We’re all familiar with the expression about the needle in the haystack. Something that is extraordinarily hard, if not impossible, to find is always likened to finding a needle in the haystack. There are certain skills every project manager needs to possess. These range from facilitating meetings, managing change, planning projects, communicating project status most effectively, analyzing risks, solving problems, and all points in between.
Many have felt that project management jobs unfortunately fall into the category of being that needle in the haystack. Application after application is submitted, interview after interview is conducted, and rejection after rejection is received. It takes a toll not on just the person who is looking for the project management jobs but the entire family. Not having work impacts people financially, emotionally, and even physically.
One thing to keep in mind as you go through this list: These are all things that you need to be working on NOW while you are hopefully still employed. View this list just like car insurance. The time to consider buying car insurance is not AFTER the accident has occurred. That’s way too late. The time to buy car insurance is months and years ahead of a tragic event occurring.
You pay into this insurance over a long period of time and hopefully you never have to use it. But, when the time does come that you are involved in an unforeseen accident you are sure glad you have it.
The activities below require an investment of time and resources before the tragic event of having to find employment knocks on your door. You don’t want to find yourself in a position of saying “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” at that point because then it’s too late. Work on the following activities now and be in a better position to lining up your next project management jobs.
1. Keep Your Skills Current
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity that is at your disposal now to keep these skills current? Perhaps there is a seminar that is being offered on how to better uncover hidden risks on projects. It may not necessarily be something you are thrilled about attending, but this is a good opportunity to force yourself to attend. It will be something that can help you with your next project management jobs in addition to the position you currently hold.
2. Monitor the Market
Always ask yourself what the market is doing. Which industries are booming right now and which industries are cooling off? Is there a particular aspect of project management that is heating up in your town that you can more closely align yourself with? Maybe procurement management or cost management are in high demand. What can you do to learn more about these areas to the point of becoming an expert? As you progress in your career you will be able to sense the changes that come in waves through the marketplace. You need to make sure you are on top of the next wave and not getting sucked under by the last one that just passed!
3. Monitor Your Salary
In conjunction with monitoring the market above, you also need to keep tabs on your salary. What is the market paying for your type of project management skills in a particular industry with a particular amount of project management experience? There are many salary surveys out there that you can take that will give you a ballpark estimate of what you should be paid based upon what you are doing.
Why is this important to monitor? The initial answer is obvious…you want to get paid what you are worth. But, it also gives you an indication if you need to really hunker down in your current project management job and make the best of your situation.
For example, what if you find that you are being paid more than what the market is currently offering? You want to be very careful to hold on to that position as long as possible until the market recovers. Once things start looking up again you may feel like you can take a bit more risk when it comes to looking for your next project management jobs.
4. Network, Network, Network
Did we mention network yet? This is a critical aspect of making sure your next project management jobs are lined up. We’re not talking about going out and asking every person you see at every event you go to if they have a job for you. Frankly, this becomes obnoxious. But, what you do want to do during this time is build up the relationships (aka “insurance”) so that when the time comes that you do need a job they will be in a better position to help.
How can you do this? Help them!
When you meet people at various events and functions you will find out that they have needs themselves. Maybe you can help them in a certain area that you have particular expertise. Or, you can pass along jobs offers to others that you know are looking. These kind favors will be remembered for a long time to come and people will come out of the woodwork to help you when you have a need.
5. Keep Tabs on Your Certifications
Do you have your PMP, CAPM, MPM, or some other project management certification? Do everything you can possibly to do not let it lapse!
There’s really no excuse to let your certifications lapse. It’s just a matter of scheduling a certain amount of time each month to focus on certification activities. This is important because certification maintenance can quickly get away from you. The next thing you know you are at the end of the cycle, you have a ridiculous and almost unachievable number of credits to earn…and then you lose your job.
Guess what? Prospective employers can, and do check the validity and current status of people’s certifications. You’ll end up with a black eye if you claim you are a PMP, for example, and they look you up in the Registry and can’t find your name.
6. Target Your Dream Companies
Something else you can do to find your next project management jobs is identify those companies that you would love to work for. Do your research. Find out what they do. Understand their culture. Use Google, LinkedIn, and the myriad of other research tools now at your disposal to find out every little thing you can about these companies. Then, pitch your services to them.
“But they’re not hiring…” you may say. That’s right, they may not be hiring right now but they possibly will be in the future. This is the time to get in front of the most senior person in this organization as possible and let them know what you can do for them. Let them know you understand that now is not the time, but when they do have some project management jobs open up that you would like to be one of the first people on the list that they call. This type of proactive behavior will for a certainty put you at the top of their list!
Finding project management jobs is hard work and can be compared to a needle in a haystack. But, it’s not impossible. Come up with your plan to execute the six steps above and you’ll find yourself in a much better position to move seamlessly from one project management job to the next.
Something you can take with you wherever you go is ProjectManager.com. You’ll be able to monitor and control delivery on your projects through charts, graphs, and other easy-to-use tools. Take a free trial today.