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5 steps to launch your project management career

Whether you made the decision to or are still evaluating a potential project management career, follow these five steps to kick things off in the right direction.

A project management career is exciting and rewarding, but it also can be stressful. Depending on your interests and goals, project management may or may not align with what you find rewarding in a career.

To find out if a project management career is right for you, consider the five steps below.

SEE: Project manager resume template: A framework for highlighting your skills and achievements (Tech Pro Research)

1. Identify your interests

First, identify what you liked and disliked about your previous jobs. If you are new to the workforce, you can still do this exercise based on the types of tasks or responsibilities you feel you may or may not like to take on within a job. This will help you later on as you delve further into various project management job prospects. (If you don't understand your own likes and dislikes, you're not likely to make the best long-term career decisions.)

2. Compile a list of your best skills and attributes

This is another get-to-know-yourself step, so be honest and humble with yourself, as well as generous about your strengths and weaknesses. If you find this step difficult, look up some of your previous employee reviews to get some concrete input about your best skills and areas that need work. To get feedback regarding your best personal attributes, talk to someone close to you who could offer input or validation (for example, a so-called 360-degree review). The results of this step will be handy when you research project management roles, expectations, and the necessary skills and attributes needed to fill a position.

SEE: Job description: IT project manager (Tech Pro Research)

3. Identify job aspects that may make your career rewarding—and those that may not

In this step, think about jobs you might have applied for and what interested you about the posting(s). Consider previous jobs you've held as well. There may have been job-specific or company-specific things that drew you to the job. It's also a good idea to weigh factors that impact job satisfaction such as life-balance, short and long-term goals, daily interactions, independence, decision-making, or other factors that will increase your sustained happiness within a role. Make sure to list what you absolutely disliked about past roles or what you certainly want to avoid in the future, too.

SEE: How to become a project manager: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

4. Research project management roles

After spending time identifying your interests, strengths, and aspects of previous roles and tasks that you liked and disliked, you are ready to research different types of project management roles. PMI (Project Management Institute) is a good place to start exploring various project management roles and what certifications are available. You should also research salary information to help you choose the route that will most likely meet your career expectations and aspirations. Also, talk with other project managers in your company or reach out to connections in your networks to find out more about project management jobs that may be of interest to you.

SEE: Quick glossary: Project management (Tech Pro Research)

5. Look into career options

Finally, seek career postings to see what types of skills and attributes employers require, and see if they match your own skills and attributes, as well as your career goals. Job listings are located at PMI's Career Center, LinkedIn Jobs, and Indeed, and on many other websites.

Now that you identified what interests you, your strengths and weaknesses, and researched various project management roles and career options, you are ready to kick your career off in the best direction to suit your future goals.

Also see

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Image: Thiet Vu, Getty Images/iStockphoto

About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, and a project management and digital workplace columnist for various publications. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large busine...

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