If you’ve considered the possibility of becoming a project manager within your current organisation but have not found any opportunities available, you may now be looking at other avenues that will lead you to your chosen career. But first ask yourself why there are no opportunities with your current employer:
- Is it the wrong type of business (i.e. not project focused)?
- Does the company only want to hire already experienced project managers?
- Are there simply no current openings for a PM?
If there are no openings presently but the business is the right type of business then you could gain some more experience and knowledge about the business while staying in your present job. Or why not ask if any training is available; gaining a recognised project management qualification or project management planning and control expertise will give you a better chance when a PM position does become available. This may also be a good approach if the company ideally want an experienced PM – remember that many project managers first move into that role because they already understand the business, know the people and are simply in the right place at the right time.
If the company does not employ project managers (maybe they use external consultancies) then you will need to seek a new job. But be prepared to take on a related or supporting role first (maybe in the PMO) until you gain more business knowledge.
You will need to remember to remain focused, self disciplined and motivated throughout your career development so that you keep exploring all avenues and don’t become demotivated. It can be more difficult getting into project management with a new company if you lack experience, particularly if you’ve been in another job role for a long time.
Here are some tips to help you move into project management:
Look into similar companies to the one you work for
Think about businesses that do the same thing your company does or similar. This means you’ll already know that industry and you will understand how the business works. Do your homework before you apply and search for information on how the business is run and if they have a project focused approach. Applying for a job in a company that doesn’t have opportunities for internal project managers will only leave you in the same position you are with your current employer.
It is often assumed volunteering is only when you give your time up to help charity – this is not always the case. You’ll need to be confident and strong enough to approach companies that can provide you with the skills and experience you need, and, obviously be able to manage without a regular income for a while. Whatever the organisation is, if they have someone who works within that company who performs the job role you want to do, you should apply. Just think about how many different types of organisations use project management on a day to day basis and you’ll realise just how broad your horizons are. Think about applying creatively using social networking, blogging, vlogging, emails, phone calls, anything you can to get noticed. Remember you’re offering your time for free and you will be an asset to any business you volunteer for. You need to explain to them what their gains will be before explaining your own.
Does your CV highlight project management skills within previous job roles that might not have been in the PM field? Consider using a professional service to enable your CV to become more project management orientated and see if companies will give you feedback if you’re struggling to receive a response.
Remember that the skills involved in successful project management: good communication, good organisational skills, self-motivation etc. can be gained in many different roles and will lead you to successful job applications if you remain open to opportunity.