Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions about the PMP Application and the output generated by the FastPMP PMP Application Help Wizard. Unlike advice from PMP Exam Prep Instructors or the Internet, these answers are based on many years of experience fixing rejected PMP applications. We know what works and what doesn’t.
Click on a Question to view the Answer.
Choosing projects to include in your PMP application…
Q: How many projects should I include in my PMP application?
A: Based on our experience helping hundreds of applicants, the ideal number of projects to include in your PMP application is 2 or 3. Listing fewer than 3 projects provides less opportunity to document the experiences that the application reviewer will be looking for. Listing more than 5 projects increases the risk that the reviewer will classify the projects as “ongoing operations” rather than formal professional projects. You will need to show a total of 36 months of project experience (or 60 months if you only have a high-school diploma).
Once you meet these minimum requirements, you will not be allowed to add additional projects to your application.
Q: Should I add all my short projects to my PMP application?
A: Having just 3 projects on your application is usually ideal. Having more projects introduces more risk that a reviewer decides one of your experiences doesn’t qualify. Short projects are also more likely to be deemed to be part of the company’s ongoing operations rather than qualifying “projects”. Although PMI may ask you to list each project individually, in practice, many successful applications “package” smaller projects together into one overarching project or program (note: the PMI review process usually does not take into account the concept of “program management”, so it is usually best to title it as a “project” rather than a “program”). For example, we have taken previously rejected applications with 6-10 projects listed and successfully combined them into 3-5 main projects. Including too many short projects makes your experience look weak.
In the real world, it is very hard to agree on what is a project vs sub-project vs program vs operations. PMI’s own definitions don’t clarify this. In your choice of the project title and project description, you should avoid implying that you are packaging multiple sub-projects together into one experience description. But beyond that, it is much better to describe more impressive experiences, rather than a bunch of little projects that may be viewed as ongoing operations or not “professional” projects, which would cause your application to be rejected.
For more details on how and why to avoid short projects on your PMP application, read this post.
Q: Can I include volunteer / charitable / student / side-hustle projects in my PMP application?
A: PMI accepts some unpaid projects as long as it was done “in a professional setting”. They state that “student projects” and “planning personal events” do not qualify. But beyond this, PMI usually does not clarify what they consider to be “professional project management” (except in their rejection letters where they may say your project does not appear to meet their “experiential requirements”). Since it is up to the PMI reviewer to decide if your project qualifies, we advise that you do not include non-traditional projects (such as unpaid, student, or side projects) in your application.
Q: Is it best to use only my most recent projects in my PMP application?
A: No, the dates of your project don’t matter as long as they are within 8 years of the month you submit your application. Using your strongest project experience is more important than using your most recent projects.
About the wording that was created…
Q: Why do so many people have trouble getting their PMP application approved when it looks easy?
A: A PMP application might look straightforward, but there are many potential traps that can raise “red flags” for the reviewer and cause your application to be flagged or rejected. Even highly-qualified PMs have had their application rejected by PMI due to their choices on the application. We built our business by helping these people get quickly approved and we know how to avoid all the pitfalls in the PMP application. Each step of the FastPMP™ application wizard at https://www.FPMcertify.com/fastpm
has been carefully constructed to help you avoid any problems with your application.
Q: The wording for my projects looks overly simplified and generic. Should I add more detail to my application?
A: No. The wizard has been carefully designed to optimize your project descriptions using our knowledge base of successful and rejected PMP applications. If you try to make your application too impressive and detailed, it can back-fire as you introduce something that unintentionally appears on the PMI reviewers’ vague list of reasons to reject an application. In contrast to writing a resume/CV, you should not include a lot of specific details and accomplishments — all that matters is that you clearly show how you meet the PMI reviewers and auditors requirements and expectations. But you do need to include enough specific detail to ensure that your project descriptions are accurate and trustworthy. Achieving this balance between just detailed enough and not overly detailed is very difficult, which is why using our tools is so highly recommended by all of our previous customers.
Q: Does the wording of my project title (or other parts of the PMP application) really matter?
A: Everything you put in your application may be used by the PMI application reviewer to form a subjective opinion on whether or not you have met the project experience requirements. If your application is rejected, you will get a form letter that tries to provide reasons why they do not feel you have met the requirements. It will probably state that it was unclear what your role was and that some of the experience was for a “project” and not “operations”, or several other purposely vague reasons. If they told everyone exactly what they are looking for, it would be too easy for unqualified applicants to get their PMP. The most important place to be careful with for wording is in your application description, which is why the FastPMP™ application wizard pre-fills your application using only successfully tested wording. For the other important places such as your Project Title, the wizard will give you a few tips on successful wording. The only big risk with your Project Title is if it makes it sound like it was part of operations and not a project, but this is often easily fixed by including the word “Project” in your Project Title.
