Are you looking to hire a project manager or digital project manager and need help crafting the perfect job description? If so, you’ve come to the right place! A strong job description is essential in communicating the expectations of a role, finding and retaining top talent, as well as navigating scope creep for the role.
You might be a project manager already and need help defining your job on paper—I got you covered! You could be a leader looking to attract new talent to help your organization move forward—I got you covered, too!
From understanding key responsibilities to fostering organizational alignment, having an effective job description for your project manager will help ensure every project runs smoothly like butter. So let’s dive into some tips on how to create a killer job description and find your ideal candidate!
In this article I’ll cover:
- What Is A Project Manager?
- What Does A Project Manager Do?
- Key Roles & Responsibilities
- What Are The Required Skills & Qualifications?
- What Is The Salary For Project Managers?
- Example Project Manager Job Description
- Project Manager Role Job Description Template
What Is A Project Manager?
A project manager is the person who leads a project from beginning to end. They are responsible for working with project sponsors to set objectives and then they take over leading groups in achieving objectives, managing resources, and keeping stakeholders informed throughout the project.
Project managers ensure that all tasks are completed on time, within budget, and with high-quality outputs. They also often act as liaisons between different departments in an organization to ensure successful collaboration on any given project.
In short, they are the organizers, coordinators, communicators, problem solvers, and motivators of any team responsible for completing a project goal.
What Is A Digital Project Manager?
The answer to this question can sometimes be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be!
In many cases, the trickiness is because digital project managers are known by a few different names; web project managers, web producers, digital producers and digital project managers—but for the most part, we’re all pretty much the same thing.
So what is the role of a digital project manager? For me, the short answer is quite simple—it’s making stuff happen in a digital world.
As technology continues to advance, the need for digital project managers becomes more and more apparent. But what exactly does a digital project manager do? Well, for starters, they're in charge of ensuring that all aspects of a project run smoothly, from start to finish.
This involves overseeing budgets, timelines, and allocating resources effectively. In addition, they must be adept at communication as they'll be liaising with various stakeholders, from designers to developers to clients.
Essentially, a digital project manager is the glue that holds everything together, and without them, projects can quickly turn into a mess of missed deadlines and communication breakdowns. So, if you're a lover of spreadsheets and enjoy juggling multiple tasks at once, perhaps a career in digital project management is for you.
There are a few different organizational structures where digital project managers are often found, including at digital agencies where project management positions can vary in tasks and responsibilities massively.
In agency life, there is often overlap in responsibilities between digital project managers and account managers—and particularly at smaller agencies, there can often be overlap between QA, user experience, and business analysis. Oh, and throw in strategy, SEO, and analytics too.
In my experience, I’ve also found most digital PMs know enough about Photoshop and HTML to be dangerous—at least enough to make a few sneaky text edits while no one’s looking. digital project managers are truly a jack of all trades (this is a good thing).
What Does A Project Manager Do?
A project manager is responsible for leading a project from start to finish, ensuring it runs smoothly and meets the expectations of key stakeholders. They are problem-solvers who use their experience, knowledge, and project management skills to set clear project goals and create a detailed project plan that outlines how to reach those goals.
They proactively monitor and adjust the plan when needed, providing guidance and motivation to project team members along the way. In short: they make sure everyone has what they need to succeed in completing the project on time, within budget, and with results that exceed expectations!
Project managers bring people together to make things happen
If project management is all about making things happen, and using processes to make things happen, then the role of a project manager is to bring people and teams together to make things happen—it’s all about leading, empowering, facilitating, and communicating.
Project managers guide digital problem-solving
It’s a complex role that requires a unique skill set. We are digital solution problem-solving guides. The job requires an understanding from a strategic perspective of why you should do a project, what technology could be used to achieve it, what it could look like, how it could work, and, importantly for our clients, how much it will cost and when it could be delivered.
Project managers are expert communicators
Project managers have to be great communicators. As digital project management touches all departments of an organization or agency, they need to be able to speak and understand the language of the different areas (both internal, external, and with clients) and be comfortable navigating through ambiguity in efforts to create clarity for their team.
Project managers are highly organized
A project manager nudges a project along and keeps things on track. They are highly organized and love tracking details. Project managers are probably the kind of person who not only matches their socks after doing the laundry but organizes their sock drawer too!
Project managers are leaders
Anyone can be organized and track details, but the difference between a good and great project manager is in providing real leadership to the project; being the hub of knowledge and source of truth for a project; influencing people, anticipating, and resolving issues; and seeing the big picture.
