Sooner or later it happens to all of us — you will have to apply for a job within the field of project management. You may be looking to upgrade your position or getting out of a toxic situation; you could have been laid off or fired from your last position. Regardless of the reason, finding yourself in the deep end of the job seeker’s pool is often a scary proposition. But there are things that you can do that will set you apart and help you find the job you want.
Project Management is a specialized field that attracts some of the top performers in my opinion. Top PM’s are people who have terrific interpersonal skills, know the difference between leadership and management and when to apply each, and have the reputation for getting the job done on time and within budget. Applying project management strategies and skills to the job search should make landing the perfect role easy, right? There is some wisdom in the use of your skills, but I would even take it one step further and suggest that as a job seeker you also use the following tips to zero in on opportunities and get an interview.
- Find a resume writing service and hire them. Now. I like to think I am a pretty prolific writer, but when it comes to writing a resume, I am not an expert. Let me give you an example. My brother is an outstanding guy who is very accomplished professionally. He is also a project manager who has an exceptional track record with real results. He was looking for a new job a couple of years ago and sent me a copy of the resume he was using to apply for jobs in my area, looking for feedback on the quality of the writing. I was blown away by the quality of his resume and how he looked on paper. He had paid just under $500 for a professional service to format his resume and he ended up landing a job that paid him about $60 K more. His ROI was pretty solid.
- Sharpen your online profile. You should already have a profile at LinkedIn and possibly TheLadders, but take some time to make sure your experience and accomplishments are prominent. While the resume still is the foundation for making an application for a job, online profiles provided by companies like LinkedIn are becoming more and more important in your job search. If you use LinkedIn to its full potential, you can research the company you are applying at, some of their employees, and possibly the people you are “connected” to there. Your online profile may be the first exposure they have to your professional accomplishments, so spend some time on your profile there and at other sites.
- Don’t apply for a job as soon as you find it. Once you have found a job listing on TheLadders.com, monster.com, or a company’s job listing page on their website, avoid the temptation of sending in a resume immediately. Research who you know at the company and reach out to them. The easiest way to get in contact with someone is via email, but I prefer the phone. Phone calls are so much more personal. Ask the person what they like about their job, the company, and the culture. Then ask them about the opening and if they know who is the person responsible for interviewing and hiring. Once you follow-up and send in a resume, always, always, always send your friend a thank you card. It is good manners and good form.
- Establish KPI for your job search. As you begin your search, set key performance indicators (KPI) related to your job search to keep you disciplined and focused. The metrics I would suggest are:
- number of phone calls to business associates related to job opportunities they are aware of,
- number of follow-up phone calls or emails sent to employers you have applied to,
- number of hours of preparation for job interviews, continuing education hours,
- number of hours spent networking at local PMI chapter meetings, association meetings, or other opportunities.
- number of hours working out and maintaining your physical health.
You have to treat the job search like it was your full-time job. You will end up submitting a mountain of resumes through online job boards, but the best way for you to find the job you want and not get lost in the black hole of the Internet is to reach out to the people you know. There is no substitute for networking and a personal touch. Finding a job in project management is no exception to that rule.