Project Management Q&A: How do I Make a Step Up in My PM Career?

I’m currently working as a Project Manager in healthcare and I’d like to take a step up to a Senior Project Manager position, how can I make this happen?

You have two options, work the promotion internally or look externally for a new position. Both options come with different tactics and there are plenty of great careers advice websites out there that help you with the promotion conversation. The key thing with seeking out an internal promotion to a more senior role is knowing that there is an opportunity there for you to fill.

If there are bigger, riskier projects available, you will need to work on the story about why you are the right person to take on the task.

Often it is easier to gain that step up by looking for a new position in a different firm. You are less likely to experience job-blockers, those people who have been in the position you want and don’t look like they’re leaving anytime soon.

With the search for a new role – what is interesting is that one organisation’s idea of a Senior Project Manager is another firm’s Project Manager – you have to be clear in your own mind what that senior role will look like. If it’s just a case of a bigger remuneration fine, but if you are looking for certain characteristics – like bigger, higher profile projects or working within programs – you need to understand exactly what you are looking for.

When you have a clearer idea, it makes it a lot easier to build your case as to why you’re right for the role. You will develop a resume that backs up the case, create compelling stories that highlight key experiences and clearly demonstrate the ability to take on more accountability.

With senior level roles, it makes sense that you understand where your skills gaps might be. You can then start to address these or at least weave those into your story about how these will be developed in a new role.

The flip side to addressing skills gaps is to also think about what your key strengths are. What will you continue to strengthen in a new position and what outcomes, or benefits will that bring to a new organisation? If you think you already can step up to a senior project management role, you’ve already won half the battle.

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