7 Easiest Ways To Advance Your Career

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Has your career in project management started to seem a little….redundant?   Like there isn’t any way to reach that next step to improve your skill set and increase business?   Avoid the plateau of complacency by following these steps.


1. Get certified.

To be taken seriously in the project management field, credentials are a necessity, and the more the merrier.   Don’t have one lonely PMP title.   Add some PgMP and PRINCE2 in there as well.   If you’re a technical PM, getting ITIL certified is also a good idea.   Portfolio managers have yet another option:   PMI’s PfMP credential.   These specialized credentials can help you get a step up in your field by demonstrating and promoting your specific abilities.

That said, your certifications should complement your experience.   For example, if you are a mid-level PM, getting a CAPM certification won’t help.   If you’re a senior project manager, go for PMP and PgMP.   Certifications only enhance your standing if applied appropriately, so do your research and determine what will help most.   Also keep in mind that you shouldn’t overestimate your talents.   If you’re a novice project manager with fancy initials after your name, you may find yourself in a bad spot later on when expected to handle something outside of your abilities.


2. Experience matters.

More important than any fancy initials however, is your level of experience.   You’ll only grab high level jobs after a significant amount of time working in the area you’d like to specialize in.   Not much else to say here.  Work on padding that resume!


3. Work on your communication.  

Two-way communication is the most useful skill in any project manager’s toolbox, considering that’s what you’re doing 90% of the day.  Listen attentively and then deliver your ideas and suggestions in clear, concise ways.

Also, use the language your clients use.  Nothing is worse for communication than speaking in a tongue your business partners can’t understand.  Stay away from project management jargon.


4. Utilize PM tools efficiently and effectively.

Don’t feel like you have to use every piece of advice you hear, every tool that’s available to you, or every best practice your particular methodology believes in.  Use only what is appropriate for the project.

Project managers have the habit of stubbornly clinging to the methodology they certified in, even when it isn’t the right approach to a project.  The idea that project management isn’t useful or doesn’t work comes from this hesitation to try a new approach.  Problems are avoided if a project manager learns best practices in a few different methodologies and applies them when suited to each individual project.  The diversity protects against errors.


5. Be responsible and resilient, and see tough assignments as valuable challenges.

Don’t be afraid to take on the hardest projects.  Be the one who steps up when other project managers run away.  This will set you apart from the rest and garner respect.

When your projects experience delays or setbacks, don’t back down or assign blame.  See these problems as challenges that can help prove yourself and your abilities.  Problem solvers get promotions.  Work with your team to get the project back on track.


6. Make sure your career goals are clearly stated and demonstrated.

Your coworkers, your supervisor, your mentor, and your peers should all know where you want to be in your career in five years.  Your goals should be apparent from the way you act and pursue achievements everyday.

Performance reviews and frequent meetings with your supervisor can be beneficial, ensuring selection for the opportunities to advance your career.


7. Do what your father always told you, and build some character.

Who you are as a person (as opposed to who you are as a project manager) will not go unnoticed.  Strive to act with integrity and respect at all times.  Be consistent in your actions, ethics, and principles on each project.  Demonstrate your character by making good decisions, being honest, and upkeeping ethical standards.

Build trust by building positive relationships with your team, stakeholders, and sponsors. You’ll gain credibility and respect from your coworkers by having researched your business, treating others well, and managing projects with integrity.


Sara Border is probably a pen name, probably a person who doesn’t exist, and definitely an American living in a country no one knows about.  She likes to have tea with her coffee and practice saying something while rambling about nothing all at once, sometimes in conlangs.

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