The project manager is the most crucial member of any team. They bear the primary responsibility for the final product. To become a good project manager, you need to be confident, not afraid to make momentous decisions, and understand how to get out of crisis situations.
How to become a project manager? What are the responsibilities and duties? Is it possible to build a career in the industry without relevant experience? In this article, you will learn the answers to these questions and get tips on how to break into project management.
How to start a project management career
A project manager’s role is well suited for those who like to communicate with other people, work in a team, successfully solve problems, organize the work process, and talk at conferences about self-organization and effective business processes.
You have a good chance of succeeding in this position if:
- You like to get along with people from different “worlds”;
- You do not panic when you are informed that the workers do not have time to complete the task;
- You are calm about the emergence of new demands from the client;
- You can read the contract from cover to cover;
- You enjoy taking care of people and helping them achieve results.
Project manager responsibilities
Before getting into project management, you should know what is waiting for you in this position. Project manager responsibilities include:
- Planning projects, preparing documentation, making presentations;
- Generating and discussing ideas with colleagues;
- Preparing a business case and demonstrating the effect of the project in terms of projected costs, savings, revenues, and benefits;
- Analyzing possible risks, setting priorities;
- Managing the budget of the project and deadlines;
- Setting goals and KPIs for employees;
- Ensuring the team understands the tasks and contributing to the development of the project;
- Choosing and approving a project team;
- Monitoring the level of workload and progress of each developer;
- Motivating and encouraging their team;
- Organizing the workflow in the team;
- Tracking the progress of the project and reflecting it in tables and graphs;
- Communicating with the clients and managing their expectations;
- Solving all problems that arise or delegating them to specialists promptly;
- Building and managing relationships at all levels;
- Working with edits and claims from the client;
- Completing and presenting the project.
Of course, the duties of a project manager may differ depending on the activities of the company. For example, in the IT field, you should know the basic coding and programming features and the differences between coding languages. And if you are going to work in copywriting, you need to know the characteristics of SEO optimization, SMM, etc. All this is necessary to competently write the terms of reference for the workers, correctly delegate responsibilities, and run a constructive dialogue with the customer.
How to get started in project management
Getting into project management requires a particular set of hard and soft skills, such as leadership, managing people, the ability to analyze data, handling pressure and stress, communication, collaboration, flexibility, and so on. If you want to become a project management specialist, you should demonstrate your management and administrative skills during the interview. To get hired, you should follow all five steps below.
Five steps for becoming a project manager
- Receive special training. Nowadays, many online platforms, institutes, and universities offer courses in project management. After graduation, you can begin your career as an assistant project manager. And after gaining the necessary experience, move on to management consultant, program manager, and project manager positions.
- Create professional job application documents. Even if you’ve received specialized education, this does not guarantee that you will immediately get a job, especially if you try getting a project manager job without experience.
The more different experiences a candidate has for a given position, the more valuable they are. But don’t forget that your mastery must be relevant to the job.
After finding an interesting job, you should write a resume and a cover letter. And while the same resume can be sent to several companies, a cover letter should be written individually for each company. A sample assistant project manager cover letter can be found on the Internet, and you can write your document using a ready-made scheme. If you do not have a lot of time to write cover letters (for instance, if you are applying to numerous companies), then use an online editor that specializes in creating documents for you. A cover letter is not always required, but it will show your exclusive interest in the company. It is an opportunity to stand out from many similar candidates by displaying your unique motivation to work for the company and telling how hiring you can benefit the company. Just do not duplicate information from your resume. Use the cover letter to supplement your resume and further excite the HR manager about your candidacy.
First, create a professional project manager resume. It should consist of the key skills of the job for which you are applying. How do you know which qualities are worth writing first? Just look at a few similar jobs and highlight common aspects. If you have no seniority in this particular area, indicate work experience in a nearby area. For example, you worked as an administrative coordinator and know the principles of personnel management and control.
- Gain experience by taking on new responsibilities in the current job. Take more initiative. Start with your daily goals. Prioritize your tasks, learn how to plan for the week, or practice doing a Gantt chart and risk analysis on an ongoing project. Discuss development options with your manager. Perhaps you can change your specialty right inside the company.
- Create your own project. You can do whatever you want. The main thing is that it is interesting for you and that you can apply project management skills. For example, if you know how to code, try to make an application. Play until the morning – hold a cyber championship at work. Worried about the environment – organize a garbage collection or tree planting project at work. Love Stephen King novels – make a site about it.
This is useful because a project manager must have a range of skills, and you need to know how to use them. If you can’t get everything on one small project, don’t be discouraged. If the project requires a lot of interaction with the team, it is a great opportunity to improve your soft skills. And if the project does not require other people’s participation, learn how to write requirements, assess risks, and hone other hard skills. The main thing is to consciously approach the project and use the professional tools and methods you’ve learned about.
- Attend webinars and look around. It allows you to become aware of different views and expand your thinking about what opportunities exist. In addition to knowledge and experience, meetings and conferences will enable you to get acquainted with speakers and participants. Besides the experts’ live performances, you can find many webinars recordings on the Internet—for example, Project Online Webinars by Microsoft. You don’t even need to leave the house, that is a huge advantage in the current situation.
Even working in your current job, you can retrain as a project manager. The main thing is to find a person in the company who will help you get the needed experience. As the saying goes: “The land is full of career opportunities. You need just to decide what direction to choose.”