While conducting recent interviews, Rahul Sudame, PMI-ACP, PMP, met with one candidate who could wax poetic about the benefits of agile over waterfall, but little else.
“It wasn’t just that he had a clear preference to be an agile coach — he didn’t have high regard for waterfall,” says Mr. Sudame, agile program manager, Persistent Systems, Pune, India.
Positioning himself as an agile purist may have worked for a different type of company. But project managers in service organizations are expected to take a more pragmatic tack: Size up the project needs and tailor the approach accordingly.
“Our environment demands practitioners be flexible with methodology,” he says, and so the candidate was passed over. Building a personal brand can help a project and program manager stand out, but you may want to rethink positioning yourself as a “predictive expert” or an “agile evangelist.”
These days, organizations are increasingly looking for approach-neutral talent that can produce results, whether the team uses agile, hybrid or predictive.
“I’ve probably interviewed hundreds of project managers, and those who present themselves as experts in only one methodology seem destined to have limited opportunities,” says Mike O’Brochta, PMI-ACP, PMP, president of Zozer, a project management firm in Roanoke, Virginia, USA.
While tech startups may be a likely magnet for agile purists, for example, he says that in general, high-maturity organizations tend to value project professionals who can work across the delivery spectrum.
I've probably interviewed hundreds of project managers, and those who present themselves as experts in only one methodology seem destined to have limited opportunities.
Mike O’Brochta, PMI-ACP, PMP
President of Zozer, a project management firm
Roanoke, Virginia, USA
Social media rules when it comes to building a personal brand. And it’s front and center in many job searches, with a LinkedIn profile often the first information a recruiter sees about a candidate.
Including relevant certifications is a must. Hiring managers are likely to search for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® or Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certifications, and only profiles with that info will surface in the results.
But don’t stop there, says Wafi Mohtaseb, PMI-ACP, PMP, head of applications support, Kuwait Finance House, Kuwait City, Kuwait. “It’s just as important to make your professional profile reflect your skills and strengths with each methodology,” he says.
Alongside project details like scope, budget and schedule, professional profiles and portfolios should include details on which approach was used to execute the project.
Mr. Mohtaseb also recommends listing any coursework in specific approaches. And consider asking people writing recommendations to highlight examples that showcase your flexibility in delivery approaches.
It's just as important to make your professional profile reflect your skills and strengths with each methodology.
Wafi Mohtaseb, PMI-ACP, PMP
Head of Applications Support, Kuwait Finance House
Kuwait City, Kuwait
As with any brand promise, project managers can’t fake it. Authenticity matters, says Mr. Sudame. Claiming a passion for agile if it’s not true, for example, could land project managers in a role they’re not able to perform.
If a project or program manager does gravitate toward one delivery approach, they need to push past that comfort zone, Mr. Mohtaseb says. That may require acquiring new skills, attending networking events and building connections across the spectrum — not just focusing on one approach.
Whether they’re interviewing for a new job or looking to advance at their current organization, project and program managers should be prepared to discuss project examples that reflect different approaches, Mr. Sudame says. They should also be ready to talk about how they selected or adapted an approach for specific projects.
“More and more organizations are attracted to that flexibility,” he says.
As with any brand promise, project managers can’t fake it. Authenticity matters.
Rahul Sudame, PMI-ACP, PMP
Agile Program Manager, Persistent Systems
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