How To Start a Successful Project Management Career
If you’re at a crossroads in your career, looking into the future and pondering the best path to success, the world of project management is an exciting and potentially rewarding adventure to embark on.
Project management is more than deadlines, budgets, and Gantt charts; it's about orchestrating the unique dance of people, processes, and resources to create a symphony of success from chaos.
Starting a career in project management is more than a choice; it's a calling, an opportunity to be the captain of a ship traversing new waters.
You cannot afford to be ignorant about the things you need to succeed. And that’s why we’re glad you’re reading this piece.
You’ll learn the steps to be successful in project management. You’ll also have clear examples and templates you can apply to aid your beginner processes.
Let’s start right away!
Five steps to start a successful project management career
You’re the one who ultimately defines success for yourself. A lot of times, success in a career path is the ability to hone your skills such that you’re valuable for the skills you have.
No matter what success means to you, the most important thing is to be able to get a good job and get paid what you’re worth for your services. In fact, according to the 2021 project management report, getting a new job is one of the top 3 career goals for project managers.
The five steps listed below are a fail-safe way to get that.
1. Discover your passion for project management
Understanding your love for this dynamic sector is an important first step, whether you're just starting or seeking a career change.
A true passion for the profession is at the heart of every great project manager. Before you leap headfirst into this exciting field, determine what genuinely stokes your professional passion.
Is it the gratification of watching a team succeed under your leadership that draws you in, or is it the challenge of navigating projects through stormy waters?
Effective leadership, problem-solving, communication, and leadership strengths assessment are essential to project management success. Consider your advantages and see if they coincide with these fundamental skills.
Most times, it’s your passion that will keep you afloat when the boring days come. You’ll have to manage lots of software, handle multiple teams and give out even the smallest tasks. Your passion will be the drive for those seemingly boring tasks.
Loving what you do will help you get through the long days, difficult choices, and unforeseen obstacles that come with project management. When you are passionate about what you do, it shows in everything you do and motivates others around you to do their best as well.
That way, you’re also impacting your team to ensure that projects are carried out with unfeigned drive and renewed purpose.
If you don’t already have a passion for the field, a good way to fix it will be to keep reading about successful project managers and to network with other project managers who love what they do.
2. Build a good resumè
A resumè is the next best step to starting a career in project management and in any career at all.
Think about it, before you apply for any job, you need to send a resumè and the dilemma of how you’ll get work experience for your resume since you’re just starting out.
Once you’ve gotten your template, the next step is to fill the template with your work details.
Now, you’ll have to use your good judgment to list everything you’ve ever done that relates to project management even if it wasn’t officially project management.
Type ‘must have project management hard skills’ on your search bar and see the results,
These results show you the skills most recruiters look out for in your resumè.
Now, think about situations and projects where you showed or used either one of these skills. Include them in your resume, highlighting the results you got from using the skills.
Your results should be detailed, data driven and specific. What did you do, how did you achieve it and what were the specific results you got? Metrics will always be a huge part of accessing any project manager.
If you don’t have lots of experience, a way to build that is by interning or volunteering at non profit organizations or start ups where you can learn on the job.
3. Understand the concept
Begin with grasping the essence of a project manager's role. It's not just about managing duties; it's about being the driving force behind the success of a project.
You are the innovator, motivator, and problem solver. Your canvas is a project plan, and your palette is a talented group of people.
Do you find this concept appealing? Does the prospect of being the architect of success pique your interest? If it does, then you’re well on the right path.
A good way to get more understanding is by taking courses to hone your skill. E-learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy and even YouTube have courses on project management.
You can create a test project and use it to test run how each of these project management tools work.
Nothing beats connecting with other project managers who talk about the field as a huge part of their personal branding. These people may be willing to teach the basic concepts for free or at a small cost. You can send a warm pitch to them to ask if they’re interested in mentoring you in your career.
4. Identify your niche
Project management is a multifaceted field, and each specialty offers a unique appeal. Whether IT, construction, healthcare, or any other industry, you'll find that every niche brings its own challenges and rewards.
Explore the various sectors and discover where your interests naturally gravitate. It’s okay to start out as a generalist especially when you’re unsure what you love the most about project management.
However, it’s good to explore the field with the intent of finding one area that resonates with you the most.
So, when you start volunteering, interning or even working, make sure to figure out what is your preferred niche and what you’ll be willing to drop everything else for.
Having a niche helps position you as a vertical expert in that niche. It streamlines your audience and enables you to know all you can about the niche.
You can devote your time and energy into learning all you can about the niche and what sets it apart in the industry.
You’ll also know your direct competition and identify the value proposition you have to offer and what makes you different from them.
5. Find a job
The goal of everyone who starts out in project management is to get a job they love. Job hunting is the first project they have to manage. Pun intended.
Andrea be honest, more often than not, finding a job is not easy. There are lots of discouraging things about finding a job.
From constant rejections to endless applications and never-ending interviews, finding a job can be exhausting.
However, you shouldn’t lose heart because the light at the end of the tunnel is big, bright and very much worth it.
You should begin your search from job boards. Many companies post their open roles on job boards like LinkedIn, Upwork, Indeed, Otta, FlexJobs, RemoteJobs etc.
These job boards are ideal especially when you want to see a variety of jobs you can choose from.
You can also find jobs on the company’s website. Many companies post their available positions on their career pages. So, when you want to apply to a company, you can go to their career pages and check if there’s a project management opening that you can apply to.
Another very smart move is pitching. This is very helpful especially when you’re starting out. Pitching can be cold pitching when you send an email or message to someone you’ve never spoken to before. Warm pitching is sending an email to someone who you’ve probably engaged with or casually spoken to.
You pitch your services in a confident and respectful manner and explain how your services will be of great benefit to their business.
Finally, you can start a personal brand on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter. You build your portfolio with your audience, telling them what you’ve learned and done. That way, you’re announcing your expertise to everyone without directly saying you need a job.
And guess what? Do that long enough and the offers will be flying in!
Start your Project Management Journey
Remember, project management isn't a one-size-fits-all profession. It's a canvas waiting for you to paint your unique story. Whether you're a problem-solver, a leader, a collaborator, or a visionary, your passion is the compass that will guide you on this exhilarating journey.
As you delve deeper into project management, you'll discover how to build a strong foundation, navigate the job market, and manage your first projects.
All you have to do is start.
Martins Favour is a content writer for B2B SaaS brands. She finds a home in weaving worlds out of words. Stories are her life and LinkedIn is her favorite tool.