Q: Should I delete the IN:, PL: categories / add blank lines or formatting / add a section called Outcome: or Role:, etc.?
A: No. We constantly test what works and what doesn’t and update the FastPMP Wizard to ensure your PMP application will be approved. We don’t follow the often vague advice provided by PMI or previous applicants because we’ve seen the problems that can result. Instead, through our experience helping people fix rejected applications, we are constantly updating our tools based on what works and what doesn’t. We can’t help if you don’t follow our advice, so don’t change anything without consulting us, unless it is just a minor change of a word or two.
Q: Should my PMP application include the <bad advice goes here> that my PMP exam prep instructor recommended?
A: There is a lot of bad advice on how to create a PMP application because it is very hard for most people to know the real reasons why an application was approved or rejected. Your PMP instructor or other PMPs usually only have experience with a handful of applications, so they don’t really know why some applications are rejected. But at FPMcertify.com, we frequently work with previously rejected applications and know what works because of our many years of experience helping people get their PMP application quickly approved. We’re the trusted experts on PMP applications.
About the Project Description…
Q: Some of the wording in the project description seems awkward or arrogant. Should I change it?
A: Unless you have edited the description and introduced grammatical mistakes, you should not change it. Some of the wording may seem strange, such as using so many sentences beginning with “I led…”. PMI wants to know what you did to meet their requirements, not that you are a great team-player or are humble. The reviewer will want to see specific PMBOK terms used, but they won’t care about what the actual project goals or outcomes were. Despite what PMI may say, most successful applications do not describe activities for each of the process areas in each of the projects, due to the space limitations. But you need to describe your experience with each of the process areas somewhere in your application, so it is best to rely on the FastPMP™ application wizard to help you make these choices.
About the Project Contact Person…
Q: Who should I use as my project contact on my PMP application? Can I use a co-worker?
A: You no longer need to provide details of a person to contact about your projects unless you are selected for an audit. But you should run your application by your potential contacts before you submit it to make sure they would agree with it if asked. Use should choose someone you were accountable to on the project — not just a friend or a junior co-worker. Although PMI will technically allow you to list anyone involved in the project who can verify your claimed project experience, your application will be judged in part by whether you have credible project contacts who can verify you meet the PMP qualifications. You should assume that PMI will look up your project contacts on LinkedIn, so providing someone with an impressive job title will likely help your application.
Q: How can I avoid having my PMP application audited or rejected?
A: PMI states that applications are randomly selected for audit. However, this does not mean that a weak or poorly constructed application will not affect the chances of being flagged for further scrutiny, audit, or rejection. The best strategies to minimize hassles are to: (1) get expert assistance with your application; and (2) send the project description, role, project title, and job title information to your project contacts before you submit your application. Explain to them what you are applying for, why you worded things this way in your application, and ask them whether they would have a problem agreeing this is accurate if you are audited.
Q: What should I do if my project contact is unreachable?
A: If PMI cannot reach your project contact, they might let you substitute a different project contact who can verify your experience or they might reject your application. If you
cannot reach your contact, it could be because your contact does not agree with your application for whatever reason (including simple misunderstanding). If this is the case and they tell PMI that they do not agree, then that creates a big problem in getting approved. Therefore, if you can’t reach your contact and get them to agree with what you have for their project, then you should not submit your application
Your options for what to do if your contact does not respond include:
1) Wait until you can reach the contact (by phone or in-person if possible).
2) Use a different contact who can verify your experience for that project (a different primary stakeholder, a sponsor, a client, or a manager).
3) Substitute a different project that was the same number of months (or more).
4) Wait until you have 36 months of experience not including that project.
5) Not recommended: Submit your application with the current project contact listed and hope they don’t try to reach your contact and that your application is not randomly selected for audit.
Q: Will becoming a PMI member help my PMP application get accepted?
A: No, but most people become a member once their application is approved and they are asked to pay the PMP exam fee. The price for members is discounted more than the cost of the membership plus you get other benefits like a free download of the Guide to the PMBOK.
Q: Do FPMcertify.com and the FastPMP™ tools follow the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Practice?
A: Absolutely, yes! We were created by Dr. Tim McLaren, a PMP who is bound by PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
. Throughout the many years of helping applicants with their PMP applications, we have never had a complaint about our practices. Please remember that, as a PMP applicant, you will also be bound by the PMI Code of Ethics and must ensure that the information you provide in your application is accurate.