Tips for Career Transitions in Project Management

As a project manager, there’s little doubt that your skills will be in high demand somewhere at any given time. So, whether you are suddenly out of work or proactively planning your next big career move, the odds are good that recruiters are looking for someone with your skill set.

That doesn’t mean there’s no competition! If you want to be the candidate of choice for the best project management positions, you need to give some serious thought to how you come across on paper and in person. There are plenty of great articles already available all over the web on getting your resume in shape and impress a hiring manager in an interview. Let’s assume you’ve already discovered those general tips that apply to all job seekers. Here’s some advice specifically designed for project managers:

Document Your Successes

During the wrap up phase of each project, you should be thinking “How will the outcome of this project look on my resume?” You should begin building a portfolio of projects that showcase your skills. Any numbers and statistics you can collect are very helpful. For example, perhaps you brought a recent project to successful completion 17% under the estimated cost saving your organization $35,000 in the process. That’s definitely a good item to put on a resume. Generate reports from your recent projects (within the last 3 years) to collect the information you need.

Learn from Your Setbacks

It’s not just the projects that went well that can be beneficial to your career. Problem solving skills are essential – and you only gain those skills when there are problems to solve. When you are interviewed for a project management position, a recruiter is likely to ask you about various obstacles you have faced and how you overcame them. This is where you can tell your war stories about a time when everything went wrong and you still managed to find a solution. Comb through your recent entries in your “lessons learned knowledge base” to start creating a narrative about how you operate as a PM.

Use Discretion When Bragging

It’s perfectly fine to mine the data from your previous projects to help you “sell” your skills and experience to a prospective employer. Just remember to avoid disclosing any identifying information (such as the name of a project client) when you are putting together your resume or talking in an interview. Otherwise, you may be in conflict with business ethics and your current employer’s confidentiality policy.

Boost Your Credentials

In a field like project management that is constantly changing, it never hurts to have some recently acquired certifications on your resume. Pursuing continuing education does two things. First, it indicates to employers that you are serious about continuous improvement. Second, it opens up opportunities in new fields and broadens your job prospects. For example, if you want to be seriously considered for a high level position at a company where multiple, complex projects must be managed simultaneously, it might be time to consider getting your PgMP certification to augment your PMP credentials.

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