Project management exists in all industries and is open to anyone with the right attitude. However, it can be difficult to enter the field and advance your career. Here are 10 top tips to progress in the project management world. Ideal for those who have just entered the field or are more experienced professionals.
1. Know your industry
Whether you are job hunting or looking to be promoted, it is important you know which industry you want to work in. This is because there can be variations in the experience and qualifications required for each industry. For example, you will likely need to be PRINCE2® qualified for public sector roles in the UK. Similarly, IT or engineering roles will probably require an industry relevant degree.
2. Look at the jobs market
Understanding the current jobs market is crucial. Whilst browsing for roles, consider what skills, experience, and qualifications employers are looking for. See if you need to make changes to your current skillset to increase your chances of landing an interview. Knowing what is expected by employers will make it easier for you to develop a plan of action.
3. Show-off your experience
For project-based roles, employers will be keen to see experience on your CV. This can be difficult if you are just starting out, but the trick is to capitalize on experience gained in other areas of life. Have you been part of group projects at university, completed an internship, volunteered or organized an event? These are all examples of projects that you can describe in detail on your CV/resume.
4. Sharpen your soft skills
Project managers need strong soft skills. They must be positive and assertive leaders with top-notch organization, communication, and problem-solving skills. Outside the office, you must also display these qualities during interviews and networking events - both nerve-wracking situations. Soft skills can be improved through attending courses, so look around for something to suit you.
5. Get certified
You will have noticed certain qualifications mentioned in job descriptions. Employers in all industries often ask for the well-known PRINCE2 certification. The IT and creative industries often require certification in ‘agile’ methods, such as Scrum or AgilePM®. In any case, getting certified proves your knowledge and puts you in a good position for gaining employment or progressing your career.
6. Blog, Tweet and have opinions!
As leaders, project managers are never short of opinions. So, when developing or starting a project management career, it is important to put yourself out there. Social media allows you to share your opinions, network and maybe find new opportunities. Twitter is perfect for this - it provides a place to share short opinions or snippets of knowledge with a worldwide audience. It also has groups to join and get involved with. For those of you with a few years of project experience behind you, start a blog and write something more detailed. You never know who might be reading it.
7. Link-up with LinkedIn
LinkedIn has over 240 million users and 87% of employers use it to vet potential candidates. It is, therefore, vital you get involved with this useful online tool. Having a LinkedIn profile is a bit like having an online CV – you can show your career off to the world! It also enables you to connect with employers, colleagues, and others in your industry. Particularly important is the fact LinkedIn allows users to post articles, pictures or infographics and share opinions in forums. It gives you a platform to share your knowledge and promote yourself as an excellent employee.
8. Be a nifty networker
Attending face-to-face networking events, company socials or career fairs helps you to make connections. However, they can be awkward occasions. Why not contact a few participants before the event? That way, you avoid awkward introductions and can focus on key people. Similarly, ensure others take notice of you by contributing to conversations, rather than remaining passive.
9. Start small
For job hunters, it is important to start small. One of the best ways to become a project manager is to get a more junior role first, such as a project support officer or administrator. This role will see you working alongside a project manager and their team, supporting them with administrative tasks. The valuable experience this provides will help you land a role as a project manager more easily.
10. Look for alternative routes
If you are a project manager experiencing career stagnation, remember that one of the great things about this career is the level of progression. Many project managers choose to go into program management. Gaining the MSP® qualification is useful when choosing this path. Others choose the consultant or training route. Some move into a PMO role and oversee the work of the project managers or support staff. There are always options to do something different.
Simon Buehring is the founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train, an accredited PRINCE2 training organization based in London, UK. For over 25 years, Simon has worked as a project manager for a wide range of organizations, both in the UK and internationally, including the BBC, HSBC and IBM. Find out more about developing your project management career with this handy ebook. It’s packed with tips from professionals who have been there themselves, this ebook serves as an excellent guide for juniors and veterans alike!