How to Get a Project Management Job

STEP 1: WHAT ARE Project Management JOBS ALL ABOUT?

Gantt chart

Gantt chart

  • AKA: Program Management
  • Overview: Oversee both short-term projects and long-term programs, making sure they run on-time and within budget.
  • Example project: Manage the progress of an engineering team against launch deadlines.
  • What you do all day: Plan projects, set-up tracking systems, hold regular check-ins with all stakeholders to review progress, provide updates
  • Roles: Project Manager (manages short-term projects), Program Manager (manages a portfolio of ongoing projects)
  • What they look for: People with exceptional organizational skills - including project management technology (e.g., Gantt charts, Scrum)
  • Example job: Program Manager, Google

STEP 2: WOULD YOU BE A GOOD FIT FOR Project Management?

Ask yourself if you'd love doing these kinds of things all day:

  • Setting up organizational systems
  • Planning out projects in minute detail
  • Delegating tasks and holding peers responsible for task completion
  • Facilitating project status meetings
  • Communicating progress with executive stakeholders

If your answer is "Yes" to the majority of activities, you'd likely be a good fit for Project Management jobs.


STEP 3: WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED FOR project management JOBS?

For each major activity, I've listed the most common keywords from across dozens of job descriptions, as well as a sample resume bullet:

·      Setting up organizational systems

o   Keywords: project status tracking, bug tracking, task tracking, JIRA, agile development, Scrum, Asana, Visio, waterfall development

o   Sample Bullet: Established an agile development system wih a kanban board to organize daily standups, reducing time to ship by 20%

·      Planning out projects in minute detail

o   Keywords: planning, project schedule, timelines, budgets, complex projects

o   Sample Bullet: Managed multiple project plans and budgets simultaneously, ensuring all three products launched on-time and within budget

·      Delegating tasks and holding peers responsible for task completion

o   Keywords: cross-functional, on-time, on-budget, engineering, alignment, relationship-building skills

o   Sample Bullet: Was responsible for the timeliness of all engineering and design deliverables; never missed a ship date in five years on the job

·      Facilitating project status meetings

o   Keywords: project status meetings, standups, create visibility, identify blockers, escalate issues

o   Sample Bullet: Initiated daily standups to identify and solve blockers, taking a project that was expected to ship three months late to an on-time delivery

·      Communicating progress with executive stakeholders

o   Keywords: manage expectations, stakeholder communications, communicate status and risk, cross-functional planning meetings, collect data, prepare metrics, senior leaders

o   Sample Bullet: Represented the team's progress to executive stakeholders, earning additional investment based on consisten on-time, on-budget performance


STEP 4: WHAT project management TRAINING DO YOU RECOMMEND?

If you want to brush up on any of these skills, check out Bonnie Biafore's Project Management Fundamentals course on Lynda. I like two things about this course in particular:

  1. It doesn't ignore the difficulties of working with humans in favor of focusing on tools. There are several sections that go deep on managing a ragtag band of engineers, designers, and business folks beyond mere Gantt charts.
     
  2. It includes exercise files that allow you to simulate the Project Management experience ahead of time and make sure this is the right role for you.

STEP 5: HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY GET A Project Management JOB?

To help you convert your passion and skills into an actual job, I've put together a step-by-step course that covers how to:

  • Design a resume that will mark you as an insider to tech recruiters
  • Make sure you find every single great tech job across multiple sites
  • Get a referral at just about any tech company - even if you don't know anyone directly
  • Prepare for every kind of tech interview question with point-by-point formulas