What’s the hardest part of landing a new role to advance your career?
I asked this question in a poll recently on the Career in Project Management LinkedIn Group.
The top answer was that finding organizations and jobs seems to be the toughest challenge, at least from the people who responded to the poll I put up.
It seemed to me this was the case too from conversations I have with the community on the LinkedIn group and in the comments here.
Research Organizations, Not Jobs
The most important point on this topic I can stress is that it’s a much more important and productive use of the job seeker’s time to target organizations they want to work with, rather than relying on the job boards and applying to everything that moves.
If you are currently unemployed I won’t begrudge you looking for and applying for individual jobs too. But a focus on targeting organizations should be paramount in my opinion, and for the currently employed I think it’s the only approach worth pursuing.
Targeting organizations takes time, and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll make progress.
What Do I Do?
I teach people to narrow down their focus to 3-10 organizations they would like to work for. The research step takes some time and you’ll end up narrowing down a list of 30-40 or more companies down to the select few that have the right fit for your career goals, company culture, location, industry/domain, size, etc.
The question is whether they are a fit for you first, then you can see if you are a fit for them.
Favorite tools of mine include your local Chamber of Commerce member directory and LinkedIn advanced search. An even better source of information are your friends and professional network. Tap into their personal experience with organizations they have worked for or are currently working for. Ask them if they know of a good company with the attributes you desire.
Your process could look something like this:
- Identify the key attributes that are important to you. Examples include size, industry/domain, commute time, and aspects of company culture.
- Create a draft list of 30-40 candidate organizations. Don’t worry about evaluating them too deeply yet.
- For each organization on the list, evaluate them through research on the attributes you care about.
- Narrow down your list to 3-10 organizations.
- Rank those remaining candidates in order of your preference.
- Start building a relationship with these organizations, starting with the top one on the list first. You can do as many as 3 at a time, but I don’t recommend trying more than that at a time. Focus is important.
For more on what to do in #6, see my previous writing “How To Connect With People In Your Target Organizations.”
Hey, do you go through something similar to this yourself? How would you change my approach? Please share your thoughts in the comments, everyone benefits when we share!
You can choose to A) leave a comment below or B) share this with others who will benefit from reading it.
Original link: How to Find the Right Organizations For Your Project Management Career
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This is really great advice! I would also recommend researching Tweetups. I have been to several and while not all necessarily lead to job interviews, it is a way to meet others who share similar interests and really get to know a community outside of the traditional 9-5 rigmarole.
Great advice, Josh! But, could you add some additional tips on how to determine the project management environment of the organization and whether a potential project manager would fit in? For example, let’s say I am a Scrum Master and I don’t want to work for an organization that doesn’t appreciate agile project management. How would I find this out?
Thanks Dorothy! I haven’t done a Tweetup myself, but it certainly sounds like an interesting avenue for networking!
Great question Bill. I like to use LinkedIn to see what job titles the organization is made up of. When you see roles like product owner or scrum master it’s a good indication of agile/lean methods, also looking at the people who work there and the descriptions they have on their current role (or past roles if they don’t work there any longer).
This is one thing the job boards are good for too: research into what roles the organization is made of. The job descriptions can be very indicative of the project environment in use and help in assessing if it’s a good fit for you.
Building on Dorothy’s advice, I’d say that a person could leverage:
Project Management MeetUps | http://projectmgmt.meetup.com/
Local PMI Chapter Meetings | http://www.pmi.org/Get-Involved/PMI-Chapters-and-Communities-of-Practice.aspx
Great places to meet people from your key organizations…
Good ones Andy! And for those like me who aren’t so good at meeting new people, the best thing at a PMI Chapter meeting or whatever is just to introduce yourself then immediately ask about them. Where do they work, what’s it like there, etc. Let them do the talking, in general people love to talk and if you are a good listener that’s the best way to leave someone with a good impression. When someone says “I really enjoy talking with him/her” I’ve found it’s mostly due to him/her being a good listener. And imagine what you’ll learn about companies in your local area very quickly, and get known by a good number of working project managers in those companies this way.