You’ve polished your resume.
You’re going for all the right job titles.
You’ve pursued an advanced degree.
You’re asking everybody if they are hiring and can get you ‘in’.
You’re trying everything you know.
But it’s not working.
It’s frustrating, I know it is. I’ve been there. So why?
Problem #1: You think applying for a job is all you need to do
It’s so easy. Just fill in a form, attach your resume, and presto! Instant job, right?
The application is just one step in the process, and it shouldn’t be the first step.
In fact, the best time to fill out an application is when someone at the company has told you they have a job in mind you’d be perfect for, and you might want to fill out an application.
If applying for jobs is your only strategy, you will have a hard time landing a project management job.
Problem #2: You think your resume being perfect is soooo important
That fancy font or styling isn’t going to land you a job. Don’t get me wrong, a good resume is still important.
However, the chances that your resume is going to make you stand out in a pool of candidates is absurd.
Most of the time, everything is converted into plain text format anyway. It puts everyone on the same playing field.
And that’s your problem.
You don’t want to be on the same playing field. You want the hiring managers to already know who you are, and be looking for your resume. Actually, you want them to receive it via alternate methods, preferably because you’ve just handed it to them.
After a quality referral from someone they know and trust, from your professional network.
Problem #3: You target job titles
Yep, I said it. This is a mistake.
Use job titles the company has in their organizational chart as a way to research them and figure out if they value organization, but do not simply go after job titles that match what you want and blindly throw your resume at them.
Instead, target organizations. I’ve probably said it a thousand times, but so few people still do it.
Target the organizations that have the environment, culture, and work in and industry that is conducive to your own career goals and development.
If are photographing a specific animal, you must first find the right habitat for that species to thrive in. You won’t find Elk in the Sahara, and you won’t find the right job for you
Problem #4: You think an advanced degree with guarantee you a job
I’ve said before that education is never wasted if you apply yourself to it.
However, I also see far too many people who go in for advanced degrees, hoping it will help them land a job as a project manager even when they have no experience managing projects.
In most cases, this is wrong.
I would rather hire someone who has experience and no advanced degree, than someone who has an advanced degree and no experience. If you have both, then that advanced degree adds value in the eyes of the hiring manager.
It also adds value to your ability to effectively manage projects, if you’ve applied yourself and put into practice what you’ve learned.
Problem #5: You see networking as an event
Ever had that acquaintance who you barely knew suddenly contact you and ask if your company is hiring?
Yeah, don’t be that guy.
Networking is about a continuous process of building and maintaining professional relationships. It’s about helping as many people as you can in your network at every opportunity, asking them how things are going for them, and in general being awesome to others.
You can get more targeted when you’ve identified a new organization to focus on, but that’s just new outreach efforts.
Networking isn’t primarily about having a huge group of people, it’s a mix of strong relationships with a good number of people. Focus on depth first, breadth second. Maintaining quality professional relationships is a learned art form and takes time to develop.
First do it right. Then do it more.
As a bonus to this topic, check out the video below on my thoughts about how to get into project management. I hope you find it informative, and that you don’t fall asleep.