How To Start a Career as a Project Manager
The challenge with starting any career is having the required experience by the potential employer. It is usually easier to gain the basic PM qualifications but getting a PM job with no experience can be a big challenge.
The Challenge of Becoming a Project Manager
- One suggested strategy to overcome the challenge of becoming a Project Manager is start by taking a small step in the right direction by looking for project coordinator role in a PMO or as an assistant Project Manager role or even as an interim Project Assistant.
Choose an Industry
- If possible, choose an industry you are interested in as specialising in a specific industry like financial services or banking can pay dividends later in your career in terms of advancement and salary.
Choose Technology or Business
- Another area to consider is whether you want to be a technical project manager or a business project manager, again this early specialisation can pay dividends later in your career. Of course you can be both but from my experience, it pays to specialise.
- It is a basic that you have PC skills, MS Office skills and for some organisations having MS Project skills can be an advantage.
- It goes without saying, that gaining some of the basic project management certifications will aid your job applications
- You might want to think about obtaining the PMI http://www.pmi.org or PRINCE2 Practitioner from APM Group http://www.apmg-international.com.
- Gaining a globally recognised qualification will show potential employers that you are serious about project management.
- This can be a stepping stone to getting the PMP certification as you refine your skills and gain experience
- If you decide you want to be an Agile PM, then having Agile PM certifications and knowledge of one or more Agile tools would prove to your advantage in your job seeking.
As a project Manager, you need to get others to do the work and you will need these soft skills which are very important in project management so look at YouTube and read books to hone these soft skills for yourself.
- Communication Skills
- Problem Solving
- Team Building
- Negotiation Skills
- Cultural Awareness
Also make CV and during your interview, you should highlight these soft skills, if possible and maybe some but not all of them.
Other Skills That Could Be Useful
These additional skills may give you an edge in your job search.
The PMO Route…
I would say one of the best ways to become a PM nowadays is to get a role as PMO coordinator as it will give insight into how projects are managed and reported on as well the best practices used to make them successful.
As part of your CV and Interview preparation you should consider doing a Personal SWOT (see link for details) and this show your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.