now. Your boss would likely appreciate it, too.
Read: Basics of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
3. Budgeting Skills
You likely already know how to create and manage a budget. Whether you’ve been handling your household finances or pulling together budgets for your big group trip to Mardi Gras, you likely already know how to balance costs versus expenses.
Knowing how much your project is going to cost is important in planning. Once the project is underway, tracking how much you’re spending is also important. Knowing that you’re not exceeding your budget is also important.
Read: How To: Your IT Project Budget Template
4. Managing Tasks and Deliverables
This is a fancy way of saying you’ll make sure things get done.
Effectively managing the schedule and getting things done is a critical project management responsibility.
No matter who is responsible for completing the tasks, as a project manager, you’re responsible for making sure things get done. That’s one of the reasons communication is so important! Making sure everyone has the same expectations can save a lot of misunderstanding and missed deadlines.
Making sure everyone has the same expectations can avoid misunderstanding and missed deadlines.
5. Leadership Skills
Project leadership is more about leading people than creating budgets and schedules.
As a project manager, you’re leading a team of people to reach a shared goal. You have to be able to motivate and inspire them. You have to build trust and rapport with your team members and maintain relationships.
6. Facilitation Skills
As a project manager, you have to facilitate meetings, working sessions, and discussions.
You’ve likely participated in meetings, even if you haven’t led them.
And you’ve seen meetings run poorly.
And hopefully, you’ve seen them run well. Let those well-run meetings be a model for you to follow. And for more guidance, read Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results. It’s a step-by-step guide to help you run meetings that everyone will appreciate.
A really good project manager will recognize the importance of running meetings well and work to make them as productive as possible.
7. Risk Management
Projects often don’t go as planned. There are risks that, if not planned for, can completely derail your project.
But good risk management planning helps counter potential problems.
Good project managers are proactive. And if you tend to think ahead and plan for what could go wrong, you’re bringing a good skill to the table.
You don’t have to have all the answers. But if you can pose the questions, get everyone thinking, and make some plans for potential risks, you’ve got a key project management skill.
Read: How to Create a Project Management Risk Matrix
8. Conflict Resolution
Teams will inevitably have conflict. You may be dealing with conflicting priorities, personalities, or unrealistic expectations. So the ability to resolve conflict is a real asset to a project manager.
Read: Productive Conflict at Work: Simple Guidelines to Keep it Positive
9. Problem Solving
Projects and teams experience problems of all types. Most people can sit around and worry and complain about them.
Managers want someone who can take the lead and find solutions. Therefore, problem-solving skills are extremely useful to you as a project manager.
And you’ve likely used problem-solving skills in your work before.
Problems can come in all types and sizes. You may have experienced broken machinery, late deliveries, or any number of problems that impacted your work.
The ability to target the root cause of a problem, identify possible alternative solutions, select the best one, and develop a plan for moving forward can be applied over and over again in many situations.
Like risk planning mentioned above, you don’t – and shouldn’t – do this alone. You can leverage the expertise of team members and collaborate to find solutions. But your desire and ability to put apply a problem-solving approach will be valued and appreciated.
Read: 7 Problem-Solving Steps to Conquer Even the Toughest Problems
10. Business Writing
You don’t have to be a wizard with words, but you do need to be able to do basic business writing.
This means using correct grammar, identifying your main point, and presenting your thoughts clearly.
As a project manager, you’ll need to write documents. You won’t have to start with anything too intimidating. And you can generally find a template for anything you need to write.
But you’ll need to have a basic grasp of good grammar, sentence structure, and the ability to organize your thoughts and present them in a well-written manner.
You’re not writing the great American novel. You simply need to explain why your project needs to be funded and staffed. Avoid flowery language and rambling sentences. Stating your case succinctly and clearly helps
As a project manager you need to organize your thoughts and present them in a well-written manner. Use correct grammar, identify your main point, and present your thoughts clearly.
Hopefully, you’ve identified some skills you already have. And if you’re thinking of moving to a project management role and you don’t yet have all the skills listed above, don’t let that stop you.
Target a more junior role to start with, and work your way up from there.
The more you have, the better. But don’t let that stop you from making that career move!
And if you’re ready to make the move now, click the image below to learn more about the Project Management Dream Job course. You’ll get detailed step-by-step guidance to get your next – or first – project management job!
Thank you for the valuable tips you have shared through the article Worth reading it and I’ll start utilizing the resources you have shared.
Leigh, another great article right on the money. A contentious observation but I would have thought that these days IT tech skills have to be on that list. Of course you can manage a project without any tech but if you are just pen and paper you are going to be lower productivity and more open to mistakes and that means less effective as a PM.
So I would turn it up to 11 and add IT literacy.
One of the main reasons we provide our free forever pack of PM software tools and have had it adopted by many education institutions and training companies is that getting potential PMs engaged n tech early on makes them more successful (even if they use other tools later on it becomes a habit). Our free tools are used by over 500,000 users and you can download them here: [Link deleted]
If you are interested in a version of them with your own materials, method, links and templates in then we would be happy to help with that for free, just let me know.
Well said Leigh! Great article.
Thank you, Edmond! I appreciate it!