Project managers don’t do enough to advance their careers, even in the current climate where change is constant.
And in a year when almost a third of PPM practitioners predict* no increase in their salaries, improving job and earnings prospects needs to be high on the list of priorities. For every career opportunity out there, project managers should aspire to be in the top 5% of candidates. But there are certain things you need to do to realise those opportunities:
1. Have a plan
It’s not enough to do a good job on your current projects. Organizations can decide to either cancel further, similar projects or decide to introduce projects of a different type, which could leave those without a plan out in the cold.
2. Know what’s going on.
External influences can affect your career and there’s a risk that project managers will leave it too late to do something if they don’t make themselves aware. For example, our latest Benchmark Report showed that almost a quarter of project managers were unaware of Chartered Status in the profession. Equally concerning, more than a third were unaware of this year’s changes to off-payroll legislation which will have an enormous impact on project managers operating as limited companies.
What do you know about project trends such as agile? Do you need training and certification? You must do your research now.
3. Understand your gaps
Project managers on the job can always delegate and concentrate on their strengths. However, you could choose to skill up on something new, for example a new project management system. Good project managers recognize that they need to know, at least, enough about something new to talk about it intelligently.
4. Take control of your development
You might be a project manager today, but want to be a programme manager in the next few years. However, that might not coincide with the prospects at your current employer. So, you might consider self-funding MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) to help further your prospects. And if progressing means moving organization, you should be thinking like a chess player – a few moves ahead.
5. Understanding the bigger business picture
Today, many organizations engage in portfolio management and you, the project manager, need to understand where your project fits. Your project might be affected if another starts to take precedence. Understanding the business helps you to take a role outside project management, in programmes or portfolios. However, there’s a big gap between these roles. So, you need to develop your business acumen as well as your technical and softer skills.
6. Having a healthy, productive network
A network that works is made up of two-way relationships. Take time to recognize the importance of your network and where your career breaks come from. More often it’s from people you know and who trust you already. This advances your career in a way that you wouldn’t get on the open job market.
7. Developing your people management via leadership, mentoring and coaching
Good project managers find time to mentor and coach other project people. Taking time out to mentor and coach others is a great way of developing senior people.
8. Put something back
This can be something simple like giving a presentation, joining a group or offering your skills voluntarily to a charity. People will start to recognize you as someone interested in representing the project management profession.
9. Recognize work-life balance
Let’s face it, project management can be very stressful. You need to plan, build a nest egg and, sometimes, take several months out. A career break is often needed to reflect and come back to work refreshed and with a different perspective. Despite what you might think, a career break can also help to lift your salary-earning potential!
It’s your career and it’s your career plan. What are you waiting for?
*Project Management Benchmark Report 2017, Arras People
Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Lindsay Scott
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The risks of promoting Project Managers to Programme Managers.