STEP 1: WHAT ARE Project Management JOBS ALL ABOUT?
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.