The project management career promises a great salary + amazing benefits. Apply for the position even if you have zero experience. Click here to know how.
Nearly 71% of organisations consist of a dedicated Project Management Office (PMO). Companies which align their business strategies with the PMO reported that 38% more of their projects could successfully meet their original goals. No wonder the demand for project managers has increased considerably in different industries over the past few years. A career in project management promises a bright future. The average salary of project managers in the USA is $87,446. You can have job security, take responsibility and continue to learn and grow. Now, the question is:
Is it possible to start a project management career with zero experience?
The primary job of project managers is to plan, scope, initiate, assign, budget and wrap-up the projects in an organisation. You need to take care of complicated tasks, urgent deadlines and organise your workday efficiently. Let me assume that you are already good at these things since you are interested in pursuing a career in project management. Zero experience will not be a problem if you have all the qualities of a project manager.
It takes three steps to start your project management career when you have no experience in this field. Read the steps, implement them and hopefully, you will land up in your dream job.
Step 1: Get familiar with the qualities of a project manager.
You must know what employers look for when they hire project managers. Then all you have to do is hone those qualities and make yourself a more deserving candidate for the title “project manager.” The qualities that you need to take care of:
Project managers are often asked to build a project from scratch and complete it within a specific span of time. In that case, you need to be a fierce negotiator to get things done on time. You also need to be a strong leader to motivate the team and complete the project efficiently.
A project manager must convey messages without leaving behind any loopholes. You may have to manage two completely separate teams to make a project successful. Whether you are talking or writing an assignment, every sentence needs to be crystal clear to your listeners and readers, respectively.
Project managers are bound to encounter obstacles while they are trying to keep things moving forward. But, you need to have impeccable problem-solving and risk management skills to untangle the snarls at work. No matter how serious the situation is, you need to keep a clear head and think of a solution as soon as possible.
Often, you will be asked to complete complex projects within a short span of time. Getting plenty of things done by a strict deadline is no easy feat. You need to possess time management skills to not only manage your time but also your team’s time better.
Hone these qualities whenever you get an opportunity. Say, for example, you need to deliver a document within an urgent deadline in your current organisation. Chart a plan, talk to your colleagues and make it happen through strong time management skills. Similarly, make sure you are conveying messages clearly whenever you are asked to speak at a meeting or something like that.
Step 2: Acquire the skills.
Now that you know what skills are required for the job role of “project managers”, let’s see how you can acquire them. You may have great leadership qualities. But, your employers will not know that unless you mention that in your resume, right?
Get a certificate
There are multiple online project management courses that you can take up to get a certification in this field. However, I would suggest beginners to take the certificate for a “Certified Associate in Project Management” or CAPM. You can also follow online courses and get Project Management Professional certification or PMP.
Manage complex projects in your current role
Say you are a part of a big project in your current organisation. See if anyone is there to handle the nuts and bolts of the project. If not, you can volunteer to take on the project management responsibility. Your role may be restricted to only setting and managing deadlines. But, you can always mention that on your resume.
Learn the tools
Employers expect aspiring project managers to know at least the basic tools required in this field. You may be asked questions in an interview based on those tools and their applications. Thus, it is better that you start learning the tools to organise yourself better for the role. You can consider Asana, Basecamp and DropBox initially.
Start acquiring the skills as early as you can. It will help you build a professional and compelling resume. In the interview, your employers will understand that you are serious about shifting into this career track. It may help you get past some recruiting barriers too.
Step 3: Get the job
You know the requirements of employers. You have worked on the skills and you may even have a legitimate certificate relevant to the position of “project manager.” Now, you are all set to land the job and begin your journey as a project manager at a different organisation. Here’s how you can get the job you want.
Refine your resume
Your resume is the first thing that your recruiting managers will see. Make sure it consists of only the essential details. Weed out the jargon and highlight your project management skills efficiently. I have already discussed the qualities of a project manager. Highlight those and show how you have worked on your previous projects based on those qualities.
Try out alternative job titles
There are multiple alternatives to project managers in case the organisation has no vacancy for that position. You can consider taking job titles such as project coordinator, sales or marketing assistant or any other operations role. These job positions serve the same purpose as a project manager does. These are actually stepping stones towards a future role in project management.
Opt for entry-level positions
It is better if you consider entry-level positions for project managers if you are applying with no experience. Showcase your skills in the resume and crack the interview like a pro. Once you get through the entry-level positions, it will be 10X easier for you to delve into this field. You can start working as an experienced project manager after a few years in the same organisation or in some other new organisation.
These three steps are enough to help you start your project management career, even if you have no experience. I had a degree in Engineering, but I currently work as a senior project manager at a reputed organisation in Australia. It takes time. But, it is possible and all the hard work and wait are definitely worth the career opportunities. Get started with the first step now. Good Luck!