4 Ways for Project Managers to Get Ready for that Next Career Step
By Brad Egeland
Ready for the next career step? There are several ways you can get noticed. There are several ways to get your information out there. And certainly some of those involve just going to a career site and posting your resume. Places like Dice and Monster still exist and by all means…put yourself out there. Someone will find you. But now, in this age of real-time updates and instant gratification, there are a few other ways to show your interest and expertise and hopefully get noticed a little more than the others. So post those resumes where you can (if you can find the time and stay awake while doing so) and fill out those online job applications for postings you find on company sites and job sites. But if you are really interested in standing out and have some credentials worth sharing…here are 4 good ways to set off in the right direction to your next PM career move…
Get exam prep training and go get certified. You’re a PM, but are you a PMP? It’s not absolutely necessary to get PMP (project management professional from PMI) certified, but it’s a good idea. The right training organization can really change your career path and certified PMPs generally earn up to $20,000 more than their uncertified colleagues in the profession. Want to market yourself right and right away? Get certified and some organizations like Cheetah Learning can get you there in just 5 days and you’re guaranteed to pass.
Join online PM communities in forums, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups. This will get you noticed to some degree. Start contributing some useful information, post interesting discussions and articles to relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and respond to the comments. Do it enough and you’ll get a following. Do it 5,000 times and your wife may call you boring, but someone in India will want to be your best friend. And don’t forget about eBooks. Create a PDF eBook on some PM expertise or best practices that you find interesting and you have some good knowledge of. People will want to come to your website (see the next item) to download it or offer it free to a PM software vendor in exchange for links, etc. It’s the start of online networking and it does help.
Put up a website with career and skill info. Always grab your name domain and hang on to it. I’ve had mine since around 2001, but I it expire once and had to wait a year or so to get it back because someone else grabbed it and wanted big dollars for it. Yeah…like I wanted to pay more than $12 through Go Daddy or someplace similar for it. And then use a free or inexpensive place to easily set your site up. You don’t need to pay someone lots of money, though I can do it for you for a fee or some pizza gift cards – I will always work for pizza. I use Weebly and have for nearly a decade. Of course, when your current or new employers see your site marketing your wares, you may have some splainin’ to do. But I’ve used mine very successfully for my consulting…for about $10-12 per year in costs. That’s my total overhead at the moment.
Stalk the right person in the right organization. You want to work for Acme Project Management (fictitious company, I hope) because they are close to your house, they offer remote work opportunities or great benefits or something, or maybe they just have a great opening you heard about. You can go to their career site and put your information in there and upload your resume which I’m sure they will see at 8am the next day…not. Or….you can stalk the right person or people. First, figure out who you should contact directly. Likely the PMO director, possibly the CIO, the CEO even and the HR director. You may or may not ever figure out who those people are…and unless you’re a very qualified senior level project manager or respected consultant, I would not try contacting the CEO directly…that could backfire. Find a name for one or more of these people by doing a Google search. Then figure out their protocol of assigning email addresses. Is it email@example.com or maybe firstname.lastname@example.org or maybe it’s just email@example.com for those smaller startups that may be of interest. Then send away. If they like you and your well-structured intro email letter and resume, go to the head of the class. If they’re annoyed by you…well…you probably wouldn’t be happy there anyway.
Summary / call for input
These four items I posted may not be the exact norm for most of the general PM public out there…but they all will help you get noticed and possibly jumpstart that forward move on your career path. What are your thoughts? What suggestions do you have or what have you done – especially in an “out of the box” sort of way – to get noticed?