Stand out from the crowd

Project managers who want to progress need to take control of their career development. Even those who have been working on projects for years need to identify what their skills are, in order to understand how good they are.

It is equally important to know where their skills fit and therefore what it is they can offer, if they are to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Skills awareness can be achieved easily by taking a project management competency assessment, as can also be found on Project Management Institute (PMI) or Association of Project Management (APM).

This will measure the extent to which skills meet industry standards that exist. More importantly though, it allows project managers to address any gaps in their skills and take positive action through training.

Self-development

Projects are run differently depending on the business or the organisation, and it is very difficult to tell the outside world how these projects are done without formal certification. Therefore any project manager who wants to make a serious move in their career needs to back up their experience with formal and informal project management training.

Organisations rely on these ‘badges’ when recruiting, so even those with more than enough experience might still struggle to get interviews if they are unable to prove what they can do.

However, while self-development might seem straight-forward enough – it is often easier said than done.

For a start, the onus is very much on the individual – organisations will not always organise it on an employee’s behalf. Also, until someone knows exactly what they need from their training, there is no clear path as to what training to take – another reason why undertaking a competency assessment is so important.

Despite having been around for years though, not many project managers currently undertake them.

One of the barriers to this can be thinking that their managerial and leadership skills are fine, without putting them to the test on a wider, business context.

Alternatively, it doesn’t occur to someone that they have not completed one until they are asked in an interview how good they are, and have no way of being able to qualify their answer.

It is often the case that until there is a reason for people to take control of their self-development, they won’t do it. The need instead comes from being knocked back, by not getting a promotion or a job interview, or being asked for certificates they don’t have.

Act now

Rather than waiting until you are actively trying to progress in your career, it is much better to act now.

Project management opportunities are only going to increase across all industries. This will bring better opportunities for those who find it difficult to get into the really formal, ‘closed-shop’ areas, such as the rail industry.

If you want to have any chance at advancing in your career, you will need to identify where you are suited to, what you have to offer and then sell what it is you can do in order to stand ahead of your competition.

Assessing your competencies will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your career, and allow you to take the necessary steps towards self-development through training – and ultimately an effective and successful recruitment drive.