In terms of fulfilling jobs, Project Management ranks high. According to the Project Management Institute, project management is ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools and technologies to project activities to meet the project requirements’.
Project management involves responsibility for planning, executing and closing projects, managing teams and also working with the recipients of the project to manage expectations.
How to go from entry to management.
Anyone looking to move from entry level roles to management should be looking to develop themselves from day one. It’s important to take every opportunity to demonstrate abilities in this area. The best way for an applicant to secure a role is for them to present specific examples of any instances in which they have carried out project management tasks.
What are the key skills?
Project managers need to demonstrate a number of specific key skills. Firstly, they must be able to
- create full, detailed plans for the work to be carried out, complete with micro-deadlines for individual aspects of the project.
- manage people
- have a record of mentoring and working with junior employees to help them deliver work through motivation and organisation.
Good communication is also vital, as this will come in useful not only in working with junior employees but also in working with the recipient of the project to ensure that all objectives are met. Time-management is also vital, as nearly all projects are subject to a deadline, and being able to effectively plan will ensure that the final result is of sufficient quality.
An area of project management that's sometimes overlooked is the capacity to use current project management methodologies. Many public and private sector projects use PRINCE2 – and similar methodologies – to control key reporting aspects of each critical stage of development.
Applicants should be comfortable working within these controls and able to understand the academic aspects of how they work.
Which roles can lead to project management?
There are a number of other positions that can potentially lead an applicant to a project management role. Essentially, any position which helps develop the necessary skills: these can include team leader or manager, project administrator, any form of PA or secretarial position. Any role which involves having to be highly organised will also be useful.
As well as professionally, there are a host of other ways that applicants can develop their skills to reach project management levels. For starters, they can focus on carrying out research by reading about the role. If there is a chance to ‘shadow’ someone already in the position to see what the role involves day-to-day this could be useful.
Obtaining a qualification in a relevant field will also demonstrate that you are pro-active, and have a genuine enthusiasm.
How important is the role?
The project manager is essential to the deliverance of the final product. Without the project manager, there would be no-one to help organise the different elements or the project, no-one to motivate flagging members of the team, and no-one to liaise with the recipient of the project to ensure that requirements are met. The role is rewarding, but it’s not for anyone who can’t deal with pressure.
Presentation is vital.
Once the applicant has obtained the necessary skills, it’s vital that they present their CV and cover letter in as professional a manner as possible. Project managers have to communicate with many different stakeholders.