Top Skills You Need For Project Management

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By Lexie Brada

Before we get into any of the skills you need for these jobs, we need to talk about a pair of terms that you’ll hear very often in this article and in the hiring world, and if you don’t already know, make it a goal to add them to your vocabulary:

Hard Skills and Soft Skills.

A ‘hard skill’ vs a ‘soft skill’ is not talking about the theoretical difficultness of mastering these skills. Some hard skills can be very easy to learn and some soft skills can be incredibly difficult to master.

Rather, when one talks about ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’, they’re comparing the way you learn these skills, or how you get the knowledge.

Still confused? No worries, let’s break it down.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the qualifications on your resume that get your foot in the door. You can’t be born with a hard skill. Instead, hard skills are learned, either through work, education, or other training. Hard skills are also measurable. In fact, some interview processes can include testing of these skills, such as Excel or coding, so Hiring Managers can get a quantifiable evaluation of your skills.

The hard skills you’ll need are going to be specific toward your career field, since these skills encompass what you’ll be using in your day-to-day.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the skills that are much harder to define and harder to teach, but they are just as important in your career. If hard skills are what you’ll do, soft skills define how and how well you’ll do it. For example, say you’re highly skilled in Tableau, a data visualization tool used to present data and finding through visual representation. In order to best present insights to stakeholders and other teams, you will also need strong communication and storytelling skills.

The average person spends around 90,000 hours at their job, so you’ll be around your coworkers more than family. Having great soft skills not only makes you better at your job, but it also makes you an enjoyable person to work with, which means people will want to work with you and see you succeed. In fact, a LinkedIn survey shows that 57% of employers value soft skills over hard ones.

Another reason soft skills are valued is that they transfer easily from job to job. Companies may use a different development stack, a new mailing service, or even a different project management system, but being able to communicate and adapt under pressure will start adding value on day one.

Now that we know what a ‘hard skill’ and a ‘soft skill’ is, let’s take a look at what the job itself entails, which of these skills you’ll need, and some places to gain these skills.

Project Management

A Day in the Life

Project Management is the process of managing projects. You're probably thinking, ok, duh, but what does that actually entail?

Project Managers are in charge of overseeing the full life cycle for a project, which involves the planning, managing of the budget, and overseeing of team members. They are there to troubleshoot problems and promote productivity.

Work Responsibilities

  • Understand technical and business components of complex implementation projects
  • Break down projects into milestones, deliverables, and activities
  • Facilitate design, functional, budgetary, and delivery sign-offs with clients
  • Deliver quality agreed-upon products within committed timeframes
  • Managed scope and change rigorously
  • Leverage subject matter experts relentlessly to determine the optimal delivery approach

Hard Skills

  • Project Scheduling and Creating a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
  • Scrum Management
  • Budgeting
  • Project Life Cycle (Kanban/Agile)
  • Financial Modeling & Forecasting
  • SmartSheet / Gantt Charts / JIRA / Trello / Basecamp
  • Software Project Management Methodology
  • Product Development Life Cycles

Soft Skills

  • Time Management
  • Writing (Business Focused)
  • Risk Management
  • Leadership
  • Timeliness
  • Business Acumen
  • Negotiating Skills
  • Multi-Tasking

Where To Get These Hard Skills:

Interested in exploring this job, the skills it takes to break into this career, or still looking for that perfect fit in the workforce? Download the Pathmatch app to discover companies that match your interests, strengths, and goals! Pathmatch can help find the perfect career fit for you! 

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