How Project Managers Can Manage Their Own Careers

project-manager-careerDepending on the sector, the size of the company, and the corporate structure, project managers can be responsible for things like overseeing staff, explaining job expectations, and delegating duties.

They also need to have a broad skill set that includes competence in decision-making, time management, and conflict resolution. So not just the technical project management skills that are recommended by PMI or APM. And since no two days are ever really the same, project managers must always be on their toes so that they can deal with all sorts of situations as they materialize.

If you happen to be a project manager or aspire to become one someday, however, you also need to find some time in your hectic day to invest into your own career growth and development. For some tips on how to effectively manage your managerial career, read on for more information.

Personal Networking

While organisational and strategic networking are important, so too is personal networking. It’s critical that you develop a network that can become an important source of not only personal development, but also referrals, job leads, and mentorship opportunities.

As you grow your network, which can include people from your company, professionals from elsewhere, and anyone else with whom you can find some commonality, you can benefit immensely. Consider the six degrees of separation theory, which suggests that anyone in the world can connect with anyone else in the world through a network of acquaintances that contains five or fewer intermediaries. While the jury is still out on whether or not this theory is scientifically accurate, you get the idea. Human contacts are important and can help you to get ahead in the workplace.

project-manager2Know What You Want

If you want to effectively manage your career as a project manager, it helps to understand exactly what type of project management job you actually want – both now and in the future. Project Management is a very broad term that can encompass different things. Knowing what sort of responsibilities you wish to shoulder will give you an idea of the types of jobs you should be applying for and the sorts of people you should be adding to your personal network. Project Management career options include in-house projects, client facing projects, a whole range of different areas such as consulting, non-profit, and government which all give a different flavour of projects and the types of people required to manage them.

So figure out exactly what you want out of your career, be specific and deliberate in your preparation for career opportunities you want, and then set a course that will help you to experience upwards career mobility.

Education & Training

One of the best investments you can make in yourself professionally is upgrade your skills through education and training. On the one hand, you could invest into going back to school to earn an MBA (one of the most common qualifications for a project management professional – insight taken from the Project Management Benchmark Report) or another degree that can enhance your skill set.

By going to a business school for an MBA, you can acquire the sort of skills that will increase your worth — and likely your salary — to your company. In fact, you may even get your company to foot at least part of the cost if you, among other things, agree that you won’t bolt to another company right after completing the degree. On the other hand, you could make use of every opportunity available to you to upgrade your skills and to acquire new ones at training sessions. Such occasions present great networking possibilities as well.

While you’re performing in your official duties as a project manager and are overseeing other workers, don’t forget to manage yourself as well. Career development has to be an intentional and purposeful effort on your part, so use your leadership skills to chart a course for your career.

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