The Ultimate Guide to Job Hunting for Project Managers

“How will the job market for Project Managers be?”
We hear this question quite often, and forgive us – we do not have a crystal ball (yet). But we have some tips and hints that will allow you – an experienced Project Manager – to navigate the current and future job market.

The term Ephemeralization (coined by R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, a 20th century inventor and visionary), which means the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing”, is defining the future of our job market. Add to that wide spreading access to technology and more and more diversified workforce, and you will get a pretty accurate image of what the next few years might bring.

Thomas Frey says, “The average person that turns 30 years old in the U.S. today has worked 11 different jobs. In just 10 years, the average person who turns 30 will have worked 200-300 different projects.” The job market itself is experiencing a graduate, yet inevitable switch from the traditional “Expert” (loyalty / specialization) / “Linear” (hierarchy / promotion) model to a more “Spiral” and “Transitory” one, praising self-development, team work, as well as flexibility & mobility (read more about those concepts here).

This means that the Project Managers & their skills sets will be very sought-after.
But this also means increased competition on the job market.

The main 4 competencies required from the managers of the future will be:
– working efficiently & effectively from any corner of the world
– understanding and using technology
– navigating change
developing themselves

#1: Defining your goal

Because of its growing popularity, the “Project Manager” is nowadays considered the most overused & misapplied title in the world. Therefore, you need to carefully define you dream project management job, as the position name itself will not be enough. It also implies answering questions such as:
– What industry are you interested in?
– What kind of project management job you are interested in?
– What cities / countries would you move to for the right opportunity?
– What’s the corporate culture of your target company?

Download our questionnaire that will help you get through this step.

#2: Preparing perfect application documents

Application documents of Project Managers are different from the more traditional formats because of the specifics of their scope of responsibilities.

Apart from the CV, you should also prepare a so-called “Project Portfolio”, where you will describe the most important 10-20 selected projects that are relevant for your potential employer.

It’s best to present the projects with the STAR method. This is applicable also to other professionals looking for a new job:

Situation – What was the initial situation? What were the challenges / problems?
Task – What was your task?
Action – What did you do & how?
Result – What outcome did you achieve? What were the consequences?
Make sure you have included concrete information & numbers: budgets, teams, scope, length, etc. See examples:

How do you know your application documents are ready? When they reflect your strengths and competitive advantages on the job market at the very first sight.

#3: Generating job offers

Depending on the project management role / industry (IT company, consulting, recruitment agency, medical services, public sector, external consulting etc.), there are various ways of generating job offers.

Firstly: online job ads. And here once again we’d like to emphasize that Project Manager is the most overused & misapplied title in the world. Consequently, an “HR Process Coordinator” vacancy can actually be describing a Project Manager role. The same for companies from the retail & finance sectors: they can offer Project Manager roles for their Sales Managers or Department Managers. The only industry where you do not need to be digging and guessing (much) is the IT/TMT industry.

Secondly: recruitment agencies hiring Project Managers (usually Search & Selection type firms) e.g. to the IT sector, also often explicitly state on their websites that they are interested in candidates of such profile.

Thirdly: reaching potential employers directly – it is important to know the specificity of the industry and the company. Project Management, ergo Project Managers, in both IT and consulting adhere to certain standards and projects are expected to be implemented on time and budget.

Last, but not least: networking.

#4: Preparing for interviews

It is worth remembering that interview questions can be broadly divided into those groups regarding:

a) past (questions in the field of competence interview, which very well can be built on STAR model)

b) future (how I would like to self-develop on the global market)

c) management (of project, resources – challenges, problems, successes, failures)

d) personal skills / soft skills

e) knowledge (methodology, certificates, types of projects, industry expertise, etc.)

Below you will find links to pages with sample questions:

10 Killer Interview Questions and Answers for Project Management Interviews
https://www.simplilearn.com/project-management-interview-questions-and-answers-article

10 Killer Interview Questions for Hiring Project Managers
https://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/10-killer-interview-questions-hiring-project-managers

Project Manager Interview Questions
https://www.signalhire.com/interview-questions/project-manager-interview-questions

Project Manager Interview Questions
https://www.thebalance.com/project-manager-interview-questions-2061483

21 Top Interview Questions for a Project Manager Job
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/21-top-interview-questions-project-manager-job-teresa

Project manager interview questions
https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/project-manager-interview

In case you want to learn more about Job Hunting for Project Managers contact Izabela Michaliszyn via Izabela.Michaliszyn@CareerAngels.eu or book a free career consultation with one of our Career Angels.

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