It is becoming more popular to look from a career working within project management office’s (PMO’s). However, it can be difficult for those working outside of this vocation to secure a role. This article aims to help by providing insights to the challenges and how they can be addressed.
This can be a problem for a number of reason’s including:
You may have never worked in a PMO and want to secure your first position. This means you will not have had the opportunity to gain the necessary experience and understanding.
Not having the practical, “hand’s on” experience will mean that your CV (resume) will not highlight the skills. Therefore, when this is reviewed there will be no skill match. Most organizations use their human resources (HR) function to filter CV’s or even an external recruitment agency. As part of the role brief the person recruiter will detail the types of skills and experience they need. So when HR, the recruiters apply this filter they will quickly reject CV’s (especially when there is a large volume of applicants).
A common route to a path working in a project management office is where an existing employee who is working in project delivery is asked to take on a role in a PMO. As such this may not involve having to pass an interview. It may mean that you do not know what type of questions will be asked in a formal interview and, depending on role, may not have had time to expand your understanding and learning.
Action you can take
Review your CV
This advice applies for any role. Your CV should be up to date, be succinct, highlight relevant experience and well written.
Tailor your CV
It is also important to tailor the CV for the job for which you are applying. I have spoken to a number of recruiters and it is surprising that there are many candidates who do not make the effort to tailor their CV for the role.
Take time to review the job specification that has been issued. Gain a good understanding of what is required. Then think about your own experience and where it is related to what is being asked for on the job specification.
For example, you may not have worked in a PMO and consolidated reports. However, you may have had experience of preparing a project report taking inputs from sub workstreams, business and IT, etc. This can be presented as experience in reviewing and consolidating project reporting.
If you have worked in a line role and have helped provide the submission to reports, review reports, etc then highlight this experience.
Don’t tailor too much
You need to be careful not to try to make experience fit when it does not. This will be exposed in an interview and, if by some random chance, you secure the role, there is a risk you will not have the skills and this may not end well.
Use the same terms and language as job specification
Make sure that you use a similar language and terms to the job specification as this will help the experience to be picked up by HR / recruiters during the filter process. Then if the CV is passed through to the person recruiting there is more chance they will notice this points when they review the CV. There is also the added bonus that, if you secure an interview, they will ask further questions on these points on your CV (just make sure you are prepared).
Secure a PMO role in your current organization
If you are currently working in an organization that has a PMO, then it will be easier to try to move into the role than moving externally. Take time to find out who works in the PMO. Approach them and offer to buy them coffee as you would like their advice / insights to working in a PMO. Most people will be more than happy to share their thoughts with someone taking an interest.
As you build the relationship, you can ask more questions and make it clear that you would like the opportunity to move into PMO work and ask for their guidance. Then if a role comes up, you should have an advocate who will support your application.
Build / use your network
You can also build an external network via LinkedIn. This is the social network platform choice of professionals. You should look to connect with PMO practitioner’s – just don’t approach with “I want to add you to my professional network, please give me a job”. You need to spend time developing the relationship.
You should also link to the dedicated PMO Groups. Here you will find a number of topics being discussed for both beginners and experts alike.
You can connect and follow Practical PMO on:
Google+: Simon Wilkinson
Invest in training
There are many resources available. If you want to explore or follow a career in the world of PMO’s, take time to invest in yourself by reading helpful articles, books, online videos, training, etc. This will ensure that you have a good understanding of project management office’s such as:
- What is a PMO
- Purpose / objectives
Working in the PMO field is very rewarding and satisfying. To give yourself the best chance to overcome the challenges to entry:
- Review your CV and update
- Tailor your CV to the job (but don’t over do it)
- Secure a role in the PMO for your current organization
- Build your internal and external network with PMO practitioner’s
- Invest in yourself through training
You will find many useful articles on the practicalpmo.com website that addresses many of the important aspects of a PMO.
My book, How to design a PMO that works has been designed to allow absolute beginner’s to gain an understanding of what PMO’s are, benefits, etc and then explains in easy to understand step by step instructions how to set-up all of the core functions (a bit like having your own PMO insiders manual). Click for details.
Finally, when I founded this website it was on the basis of providing guidance and support to the PMO community. Please e-mail any question you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the next post I will cover the typical questions and, more importantly the answers, to popular PMO interview questions.