How to avoid short projects on your PMP application
“No soup for you!” – Photo by Seinfeld Facebook.
I often get asked what to put on a PMP application if your project experience includes many short projects. According to PMI, you should list your projects individually. The problem is, almost every application that I’ve seen that had more than 7 projects was rejected.
So what’s going on here? Why does PMI say you have to list all your projects individually, but my experience with rejected applications shows that you will likely be rejected if you include many short projects?
To answer that question, you need to understand that the application approval process is actually very subjective. Now, you might ask:
- What counts as a “professional” project?
- How does PMI decide whether your experience was on a qualifying “Project” versus on non-qualifying “Operations”?
- Does a one-month project qualify?
The answer is: “Who Cares!” — if the reviewer decides some of your experience doesn’t qualify, they will just reject your application. You will get an email saying something vague about not all of your experiences met the definition of a project or that they were administrative and operational activities or any number of other reasons. In their defense, PMI can’t give precise definitions about what qualifies and what doesn’t, otherwise, they wouldn’t have a way of weeding out non-qualified applicants.
There are a huge number of reasons why PMI seems to decide an application doesn’t meet their requirements. Almost every field in the PM Experience section of your application can be used by the PMI reviewer to come to a subjective decision on whether your application should be approved, audited, or rejected.
So don’t put lots of short projects on your application. For various reasons, including more than 7 projects total seems to lead to rejection.
The good news is that the difference between a “project” versus a “sub-project” is also subjective. So you could consider your many short projects are “sub-projects” and you should put the overarching “project” on your application rather than a whole bunch of short projects. For example, rather than listing 20 one-month projects titled “Design and Implementation of XXXX System for Company YYYYY”, you could list one 20-month project titled “Design and Implementation of XXXXX System”. You likely worked on an overall project plan, scope statements, risk register, etc. for that “project”, so that is what you would describe in your application.
Just don’t put in anything in your application that breaks the rule about not listing projects individually. So for example, you should avoid words like “multiple projects”, “program management”, “a series of projects”, etc. This would require the PMI reviewer to send you a rejection email saying you must list your projects individually.