How To Get a Project Management Job With No Experience
Updated July 18, 2023
Project management can be an excellent career choice for people interested in managing others and tracking various activities to ensure the successful completion of projects. A project manager has many important job responsibilities and is able to work with a variety of different people and departments to accomplish critical tasks that benefit their organization. If you want to work in project management but you don't have any experience, it's beneficial to learn helpful job search strategies to gain the experience necessary to manage projects and meet deadlines on time.
In this article, we offer a step-by-step guide to obtaining a project management job with no experience and offer a few helpful tips for your job search.
What is a project manager?
A project manager is responsible for overseeing projects for an organization while also managing budgets, timelines and meeting schedules. Their duties involve developing the scope of the project, establishing a project team, delegating responsibilities, creating a schedule with project deadlines and adhering to an established budget. Project managers also communicate with executives, business owners and clients, along with their project team, to ensure that everyone involved with the project understands how it's to progress and what each party's responsibilities are.
Read more: Learn About Being a Project Manager
How to get a project management job with no experience
While many project management positions require direct experience or training in the field, it's possible to apply for a role with minimal or even no experience if you're able to demonstrate your commitment to the industry and show employers that you have the skills and expertise that the position requires. If you're interested in establishing your career in project management but you lack experience, consider taking the following six steps to gain the experience you need:
1. Earn your bachelor's degree
Many hiring managers require or prefer that project management candidates have a bachelor's degree. Completing a degree program can provide you with many of the basic qualifications necessary to lead and manage others and help you develop valuable technical skills in project management. While you're in university, consider completing courses in business, psychology, communications and finance, and sign up for leadership opportunities so you can begin gaining experience.
2. Search for training opportunities
There are several training opportunities where aspiring project managers can learn more about the role and what it entails. Pursuing training can help you better understand the different project management methodologies and the tools that project managers typically use. Search for courses through online platforms and project management agencies.
You can also attend conferences and webinars hosted by project managers or people who've previously worked in the field. Consider purchasing books on the subject or signing up for trials of popular project management software so you can better familiarize yourself with various programs. You may also discover additional learning opportunities by volunteering to help manage a project at a nonprofit or local organization. There are many nonprofits that need regular assistance with managing social initiatives that benefit the public. Volunteering your time can help you learn more about the basics of project management while advancing an important charitable cause.
Related: 10 Project Management Competencies
3. Explore project-related positions
Even if you don't yet qualify for entry-level project manager positions, you can still apply for project-related roles to develop your project management skills and increase your professional network. Consider applying for project coordinator, assistant project manager, project administrator, project scheduler or office assistant roles. While you might not manage projects in these roles directly, you can still gain some experience leading projects in your industry. You may also be able to work closely with a junior project manager who can help you qualify for a promotion.
4. Sign up with a mentor
A mentor who has earned success as a project manager can guide you through your early career. You can join professional associations to search for a reputable mentor, or if there are project managers at the company you currently work for, consider asking if one of them can mentor you. Signing up with a mentor can make it easier for you to job shadow an experienced project manager and ask questions to further your understanding of the project management field and its current practices.
Your mentor can also help coach you and provide you with valuable feedback to help you improve in your current role. They may also help you gain relevant skills and experience, allowing you to become better qualified to apply for project management positions. When choosing between different mentors, try to select one that already works in your industry, whether you work in construction, technology, marketing, consulting or health care.
5. Apply for a certification
A project management certification can show employers your dedication to the field and your interest in further improving your skill set. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several relevant certifications to individuals interested in a project management career. The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification can be especially useful if you have little project management experience. This entry-level certification requires that you have 23 contact hours of project management education and a minimum of a high school diploma.
Including the CAPM designation on your resume can show an employer that you're serious about working in project management. After acquiring a few years of experience, you may qualify for the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation, which can help you apply for more advanced positions. The PMP certification requires a four-year degree and 36 months of relevant experience.
6. Showcase your foundational skills
Hiring managers often prefer project management candidates who can display the skills of a project manager in their resume and during an interview. Consider the skills you've developed from other positions and from completing your education. Time management, conflict resolution, delegation and problem-solving skills can be especially important for project management roles. Here are some other skills to highlight on your resume:
Organization: Most projects have several components that project managers are responsible for overseeing. Having an excellent attention to detail and strong organizational skills allow managers to ensure that their projects remain on schedule and within budget.
Leadership: As a project manager, you may be responsible for leading teams and departments that you haven't worked closely with before. Your leadership skills can help your colleagues become comfortable working with you,, and you can also use them to motivate team members to complete their tasks on time.
Communication: Project managers regularly communicate with diverse teams of individuals, including clients and company executives. Exceptional communication skills allow them to relay important project updates and progress reports to the relevant parties so they understand the project's status.
Tips for finding project management jobs
After acquiring the essential skills and experience to work in project management, you can begin searching for relevant positions in your industry. Here are some tips to help you with your job search:
Emphasize your previous jobs. On your resume, in your cover letter and during interviews, be sure to emphasize your previous positions and how they prepared you to manage budgets and project constraints, even if they don't relate directly to project management.
Understand the software. Project managers use a variety of software, including project planning programs, email services and scheduling tools, so it can be beneficial to practice using this software early in your career.
Take additional online courses. Enroll in online courses whenever possible to acquire more specialized skills and to learn more about the steps involved in a project and the various trends affecting the project management field.
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