jim@millikenproject.com 207-808-8878 Our book "Life is a Project: How are you managing?" is now available!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Making It in Project Management

How do you find a job as a project manager?
Here’s a simple how-to system:
1. Get a job.
2. Act like a project manager.

See? Nothing to it.

Well, actually the process does require more than just showing up and appointing yourself. But prospective project managers must understand that this is an environment unlike education, accounting, bartending or any other relatively defined field of endeavor.

My experience is that true project managers do not always come clearly labeled, and some people who do carry the title aren’t really doing the full project manager job. In fact, the job title has always been inadequate in specifying just exactly what the holder was doing.

The information technology and construction industries have, for decades, listed “project manager” as a distinct position. The jobs often are defined so narrowly, though, that their occupants really don’t manage projects. In fact, they sometimes don’t manage anything of consequence at all – they simply tend technical slices of predetermined processes. Necessary work, sometimes quite important work, but not project management.

Other people identified as project managers do indeed handle key responsibilities in originating and conducting significant project work. You just never know until you look into it.

In the current world, organizational decision-makers are becoming more aware of project management as a way to handle complexity, rapid change, growing risk and all the consequences of globalization. Conventional management is neither agile enough nor comprehensive enough for the job.

When that perception results in action, the organization consults some source in the project management profession to obtain a job description that more than likely demands extensive, specific experience in the work. Then they may add their own wish list and create a fictional silver bullet of a position.

Where does this leave the person who is looking to have a project management career, and is wondering where to start?

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