If you’ve ever applied for a job, then you’ve probably seen the phrase, “Comfortable wearing many hats,” listed under applicant qualifications. Wearing many hats, or being comfortable in a variety of roles, epitomizes the professional life of a project manager. This is why it is so crucial for aspiring managers to properly educate and prepare themselves for project management; you have to be ready for anything.
Whether you plan on building a career in project management or using it as a stepping stone toward a higher position, there are a number of essential attributes and qualifications that can help you make the most of the opportunity. I detail the process below, but if you’re starting from square one, you might want to see if this is right path for you with this project management training course.
The last thing I want to do is dissuade you from pursuing a career in project management, but it’s important to know that certain people adapt to the position more easily and proficiently than others. This is because project managers are like team captains: some people are naturals at leading teams to victory, and others struggle to earn respect. You can get a better idea of what it takes with this post that answers the question: What does a project manager do? If you have no management experience whatsoever, the best thing to do is look at your current position. Are you a member of a team? Is it possible, through hard work, to be promoted to a project management position? The majority of project managers are hired by the company that currently employs them, so if you are neither in a position to be promoted nor in possession of management experience, there are two initial courses of action for you to take:
- Education: You don’t have to go back to school, but you need to start earning credentials. This can be done a number of ways, as there are online classes sponsored through universities that will help you get that vital line on your resume, and there are also courses like this Project Management Professional (PMP) certification course that will help you pass your PMP exam, arguably one of the most in-demand professional certifications available.
- Relocation: Not physically, just in the job market. Ideally you will have a field that interests you the most. Obviously, the best way to get involved is to start applying for positions in your field. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, experience in a field is a prerequisite for a project management position. This is also a good time to join a company that offers upward mobility, because that’s the whole idea.
Once you’ve figured out whether you need to stay put, further your education or start looking elsewhere for opportunities, there are a few skills you should hone and several things you can do to drastically increase your marketability.
The first thing, which is absolutely vital for project managers anyway, is communication. If your supervisor doesn’t know you want to be a project manager, you’re doing yourself an unforgivable disservice. Yes, this will let your supervisor know that you are fighting for a position and anxious to apply to any openings, but it will also allow him or her to start mentoring you. It will also open the door for other beneficial conversations down the road: you can ask for advice, for details on what your supervisor is looking for, for opportunities to gain valuable experience (such as filling in for sick or vacationing managers), etc.
Communication is one of the biggest and most interesting aspects of being a project manager, and if you can begin to demonstrate that you are not only comfortable communicating, but able to use it to an advantage, people will start paying attention. You can pick up the skills you need with this compelling communication course.
There are so many ways to get involved that you really don’t have an excuse for being “out of the loop.” Many companies, especially those that employ fifty or more people, often run fundraising campaigns or other social events to raise company awareness. Running one of the events is ripe for the taking. Be the first to volunteer to do it and you have a wonderful chance at your first management opportunity, even if it’s unofficial. Once you score the gig, execution will be the key. The idea is not to do all the work yourself and run hither and thither like a maniac. You want to be cool and collected, directing other people and picking up the slack. Again, this is why I cannot stress enough the importance of familiarizing yourself with the position, even if you take the fast route with this course that improves your project management skills in one day. When the opportunity presents itself, you need to be ready.
Volunteering And Honing Your Skills
If no foreseeable fundraising or social events are on the horizon, stay proactive and volunteer at local organizations that are looking for help. Employed professionals are in extremely high demand when it comes to volunteer-based companies and organizations. You can help plan and execute food drives, child learning centers, local environmental events, etc. It’s definitely not a bad idea to keep using your communication skills to keep your supervisor informed of the steps you’re taking to improve your stock.
Because I mentioned honing relevant skills earlier, I want to touch on what these are. First and foremost is organization. Again, earning credentials is helpful, even if it’s just completing a class such as this productivity mastery and time management course. Second, you need to be able to communicate clearly and fluently (and yes, I have a class for that too: this five-star powerful speaking course taught be a 4-time TED speaker). Third, you must be able to problem-solve, lead and make strong decisions. These are wrapped into one because they feed off each other. You need verifiable experience and success (you can get started on the first with a critical thinking and problem solving class, but the second is entirely in your hands).
The Internet Is Your Oyster
The internet is a resource you cannot afford to ignore. Just look at these free and easy options you can use to get involved, build a network and further your career:
- Project Management Institute (PMI): You can join PMI online, which is the world’s largest association for project managers. There you will find resources and information that will keep you busy for days.
- Social Media: Twitter is your best social media outlet for finding connections and information, but don’t forget about the others. On Twitter you can easily search for and find posts related to project management. Start learning and building a presence if you haven’t already.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn exists to help people make connections and further their careers, and it’s good at what it does. This isn’t random “friending” like it might be on Facebook: with LinkedIn, you can join open groups for project managers where inter-communication is encouraged, and the odds are good that there’s a local option, too.
- Blogs, etc.: Blogs and other free webinar-type information is a great way to pick-up some free and invaluable information from the best and most knowledgable people in your field.
If you’re skeptical of what’s out there, just check out this free article that not only offers resume advice, it also provides a template you use to land your dream job. Thanks, internet (you’re welcome).