If you’re looking for a career change into project management you need to be proactive. Coming into this profession with no formal experience can be tough, and you have to sell yourself. A lot of people find this uncomfortable but if you are serious about getting into project management it is something that you will need to do.
Knowing your product and what you have to offer a project management role is so important. It will help you target the right jobs in the right organisations and stops you from applying for roles that you either won’t get or won’t suit.
It will also help you through job applications as you will be much more informed on the roles you are applying for, what you have to offer and what you expect to get out of each role.
Speaking during a Free BCS webinar Lindsay Scott explained how to get to know your product.
Do a Personal Stocktake
The first thing you need to do when getting to know your product is a personal stocktake. Take a step back and reflect on what skills, knowledge, and experience you have. Do you have any that align with project skills?
Over the course of your career, you must have done something project like that turned you on to a career in the profession. It could’ve been lending your resource as an SME to a project, some informal project management or it could be just from observing projects in your organisation from afar.
If you’re not sure of the skills that are required for project management then it would be worth picking up a competency framework to get an idea. When you go through the competency’s you will probably start to see that you have done a lot of them before for example planning, scheduling, risk management, etc.
This will help boost your confidence. A lot of people may look through a project management job description thinking they do not have a lot of the skills or experiences required. But once you understand the language (with help from a competency framework) you should realise you have more to offer than you first thought.
Immerse Yourself in Project Management
Trying to get into project management is a highly competitive endeavor and you need to be able to set yourself apart from the crowd. You need to be reading, following the news, listening to podcasts and maybe even do a basic qualification. Immerse yourself in project management and make sure you are completely up to date with everything that is going on in the industry.
Employers are going to want to see and hear passion when they speak to you and this is a great way of doing that. Put yourself in a position where you can have a good conversation about the industry with the recruiters.
Understand Your Goals
When we ask people what steps do you think you need to take or what do you need to achieve to get into Project Management? Too often the response is silence!
This is something that you need to think about, for your own sanity more than anything else. We say that because a lot of people’s only goal will be to “become a project manager”. But this is too big of a step! It could be a long and challenging journey getting to that stage, you could be looking at multiple career steps and multiple years to achieve it. You’ll need to build both your project experience and your management experience.
So you need to break your goals down into chunks (It may seem obvious but look at SMART goals) so that you can get some wins along the way to stay motivated and to build confidence. Goals are good because when it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere you can look back and feel like you have achieved something and you are on the right path.
If Agile keeps coming up in job applications a goal you might want to set could be: I want to know more about Agile, how does it affect a project management role and how does it work within a project team. If you achieve this goal you then have more knowledge and understanding for when you write applications or go into interviews.
Understand Your Environmentals
Like with any other life change you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into; what are the hours, pay, travel etc going to be and how will this align to your personal situation.
Some in project management are expected to work long hours, travel may be a key part of the role, so you need to assess how this will work for you and ask interviewers about what expectations there are. Have an idea of how much you can work and travel, that way everybody is on the same page.
With COVID, it is also important to understand what working arrangements are in force; are you WFH, will you be in the office, are clients expecting you to be on site. All key environmental factors that you need to understand and be comfortable with.
The same goes for pay, you may get through an interview and interviewer ask “how much do you expect to be paid”. You need to know the answer to this question, so make sure you think about your answer bearing in mind you may need to take a pay cut to do so.
Over to You
So I would suggest going through each of these steps and make a note of what you find. Then when applying for roles you can use the notes you made to help tailor your CV and answer any questions.
If you need any further help with this then you can always check out our Career Clinics where you can speak to one of our recruitment experts about this further.
you can also watch the BCS webinar for free here>>>