Monday, March 15, 2010

So You Want to Be a {Your Career Here}?

Some thoughts on a career in Project Management:

Assuming one is trained in Project Management, to the extent of having passed a training course, what then?

Set aside 15 minutes each day to search "Monster Jobs" and "Workopolis" for current positions in your chosen geographic region.

The Job Market is Churning Today Like Never Before

Organizations downsize, people move, so there will be many applications for each Project Management job.

The successful candidate will have much work experience to put on the resume; a recent trainee will have lots of work experience, but no work experience in Project Management.

The best candidate for the job is probably a 30-40 year old who can demonstrate hands-on experience managing projects.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person (or the computer) screening job applications.

There will be dozens of applications for each position.

Some applications will come from 30-40 year-olds who can demonstrate hands-on experience managing projects.

Some applications will come from 55 year-olds who have graduated from a Project Management course.

Who would you hire?

No, forget that question; try this one instead:

Who would you call in for an interview?

Once you separate yourself from yourself ("Well, I'd interview ME! because I feel that I am the best candidate"; "I deserve the job/I want to change my career" etc.) it's tough to justify spending an hour, or even just a half-hour of a manager's time on what is essentially a student level applicant for a management position.

I consider myself to be quite accomplished in project management.

Over the past 20 years for a wide variety of clients (in terms of sizes, industries, geographic area and range, revenue and so on) I have walked in the door, and conducted everything from the initial chat with the CEO down to floor-interview with "the workers", researched software, in most cases developed it (a project to be managed in its own right), designed and implemented training, provided technical support.

My work is based on 40 years experience in sound principles of quantifying, recording, analyzing, keeping track of issues; the lot.

And yet I know that I'll not land a position in Project Management because I've never been hired as a "Project Manager". There are many individuals in organizations who would testify to my project management skills, but not one of them can say "Chris was Project Manager from 1997 to 2003" or similar.

And that is what an employer is looking for. Something called "solid track-record"

So the sad truth is that for many of us, it has become near-impossible to switch careers mid-stream, because employers are looking to hire someone who has NOT changed horses in mid-stream.

I do not say that you can't land that job.

I do say that the chances are slim.

What Does this Mean?

It means that you should continue to hope.

You should continue to apply for jobs in Project Management, but since your chances of employment are greater somewhere else, you should not assign 100% of your time to searching for a Project Management job.

If your chances are only 10% compared (by age, work experience) to other applicants, then you would be throwing away 90% of your resources.

Instead, recognize the percentages and assign 10% of your time to a very select group of jobs where you think you have a greater-than-normal chance of succeeding, and invest the other 90% of your resources looking at alternative sources of income or revenue.

No matter how much I long to be a titled Project Manager for the Shell Oil company, I'm going to be in receipt of cash flow faster if I spend 90% of my time applying for positions as Training Consultant.

And next week's rent and groceries will come from "VBA Programmer".

To put this in terms of dollars, if you have been laid off, downsized, let go, or have accumulated a nest egg in your current position, however many dollars you thought you needed to get that plum career position, however many months you had figured would be enough to move on, multiply that figure by ten.

Then Think, Very Carefully

No comments: