Temp to hire

CAREER Q&A

How to start freelancing abroad, develop new skills and work part-time.

BY LINDSAY SCOTT

A: This is a common question I've heard the last few years. Most organizations looking for contract or freelance project managers tend to want them now. In many cases, the freelancer is expected to be available for interviews and to start working right away. So, if you're serious about freelancing abroad, you have to be ready to relocate.

To find opportunities, start by mining your own network for organizations that seek short-term associates. But before hopping on a plane, consider a few things. For starters, remember that different countries have different talent needs. Those tend to relate to skills missing from the local workforce, so gauge your marketability by checking to see if project management is in demand. You can find information about local talent needs by looking for skills shortage lists on a country's immigration services website or searching online for news articles. Also make sure you have the necessary work visas or even some type of employer sponsorship in place before you leave the country.

If you go down the sponsorship route, you might consider taking on a permanent position. It's not necessarily an easier option—and the recruitment process can be longer and costlier if you travel to interview. The upside is that the organization would arrange for the correct work visa and permits.

Q: Before joining my organization over a year ago, I already had a Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential. Since then, I haven't had training and development opportunities or chats about my progression. What can I do?

A: If you think you need training to do your job properly, talk to your manager about it. It may be that you're struggling with some aspects of your work, and a simple discussion could give better insight into internal processes for development.

But if you're concerned about training for career development, the onus is on you as much as your employer. Your career will likely span different organizations, meaning the party with a vested interest in your development is you.

Compare the skills you need to meet your career goals with what your current position requires. By doing so, you might find overlapping training opportunities that benefit both your career and your current employer. Present the benefits your organization will receive from your training to your manager to help build buy-in for funding.

That said, the development you choose for your own career advancement could lead to opportunities externally, perhaps working for an organization that takes development as seriously as you do.

Q: After taking a career break to raise my young family, I want to rejoin the workforce—but I need more flexibility now. Is it possible to be a part-time project manager?

A: Project management has a reputation for long hours, but not all organizations have the same requirements. Those with limited projects or budgets, such as small and medium-sized businesses, are typically looking for part-time project managers. Particular sectors—such as charities, government, education and marketing—are also known for hiring part-time project managers.

So yes, opportunities exist, but you may need to be flexible with your hours. Many organizations will want the project manager to have some visibility every day, and ask you to spread hours accordingly.

Working part-time may take a little getting used to if you've never kept those hours before. To get up and running, quickly gauge how projects are run within the business, how they're perceived by the people working on them and how others are affected by their outcomes. This will help you adopt the right project management style quickly and, more importantly, help you deliver the project on reduced hours.

The temptation for many part-time project managers is working beyond the contracted hours to keep things on track. To avoid working full-time, identify the 20 percent of activities that will deliver 80 percent of the required outcomes. You will need to flex your leadership, delegation, planning and organizational skills to maintain a work-life balance. PM

img Lindsay Scott is the director of program and project management recruitment at Arras People in London, England. Send career questions to pmnetwork@imaginepub.com.
This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK AUGUST 2013 WWW.PMI.ORG

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