Regardless of your function within a company, or the details of your job description, project management is an essential skill for any employee in today's modern workplace. At some point in your career, you'll likely find yourself responsible for the successful execution of a project, so knowing how to coordinate moving pieces, manage contributions from various stakeholders, and plan effectively to meet deadlines and expectations is a necessity.
And as employers increasingly look for employees who have a solid foundation in business fundamentals (no matter what field they actually work in), project management is becoming one of the most in-demand specialties in the job market. Learning essential project management skills is a great way to boost your resume and set yourself apart as you're looking for a new job or promotion.
Project management is a complex field, so if you're not sure where to start, here are the top project management skills employers are looking for today.
The Top 5 Essential Project Management Skills
The foundation of project management is proper planning. Knowing how to take an assignment or goal and break it down into clear, actionable steps, each with a deadline and owner, is a fundamental skills for project manager success. Planning involves effective and efficient scheduling, using software and systems to track progress, and having a strong sense of timing to allow stakeholders to complete their work in a reasonable timeframe.
2. Resource Management
Resource management is an essential piece of project management, and refers to the ability to assess and allocate funds, time and energy, and other resources effectively as the project requires. You don't want to run out of money halfway into a project, realize you have too much work and too few people, or get hit with an unexpected expense with a week to go. Having a clear sense of budget and resources available, and understanding how to plan around them, is key.
Being able to lead a team working on a project in a way that motivates them, keeps them on task, and supports them in working through any challenges that arise is an important piece of successfully managing a project. Those who foresee project management being a big part of their jobs, or simply enjoy it and want to explore it further, should consider brushing up on their leadership skills as well.
When you're working on a project with lots of moving pieces and multiple stakeholders, it's important to be able to get the right information to the right person at the right time, clearly convey deadlines and expectations, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Clear communication - both within the team and to others in the company - is one of the top project management skills to have in your toolkit, and one of the most in-demand soft skills employers look for in employees.
A good project manager knows how to look at a list of tasks and prioritize them in order of importance and timeliness. This involves a tricky balance of the big picture - what's the ultimate goal of the project? - and detail orientation - what are the individual steps needed to get there, and how do you ensure that each of them is taken correctly, in the right order? In addition to being able to prioritize, you'll need to be able to effectively communicate those priorities to your team.
These are just a few of the skills needed for project management, and they can provide a solid foundation to help you navigate this business area successfully. However, if you're interested in diving deeper and building your project manager technical skills, you may want to pursue further training or business education by going back to school. A certificate in project management, or a business degree that includes project management coursework, will help you master this in-demand skillset.
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