A great project manager casts vision and leads their team by serving—greasing the wheels so that their project team can follow in their wake and be empowered to successfully deliver their best possible work.
Key Roles & Responsibilities
A project manager in a digital world has many responsibilities. They need to be aware of the latest trends, technologies, and tools available to them to help manage projects effectively. They must be able to prioritize tasks, delegate work, and coordinate team members in order to complete projects on time and within budget.
The project manager must also ensure communication between all stakeholders is up-to-date, timely, and accurate. Additionally, they must develop strong relationships with vendors, clients, or other external partners while managing risks and issues that could arise during a project.
Lastly, the project manager needs to monitor progress throughout the life cycle of the project, provide feedback, and take corrective action where necessary. By doing all these things successfully, a good project manager can deliver successful results for their organization in this digital age.
The roles and responsibilities of a project manager might vary slightly depending on the context of the role. Learn more about the specific key roles and project management responsibilities.
Roles & Responsibilities in the Job Description
I have personally written many project manager job descriptions and hired some of the best PMs I’ve known to date. When writing a job description (JD), it is essential to clearly describe the role in the context of the known work ahead.
Each time you consider hiring a new DPM or are asked to write a job description for your current role, you must review the job description against the reality of the company, the known complexity of the work, and what you really need most in the person that will do the job.
I try to make my job descriptions decently short because I don’t want people to shy away from the job because I couldn’t write a concise job description. It's actually harder to make the JD shorter, but it will help you get better applicants if done well.
This aligns with the age-old saying from French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, where in a letter, he states, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Take the time and be concise, it will pay off.
OK, so what do you actually put in the JD for responsibilities? Generally, the JD should cover the key elements of the role and the responsibilities of the job. For me, this often includes:
- A summary of the role in narrative format
- An overview of the essential functions of the role and the responsibilities
I’ll share a full example of a job description in a minute, but first, we need to talk about required skills and qualifications.
What Are The Required Skills & Qualifications?
The required skills and qualifications for a project manager will vary slightly depending on the context of the role. For example, if working in an agency that supports video game studios, it might make sense for the DPM to have experience in media or technology related to that industry.
In many cases, however, the required skills and qualifications are more general but specific to project management. In general, you might find the following required skills and qualifications:
- Experience leading cross-functional project initiatives for a period of time (number of years typically determines the level of the role, from Associate, PM, and Senior PM to Principal, etc.)
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Facilitation skills and team leadership skills
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Experience with client-facing projects, customer service, and working with external vendor partners
- Technology skills, including specialized technology in some cases
- Project management certifications or certifications in specific project management methodologies, such as Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute (PMP). This one is most commonly preferred by employers, followed by Certified Scrum Master from the Scrum Alliance (CSM).
- Education in business or a related field
While these are skills and qualifications I would look for, they are not all required 100% of the time. For example, there are highly-skilled project managers that do not have university degrees or formal project management certifications. In these cases, I would look for proven experience successfully executing projects using the other skills outlined.
What Is The Salary For Project Managers?
Project managers come in all shapes and sizes—and salaries! Generally, the salary range for project managers depends on the industry, work arrangement, and scenario.
In some industries, such as manufacturing, project management salaries may be relatively low due to the nature of the work. On the other hand, project managers in fields like software development or finance may find that their salaries can reach much higher levels due to the complexity of their roles.
The type of work arrangement can also affect salary ranges for project managers. Depending on whether someone is employed as a full-time employee or working as a freelancer or contractor, they may receive different levels of compensation.
The specific terms agreed upon between an employer and employee will also impact salaries; some employers may be more generous than others when it comes to paying bonuses or providing equity options.
At the end of the day, project manager salary ranges depend on many factors—industry, work arrangement, and scenario being just some of them! It's important for aspiring project managers to stay informed about market trends so that they can negotiate effectively and secure fair compensation for their hard work.
Learn more about project manager salaries here!
Example Project Manager Job Description
I promised a full example of a project manager job description, so here it is! This is a real job description I have used to recruit, hire, and evaluate many project managers in a technology company.
Job Title: Project Manager
The company is seeking a project manager to join our services team. This role offers the chance to work in a collaborative and curious open environment where you are given the opportunity to innovate and grow.
The project manager works cross-functionally with the larger team to lead individual project teams to solve problems, enhance services, and deliver a top-notch customer experience through program project execution. We believe job satisfaction comes from being able to do what you love while working with other talented people and not forgetting to have fun along the way.
