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Planning Your Project Management Career
Ever thought about a career as a project professional but not sure where to get started?
Heard of the project disciplines and think it will suit you, but don’t know where to turn?
Whether you have just left university or are thinking about a change of career, this page is full of practical advice to get you started.
Find out about Higher Apprenticeships in Project Management
Stage 1 – Find out what the project disciplines are all about
- Project disciplines include project management, project administration, project support office functions, project planning, programme management, programme planning, portfolio management. Please note this list is not exhaustive
- Project disciplines are a wide and diverse career choice which span a number of different industry sectors. For an easy way to get a flavour of some of the different industries, take a look at the list of APM Corporate members
- Become an associate member of APM and make links to the disciplines through the many benefits APM offers.
- Take the APM Introductory Certificate in Project Management. This is a really good way to learn the basics of what the discipline of project management is all about.
- If you can, talk to people who are already working as project professionals and learn from their experiences. If you are already working in a company that employs project professionals, ask if you can shadow them or get involved in some ways with the projects they are currently managing.
Stage 2 – Find out if the project disciplines are for you and how your current skills relate
- Now you have an idea as to what the project disciplines are all about, you should have a feel for whether or not it is the career choice for you.
Up until this point in your life, you will have been learning and improving your skill base. To enter into project disciplines, it is important to link the skills you currently have with those required by the project job market.
- A good starting point is to complete the self-assessment form (available from the CPD page) based on the APM Competence Framework. This will highlight areas where you have existing skills or knowledge, as well as identifying areas for enhancement, focussing your career development.
Stage 3 – Find out about the job market
- Once you have an idea of the skills and knowledge areas you are strong/not so strong in, start to have a look at job advertisements – good places to look are the internet, recruitment agencies and the national press.
- If any jobs take your interest, it is worth sending off for more information and a detailed job specification, even if you are not entirely sure you have the experience for the job. By getting this information, you are gathering useful data on the area of the job market you are interested in, for example, skills and experience required, salary details, current trends etc
- If you identify any major gaps in your skills or knowledge that are required by the jobs you are interested in, it is worth trying to get experience in these areas, if you can or think about taking project qualifications to boost your future job applications.
Stage 4 – Putting your CV together
- If you have experience in a number of areas that are relevant to the project jobs you are thinking of applying for, but you don’t think your job history highlights this, tailor your CV so it sells your relevant experience rather than simply writing a chronological career history. Alternatively, if you are asked to complete an application form, ensure you answer all the questions, but do so in a way that sells your skills rather than just tells your job history to date.
- If you do not have the experience for the positions you are applying for, it might be worth considering applying for a complementary or a more junior position that will give you the opportunity to gain the experience you require.
- Remember, a CV tailored to each position you are applying for may take more time, but is likely to get better results, so is worth the effort.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
As you go through your project career, keep a track of your experience and training as this will help with future job applications. APM’s CPD scheme can help with this.
As your career develops you may want to enhance your professional status and recognition by obtaining APM Registered Project Professional (RPP) and set yourself apart in the profession.