How to Find Work as a Project Manager
You may have heard that project managers are in demand. But that doesn’t mean that finding a job as a project manager will be easy. The standards are high, and the competition is tough. Here are some useful tips and other information that will help you find, secure, and keep a project management job:
Where can I find a project management job?
There are various resources available to people looking for project management jobs. It isn’t just about going through the newspaper’s career section anymore. Here are some great places to find jobs:
- Online job directories: There are countless sites – such as Indeed and Careers24 – that host job ads. Online job searches are a great place to start, as you can use keywords (like ‘entry-level jobs’) to narrow down your search. You can also do a simple Google search for ‘Project Management Jobs in South Africa’.
- Business social networks: Sites like LinkedIn and Bizcommunity are great resources for job-hunters. You can create a professional profile, upload your CV, and apply for jobs listed exclusively on these sites by companies. These are also good places to start networking and building connections.
- Trade journals: You can look for job ads in project management publications, or in industry-related publications. Trade journals or newsletters often contain plenty of job listings.
- PMI membership: Belonging to the Project Management Institute gives you access to a variety of project management job listings. Belonging to the South African chapter of the PMI will also give you a chance to access local resources and networking opportunities.
- Networking: This is one of the best ways to get a good job. You can go to project management companies and get to know the role-players – or if you know someone working in this profession, you can ask them to help you get your foot in the door. It’s always about who you know.
- Newspapers: A great resource to fall back on. There is plenty of construction, industrial, and governmental work advertised here. You can also buy publications like Jobmail to see if there are project management jobs available (remember to look under categories like ‘Engineering’ and ‘Construction’ for project management jobs as well!).
- Recruiters: Recruitment agencies often look for project managers. Give your CV to a number of these agencies and they will help you find the perfect position.
- Internships: Paid or unpaid internships are great opportunities to get your foot in the door at a company. They can also help you build the experience and connections you will need to find a full-time position elsewhere.
Getting the job
There are many jobs out there. But getting the job is more difficult than finding it. Here are some tips:
• Make sure you have what it takes
Study the job description of the position you are applying for before sending your CV. Make sure it is a suitable position for you, and that you have what it takes to fulfil all the requirements, responsibilities, and duties set out for this position. Do you have the correct skill set and qualifications? Do you think you will fit in with the company? Do you have the experience needed?
You should also remember to tailor your CV to fit each job application. Make sure you focus on relevant information when sending in your application.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find work at first – or if you don’t hear back from companies after sending in a CV. Sometimes it takes long to find the right job, especially if it is your first job as a project manager. Remember that it will all be worth it when you get that job and start building the experience, skills, and knowledge that will push your career forward.
• Prepare for the interview
A project management interview might be somewhat different to other job interviews. Firstly, this is a profession in which leadership skills, initiative, pro-activeness, and decisiveness are important – so be confident and pay attention to how you present and carry yourself during the interview. Also, remember to dress professionally.
Most likely, a project management team leader or director will be part of the interview. They will want to determine two main things:
- Do you have the technical competence to do the work expected of the person in that position?
- Do you have the behavioural qualities – or character traits – to fit in with the team, company, and nature of the project?
You might want to take your portfolio with you as well. A portfolio can include many things: project plans, run downs, or even reports of your past projects. If you haven’t done any real projects thus far, assignments or mock projects you did for your project management course might suffice as well. It is important to have something to show as proof of your ability.
Lastly, you should always do research on the company and position you are being interviewed for. Find out as much as you can beforehand. This will help you determine what they will expect from you, and thus allow you to answer interview questions appropiately. You will also impress the interviewer by showing that you are smart enough to do some homework on the company beforehand.
There are countless resources online to help you prepare for job interviews. So make sure to do some preparation before going in.
Keeping the job
Most companies will initially employ you in a capacity that allows them to monitor your performance before they employ you permanently. This might take the form of a probation contract of between 3 to 6 months. So how do you pass this probation period, and keep your job afterwards?
- Always be on time: At least for the first couple of months, try to arrive before your boss or manager, and only leave after they do in the afternoons.
- Aim to exceed expectations: Don’t settle. Always try to do more and push yourself on the projects you are working on. Employers take notice of people who are keen and enthusiastic.
- Develop yourself: Project management is a dynamic profession. You can always develop new skills and learn new things. Studying a project management course through distance learning is a great way to do this.
- Be innovative: Try to find new ways of doing things, and show your employer that you are creative and able to solve problems. This is a great way to stand out.
- Keep up to date with industry news: Don’t get left behind. Stay on top of industry-related news, current affairs that might affect your sector or specific project, and developments in your field.