I know, I know. You are probably tired of me droning on about this.
But many people still have this question, and it’s important.
And as I’ve said before, most people go about it totally wrong in my humble opinion.
Let me explain.
In my online training, I teach people to get clear on their goals and career path, build professional relationships and network, target organizations, and how to stand out during the application and interview process.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself.
What Are The Handful Of Organizations You Are Targeting?
If you don’t have a written list of the organizations you want to potentially work for, you aren’t following my system.
I spent almost half an hour going through examples of how to research organizations in your area to see if they are a good fit in my training, but you can also do this yourself using good ‘ol Google and LinkedIn. Just narrow down the geographic area to your local area of interest and look for the signs that show a company values formal project management as a discipline.
Throwing your resume at everything that looks like you might be remotely interested in or qualified for just isn’t an effective way to go about it in my experience. Spend your time:
- researching companies
- building professional relationships
- honing your application and interviewing skills
What Have You Done For Others Lately?
The very best way to build a strong network is to seek to help as many people as you can and connect with them in some way.
A great way to build your network is to reach out to people and give them valuable information as to open positions they may be interested in, etc. I do this often. Now that I’ve taken a long-term approach to professional networking, over the past few years I’ve been flatted to have been sought out for particular positions people have wanted to hire me for. The majority of times I decline for various reasons, but I always reach out to someone else in my network who would be a great fit for the role and make that connection.
When I help make a connection like that, something magical happens.
- The job seeker gains value because of my referral
- The hiring manager gains value because they have a qualified candidate from a source they know and trust
- I feel great about helping both parties, and gain social capital as well. Both parties are now more likely to help me out in the future, if the need arises. They will remember how I helped them in this case.
The Interview Method
If you are a student, this interview method is particularly effective. You’ll be amazed at how willing people in general are to help out students and beginners in their field.
Especially when you are able to connect with people in your target organizations through tools like LinkedIn, offer to take them out for coffee or lunch in exchange for asking some questions. The list of questions should be provided to them in advance, and should focus on them. Ask what they love most about their job…what they love about the company, etc. And I’m not just talking about project managers, it could be anyone in the company. You can gain some valuable insights about the corporate culture that will help you should you land an interview, and the more people within an organization who know you and like you, the better your chances overall.
And don’t ask for a job. You certainly want to mention that you are looking, but it’s bad form to ask if they know about a position unless you have already built a strong relationship with that person.