Project Management Q&A: I’m Getting Nowhere with My Job Applications. What am I Doing Wrong?

I’ve applied for over 50 positions in the last few months and I’m getting nowhere – no feedback, no interviews. What am I doing wrong? This will be my first project management role since gaining my CAPM and graduating from college.

First up, are the jobs you’re applying for at the right level for your current experience level? If you’re going for project management roles where the organisation is asking for experience, they will overlook you because they’ll have applicants for those posts who have the experience already. When trying to break into your first project management role there are a couple of different avenues to explore.

First, research and understand the supporting roles that exist within the types of organisations you’re interested in working for. If this is your first job since education, it’s crucial that you start to gain experience – any experience – working in a professional role.

It’s the on-the-job experience that starts to make you attractive to potential hirers; building up skills that make you marketable. Roles to look at include any kind of analyst; co-ordinator; business support; team administrator or supporting managers in a business are all good positions to start building up solid skills which form the foundations for a role in project management in the future.

You can also look for, what we call, entry-level roles into project management. These roles are focused on supporting the projects and programs rather than managing. Roles to look out for are co-ordinators; officers; analysts; controllers; planners and some will have PMO in the title.

With these roles, take a look at the job descriptions and start to do research into what these tasks and activities consist of. Do you have any relatable experience from your time in education? How about in extracurricular activities? Anything where you’re able to demonstrate your knowledge of project management principles like planning, estimating, budgeting, working with a team, working on something with a specific successful outcome.

It’s this type of experience that needs to be translated onto the resume that will demonstrate that whilst your work experience is limited, you have the drive and passion to break into and make a successful career in project management.

Finally, there is your own network. How can you use them to gain works experience? You never know who knows who unless you start to find out. Many of those straight from college get their breaks through friends of friends, extended family, parents of friends and so on. Who do you know who already works in project management? Or in organisations which have projects? It’s time to start learning how to work your network and get talking to people.

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