PMP application

PMP application – How to write clear project descriptions

You would receive an email from PMI that states that the project descriptions you provided in your PMP application is unclear regarding the tasks and roles you performed if you don’t write clear project descriptions in your PMP application. This post will teach you how to write clear project descriptions when completing the PMP application.

PMI needs to be able to ascertain from the project descriptions you provide that the projects are truly projects. Also, they need to be sure that you fulfilled the role of a project manager on those projects.

How can you avoid such emails and ensure that your descriptions are clear so that your application is not moved to pending status?

Structure your project description according to the three sections below:

  1. One sentence stating the project objective
  2. One sentence stating the project outcome and your role
  3. A high level summary stating the tasks you were involved in, led and directed on the project

Next step is to ensure that you clearly label each section. Also, let it be clear which sentence is referring to each section by including a title for each section.

For section 3; there has been a slight modification. Previously, it was important to group the tasks according to the project management domains: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling & Closing.

Now, due to the exam change in January 2021, the application process for the job describtion especially the responsibilities and deliverable have changed; you don’t necessarily have to break it down into the five (5) domains because the new exam content is in three (3) domains.

You still have to give a high-level description that summarizes your experience which includes the project objective, outcome, your role on the project, your responsibilities and deliverables. However, you don’t have to break it down to match any of the 5 domains (as in the example “Responsibilities and Deliverables (Previously)” below.

I still advise that you should think of the project management life-cycle (the 5 domains) when giving the high-level description of your responsibilities and deliverables so that your description is cohesive and flows from initiation to close.

It is also important that you use the PMP terms. For example, if you were led the process of identifying stakeholders; don’t write I found out the key players on the project. Instead write I identified the stakeholders on the project and developed a stakeholder register.

See an example of a project description below:

Project objective: To integrate a new operating company into the existing group hr system

Outcome: Operating Company portfolio integrated

Project role: Project Manager

Responsibilities and Deliverables (Previously)

The word count was very limited so you had to write as few sentences as possible

Initiation: Develop project charter and stakeholder analysis
Planning: Plan the phases and lifecycle of the project, Plan
communications, and resources
Execution: Manage task execution and manage communications
Monitoring and controlling: Measure Project
Close: Deliverables ownership transfer

Responsibilities and Deliverables (Updated)

You have more word count so can express yourself more. Also, PMI tstates that a typical response is between 200 to 500 words

  • I developed the project charter and the stakeholder register which I managed throughout the life-cycle of the project
  • Responsible for planning the phases and life-cycle of the project, I also planned the communications and resource strategy
  • Managed task execution and communications
  • Measured the Project performance to understand if the project was performing as planned or not. I also suggested corrective or preventive actions when necessary
  • I conducted a close-out meeting and the deliverables ownership were transfer ed

Each section and process domains had titles. It also gives a high level summary of each task in each domain.

P.S. You don’t need to have all domains in each project.

As mentioned earlier, breaking down your responsibilities and deliverables into domains are no longer necessary so feel free to use the example labelled “Responsibilities and Deliverables (Updated)” above.

Check if you meet the PMP eligibility requirements. You can also apply for the PMP exam on PMI’s website. If you would like me to review and provide feedback on your project descriptions before applying, contact me.

Wondering how to pass the PMP Exam? Get my FREE PMP Exam Checklist. It contains the 6 powerful tips that I used to prepare, study and pass the PMP Exam with an above target in all domains at my first attempt. It has been updated to align with the new version of the PMP exam.

If you have any questions or contributions, please do so by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

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8 thoughts on “PMP application – How to write clear project descriptions”

  1. This was extremly helpful.
    I just have one question. Is it ok to repeat yourself in this application. I feel like although all the projects I work on are different, the steps to describe are identical and so is the required output.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Ana, I would suggest that you include the uniqueness of each project in the description. Remember that a project has to be unique. For example, if all the projects I have worked on are software development projects; the processes would most likely be the same but the objectives would be unique (e.g delivered software for company z…in this example, company z is what makes this project unique). Incorporate the uniqueness of each project while explaining the steps/processes (the size of the project could be unique as well).
      Hope this helps.

  2. Hi Ogaga,

    I am just starting my PMP application to submit and found your style very clear. How can I label my projects (title) without providing classified information and still provide the detail that is needed in my submission?

    1. Hi Cheryl, you can use the project titles that were/are publicly announced or on the company website/social media pages.

  3. How to write a project description for the existing long running project.
    Example – Suppose one mobile application for Android and iOS is already published for users.
    As per business need we are adding or removing features, changing user interface, etc.
    Each feature requires planning, execution, etc., but duration for each feature is different. Some features required 1-2 a month or some requires 3-5 months.

    Could you suggest description strategy for such type of project?

    1. Hi Anamika, if I was the one, I would record them as separate projects. I would also aim to record the projects with a longer duration. I hope this helps.

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