How To Land Your First Job As A Project Manager
Getting hired as a project manager can become a significant career milestone. You can work with a team and fulfill crucial responsibilities about the assignment you are working on. But whether you are new in the market or trying to climb the next step on the corporate ladder, many questions might plague your mind when looking for a job as a project manager. These concerns must be answered to help you land your first project manager position easily. Here is everything you need to know about landing this job.
- Display the skills that make you a suitable candidate
When you are at a job interview for the post of project manager, the interviewers want to see certain traits to gauge your suitability for the job. Showcasing your skills is even more important when you have no experience to vouch for your working ability. Some of the skills that you need for this position include:
A project manager’s job frequently involves negotiating with external and internal stakeholders, including vendors, project staff, and higher management personnel. Your negotiation skills help you finish the project on time, keep the cost under check and make others accept your terms.
In the absence of experience, salary and contract negotiation are among the ways a prospective employer might judge you. If you are being hired through a talent hunting firm like Revature, keep in mind that they have their own criteria, leaving little margin for negotiation. In the case of the project manager job, the Revature project manager salary is highly market competitive. However, there is still no harm in negotiating. Who knows, you might be able to get some extra perks from your employer if they consider you good enough for the position and get persuaded by your negotiation skills.
Communicating effectively is at the heart of a project manager’s job. As a manager, you have critical responsibilities of completing the project in time, keeping it within the budget, and keeping the workers and other professionals on board. If you fail to communicate essential details and information about the project on time, the project gets delayed, and you may fail to achieve your performance and quality milestones. On the contrary, effective communication skills help you achieve your company’s goals.
Another must-have skill for a project manager is leadership skills. Working and heading teams of professionals is often a fundamental duty of a project manager. As a leader, you must know how to keep your team members motivated and help them focus on achieving a shared goal. Leaders also need to understand employees’ training and career development needs.
For candidates who are applying for the project manager position as their first job, their extracurricular activities in college and university are one way to showcase leadership skills. Therefore, your resume must mention projects such as volunteering, donation camps, etc., where you headed teams of people. You can also share your experience of working as a leader to corroborate the authenticity of your claims.
These are just a few soft skills that a project manager must display during the interview to be considered for the position. Other highly effective skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, delegation, risk management, and grievance resolution skills.
- Gain more knowledge about the project management field
If you are serious about working as a project manager, you cannot hesitate to learn more about this field. So gear up and study various books and resources based on the work of project managers. Get to know more about project management principles and how you can apply them in the field. Most importantly, learn the success stories of other managers, read their interviews and see what skills they possess.
Even if you have not landed your job as a project manager yet, applying project management principles in daily life gets you into the garb of a project manager. When you manage your current life and work in a structured way as you would do in the field, you can develop the mindset of a project manager and start thinking like them.
Know tools like Trello, Microsoft Project, or Asana. Gain experience applying them to make simple project plans like overhauling the garden and decorating your house from scratch to develop practical knowledge of these software in preparation for fieldwork. Adopting the mentality of a project manager is the best way to speed up your transition from the current roles to project management.
- Connect with a mentor
Mentors are people who are experienced in their field of work. If you are unsure how to look for a project manager job and what skills and qualifications you should have to become a winning candidate, connecting with a mentor can help you greatly. It gives you direction and keeps you focused on your end goals.
Most importantly, you can learn from your mentor and avoid the mistakes they made when they were in your situation. You can also learn winning project management techniques, principles, and methodologies from them. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to clear out ambiguities and prepare yourself to ace the interview.
Moreover, your mentor can also help you through simulations that mimic actual work settings. Also, ask your mentor if they know of any project you can be part of to hone your skills. Even if you are not connected with a firm, the hands-on experience can still help you strengthen your chances of landing a job.
Connecting with a mentor is not difficult. There are professional mentoring firms; you can get in touch with them. Or, if someone in your current circle has the mentoring abilities, request them to be your mentor. Make sure to connect with a mentor a few months before applying for the job. During this time, you can identify the skills you must gain and the certification requirements you must fulfill. The more prepared you are, the higher your chance to have a leg up over other candidates applying for the same positions and companies as yourself.
- Get a few relevant training
Ask any project manager, and they will tell you the importance of proper training for a project manager. On the actual job, you are working on various fronts such as budgeting, staffing, human resource management, financial management, timelines and milestone, planning, etc. You must be trained in doing all these activities to be a strong contender for the job. Look for online training and certifications, attend conferences and webinars, or consider contacting project management agencies.
Preparing yourself as the best candidate for a position as a project manager and ensuring all its requirements are fulfilled amplifies your chances of landing your first job. So, it is natural to think about the qualification, certification requirements, and skills needed to perform the duties of a project manager. With that said, above are some tips to help you land your first job as a project manager.