If you want to build a career in project management but have never worked as one before, don’t fret. Many a project manager is an accidental one, who falls into the role as a matter of circumstance. There are also those who only have experience in entirely unrelated fields, but leverage it to become a successful project manager.
If you’re looking to make that shift yourself, we recommend these helpful strategies:
Have a Solid Base of Skills
A project manager doesn’t need to be an architect, or a programmer, or a graphic designer in order to lead the team. They can do the job better than you, and that’s not what you’re there for (although relevant industry knowledge makes your job a whole lot easier). But you do have a good range of essential project management skills to compensate, like organizational and planning. The good news is, those skills aren’t exclusive to project management—you can gain that experience elsewhere and transfer it over.
Step Up, All the Time
Project managers tend to be people who take charge of a situation and work proactively, and recruiters look for that kind of behavior when interviewing applicants. If you can demonstrate that kind of drive in your present and past work, then you’re more likely to get that project management spot. If you don’t have that kind of experience yet, then now’s a good time to start volunteering for things!
You don’t have to know everything about the project management job before signing on, but there’s no excuse for staying ignorant. Study up on the industry you’re going to be joining. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—especially during the interview process—because it shows that you’re taking an active interest and developing yourself. You should never stop improving, even when you finally do become a project manager.
Becoming a project manager means you’re going to be immersed in a team environment from day one. In order to be effective, you have to be used to working with and coordinating groups of different people—and not just the people who sit next to your desk. You’ll be managing contractors, clients, and stakeholders as well, all of whom have their agendas and quirks. Having the right people skills definitely makes the role easier.
Are you interested in becoming a project manager? We can help! Download our free e-book and get a head start on your new project management career!
Image Credit, Raquel Camargo, Flickr