Many people don’t intend to be project managers.
Take Mike, from Stranger Things.
(Haven’t seen Stranger Things?) It’s a Netflix Original filled full of 80s-horror goodness. It’s worth the extra second.
Mike, the charming young nerd above, is out searching for Will when he comes across Eleven (or El for short). She has tattooed numbers on her wrist and was named Eleven. El’s sudden appearance and Will’s disappearance seem to be connected.
Soon Mike begins his mission, which is a project. The project is time-constrained because Will can only survive so long without rescue. There are clearly identified stakeholders: Will, Will’s mother, El, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Dustin. The project is still within its scope, which saves Will. However, it becomes more complex and adds new stakeholders.
Mike, despite being only 11 years old, is adept at managing all the variables. He is agile in his search for Will and can pivot when necessary. Mike manages risk, communicates with his team, and organizes how his team moves forward.
(Officially, he was the Dungeon Master for his friend group, but that’s another post).
Mike is an accidental project manager.
Mike could continue to gain project management experience, possibly get a certification or two and keep DMing. He’d be a great project manager once he is ready to join the workforce.
Without this explanation, Mike wouldn’t be considered a project manager. Most viewers view him as a protagonist in a campy horror TV show, who is little more that a friend.
Mike must be sold as a project manger.
You can see the bolded portions above. These are all terms that can be used in project management. These terms could all be discussed in an interview (I chose to omit for the sake spoilers).
Here, I have urged you to think about Mike as a project manager.
This is what you will need to do for interviewers when applying for a job as a project manager.
Many of you are looking for information about the profession or want to become project managers. You have probably managed projects in your past and can use that experience to determine if project management is the right profession for you.
You want more specific suggestions?
I spoke with a group that has been responsible for interviewing and hiring project manager. I asked them for their tips on how to get hired as project managers and they divided their thoughts into four sections.
Curious? Continue reading.
1. It doesn’t matter if you have had other experiences.
Even if “project manager” is not a title you have previously held, it doesn’t mean you should be excluded from a job you are interested in.
Let me give an example.
Mickey Swortzel, co-founder and CFO of New Eagle, an Ann Arbor tech company, was the person I reached out to. Although she has had many project managers, one stood out to her.
In 2012, I hired a woman with no experience in project management but who had over 15 years of experience in various industries. Her experience was appealing because she found new opportunities for revenue, cost reduction, and market exposure in all of her previous positions. She was also promoted to a managerial role within a short period of time. These positions showed her ability to be a project manager.
This woman is still happy at New Eagle four years later. Mickey attributes the success of her project manager to her “ability communicate well, organize, be creative in solving problems.”
Swortzel emphasizes that certification does not guarantee these traits.
The bottom line? When creating your resume