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A recent Talent Gap report suggests that by 2030, the world will be needing 25 million brand-new project managers to be able to keep up with growing demand in the economy, across a variety of sectors.

This means that if you’re looking to break into project management, there’s never been a more opportune moment!

So, where should you start if you’re looking to build a career in project management? Here are 6 ways to develop a long-lasting career in the field.

1.  Gain work experience and 2. Volunteer!

One of the most effective ways to develop a career in project management is to actually start doing it! Work experience proves to potential employers that you actually have some prior experience with the demands of a project management role and, more importantly, that you can cope with it.

Gaining work experience is a bit of a job in itself but it’s definitely worth it in the long-term. When you’re applying for project management roles, most employers expect to see at least a few transferable skills that you’ve gained in a workplace doing similar things.

It’s not particularly complicated to get work experience: you’ll just need to contact potential placements and ask them if you’d be able to volunteer there during a particular period.

 Using email normally works the best, but a phone call is just as good too. This process calls for a bit of organisation, but if you’re serious about becoming a project manager, you’ve probably got organisation skills in abundance!

 It’s best to mindmap a few places that you think fit your general career aims and the type of organisation/sector you want to be working for and put these into a spreadsheet or big list. Once you’ve got the basic data in there, start doing some internet research into key figures at the company and gather email addresses and phone numbers. With all of the information compiled, all you need to do is start contacting them!

3. Create the perfect project management CV

Even though we’re nearly midway through the 2020s, CVs and resumes still have a place in the world of job seeking. They might seem old fashioned to us but they’re still an integral part of job applications.

The fact that the competition for roles has only got more intense means that there is a pressing need for professionals to really work on the quality of their CV and make sure that it has the right information, presented in the right way.

For better or for worse, employers have an expectation that CVs are presented in a particular format. In general, best practice, promoted by job advice organisations like Prospects, says that a CV should contain information like:

  • Personal details
  • Education History
  • Work History
  • Skills and Achievements
  • Interests
  • References

In terms of general advice, it’s recommended that you keep CVs short and punchy: 2 sides of A4 should be fine. Of course, this isn’t a lot of space, so you’re going to have to be very strict about what jobs, experience and skills you choose to include in it.

Have a think of the specific skills, experience and knowledge that prospective hiring managers for project management roles will be expecting to see, too, and try to tailor the information that you decide to include to that.

In we explored some ways that you can make your CV more effective. They include things like:

  • Using language and keywords throughout your CV that are relevant to the field and the role that you’re applying for – in more complicated words, a ‘semantic field’.
  • Using bullet points to keep your CV focused, succinct and punchy.

If you’re looking for even more detailed advice on how to create the perfect CV, this blog by CV Library offers some useful tips!

4. Plan Your Career Path

It sounds a bit cliched, but there is some truth in the effectiveness of sitting down and creating a clear plan for your career. The logic behind this process is that it can help you to work out where you want to go and how to get there.

Creating a plan of what you’re aiming for, and how you can get there, will help to focus your mind, make the final goal seem more achievable and enable you to hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress.

This blog by BetterUp explains how, by breaking down the process towards achieving your dream career into a series of smaller steps, you can make an often overwhelming process a lot easier.

As BetterUp’s article points out, career development like this isn’t a one-off activity. In order to keep it as effective as possible, your career plan needs to be updated regularly, responding to new situations, opportunities and objectives that you might come across.

5.  Network

There’s an old saying that when it comes to career development, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Whilst that’s a bit of a self-defeating idea, it does have a ring of truth to it. In the 21st century, your professional network – people who are relevant to your industry that you stay in touch with, trading ideas and opportunities – are particularly essential to the success of your ongoing career development.

At its core, as Indeed puts it, networking is all about building mutually-beneficial relationships with other professionals that benefit both parties.

The logic of networking is that the more people you have in your professional network, the more opportunities you’re likely to be introduced to, the more knowledge you’ll benefit from and thus, the better a professional you’ll become. 

Now, how do you actually go about networking? Well, it’s easier said than done. The main place most people network is at industry/ field specific networking events. These are specifically designed to get a bunch of strangers with a shared interest together in a room and talking together, building relationships. A quick search on Google or LinkedIn should give you a list of any networking meetups near you.

You can also network online over social media: LinkedIn is particularly well-suited to this, allowing you to join relevant groups related to your professional interests.  

This blog by Monster is full of really useful tips to take on board when you’re starting to network for the first time.

6. Study a Project Management Qualification

Whilst it’s true that work experience is often held in high regard by employers, the same can also be said of qualifications.

To understand why qualifications are important, you have to think about them in an abstract way for a second and ask some pretty deep questions. Namely, what does a qualification actually do?

Asides from the basic answer, that they teach you a set of skills, experience or knowledge, qualifications essentially ‘verify’ that you have a particular set of, and quality of, skills and experience. You’ll study a qualification, learn specific information and then be allowed to say that you have studied that particular qualification. Sometimes, you might even be entitled to use additional letters after your name, like B.A, M.A or MCIPD for example. 

As you can see, qualifications essentially prove to employers that you have the level of expertise that you say you do.

Here at Acacia, we offer a range of project management qualifications to help you develop your project management career and progress up the career ladder. Specifically, we offer qualifications from globally-respected body, PRINCE2 who invented the renowned PRINCE2 project management system that’s used by private and public sector organisations across the world.

The PRINCE2 Foundation is ideal for people who are just starting their project management career and are wanting to gain core knowledge about how to work in the specialism. The PRINCE2 Practitioner is a more advanced qualification that drills down into the PRINCE2 project management system in much more detail: it’s aimed at established professionals who are looking to progress to more senior roles. 

The PRINCE2 Combined is two qualifications in one: the Foundation and Practitioner. It’s a cheaper way to gain both qualifications.

Develop your career today

We hope you’ve found this blog about how to develop your career in project management useful. Remember to bear these 6 points in mind and you’ll improve your chances of success! Good luck.

Learn to grow by studying a dedicated project management qualification. Download your free PRINCE2 course guide today