5 Tips On How To Become a Successful Project Manager

5 Tips On How To Become a Successful Project Manager

A project manager is a person responsible for a project from the initial planning stage to completion, planning and organising resources to ensure that work runs smoothly, on time, and within budget. It's the vital importance of this role that makes project management an extremely valuable and in-demand career. Project management jobs are also notoriously high-earning, with the most highly-skilled professionals earning upwards of £65,000. Of course, entry-level jobs pay significantly less, but the high demand for these types of jobs offers plenty of opportunities to climb the ranks.

With that in mind, here are some top tips for starting a project management career.

1) Get training 

The type of project management training you undertake will vary depending on the sector you want to work in. Generally, you can get into project management with any degree, but opting for a business-focused or project management-specific course may provide a better shortcut if you're sure this is the career you want to pursue. Alternatively, if you've already completed another degree in a totally underrated subject, you may find a Masters increases your chances of success. It's also worth mentioning that for more niche project management roles, for example, those within the IT or engineering sectors, you are likely to require more specialist knowledge, so opting for an undergraduate degree in that specific subject may be more beneficial.

Project management certification can also be gained through the Association of Project Managers (APM) where you can also take short courses. The following certifications are offered:

  • APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) - an introductory course in project management terminology. No prior project management knowledge or experience is required.
  • APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) - a knowledge-based qualification that allows candidates to demonstrate an understanding of all elements of project management. You'll need some previous experience and will ideally have completed the PFQ.
  • APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) - covers the core and specific competencies project professionals require. It's aimed at those working in all types of project management and looking to become a member of the APM.

2) Maximise your skillset

Qualifications are important, but the most effective project managers have a particular range of skills, too. Taking a course in one of the following areas you want to improve will increase your chance of bagging an interview for a project management role

  • Communication - in addition to the verbal communication skills required to clearly articulate your ideas, visions, and goals, lead on meetings and presentations, and manage people effectively, written communication skills are essential for report writing in project management roles.
  • Time management - as a project manager, you may spend a large chunk of your day figuring out how other people spend their time, but can you manage your own workload? A time management course will help you to take control of your day by managing your time effectively and efficiently, in addition to clarifying your goals and objectives and prioritising them accordingly.
  • Leadership - being able to lead a team is a vital skill for a project manager. Taking a leadership course can equip you with the knowledge you need to motivate and inspire colleagues, and set a vision for a new project.
  • Stress management - a career in project management can be extremely rewarding, but there's no denying that it involves a lot of hard work. If managing stress is something you struggle with, invest some time in learning how to reduce it. 

Other important skills for project managers include organisation, negotiation, and risk management. You can browse our full range of courses here

3) Read around the subject

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Being able to talk to an interviewer at length about different subjects within project management is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your passion for your career and instantly add value to your application. The following books come highly recommended by project management professionals:

There is also a range of insightful project management blogs online to help you keep up to date with developments in the industry. These include, The APM Blogs, and the Praxis Framework Blog.

4) Update your project management resume

Now that you're in a position to apply for project management roles, it's time to put the work into your CV. Your project management skills should be visible throughout your entire CV, from your education to the previous roles you've undertaken. If your plan is to work your way up and receive training on the job, rather than pursuing a specific project manager qualification, assess your current skills and showcase them to the best of your ability. You can use a self-assessment to consider your own strengths and weaknesses. The outcome will help you identify your key skills. Having a ‘key skills' section works particularly well for this type of role. Of course, you need to go beyond simply listing these skills on your CV. Think about whether you would be able to explain how you have applied each of these skills in previous roles in a set of project management interview questions. If you're not able to, go back to the drawing board and highlight your strengths, drawing particular attention to those listed on the job description. If you're struggling with what to write, the STAR model can be a good guideline.

5) Try it out

You may have all the qualifications and skills necessary to pursue a career in project management, but it doesn't mean it's right for you. The best way to determine this is by trying out different areas, starting with an internship or volunteer opportunity and putting the knowledge you have gained into practice. Who knows, it may even lead to a new path you never anticipated. 

Investing in your personal development can increase your chances of securing your dream project management role. Learn more tips from our latest blog posts.

by Emma Gibbins | 27 Sep 23

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