Which Set of Skills Is Crucial for a Project Manager: Soft Skills or Hard Skills?

By | January 8th, 2014|Project Management Certification, Project Management Training, Team Management|Comments Off on Which Set of Skills Is Crucial for a Project Manager: Soft Skills or Hard Skills?

It is almost a consensus that good project managers need both soft skills and hard skills. Without soft skills, project managers cannot lead their teams; without hard skills, they cannot lead the projects. Soft skills, also called emotional intelligence, include skills such as communication, problem solving, negotiation, leadership, and influencing. Hard skills in project management refer to the ability of applying the right tools and techniques to run and successfully complete a project.

The right combination of soft skills and hard skills is a matter of training and experience, but also being the right person for the job. In general, experts say that no personality is better suited to project management than another is. People with more extrovert personalities are naturally drawn to management positions, but this does not mean they make better project managers than introvert people with the right skills.

Excellent Soft Skills or Excellent Hard Skills?

Since finding a project manager with the right blend of soft skills and hard skills is not always possible, organizations sometimes need to choose between a project manager with excellent hard skills and one with excellent soft skills. Evaluating which of the two is better suited to lead a project is not straightforward. But finding the solution to this dilemma involves looking at two aspects. One is training. The other one is knowing what type of manager the project needs.

Acquiring Skills

If hard skills can be taught through intensive training or coaching in a few months or a year, soft skills cannot be that easily taught. A person develops soft skills throughout experience, not intensive courses. There are ways to improve emotional intelligence, but since these skills are intangible, the assessment of the level of emotional intelligence is not as easy as taking a standardized test. (more…)

CAPM® Exam – How to Pass It and Is it Worth It?

By | November 8th, 2013|Project Management Certification, Project Management Methodology, Project Management Training|Comments Off on CAPM® Exam – How to Pass It and Is it Worth It?

As any internationally recognized certificate from a reputable institution, CAPM® is not just a piece of paper, although if it were, it would be the kind that can get you shortlisted for an assistant project manager position.

CAMP®, or Certified Associate in Project Management, is a certification you can obtain from the PMI institute if you are a beginner in project management, you had some formal project management training and/or experience, and you need a proof that you understand the fundamentals of this discipline. If you already have many years of experience in project management and want to certify that, there are more advanced certifications than the CAPM®, like the PMP® or PRINCE2®. In some cases, you may not need any certification at all, unless the organization you work for, or want to work for, requests it.

To obtain the CAPM®, you need to pass an exam with 150 multiple-choice questions, not very complicated, but not simple either, based on project management theory. To sit for the exam, you also need to have a bachelor degree and to have completed at least 23 hours of formal project management training or have at least 1,500 hours of demonstrated work experience in project management. These prerequisites may vary, and to get an updated list, it is recommended to have a look on the PMI institute CAPM® website.

The exam is not the simplest, nor the most difficult you will ever need to pass. Probably, the best strategy is to enroll in a great project management class if you need formal training and get a good textbook. Here are some tips, some of them more obvious than others:

  1. Only register for the exam if you really need the certification. If the organization you work for requires it, your employer should offer to cover your training and/or examination costs. Neither the exam nor the training is free.
  2. If you are a job seeker, especially a fresh university graduate, the CAPM® might be the thing that distinguishes your CV from the rest of the applicants with the same degree. Many organizations, especially research and governmental institutions, conduct projects and require staff with some knowledge of project management. (more…)

Place Your Bet: Project Management Experience vs. Project Management Certification

By | March 12th, 2013|Project Management Certification, Project Management Training|Comments Off on Place Your Bet: Project Management Experience vs. Project Management Certification

Project Management CertificationWhile people relatively new to project management understand the advantage of getting a formal certification such as PMP or PRINCE2, especially when looking for a job, many experienced project managers are outraged that organizations place so much emphasis on certifications when screening résumés. They claim that experience is the one that counts, that no formal certification guarantees that a project manager can successfully lead a project, and that it is frustrating to see that organizations care for certifications more than they care about experience.

Experience vs. Certification

How important is to get a project management certification when you have years of experience and have led numerous successful projects for an organization? Which one counts more, experience or formal certification?

Whether you should get formally certified depends on your status. If you are a job-seeker with project management experience, the answer is definitely yes. If ten or 20 years ago acronyms such as PMP or PMI-ACP were mostly irrelevant for employers, an increasing number of organizations use these and other certifications as a selection criterion for candidates to a project manager position. And where the certification is not a requirement, it is definitely an advantage. In such harsh times for job seekers, no advantage is to be neglected.

Certification Gets You the Interview, Experience Gets You the Job

The frustrated experienced project managers are right when they say that experience should count more than any certification. What many of them seem to miss is that experience and certification are not mutually exclusive. It is not the certification that gets an experienced project manager the coveted position, it is his or her skills, training, experience, and so on. But while the certification may not get a candidate the job, it is likely to get him or her to be shortlisted. (more…)