How to create the ideal project manager job description

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It can be challenging to describe jobs to others, often downplaying a role while getting on with the task in hand on autopilot. However, when laying the details out in front of you, there is nearly always far more to the role than you think. But, while writing a job description may seem challenging, approaching it with a formulaic approach can ensure you include all the necessities while adhering to your organisation’s tone of voice and promoting your personality to set you apart in a competitive market.

 

Where do I start with a job description for a project manager?

 

Plan out the role before you try to write the description. There may be nuances to your particular project manager role that might be missed by heading straight to the final document. It may be helpful therefore to list out the day-to-day requirements, must-haves and desirables first. You can then check you have everything and review and assess if what you are looking for is realistic and appropriate.

 

Use this information as a base for your job description and take your time. Writing your job description in a timely but measured way will play a significant role in attracting suitable candidates and keeping applicant numbers manageable.

 

What shall I include in a project manager job description?

 

A job description should tell the candidate what they can expect from you and what you expect from them to carry out the job role. Typically, a project manager will:

 

  • Plan the project work – including the ‘when’ and ‘by whom’
  • Carry out project risk assessments and manage the risk
  • Promote and uphold high standards of work and delivery
  • Be the motivator and driver for the project team 
  • Coordinate the project team most effectively
  • Work within time and budget constraints 
  • Be able to deal with changes and adapt quickly 
  • Be responsible for project delivery and reporting on completion

 

This is a relatively generic expectation of a project manager; the particulars can vary between industries and sectors. Write specifically and tailor it to your business, personality and culture by considering…

 

What day-to-day duties and responsibilities will the project manager have?

 

Overall, a project manager is responsible for the project they are leading – it is fairly self-explanatory on that front. However, the finer details come within the scope of work, scheduling and delivery, finance, risk assessment and management, quality standards and managing resources. In addition, a project manager will work on specific projects under varying levels of pressure in time and budget limitations that they need to deliver against. On this basis, no two days are the same in project management, which makes it such a sought-after role across various sectors.

 

A day in the life of a project manager can include:

 

  • Planning and scheduling meetings and calls – launch, progress, damage limitation, sign off and handover – the possibilities are endless!
  • Working with suppliers and departments to ensure resources are available at required times throughout the project
  • Liaising with clients, internal stakeholders or senior management where appropriate to update on progress and manage change
  • Review the budgets 
  • Managing the project team to counter issues, forecast challenges and discuss new ideas
  • Holding ad-hoc workshops to resolve high priority problems 
  • Visit sites where required, collating data and information to make continued assessments of progress and effectiveness of the project as it runs

 

How much experience does a project manager need to have? And, what kind?

 

Coming into project management, experience will more likely fall to qualification requirements. Candidates can, of course, be newly qualified. So then comes the decision between hiring newly qualified talent versus those with several projects under their belt. Age isn’t indicative of experience; instead, the specific projects they have worked on and the results achieved are a better barometer if you are looking for a more seasoned manager. Look at newly qualified project managers, they are fresh out the block; often having come from project management support roles with a different kind of experience to offer, so it is of benefit to keep an open mind.

 

Experience can be your biggest stumbling block in avoiding discrimination and bias, so be sure that you are inclusive in your terminology and open-minded in your expectations of applicants.

 

What education, qualifications, and training does a project manager need?

 

Project management roles ordinarily require some level of specific qualification or training in the field. The routes to project management are usually*:

 

> Apprenticeships for on-the-job learning and development so you can “earn while you learn”.

> APM-accredited degrees that build your project knowledge at university.

> APM’s professional qualifications that clearly demonstrate your technical knowledge to employers.

 

If you are planning to train a candidate on the job, or they have the desired qualifications (such as PRINCE) ready to go, look to the soft skills to hone in on the right candidate. The basics should include:

 

  • Strong communication and interpersonal and people management skills 
  • Excellent literacy and numeracy – budget and planning essentials
  • Conflict resolution  
  • Negotiation skills – handy when working with suppliers and in conflict too
  • Ability to work well under pressure and adapt to change
  • The initiative to not only adapt quickly to change, but with fresh ideas also
  • Teamwork – motivating others and keeping morale high
  • Problem-solving 

 

 

What kind of salary range can I specify for a project manager job description?

 

The salary bands for project manager roles can vary greatly depending on the industry or sector. For example, research shows that Energy and Utilities is the highest paying sector for project management **. Salaries are also dictated by geographical location and the qualifications required for the role:

 

Based on the Reed.co.uk average salary checker for project manager role salary averages, candidates can expect to earn:

£38,645 – £86,593 with an average of £53,223 (Manchester sample)

£28,059 – £155,630 with an average of £58,698 (London sample) 

 

It is essential to state your salary range in your job descriptions to stand out in a competitive market. From user behaviour on Reed.co.uk***, we also know that roles displaying a salary receive 43% more applications than those without.

 

Do project manager job descriptions vary from industry to industry?

 

Project management is required in nearly every sector of industry, but will typically feature most in:

 

  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • IT and Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail and wholesale
  • Pharmaceutical

 

 

The fundamentals of a project manager role are largely the same as detailed previously, regardless of industry. There are also a lot of other roles within projects that support the project management role which can lead to further career progression – director, portfolio manager and so on. 

 

That said, more technical industries require more training or knowledge, particularly IT, utilities and energy, as we’ve seen, and in medical too, where there is usually a lot of red tape to contend with. If you are in a particularly niche market in a more general sector, or one of the more technical ones, cite that a passion for the industry will benefit the role and make a candidate stand out to recruiters. Equally, if you’re a personality brand or looking to disrupt a market, make sure this shines through and complements the critical fundamentals of the job. 

 

When you have your project manager job description written out, check it thoroughly and have someone else in the department give a second set of eyes to make sure you have included all the elements from your plan. Then, head over to the UK’s most popular job board to post your job on completion.

 

* https://www.apm.org.uk/jobs-and-careers/career-path/how-to-become-a-project-manager/

**  https://www.apm.org.uk/salary-survey-2021/ 

*** Analysis of jobs adverts on Reed.co.uk during 2020

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