The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Stop Looking For Project Management Jobs

What’s the hardest part of landing a new role to advance your career?

I asked this question in a poll recently on the Career in Project Management LinkedIn Group.

The top answer was that finding organizations and jobs seems to be the toughest challenge, at least from the people who responded to the poll I put up.

It seemed to me this was the case too from conversations I have with the community on the LinkedIn group and in the comments here.

Research Organizations, Not Jobs

The most important point on this topic I can stress is that it’s a much more important and productive use of the job seeker’s time to target organizations they want to work with, rather than relying on the job boards and applying to everything that moves.

If you are currently unemployed I won’t begrudge you looking for and applying for individual jobs too. But a focus on targeting organizations should be paramount in my opinion, and for the currently employed I think it’s the only approach worth pursuing.

Targeting organizations takes time, and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll make progress.

What Do I Do?

I teach people to narrow down their focus to 3-10 organizations they would like to work for. The research step takes some time and you’ll end up narrowing down a list of 30-40 or more companies down to the select few that have the right fit for your career goals, company culture, location, industry/domain, size, etc.

The question is whether they are a fit for you first, then you can see if you are a fit for them.

Favorite tools of mine include your local Chamber of Commerce member directory and LinkedIn advanced search. An even better source of information are your friends and professional network. Tap into their personal experience with organizations they have worked for or are currently working for. Ask them if they know of a good company with the attributes you desire.

Your process could look something like this:

  1. Identify the key attributes that are important to you. Examples include size, industry/domain, commute time, and aspects of company culture.
  2. Create a draft list of 30-40 candidate organizations. Don’t worry about evaluating them too deeply yet.
  3. For each organization on the list, evaluate them through research on the attributes you care about.
  4. Narrow down your list to 3-10 organizations.
  5. Rank those remaining candidates in order of your preference.
  6. Start building a relationship with these organizations, starting with the top one on the list first. You can do as many as 3 at a time, but I don’t recommend trying more than that at a time. Focus is important.

For more on what to do in #6, see my previous writing “How To Connect With People In Your Target Organizations.”

So what do you think, should you stop looking for project management jobs?

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About the Author

Josh helps new and aspiring project managers reach their career goals. He has been managing projects in Computing, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Aerospace for over a decade. Josh’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Project Management and he is PMP certified. The best method for tapping into Josh’s knowledge and experience is his training for project management, where Josh shares his best practices for how to get ahead in your project management career and his best practices in specific project management processes.
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