Being a Project Manager – How to stand out in today’s world

A simple google search or a look-see in linkedin will likely give you a slew of results when you are looking for individuals with project or program management experience. They come in various forms and from a variety of different industries, such as telecom, software & hardware, bio-med, construction, and the list goes on. Clearly, it is certainly not only a high demand position, but it has also attracted a swath of top talent from all over the world.

One does not need to be reminded of our current economic climate. Needless to say, even with some silver lining in the forecast, it is still a tough job market for virtually anyone these days. And project/program managers are certainly no exception. Those companies that are finally hiring are being extremely selective about whom they choose. It is still somewhat of a ‘buyer’s market’ for companies as we slowly emerge from this recession. And it is likely to stay that way for quite some time before we finally return back to some level of normalcy in our job market.

With that being said, as someone in the project or program management fields, it is absolutely essential to make yourself as marketable as possible. Amidst the deluge of candidates in the field, the more you stand out, the higher the likelihood of being able to find a job that fits your future career goals.

So what are some of the key things anyone in the realm of project management should be aware of pertaining to their own pedigree? What key things should a project manager (even a currently employed one) do to ensure they are staying at the forefront of new ideas and concepts in their field thereby keeping themselves at the top of the hiring ladder?

1. Invest in your education

In a previous post, I discussed several of the educational options available for project/program managers to further their career development. (For reference, please review the post: Project Management Certifications – Which one should you get?) Because the project management field is so competitive, any edge you have over other candidates in the field is an asset. So beefing up your scholastic accolades is something that you should definitely strive to do. Many companies nowadays are setting certain certification types as their benchmark for any new position. The most common one is the PMP, but there are others as well. So take the time to look into ways to improve your educational background. Afterall, knowledge is power.

2. Gain notoriety

Because you are just one individual among many, its important to take some steps towards creating a ‘buzz’ around yourself. That can be achieved in several different ways. Starting a blog is a great way for you to get your ideas pertaining to project management out into the open and it can also act as a great mechanism for demonstrating your communication skills to potential peers and employers. Writing articles for project management newsletters or perhaps even writing a book (if you have the time). All these will serve to get your name out there and also give you a great reference to utilize on your resume.

3. Network

The need to network cannot be overstated. In our modern, fast paced world, having a large contingent of fellow peers and colleagues with whom you still maintain an active correspondence is extremely important. This has become even more required as our world is transformed into the Global Village. So if you have not taken the time to do so, make sure you have a working profile on a site such as linkedin and ensure you actively maintain your status. Additionally, various sites have active project or program management groups where like-minded individuals can share and communicate with each other. You will often find that in many cases, job postings might be somewhat ‘hidden’ and that these methods of communication will give you the key to the backdoor. As the old adage goes, it’s often not what you know, but who you know.

4. Stay on top of current technologies and trends

Regardless of what field you may reside in (telecom, software, hardware, bio-med), as a project manager, it is important to stay on top of new technologies and trends in the industry. That can include new tools that allow you to perform your job better, new processes that are making their rounds or exciting and new technological innovations that will have a need for good project managers as they mature. The more you are aware of these trends, the better positioned you will be should a need arise for your services. Making sure you are always on top of new technologies will also make the interview process far smoother since there is less likelihood of being tripped up on questions or if you demonstrate a lack of knowledge of modern technologies.

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About tomtsongas
Versatile Program/Development Manager with 20 years of diverse background and experience in managing, defining, designing, developing and evangelizing advanced software applications that exceed customer expectations Current responsibilities include: - Coordinating and monitoring the scheduling and technical performance of company programs - Preparation of proposals, plans, specifications, and finalized requirements of various projects - Researching new opportunities and technologies - Ensuring adherence to master plans and schedules - Developing solutions to program problems - Directing work of incumbents assigned to program from various departments while also ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget - Acting as adviser to program teams regarding projects, tasks, and operations.

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