Question: What’s the scoop on PM jobs these days?
I am a project management professional (PMP) in the Chicago area. I’ve been looking for a new position because, although I like my job as a PMP, I am unhappy with certain aspects of it, such as my coworkers. I have been sending out job feelers and answering ads, but I haven’t gotten any responses. I get the feeling that project management is no longer a hot field. Am I wrong? What can I do to improve my chances of getting a new job?

Answer: The market’s hot, so it may be time to revisit resume and skill sets
To find out whether or not your suspicions are correct, that project management isn’t hot right now, I called the Project Management Institute (PMI), the organization that grants the PMP certification, and talked with Christie McDevitt, the organization’s public relation’s coordinator. She said that from her perspective, the IT project management job market is one of the hottest. She was quick to add, however, that her perspective is not one of a person who is job hunting.

She suggested you visit the organization’s Career Headquarters, a job-related section of its Web site. You can search for jobs and post your resume there, but you have to register to become a member first. The other resources on the site, such as the calendar of networking events and comprehensive Web links, are available to anyone free of charge.

I looked over the various links in the resource section and was impressed at the diversity and usefulness of the information I found. I want to recommend one subsection in particular, the self-assessment tools. One of the tools is an online PM skills assessment put together by Promissor, an online aptitude and skills testing company. The test costs $35, but it would be worth the fee to make certain that your skills are up to date.

There is also a link on the site to another useful resource, the JobHuntersBible Web site. This site provides personality and career tests that can help professionals determine if they should continue as a PMP. After all, everyone changes as they grow older, so maybe it’s time for a job shift. It couldn’t hurt to consider the possibility.

You should also use the site’s resources to help ensure that your resume is presenting employers with the best possible impression of you as a potential employee. You know to make sure the spelling, grammar, and overall presentation are perfect, but there are other important aspects of a resume. For example, yours may be too long (or too short) or give too much detail.

I’ve found that many IT professionals have a difficult time putting on paper what they have accomplished. They need to focus on how they have helped the company, not on the minute details of what they do on a daily basis. Perhaps you need to focus more on how you helped the company be more productive or profitable, rather than list the projects you’ve managed.

Become a hotter prospect
So, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been outlining some steps you can take to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best light. First, make sure your skills are current, and then make sure you want to keep doing what you’re doing. Make sure your resume is a complete, accurate, and effective representation of who you are and what you have to offer.

Once you’ve done all this, you’ll be in the best position to consider some career improvements that might make getting your next job easier. One recommendation is to specialize—to make yourself a hotter prospect. One of the hottest IT job niches today, without question, is security.

Imagine yourself as a project management guru who helps get crucial security-related projects done in the least amount of time. You’ll need to get some security IT training and maybe even a certification in the security area, but you would be improving your future job prospects enormously.

You might also decide to specialize in one or two vertical markets, starting with the one you are in now, if you have not already done so. Companies often prefer to hire candidates who have experience in their own, or similar, markets. An automobile manufacturer would be more interested in an IT PMP who has worked for a competitor than someone who has a background in other industries.

Another career improvement is to add another certification, or at least some certification-related training, to your resume. The International Project Management Association offers training and certification designed to help experienced project management professionals expand their knowledge and professional standing.

I suggest that you take the time to do a career inventory and make sure your resume is perfect. Keep trying to find a new job by networking and sending out resumes. Meanwhile, consider investing in your career by specializing and perhaps getting some additional training and certifications.

Got a career or job search question for Molly?

Career expert Molly Joss helps IT managers each week by answering job search questions and providing solutions to career dilemmas. If you’ve got a question for Molly, send it in!