Tasks can range from designing program project activities and positioning client-facing communications to working with non-technology departments to assign resources to achieve program project goals.
Teamwork is imperative in handling the wide range of situations and specific projects we can encounter—we are lively, collaborative, and work in a fast paced environment. The most successful project managers work to anticipate client needs, contribute to the team, and drive cross-functional team members towards program or project goals.
Essential Functions & Responsibilities
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Essential functions and responsibilities include:
- Project planning: work with leadership to scope individual program projects, creating and managing a detailed work plan for successful completion of projects.
- Work with program managers to determine required resources inside and outside of the program team. Collaborate with people managers to identify and assign resources to individual project tasks.
- Meet work standards by following production, productivity, quality, and customer-service standards; resolving operational problems; and identifying work process improvements.
- Drive execution of individual projects to ensure on-time delivery within project budget.
- Monitor and communicate individual project status to leadership and stakeholders to ensure forward progress, escalating when required. Balance the critical dimensions of project scope, schedule, and cost.
- Coordinate internal functions and external 3rd party resources as required. Frequent interaction across the company teams, partners, and customers.
- Document plans, statuses, issue logs, deliverables, and outcomes for individual projects according to set program standards.
- Ensure that all program project artifacts are delivered on-time and within scope.
- Make data-driven decisions across the project lifecycle in the context of larger program needs.
- Lead individual project close tasks to ensure operational readiness for post-project handoff.
- Enhance department and organization reputation by accepting ownership for accomplishing new and challenging requests; exploring opportunities to add value to job accomplishments.
- Other duties as assigned.
Skills & Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree
- Minimum of 5-years of experience successfully managing complex cross-functional initiatives
- Information technology, software, and/or systems project leadership experience
- Experience with project management practices and tools to create, manage, and track project performance across milestones
- Ability to lead large and diverse teams exercising strong leadership and soft skills
- Outstanding analytical and complex problem-solving skills
- Experience with client impact analysis; communication positioning, design, and delivery
- Ability to work under pressure; exceptional time management skills
- Excellent client-facing and internal communication skills
- Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
- Outstanding organizational skills including attention to detail and multitasking skills.
- Experience with project management software and project management tools such as Atlassian Suite, ClickUp, Monday.com, Smartsheet, etc.
- Experienced user of Google Suite and/or MS Office toolset (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)
- PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Scrum Master preferred
Note about Levels: I’ve written job descriptions for every level of project management team member, from project assistant to Sr. Directors of project management.
Job titles I have used in order of skill and responsibility include:
- Project Assistant
- Project Coordinator
- Associate Project Manager
- Project Manager
- Senior Project Manager
- Technical Project Manager (PM with technical skills and deep technical awareness)
- Senior Technical Project Manager
- Project Director
As the role increases in complexity and requirements, the salary will typically follow suit, however not at an equal rate. Every organization’s job ladder will be different, but this is an example of what a career path could be in a project manager role.
Project Manager Role Job Description Template
If you need to write a project manager role job description, we’ll help you get started! We’ve done the hard work for you with a robust project manager job description template that’s around 3 x pages long / 1000 words and can be edited down to fit the real requirements of the job.
Save yourself hours of work and instantly download the template (supplied as a .doc) for you to adapt as you need. The template is unbranded and uses generic Microsoft Word styling to make it easy for you to brand your own logo and edit content.
Download our project manager job description template for a head start on crafting your own job descriptions. Also included in our resources for membership are job descriptions for project coordinators, senior project managers, and project directors.
Amy Kapell’s Manifesto on Project Management
If you didn’t have time to read the article and are skimming through this, make sure you read Amy Kapell’s description of project managers; it captures the essence of our role very succinctly:
We are project managers. We are the eye in the hurricane of chaos...We listen, we worry, we care. We are the center around which all others orbit. We are the purveyors of schedules and the keeper of secrets. We are the friend next door, the avenging angel. We are diplomats, we are presidents. We wipe the tears, we take out the trash. We know exactly how to get where we’re going. And we know how to bring everyone along. We are the quiet ones who make it all possible. Without us, there is chaos.
– Amy Kapell @amykapell
Are You Ready To Hire Or Become A Project Manager?
Are you looking for an amazing project manager to join your team? How are you attracting the right talent? The job description is an essential tool for finding the right person to join your organization and lead successful projects in a digital environment. Give our template a try!
If you’re a project manager yourself, does this sound like your role? What’s the same? What’s different? What are you called? I want to learn from you so we can make this guide better over time and continue to socialize what it means to be a project manager in the ever-evolving landscape of work.
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