Over the course of my work with thousands of transitioning military Members and Veterans across the North American continent and Europe, many of whom have significant amounts of military project management experience, a common observation I often hear is “OK Eric, I get that I am a seasoned military project manager, but I still don’t have any commercial project management in X field though; how will I get a job managing projects in that field without that experience managing projects in that field”?
My simple answer to them consists of 2 parts, which I thought I’d share here.
First Part of Answer.
Develop some commercial project management experience by joining your local PMI chapter.
Here is a simple, effective way to develop some legitimate, commercial project management experience quickly:
- Join PMI and then your local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter using their Guest Pass program, which covers your local annual dues for 1 year.
- Volunteer for any one of several projects they have in their portfolio; many chapters have more projects than they have experienced, credentialed PMs to perform them, which impedes chapter leadership’s ability to do all the great things for their chapter they’d like to.
- Deliver the project using the most popular project scheduling and management software in your area/market/companies you want to work for, all while under executive sponsor and officer leadership!
This provides you with real-world project management experience; and executive oversight and interaction; using contemporary automated tools; to enhance the organization; through commercial PMI-supporting projects; for your resume and LinkedIn profile! Win, win, win, win, win, win all day long!
Second Part of Answer.
Learn the language of your new context, i.e. the field in which you want to manage projects, by forming mentor relationships with experts and project managers in that field.
Here is a simple, effective way to form the relationships you’ll need to help you learn your new field’s language, i.e. “I’ve delivered project in Defense, now I deliver projects in [INSERT YOUR NEW/DESIRED FIELD HERE]”:
- Follow companies you want to work for/companies in industries you want to work in on LinkedIn.
- Begin connecting with active employees, i.e. those that post on LinkedIn, that work at those companies. You’ll send personal greetings requesting connection, and why. That’s really important! It provides commonality; a foundation, a connection.
- Begin Liking and Commenting on those companies’ and employees’ posts and articles.
- As your relationships begin developing, ask simple professional questions to deepen them while you learn:
- “How do you estimate and control project [COSTS, RISKS, DURATIONS] here/in your company”?
- “How does your company approach, plan, resource, manage and report projects”?
- “How do you establish and control [RISKS, PROCUREMENTS, DELIVERABLES] here/in your company”?
- “How do you/does your company select and/or on-board new [PMS, VETERANS, CUSTOMERS, PROJECTS, VENDORS]”?
- “What documents, policy and regulation manuals, and laws govern your field?”
- “What books, videos, TEDx talks, courses, etc. would you recommend to help me learn how to describe your company and industry and/or help me learn how to deliver projects successful your company and industry”?
This helps you learn concepts and terms in the field, i.e. the language of the new context; increases your LinkedIn profile’s visibility to others in the company; it increases your professional stock price by demonstrating coach-ability, initiative, drive, tenacity, and vision; and it increases your prowess using one of today’s most powerful post-military Service networking tools: LinkedIn. Speaking of which, you can contact LinkedIn’s customer service desk, tell them you’re a military Veteran, and receive a 1-year ‘premium’ account.
Yep, tons more winning, winning, winning, and winning!
In summary, the benefits of answering the question “How will I get a job managing projects in ‘X’ field?” by delivering project success in volunteer capacity at your local PMI chapter and forming mentor relationships with people in the industry-know to help you develop an understanding of your new project environment, are:
1. You develop commercial project management experience!
2. You develop experience using contemporary project management and networking tools!
2. You gain exposure to a new context you can use to frame your experience in!
3. You create extensive networking opportunities, growth, and mentorship!
4. You generate PDUS to help you maintain your PMP!
5. You develop volunteer leadership and contributions track record, which shows hiring managers initiative, drive, professionalism, and dedication to a profession!
Everybody wins! And you’re off the ‘no experience, no job’ hamster wheel
Eric is a decorated dual-service, dual-era US Military Veteran; Co-Founder of Vets2PM, LLC and Founder of Vet Stone, LLC; an experienced, credentialed project manager and recognized mentor; and an entertaining instructor/public speaker on project management, PMI’s PMP® and CAPM® exams, and on project manager development. He helps Military Veterans become successful Project Managers in the CIVDIV through inspiration, translation, training and placement. For more information, please visit www.vets2pm.com
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